Greetings from Rock Valley, Iowa, the land of cows and corn! As we wind up our school year this week, I have begun reflecting on just how much our approach to educating kids has changed since becoming 1:1 in our middle and high schools. A year ago, I had a classroom of 6th graders. This year, I have transitioned to the role of the district’s Technology Integrationist. I was once worried about switching jobs because I might not be busy enough (I’m a type-A, first born). Certainly I must have had a moment of insanity? Some temporary dysphoria? In an exhilarating blur, I look up and our year is done. I have seen teachers completely transform their teaching, provide students with extensive higher order thinking tasks, and offer challenges that weren’t possible a year ago. That being said, let’s cut to the meat of this post…the Free Tech 4 Teachers! While this in no way covers all of the wonderfully useful free sites we use on a daily basis, here are the top sites we wouldn’t be without in a 1:1 environment.
1.This open-source software has been our platform on which each teacher is to put his or her classroom information, coursework, links, etc… Having a common ‘playground’ for all student academics is easier on everyone. Click here for a link to the Moodle site. Even teachers with other collaborative sites like Edmodo still link back to their district Moodle page. Kids always know where to go for their work first. This, first and foremost, is essential to a successful 1:1 environment.
Google Drive and Google Apps have been a dream. Through the use of the forms, spreadsheets, and docs, our teachers and students have been successfully collaborating like never before. Through Google Apps, students and teachers are issued a school email account with which all correspondence takes place. Teachers can send out work via a link. As that original document gets updated, so does the information contained in the link. Teachers are able to easily assess students in the moment using the Flubaroo script (found in the script gallery). It also seamlessly links with Moodle via the URL uploads. Teachers and administration are also using Google Drive for virtual meetings, feedback, class officer and other voting procedures. I use it to maintain the RVTechPD Google Site for professional development, tutorials, and helpful hints for our teachers. We wouldn’t be functioning the same without Drive. Three cheers for Google!
3. This little sweetheart became my new best friend this year. As the only Technology Integrationist for our district, I have a wild schedule that can have me teaching preschoolers one class period and working with seniors the next. This requires a beastly organization system! YouCanBook.Me allows you to sync with your calendar (in my case, a Technology Integration Google Calendar) and share in a wide variety of ways (QR code, link, and embed to name a few). Teachers can then book your time according to your determined “slots”. See the screenshot below… (Can you tell which day is our last full day?)
AAA Math is a site recommended by our middle school math teacher as an excellent supplement to her teaching. Compatible with the student laptops, as well as the Smartboard, it serves as a great place to find additional resources for nearly every math concept from kindergarten through eighth grade.
“I couldn’t live without this in my science room,” was a comment made by one our science teachers about PhET. From the University of Colorado at Boulder comes this fantastic simulation site. It is unbeatable in what it provides to students in an interactive way. As you can see in the screenshot below, however, it strolls down many avenues of science and math curriculum.