In response to Alexander McDonald’s challenge for educators to help build the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2010, I have come up with my own personal top 10 list of the tools my students and I used most this year. These tools are based on what I have found to be the utmost useful and productive for students in the classroom, and for me as an educator for continual learning.
Twitter Twitter has been an indispensable learning tool for me on many levels. I have made connections with educators from around the world. My classes have collaborated with other classes on projects because of Twitter connections. There is not a day that goes by that I do not learn something new or discover a fantastic resource due to my PLN on Twitter.
WordPress and Edublogs
Both for my students and me, blogging is a fantastic writing platform with an audience that motivates and challenges. It is interactive, thought-provoking, and truly makes students think about what they are writing, because they know they are “putting it out there.”
Google Reader One of the first things I do when I start my day is to open up my reader and have my news and blogs delivered to me all in one place. Google Reader allows me to subscribe to any website or blog and organizes all the new posts in an efficient, easy to read way.
Diigo Diigo is a social bookmarking site that allows you to have your bookmarks with you wherever you are. You can create lists, add tags as well as follow other users who have similar bookmarking focuses.
Wallwisher I love Wallwisher because there is very minimal registration and you simply create a “wall” and start placing virtual sticky-notes. Students who have the url of your wall can all create sticky notes to create a collaborative wall on any given subject. Here’s an example of one my fifth graders did on the topic of Internet Safety.
Voicethread Voicethread is like an interactive slideshow that allows you to upload photos and then record yours and your students’ voices. Other students can then add their voice in response to others’ postings.
Storyjumper Storyjumper allows you to create online books using a plethora of characters, scenes, and props. Teachers can, for free, create classes to register students so they each have their own account. As of this writing, there does not seem to be a limit as to how many student accounts you can create. Let’s hope it remains this way.
Google Docs Having the ability to create and access your work from anywhere is huge. Google Docs is great for allowing students to collaborate with one another, build and fill out surveys, create presentations, and more. (I’m beginning to sound like I work for Google…)
I love Prezi because it’s an exciting presentation tool. Now that they’ve rolled out Prezi Meeting, I love it even more. Users can collaborate in real time (up to 10 users) on the same presentation.
Google Maps and any Google Maps Mash Up
Google maps is great for students to be able to find and share directions. They can create their own maps, follow a book characters’ travels, plot volcanic eruptions, find distances between two points, etc. I especially like mash-ups like ShowWorld, If it Were My Home, and the BBC’s Dimensions for allowing students to really grasp and understand the concept of size and scale.
After watching the video, what are your thoughts? Do you think this an entirely positive direction we are heading? Will we continue to lose face to face interaction? How will this affect our future generation? Are we preparing them for this? Is society becoming too “big brotheresque?” Do people even care anymore if big brother is watching? Have we all become big brother, watching everyone else? Have we discovered that no one is doing anything truly interesting anyway, so why watch?
Bubbl.us is a fantasic mind mapping site that allows you to easily create and save mind maps. If you, or your students have ever used Inspiration, you’ll find bubbl.us a no-brainer. If you haven’t used Inspiration, you will still find bubbl.us intuitive and easy to create and navigate.
Without an account you begin brainstorming straight away and are able to print or save your mind map as a jpeg or png. Sign up for a free account and you can save the mind map to work on later and/or have others edit it. Others exporting options will be added in the future.
Uses in the Classroom
As with Inspiration, bubbl.us is a great, free tool for brainstorming ideas solo, or with a group. Students from primary on up will find bubbl.us easy to use. Email is not necessary to create an account so, if needed, each of your students could create accounts to save their mind maps for later use. Great for story idea generating, research indexing, or simply organizing thoughts.