There are a lot of that educators can do, or add to their teaching repertoire that can almost completely transform how they teach. I am often asked by other educators, “What can I do differently this year that won’t completely overwhelm me?” As someone who was a teacher for more than 10 years, I speak from experience. These are all tools that I have used or currently use with educators and students and athletes. The list that I am sharing here is MY list of three tools that I recommend to teachers who are looking to transform what they do in the classroom.
Remind (formerly Remind 101)
This fantastic, free tool is something that completely changed a part of my classroom when I discovered it. Remind helped you to stay connected with students, athletes, or parents through their cell phones (a device that many live connected to). You can use Remind to send out homework assignments, reminders about due dates, lessons, and more.
Just as important, Remind is a tool that protects you by not sharing your contact information. So you can keep in touch with your class when at home, but your students or parents do NOT get your phone number.
I highly recommend this tool for teachers who want to take a first step toward leveraging students’ personal devices for a more ubiquitous learning environment. It is also fantastic for coaches, or even for a small school as a faculty notification system.
If you’re not familiar with Google Hangouts, you should be. Hangouts are a free way to connect your classroom with another. Think videoconferencing, but better. Better because you can connect up to ten different parties, it’s free, and has a variety of extras like lower third graphics, sound effects, and the ability to screen share. All you need is a google account.
One superb use of Google Hangouts is to bring an expert into your class. You can’t always have the author of the book you are reading visit your sleepy little central New York town. But the odds that author being able to participate in a hangout are much better. You can connect your class with others across the state, country or world, and all for free. What a neat way to learn about the geography and cultural makeup of the world! It’s activities like this that truly produce global citizens.
Twitter I mention last, because this requires the most amount of work to make truly valuable. However, this tool really has the most potential to transform your classroom. You can use twitter to follow a conversation, learn about a topic, or simply as an observer. By curating your own list of who you follow, those who have like interests and abilities will serve to constantly inspire and challenge you.
Another use for twitter is as a class tool for sharing. It’s so easy to create a class twitter account, and then assign one student each week to create content and share it out. It will get your students involved, increase parent participation outside of the classroom, and open your class up to an authentic audience world wide.