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My Favorite "New"
Teaching Tool

We asked the Education World Tech and Teacher Teams: What is your favorite new (or newly discovered) teaching tool? This is what they said.

"My favorite new teaching and learning tool is my iPad," Nik Peachey told Education World. "I think it's really wonderful, and I expect that it will open up many more opportunities for the use of technology both inside and outside the classroom."

"My favorite teaching tool is the Flip Video Camera," Janice Friesen said. "These cameras are not too expensive (for a video camera); they're easy to use; and they create quality video that's pretty easy to edit."
Editor's Note: While the Flip Video Camera is no longer available, some alternatives are listed here.

"I have two new (to me) teaching tools to share," Mary Kreul told Education World -- "Tweet Deck and Drop Box.

"I've used Twitter, a social networking site, to connect with teachers around the world for the last two years, especially with those teachers who work with elementary-aged students. Recently, I learned about TweetDeck, a Twitter application that allows users to separate tweets or message by hash tags. Hash tags (#) are connected to the area of interests -- such as #edchat or #elemchat -- and help people follow a thread or conversation on a certain topic.

"For example, #edchat is a group of educators that meets online on Tuesdays to chat about a topic voted on by the group. Recent topics have included mentoring new teachers, education reform, building classroom community and social media. A smaller group of elementary educators meets on Thursdays to chat about such topics as blogging with students, project based learning, differentiation, and preparing for the new school year. This group also selects topics each week and uses the tag #elemchat.

"Twitter is a terrific way for me to collaborate with educators who have the same interests as I have," Kreul noted, "but at the same time, participating in this professional learning community has encouraged me to expand my teaching ideas, strategies and philosophy. Tweet Deck helps me better organize chat streams according to discussion topics, professional conferences and organizations, and so on. I even can follow tweets about my favorite football team using the hash tag #gopackgo! Both Twitter and Tweet Deck are free, and they work together seamlessly.

"I've also begun to use Drop Box, which is a free application that allows users to store, update and share files online," Kreul added. "I can work from any laptop, desktop, or portable device (such as an iPod); pull up a file; work on it; and then save it back using Drop Box. The application makes it simple to work on school files from school, or from home, or from anywhere in between."

Cossondra George also recommended two new tools, saying, "My favorite new tool is a document camera. I acquired one through a grant program toward the end of the last school year, and it changed my teaching dramatically. I look forward to finding more ways to integrate it into my teaching. I love the flexibility the camera gives me to show sequential math steps when solving problems and graphing equations. Students also are less intimidated when working with the camera. It gives them the confidence to 'teach' and share with their classmates.

"I also love my iPod and dock for sharing movies and music with students," George noted. "I easily can show clips or entire videos, or just use music to enhance a lesson or mood in the classroom."

Shelley Whitman told Ed World, "I like the English Companion Ning, written by Jim Burke. I go there often for great new ideas in my field and for support when I'm stuck for one more way to teach poetry. I've found the site to be influential in my teaching career and I expect other language arts educators would benefit from becoming members here as well. I particularly like the Book Club because the books almost always are devoted to the craft."

Steve Katz recommended Pages (from Apple). Pages is both "a streamlined word processor and an easy-to-use page layout tool."

"Last winter," Doug Johnson noted, "we gave all our staff members GoogleApps for Education accounts; this year, all our students are getting accounts as well. Those tools, I am convinced, will lead to higher levels of communication and collaboration between students and staff, staff and parents, and among students. And the price is right -- they're free! A growing number of marvelous teaching resources related to GoogleApps for Education are available online as well. I also use GoogleApps professionally."

"One of the things I want to do this year," said Shawn McGirr, "is to integrate more technology into my classes in order to provide students with better feedback on assessments. I plan on using the CPS Pulse pads (student response devices or clickers) to check what kids know along the way, as well as what they know at the end of the unit. The software also will let me compose a question while I'm teaching a lesson, so I can see if the class is struggling in an area.

"I also want to better use Glogster this year. I gave it a spin second semester last year with mixed results. I see the potential for the tool, but as with the first time for many things, I need to refine how I'm going to use it with students.

"I'm also going to try a document camera this year. I can take student examples and slide them under the camera, and I can point the camera at myself or a student and record the video for later use, or for the student's project use. I think it can add immediacy and relevancy to my lessons."

Who Are They?

The Education World Tech Team includes more than 30 dedicated and knowledgeable educational-technology professionals who have volunteered to contribute to occasional articles that draw on their varied expertise and experience. The following Tech Team members contributed to this article:
* Janice Friesen, technology instructional partner, Barton Creek Elementary School, Eanes ISD, Austin, Texas
* Cossondra George, middle- and high-school special education teacher, Tahquamenon Area Schools, Newberry, Michigan
* Doug Johnson, director of media and technology, Mankato Area Public Schools, Mankato Minnesota
* Steve Katz, technology integration specialist, Korea International School, South Korea
* Mary Kreul, grade 4 teacher, Richards Elementary School, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
* Shawn McGirr, History and English teacher, Melvindale High School, Melvindale, Michigan
* Nik Peachey, freelance learning technology consultant, writer, teacher trainer, based in Morocco
* Shelly Whitman, grade 8 English teacher, Fremont Middle School, Fremont, Nebraska

Article provided by Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © Education World

Updated 11/12/2012