With the sheer volume of EdTech tools being released, often on a daily basis, it can be challenging to know which will be the most beneficial in the high school English classroom. Below are just a few of the tools which I use regularly, if not daily, and as I experiment with new/improved EdTech tools, I’ll update them here.
Membean is a great vocabulary tool. It’s engaging, adaptive, web-based and easy to use. Students train three days each week for 15-minute sessions, and at the end of the two-week training cycle, you can schedule an assessment. Our entire English department is using it, so students’ accounts transfer with them from year to year. Try it for free, and you AND your students will be hooked! It is a fee-based platform, but some districts and individual schools are willing to cover some, if not all, of the costs to help grow their students’ vocabulary.
Noredink, founded by an English teacher, started as an adaptive, customizeable grammar platform, complete with solid lessons, practice exercises, and quizzes, and has now added a writing component that moves students through the entire writing process. They even added a peer-review stage that students can participate in as “experts” once they themselves have mastered a particular writing move. I participated in a few online meetings with the developers during the beta-phase and they are working hard to ensure the program is meeting the needs of students and teachers alike. The free version works well, but the fee-based version is where you will find the most benefit.
Padlet is like a giant virtual bulletin board on which students can create and collaborate on a variety of levels. It’s a great discussion tool and even gives quieter students a voice. I merely log in to my (free) account, choose the wallpaper design and layout for responses, create a discussion prompt and either project the link for my students or email it. Additionally, there is an option of whether students can see each others’ responses as they are created or wait until all have responded. Further, I can keep their posts anonymous to encourage a variety of viewpoints and even mark whether the entire discussion should be public, private, or secret (I always mark mine secret). I use the free version which is pretty amazing.
Flipgrid is a new video-response tool that has now inspired #flipgridfever in classrooms around the globe due to its impressive versatility. Teachers can post a discussion question that either they created or uploaded and then students upload their own video response which they recorded in-app or on their own devices. The magic continues to unfold when students begin posting video responses to their classmates’ posts. Teachers have the option to moderate comments before allowing videos to be “public” (to the class only), or allowing the videos to be immediately posted to the class “grid” upon recording. The fee-based version offers far more options, but the features on the free version are great. I’ve used it for Genius Hour elevator pitches and as a summer reading assignment so that I could “meet” my new students before they ever walk in my door.
I have more tools that I’ll soon be adding such as EdPuzzle, HyperDocs, Google Forms, the Hemingway App, and Grammarly, but if you haven’t already, try these to see how they might benefit your students.
Until then, I’d LOVE to hear what EdTech tools you’ve been using to deepen and expand the learning of your ELA students as you prepare them for life beyond high school.
Let’s push our students towards greatness together!