browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Web Tools

Innovative Ways to Encourage Writing

Knowledge is meant to be shared. That’s what writing is about–taking what you know and putting it out there for all to see. When students hear the word “writing”, most think paper-and-pencil, maybe word processing, but that’s the vehicle, not the goal. According to state and national standards (even international), writing is expected to “provide evidence in support of opinions”, “examine complex ideas and information clearly and accurately”, and/or “communicate in a way that is appropriate to task, audience, and purpose”. Nowhere do standards dictate a specific tool be used to accomplish the goals.

In fact, the tool students select to share knowledge will depend upon their specific learning style. Imagine if you–the artist who never got beyond stick figures–had to draw a picture that explained the nobility inherent in the Civil War. Would you feel stifled? Would you give up? Now put yourself in the shoes of the student who is dyslexic or challenged by prose as they try to share their knowledge.

When you first bring this up in your class, don’t be surprised if kids have no idea what you’re talking about. Many students think learning starts with the teacher talking and ends with a quiz. Have them take the following surveys:

Both are based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Harold Gardner’s iconic model for mapping out learning modalities such as linguistic, hands-on, kinesthetic, math, verbal, and art. Understanding how they learn explains why they remember more when they write something down or read their notes rather than listening to a lecture. If they learn logically (math), a spreadsheet is a good idea. If they are spatial (art) learners, a drawing program is a better choice.

(more…)

Categories: Critical thinking, Education reform, Web Tools, Writing | Tags: | 3 Comments

Best-in-Category Winners for 2017

top teched tools

Ask a Tech Teacher routinely shares favorite websites and apps that make a difference in the classroom. Over the last month, readers voted on which tools had the greatest impact on readers. To award this Best in Category badge, we asked them to look for the uncommon resources (meaning: not the ones everyone knows about), the ones that made them say Wow and rush to share with colleagues everywhere.

Then we looked for the following qualities:

  • how dependable is it
  • how versatile is it for time-strapped teachers
  • does it differentiate for the varied needs of students and teacher
  • do educators like it (fairly subjective, but there you have it)
  • how did it work when exposed to your students
  • was it easy to use and intuitive to learn
  • did it fulfill promises and expectations
  • has it become a beloved tool in your classes or a failed experiment

Here are the 2017 Best-in-Category and Honorable Mentions for the following Categories: (more…)

Categories: Awards, Web Tools | Tags: , | 3 Comments

5 Ways to Use JotForm Cards With Your Classes

One of the fastest growing technologies in education is forms–to gather information, curate data, test students, and much more. There are lots of platforms available but for many, JotForm is the gold standard whether on PCs, Macs, or mobile devices. JotForm offers what seems to be an endless supply of professional-looking templates that can be used to sign up volunteers, get feedback on events, enroll students into classes, ask for donations, collect payments, and much more. Its drag-and-drop interface makes building forms intuitive, quick, and easy.  New questions can be dependent upon the user’s response to prior questions and completed forms are shared via a link, social media, or integrated into DropBox, Google Docs, and other popular platforms. It is free with a pro version that offers expanded options. For more, here’s my review.

Now, JotForm just got better with JotForm Cards-“the friendly way to ask”. JotForm Cards are engaging and easy to use which means a greatly improved response rate. Here’s what’s different about JotForm Cards from traditional forms:

(more…)

Categories: Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: | 3 Comments

10 Options for Polls and Forms in Your Class

Collecting class data, asking for feedback on activities, and pushing out quizzes used to be laboriously accomplished by passing out paper documents, collecting them as they dribbled in, and then collating the data into a spreadsheet where you could sort and shake to come up with the useful information.

These days, all of those tasks are accomplished much more easily with one of the many free/fee webtools designed to create and curate information. Uses include but are not limited to:

  • volunteer sign ups
  • feedback on events
  • class enrollments
  • donations and payments
  • consent forms for school activities
  • polls and surveys on upcoming or past events
  • data on parents and students
  • collection of student projects
  • sign-ups for student class presentations
  • signups for afterschool activities or summer classes
  • registrations for a Professional Development workshop
  • quizzes that are automatically evaluated providing students with their score and you with metrics

Besides the ease of use and their digital nature, students love forms because they are anonymous. This means when forms are used to collect feedback, input, and projects, students can participate at their own pace, as quietly as they’d like, with only the teacher being aware of their identity.

(more…)

Categories: Classroom management, Teacher resources, Web Tools | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Mysimpleshow Keeps Getting Better

mysimpleshow, digital tool of choice in the explainer video market, has done it again. They’ve come out with a great change that will make their explainer videos even easier to use in a classroom. mysimpleshow “Classroom” offers the full variety of design functions with a focus on collaborative learning: Up to 50 students can create joint video projects that promote their creativity and teamwork. Previously, a price tag was attached but the creators of simpleshow have decided to make the “Classroom” free of charge, in addition to the free basic account.

Here’s an explainer video about the mysimpleshow Classroom:

About simpleshow: simpleshow is the market leader for professional explainer video production and so far has produced several thousand clips in more than 50 languages worldwide. With offices in Luxembourg, Berlin, Stuttgart, London, Zurich, Miami, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, more than 150 employees serve customers around the globe. simpleshows explain complex topics in short, entertaining, and easy-to-understand videos; and its methodology is trusted by major blue-chip corporations worldwide. Today, the company offers a variety of formats, from simple online videos to innovative and interactive online courses, and its online video maker mysimpleshow.

(more…)

Categories: News, Web Tools | Tags: | 3 Comments

Subscriber Special: January

Every month, subscribers to Ask a Tech Teacher get a free/discounted resource to help their tech teaching.

January 1st-15th:

Spend $28 or more on Structured Learning, get a free copy of the

Martin Luther King Day Bundle

[gallery type="slideshow" ids="57678,57675,57673,57674,57680,57676,57677,57681,57682"]

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 18 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. She is also the author of the tech-thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.

Categories: History, Web Tools | 1 Comment

10 ways to use QR Codes for Hour of Code

qr code in classEvery year in December, Hour of Code inspires thousands — tens of thousands — of students to fall in love with problem-solving, coding, and programming. Like a favorite web-based game, students are presented with a problem (for example, get your bot to say On vacation!) and are challenged to use the tools available to solve it. There are endless examples, from games to robots to programming. No teacher can fail to find one exactly right for their students.

A good option that introduces coding at its most basic level is QR Codes. QR (standing for ‘Quick Response’) Codes are one of those snazzy tech tools that grabbed the imagination years ago of students and just won’t let go. I’m not sold on them. They take too long to set up, require a whole separate app to read, and tell the same information that can be communicated in more common ways. But students like them which is why I want to use them.

But students like them which is why I want to use them.

(more…)

Categories: Web Tools | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Zapzapmath adds multiplayer option and more to their popular app

zapzapmathZapzapmath is a free gamified ecosystem that teaches math skills aligned with many national and international standards.  Its format is engaging, music lively, and layout colorful. The over 180 games spanning 900 difficulty levels are fast-paced and interactive and cover over 180 math topics. Zapzapmath has been awarded a plethora of education accolades and is ranked in the top 10 of the education category in 58 countries including the US and China.No surprise when you look at all the topics included in this robust app:
 xx
– Addition
– Angles
– Coordinates
– Fractions
– Geometry
– Measurements
– Multiplication
– Pre-school Math
– Ratio
– Subtraction
– Time

Now, Zapzapmath has made the experience even better with a long list of enhancements, in-game improvements, and an even greater variety of features.  These are designed for all types of players from those who play at school to students who log on at a homeschool or through a family account. This is perfect for the many different ways students learn math, the wide variety of digital devices being used, and gives a nod toward the lifelong learner who is as likely to play math games because they love learning as that it’s part of teacher-directed activities.

(more…)

Categories: Homeschool, Math, Parents, Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: | 1 Comment

12 Fresh Ways to Assess Student Learning

assessmentAssessing student learning used to be as simple as giving a test that consisted of multiple choice, True/False, short answer, and/or essay. How many answers students got right told the teacher how much they knew. No need to look further. Simply grade, record, and move on to the next chapter.

Educators have come to realize that there are lots of reasons why a test score doesn’t reflect student knowledge. Maybe the student had a bad day; maybe s/he isn’t good at memorizing (and the test was mostly memorized facts); maybe education researchers are right that doing well on tests isn’t a predictor of student success.

Tossing tests makes a teacher’s job more difficult. I’ll stipulate to that. Habits, templates, and routines are much easier than reinventing the assessment wheel but a tool that results in passionate students committed to lifelong learning gets my attention.

That’s what the next twelve options are: assessment strategies that inspire student interest and allow them to share what they know in ways compatible with their personal communication style. These can be used formatively or summatively and can be created by teachers or students-as-teachers. Decide what works best for your circumstances. The uniting characteristics are that all assess:

(more…)

Categories: Teacher resources, Teaching Strategies, Web Tools | Tags: , | 1 Comment

169 Tech Tip #99: Need Email Accounts for Registration? Try This

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #99–Need Email Accounts for Registration? Try This

Category: Email

Sub-category: Webtools, Problem-solving, Classroom management

Q: A lot of web-based tools require email verification. Many of my students don’t have these at school or home. What do I do?

A: This is a lot easier than you’d think. Gmail ignores anything that comes after a + in a username. JonDoe is the same as JonDoe+thinglink. Use that to your advantage with student accounts. They can use your email address and append their name with the +.  You can even set up a filter to send all those + emails to a separate folder so it doesn’t annoy you.

(more…)

Categories: Classroom management, Problem solving, Tech tips, Web Tools | 1 Comment