Incorporating technology into the classroom used to be an engaging extra that helped build 21st Century skills. With many schools turning to online learning, educational technology has become critical to classroom instruction. However, this unexpected transition has left many teachers floundering to find ways to connect and support their students in the online classroom.
Easy-to-use tools for online learning
When the massive transition to online learning took place, teachers were forced to sink or swim while trying to figure things out. Many teachers who never planned to teach online found themselves stressed out and overwhelmed by the newfound demands of the digital classroom. This is where some easy-to-use tools can help.
Today I want to share a few of my favorite web tools that can help reduce the stress of online learning and make it easier for students to access your lessons as well!
Anyone who's been in a classroom knows how challenging it can be to get students to the correct website and logged on in a reasonable amount of time. This is where Symbaloo can help!
This is an AMAZING website that you can use to create visual, clickable links to all those websites you have your students connect to through your website or classroom blog. Up to this point, I have had a list of links (by subject) on my blog, but I love the visual component of this.
Super simple to register and easy to get started, this site is perfect for helping students safely access all the online resources you'll be using this year. If you're teaching multiple subjects or grade levels, you can also keep multiple boards to make it easy to keep things straight.
Let me start out by saying, I'd be SHOCKED if you haven't heard of GoNoodle by now. While most of us have at least tried using the site for classroom brain breaks and indoor recess, I've heard a lot of teachers say they aren't incorporating it into their online classroom.
Not only will your students need more opportunities to move when they're on a computer for the majority of their learning, they'll also need a chance to build connections with their classroom. GoNoodle offers the opportunity to both without taking significant chunks of your already full day.
Sign up is easy and you can do a virtual team-building activity to help you pick which GoNoodle character will represent your class. I am not going to write a ton on this one since there are so many GREAT reviews of the site already out there, but I definitely want to encourage you to find ways to use this during online learning.
Hint: Be sure to check around to see if you have free access to GoNoodlePlus! We have it through a grant from a business in our district, and many other districts have done the same thing!
Looking to save time now that you're responsible for both in-person and digital learning? Flubaroo is a great way to reclaim some of those hours you spend grading, and it is absolutely free.
If you can create and assign a Google Form, you can use Flubaroo. This free add-on can be used to auto-grade classroom assignments, multiple choice quizzes, or even do some formative assessment digitally.
When student responses come in, the Flubaroo add-on can quickly grade and analyze individual student and whole-class data.
How do you access this time-saving tool?
When you are in your spreadsheet of student responses, click add-ons.
Find Flubaroo in the list, and follow the steps. It is just that easy! Once you've got it installed, you can quickly and easily get information on the status of your class or figure out where to target mini-lessons or individual conferences for students.
Pocket is another great website for keeping things organized for online learning, especially when you're searching for lesson ideas or articles for your students.
Pocket allows you to save and organize online articles, videos, and more so that you can quickly and easily share them with your students or access them to read later.
Alternatively, you can have your students use Pocket to gather their references as they do online research. This is great for a class-wide or group research project or when you're working on your research unit and making bibliographies.
An added benefit of Pocket is you can view any of the web content you save even when you're offline. Plus, it offers text-to-speech to allow students who may be struggling readers greater access to the material.
Doceri is a little different than the others on this list because it is an iOS app. However, you'll love this one if you're trying to record and annotate digital notes or show students a process for something.
Basically, this app lets you turn your iPad or iPhone into your own interactive whiteboard. This is great for creating shared anchor charts digitally or modeling how to solve difficult math problems.
The best part is you can record from the app and post it right into your Google Classroom so that students can review it again and again. In fact, you might even consider making some videos for parents modeling strategies you've worked on in class so that they can continue the work at home!
Finding the right web tools can save you time & stress
While no one anticipated the cataclysmic changes that would occur with the outbreak of the 2020 pandemic, there are ways we can make things easier for ourselves as we adjust to the “new normal” of online learning.
The great thing about many of these sites is they can be used virtually to help you get organized, but they're also great for using during face-to-face learning so you'll be able to add them to your tech toolbox for the future.
The sites and apps I shared above are just a few options for helping you get organized and keep students on-track with digital learning. What are your favorites?