5 technology tools to try in the 2020-2021 school year

By Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Many teachers are beginning the year with some or all of their students participating in class virtually. What are some technology tools that can help teachers create virtual tasks for students that will provide them with the best experience possible this year?

Caveat: Try out these tools to see if they work for you and your students and if they work for what you would like to accomplish. If a tool is not working for you or your students, it will not help them to acquire knowledge. If the tool does not help students to achieve their goals, then they will not have a meaningful experience. Also, if you are not comfortable trying a tool out on your class but you would like to try it, work on it on your own or with a friend over video conferencing. Youtube is a great resource for videos on how to use many of these tools, and many of the websites for these tools have great instructional materials.

Online Flashcards

 Quizlet

Quizlet is probably the most popular flashcard app, and it does so much more than just online flashcards. You can create diagrams, add highlight features, add audio, add pictures, do work offline, and review activities and games both for time and for accuracy. For diagrams, you can have students identify parts of a chart, picture, or even a blurred out part of a text to test predictive abilities. Some options for Quizlet may include playing Quizlet live in groups to create student camaraderie, assigning a Quizlet set for students to copy and demonstrate their speaking skills by adding audio to describe each item in the set, have students copy a set and add pictures and highlights to demonstrate understanding, and more. It can also be used for reading parts of texts and adding summaries. Of all the review apps, it seems to have the most accessibility features. While the best features are in the paid versions, it is inexpensive compared to many of its competitors. Additionally, there are many Quizlets by teachers that are already made and freely available, so it is great to search to see if your set exists before you create something new. Be on the lookout for new multiple-choice features coming soon!

Video Recording Apps

FlipGrid

FlipGrid is a free, video sharing platform for classes. Teachers can create a video or put in text prompt or prompt with another video that students can respond to with video. Students can also have the ability to respond to each other’s videos For students who may be uncomfortable with showing their faces in videos, there are options to keep the responses private and for students to use stickers to cover their faces. If a teacher wants to make a student response a new topic, they can make it a spark. If a teacher wants to leave feedback on a student response that everyone can see, they can leave a vibe message. Teachers can also give private video feedback to students. Additionally, teachers and students can use the screen recording feature to create video presentations where they can show websites, presentations, virtual white boards, and more! There is also a Disco Library with over 10,000 FlipGrid topics for educators to explore. There are new features coming out, such as a news frame and a split screen, and there are many more ways to engage with FlipGrid. It is also compatible with immersive reader for students who need that accessibility for reading. 

Games

Kahoot

Kahoot is the app that made multiple-choice fun again. During virtual learning, the individual competition or group collaboration can be a great way to engage students. However, Kahoot can also be used as an individual tool. Students can be assigned Kahoots to complete on their own. Kahoot can have pictures or videos added for increased engagement in the material. Kahoots are also not just limited to multiple-choice questions. There are also options for puzzle  questions where you put things in order, which can be used to put events from a story in order, put sentences in a logical order, and even put images in order (as you can put images as an answer). Additional question types include a poll, true/false questions, and type answer. Slides can be added between questions for additional explanations. Questions can also be imported from sheets, which is useful if you already have questions that you want to use in a Google form because you can upload the associated Sheet. Like Quizlet, there are already so many Kahoots that are already made that it is easy for teachers to search to see if what they are looking for already exists. 

Video Curation Apps

Playposit

Playposit can be a great tool for video curation. Teachers can create classes and share videos (called bulbs) to these classes and grade their progress on interactions. Similar to EdPuzzle, teachers can upload a video that they either made themselves or found on Youtube (with a pro plan). In Playposit, there are even more options with a pro account, as teachers can also add a video by URL, find a video on Vimeo, upload an MP3, or record a video. You can also add caption files (if they are available), which can be very helpful for accessibility for all students. There are also editing features to crop and trim the video. At intervals throughout the video or MP3, you add interactions, which include multiple-choice questions, check all questions, fill in the blank questions, polls, discussion questions, pause for annotations, web embedded, vocabulary matching, functions table, and place in order. There are also templates available for interactions. Before publishing the bulb to students, teachers can adjust the privacy settings of the bulb, decide when students can move forward after an interaction (rewind, skip ahead, fast forward), and if students can retake the bulb after it is completed. 

Virtual Whiteboards/Pictures

Jamboard

Jamboard is a virtual collaborative whiteboard. It can be used as a whiteboard with students using their track pad or a stylus for drawing. Students can use the post it note function for sharing typed notes, research, images from Google searches, ideas, and more. There are options for color coding the notes and drawings. There is also handwriting and shape recognition tools. The easiest way to use Jamboard is on a phone or tablet using the app. You can draw with a stylus and erase with your finger. It will be a great student collaboration and brainstorming tool this year. 

Maureen Lamb is the Language Department Chair, Academic Technology Coordinator, and Upper School Classics Faculty at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, CT. She is a Google Certified Trainer and trains teachers in the Google Suite, Google Certification, and Applied Digital Skills. She received her A.B in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and her M.Ed. from UNC Greensboro. Maureen is dedicated to using best practices and creating community in language teaching and technology, and she has been sharing her work on Latin pedagogy and teaching languages for over ten years at national, regional, and state conferences. She has been recognized for her work as the CT Language Teacher of the Year, NECTFL Mead Fellow, Classical Association of New England Weincke Award, and the American Classical League Elizabeth Watkins Award. Maureen is dedicated to creating an inclusive classroom environment, to using technology to enhance the student experience, and to making Classics comprehensible to her students.

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