Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Feels Good to be Back!

Greetings All!

Let me first apologize for the sudden disappearance of The Superhero Teacher, but have no fear for I have returned!  It has been a very busy few months,  which I will be catching you all up on over the next few blog posts. My goal from now on is to get back to blogging along with collaborating with everyone like I was over the summer.

Over the last few months of being MIA I have obviously been very busy with teaching, but also with running the after school activities program Monday - Thursday with another teacher, teaching Saturday School,  applying to graduate school for next year, and working on developing a curriculum for two new technology courses I will be teaching next year (which is what this post will mainly focus on, TECHNOLOGY).

Being that I will be teaching all technology classes next year, I have started getting more invested in checking out new applications/websites and being a risk-taker by experimenting with them in my 6th grade English classes and my 7th/8th grade elective classes.  

As many of you might remember from previous blog posts, I have a class set of Google Chromebooks that completely change the game of teaching.  Having these Chromebooks has been a complete learning experience, which is why I want to share anything I possibly can about them in hope of assisting anyone else that might be looking for advice, or just a new app to try out.  Below, I have made a list of the most useful apps and websites that I have discovered over the past year of using the Chromebooks on pretty much a daily basis in my classes, but please note: I will try any app once, however I have become very picky with the apps I introduce to my students or share with others because there are a lot of great apps out there, but they are usually surrounded by some not so great ones as well.  

So, here it is...My list of the most useful apps I/my students utilize on their chromebooks on a very regular basis.  

1.  Socrative - This has been a daily part of my classroom since day one of this school year.  This is an awesome app that allows teachers to assess, pre-assess, and poll students quickly at any point during class.  The main reason why I love it so much is because students don’t need to waste time creating an account.  The teacher sets up a teacher account and all the students have to do is type in a 6 character “Room Number” to log-in and answer a question.  Socrative also allows you to view student responses on the board without showing student names, and gives you the option of receiving all of the data in spreadsheet form for quick grading.

2. LucidPress -  This web-based design application has been the foundation of my 7th and 8th grade elective course.  On a daily basis students log-in and work on the current design project our class is focusing on.

3. Adblock (free edition) - This is a great extension that allows you to get rid of all those annoying advertisements that pop-up while surfing the web.

4.  ShortenMe - This is another awesome extension that allows any web link to be shortened and cleaned up, along with having it automatically generate a QR code for the website you’re visiting as well!  

5.  ReadandWrite for Google - Amazing extension that gives students an extra toolbar where they can utilize the ability to highlight text, look up unknown words quickly, play and pause text that they are reading, and etc.

6.  Edulastic - This is a new app that I have been investigating, and unfortunately haven't been able to utilize as much as I would like to, yet.  Basically, this app allows teachers to design questions for warm-ups, exit tickets, or any sort of comprehension questions that are similar to the structure of PARCC.  It seems like a very beneficial app being that testing is upon us.  I will update everyone later after I use it more.  

7.  Symbaloo -  A great resource that I need to utilize more often because it allows you to create and share a board of website links that students can utilize for anchor activities, or for entire lessons.

8.  Newsela - Probably one of my favorite websites at the beginning of this year because it allows students to choose a lexile level and read news articles at their individual reading ability.  Also, some of the articles come with extension quizzes that can be utilized to measure comprehension.

9.  PearDeck - This is possibly one of the best slideshow apps that I have found because it engages the audience through various types of assessment questions that they have to answer on their device during the presentation.  This app really makes any type of direct instruction much more engaging.  

10. And finally, the always wonderful, ClassDojo - I love using this for the first couple of months in the beginning of the year to set the tone for behavior in the classroom.  Having the chromebooks make it easy for the students to log-in at an appropriate time and monitor how they are doing.

Well, there it is, folks.  My top 10 apps, extensions, and websites I utilize and my students utilize on a regular basis.  If you have any questions about anything technology, feel free to ask away and I will get back to you ASAP!  

Feels good to back to my blog and I look forward to catching up on everything that I have missed during my hiatus!

Have a great rest of the week.


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