Educational Technology Tools & Resources

Below is a list of technology tools and resources that I have compiled over my teaching career and during the MAET program. Each of the tools I have listed below I have personally used. For every tool, there is a brief description, affordances, and constraints based off of my experience. There is no specific order to the list.

Technology in the classroom is possible, especially when it's free and we reimagine the way we use it to teach our students.

Makey Makey
 

"Makey Makey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween."  --- makeymakey.com

 

The ideas and the possibilities are endless. You can play games like Pacman, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution or you can play an instrument like the bongos or the piano. Anything you can imagine doing on the computer, you can use the Makey Makey to do. You can take it a step further and use Scratch to program a game or instrument (and so much more!) to use with your Makey Makey. It's great for any grade level and any age.

 

Affordances

  • The possibilities are endless for what you can do

  • Students can learn about circuits and also coding when paired with Scratch

 

Constraints

  • Each kit costs $50

  • Younger kids may struggle with using the alligator clips

 

Chibi Lights - Paper Circuits
 

Paper circuits bring light to your drawing and doodles, literally! This maker kit introduces students to circuits. The website has project ideas from cards to matching games to glowing origami flowers. Paper circuits move teachers from just STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics).

 

Affordances

  • The Chibitronics Chibi Lights kit is one of the cheaper maker kits to buy. Can also create your own maker kit relatively cheaply off of Amazon (Lights , Batteries, Copper Foil Tape, Binder Clips)

  • The Chibi Lights book is very helpful for describing and creating the different types of circuits that can be made, but it can also be given to students to play with and figure out how it works without them

 

Constraints

  • The Chibi Lights book takes away part of the discovery aspect 

 

Squishy Circuits
 

"Squishy Circuits uses conductive and insulating play dough to teach the basics of electrical circuits, a perfect blend of play and learning!"  -- squishycircuits.com

Students get a chance to play and learn all at the same time! They can add lights and sounds to bring their creations to life while learning about circuits. This would be great for younger students or as an introductory lesson for older students. On the website, they sell additional parts that can be incorporated to create more challenging projects. Not only that, but they provide a curriculum for circuits, batteries, and coding online for free!

Affordances

  • Can use regular Playdoh or can make the conductive and insulating dough. A recipe is given in the kit and can be found online.

  • Free online curriculum and resources

 

Constraints

  • Not sure if the dough will still work if it dries out

 

Auto Draw
 

Have you ever tried to draw something and realized you were artistically inclined? Well, this is just for you! Auto Draw will predict what you are drawing as you are drawing it. You can then pick from the guesses and you will be left with a perfect picture. From there, you can duplicate the picture, add text, fill the picture with color, and free write. Once you are done, you can download your workspace as an image file. This is can be used either on the computer or on a tablet. If you have an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil this makes it so much easier to write and draw. Teachers can use this in the classroom to help students who are trying to describe and draw what they are thinking. Another way this can be used in the classroom is teachers can allow students this space to write and draw without doing so on your teacher copy.

 

Affordances

  • Students can use this on a computer. You don't have to have a tablet!

  • Your teacher copy stays neat!

  • Students can explain their thinking through drawing, even if they can't draw exactly what they are thinking of.

 

Constraints

  • If you download the app, there are ads.

 

Piktochart
 

Piktochart allows you to easily create your own infographic. They have many templates available to choose from to get started. There are many different fonts, backgrounds, colors, clip art images and so much more available. The interface was very easy to use. Students can use this tool to present what they have learned and create a digital artifact that they can share with their classmates. Teachers can use it too to present data to colleagues or to create a really cool graphic to show their students about what they should have gotten from the content.

 

Affordances

  • Many built-in features on the free version

 

Constraints

  • Cannot download your infographic without paying for it

 

Popplet
 

Popplet allows you to create and organize your ideas with a digital mind map. You can add pictures, colors, and drawings. You can create multiple mind maps on one board. Students will benefit because they can visually organize their thoughts for various school assignments. This will also allow students to visually see connections as they make them in their mind maps.

 

Affordances

  • Can be used on the computer or on a tablet

  • Easy to use

 

Constraints

  • There are limited features on the app

  • Can get cluttered

 

Lino
 

Lino is a great collaboration tool. Whether students are working in groups or teachers are collaborating, Lino allows the users to work on the same board all at the same time. Users create different color sticky notes to post their ideas, questions, or comments. You can also add pictures and videos, upload files, and set deadlines. This is a great tool for discussions because everyone can post their thoughts and respond to their peers. 

Affordances

  • Can be used on the computer or on a tablet

  • Multiple users can work on the same board at the same time

Constraints​

  • None

 

Future Me
 
Class Dojo
 

Even though this is marketed as an elementary school tool, it works great in middle school and even in high school! (I use this constantly with 9th graders.) You can import your class lists for each class easily without having to type each student in by hand. You can customize the points system for both the positive and negative. As you add and take away points, a circle chart is created for the class as a whole and for each student. Teachers can also add notes about each student in the log. These notes can be anything from behavior, contact home, pictures, and even video. Both the student and the parent will have a generated link so they can log in to see what is going on within the classroom and students can even customize their Dojo monster. New to Class Dojo is student portfolios where students can showcase their work.

 

If you aren't interested in using this for classroom management, another way to use this is for collecting data. I've used this to log how many times a student completed a certain task (i.e. using their notes, asking a peer for help, etc.). The data can then be downloaded into an Excel spreadsheet for further analysis. (This is how I collected data for my Student Self-Efficacy Research. If you are interested in this, click here!)

 

Affordances

  • Can invite other teachers to the classes you have set up

  • Can collect and record various types of student data

  • Students and their parents have their own log in

  • Teachers can join a school and can add pictures, videos, and posts to their school Class Dojo page

  • Can be accessed via computer or tablet

 

 

Constraints

  • Cannot switch students to another class and keep all their data

 

Dropbox
 

Dropbox is a cloud storage. Anything you can save on your computer, you can save on Dropbox. I highly recommend if using Dropbox to download the app onto your computer. Anything that you have saved within the Dropbox folder with be backed up onto the cloud. Consider if you are working on a Word document that is saved in Dropbox, every time you hit the save button, it automatically updates and saves in Dropbox. Never again will you worry about losing any of your files! 

 

Affordances

  • Can save any type of file (.jpeg, .png, .svg, .pdf, .doc, and so many more)

  • When the app is downloaded on the computer, any file that's in the folder will save and upload to Dropbox when you hit save on the computer

  • Can view different versions of a file on the website and redownload a particular version

 

 

Constraints

  • If you want more storage, you have to pay a monthly fee (I have 1 TB but pay $10/month -- however it houses the 100s of pictures I took in South Africa, all of my teaching materials, and personal files and still have a lot of storage space available!)

 

Google SketchUp
 

I was actually really excited when I learned about this tool and got to use it for class! This Google product allows you to create 3D models. I plan to have my students use this for the Dream Mansion project. You can draw objects to scale, decorate your model with color, materials, and objects from their online inventory. The possibilities for what you can make are endless. These 3D models can then be printed using a 3D printer!

 

Affordances

  • Free to use for students and teachers (Teachers can get a free Pro version too!)

  • Models created in SketchUp can be printed with a 3D printer

 

Constraints

  • A bit challenging to use without watching the tutorial videos

  • Crashes and glitches ocassionally

 

 
Google Keep

After learning about David Allen’s Getting Things Done, he suggests having a place for a mind dump. This is where you can place all of your ideas and refer back to them later when you are ready to work on them. For my teaching ideas, I had a black notebook that I always keep in my workbag to jot down teaching ideas. And then I discovered Google Keep. It is a digital version of my teaching notebook but better. I can add pictures, websites, drawings, recordings, checkboxes, and sketches. The ideas you like the best can be pinned to the top or have reminders added to them. These reminders will then be added to your Google Calendar. All of notes made on Google Keep can be labelled and color coded to help you find them easily. Since this is created by Google, there is an app for your phone and/or tablet, and will sync across all of your devices.

 

Affordances

  • Great place for a mind dump

  • Google product

  • Notes can be tagged and color coded

 

Constraints

  • None

 

Trello
 

Another Getting Things Done app is Trello. Trello is a way to visualize projects. You can create boards which are the overarching topic. On each board you can create lists. In each list you can add cards for what needs to be done for a given card. I can put every single step that needs to be done under that task. In each task, you can add due dates, labels, a checklist, and comments. You can also attach files, photos and links to comments. When you’re done with a task, you can achieve it or delete it. However, I like to see everything I’ve completed. Since you can’t check things off, you can create a “Completed” or “Done” board to keep track of your progress. You can also add power ups which sync Trello to other apps to give you more features. There are a bunch of features, however, to access some of them you have to pay. This is great for personal and work use.

 

Affordances

  • Create detailed lists of things that need to be done for each

  • Each board can have a theme

  • Can be accessed online or through an app

 

Constraints

  • There are more features if you pay for the pro version

  • Can’t mark completed tasks as done but can delete them when completed

 

Remind
 

Students are using email less and less to communicate with their teachers. Thus, when they go home and have questions on their homework, they refuse to do it since they don’t have anyone to help them. Or as a teacher, you may have an important accouchement you need to tell your students before school the next day. Of course you the teacher do not want to give out your personal phone number to students or parents. Remind is the app for you! You can send out a mass text message to students and/or parents and they can respond back to you. The best part is all of this can be achieved without anyone having your phone number.

 

Affordances

  • Can set office hours for when you will receive messages

  • Can send messages to individuals or to groups

 

Constraints

  • None

 

 
GeoGebra

GeoGebra is an online app that can be used for graphing, geometry, and 3D modeling. There are a bunch of classroom resources for elementary, middle, high school, and college students. It is especially great for having students explore proofs and theorems. Lessons are created and shared by teachers for teachers. GeoGebra has a new feature called GeoGebra Groups. You can collaborate, communicate, create a virtual classroom, and so many more features. Not only can you access GeoGebra online but you can download the app on your computer or tablet.

 

Affordances

  • Easy to use

  • There are a lot of pre-created exploration activities

 

Constraints

  • None