Tools and Resources

It can be a tad overwhelming finding apps/websites that fit your classroom’s needs.  There are so many awesome resources out there that can be used in so many different ways.  To help give some insight on the ones I use on a regular basis, I have provided a list of my favorites.  My list is ever-changing, and I hope yours is too!

 

Image result for seesaw appSeesaw

Seesaw was introduced to my entire district at our kick-off PD last summer.  I use it primarily to share pictures, videos, and anecdotes with parents throughout the day.  I have had many parents comment to me about how they LOVE getting a notification while they’re at work and seeing what their student is doing at school that day.  A goal for myself for this next school year is to use it as more of a teaching tool, and not as much as a sharing tool.  I’ve seen people do some really cool stuff, like posting assignments through Seesaw, and I hope to start utilizing Seesaw to its full potential.

Positives: It is very user-friendly for teachers, students, and parents.  My 2nd graders post their own things to Seesaw daily.  It’s easy for parents to like and comment on posts, which shows up in real time.  Their Seesaw folders also stay with them throughout their schooling, so everything from this school year will stay in their folder next year.

Challenges: Since kids post things themselves, I have it set so that I have to approve all of the posts before they go “live”.  I do find that the posts back up, and it can be a little difficult to keep up with watching and approving the posts in a timely fashion.  That setting can be changed, but then you run the risk of things being posted that you don’t know about.

Image result for raz-kids appRaz-Kids

Raz-Kids is a resource that I LOVE to use for my readers.  You can assign the reading level for each student, and there are a ton of books for them to choose from.  They can listen to the story, record themselves reading the story, and take a 5-question comprehension quiz on the story.  When students finish books, they earn stars that can be used to build a robot or a spaceship.  They cash in their stars to “buy” the colors and designs, so they have to keep reading in order to earn more.

Positives: It has a motivating component to read, because they earn stars.  They don’t earn stars unless they read, and they can’t build a robot or a spaceship if they don’t have stars.  I also like that it has the ability to differentiate, based on reading level and listening vs. reading the story.  Student activity/accounts can be monitored by the teacher.  You can also put a password on students’ accounts to ensure they’re only using their own.

Challenges:  Kids can easily jump around to other reading levels, which isn’t always a bad thing.  However, I sometimes find that I have students reading books WAY below their reading level in order to gain stars.  I wish there was a way to limit how low of a level students could read.

Image result for chatterpix kids appChatterPix Kids

ChatterPix Kids allows you to take a photo of an image, draw where the mouth is, and record your voice so the image is talking.  My students had so much fun taking pictures of book covers and having the characters give a summary of the story as if the character was the one doing the talking.  It gives you a lot of options to edit the image as well. Because of this, students enjoy adding text, changing the colors, and adding decorations to the image.

Positives:  My 2nd graders have a lot of fun using this app.  It is very aesthetically pleasing for a child, and they have a lot of opportunities to get creative with this app.  When used for summarizing a book, it gave my students an opportunity to think from the perspective of the character, or even an inanimate object.

Challenges: The line to draw the mouth can be challenging to line up sometimes.  Students would often ask for help because it often drew off of where the actual mouth was.  Students sometimes had a hard time drawing a mouth on small images, such as characters on a book cover.

Image result for ixl appIXL

IXL is available as an app and as an online presence.  Students can go in, and they are able to practice their skills in a subject, grade, and standard.  It’s an awesome opportunity for teachers to assign certain skills to certain students.  Students are given their own individual login with a password.

Positives: Since IXL is available online, it makes it easy to do at home without having to download the app.  In 2nd grade, we send home a sheet at the beginning of each math unit that states which IXL standards align with what concepts we are learning in class, which is a great opportunity for students to get some extra practice on the things they may be struggling with.

Challenges: In order to be able to access IXL, a subscription is needed.  Some districts may not be willing to pay for it, so to sign up you may have to pay out of pocket.

Image result for class dojo appClass Dojo

Class Dojo is a classroom management tool that has truly changed my classroom.  I introduced it to my class in the middle of the year this past school year, and I can’t wait to start the school year using it this coming school year.  Each child is given a “monster” and you can award students with positive points, and points can also be taken away.  I have it set up in my classroom where every 10 points they get a different reward.  The prizes start out small (at 10 points they get a sticker).  The more points they get, the prizes get a little bigger (at 40 points they get to wear no shoes around the classroom, and at 100 points they get to have lunch with me in the classroom!)

Positives: The app has different chime sounds for giving points and taking them away.  Most of the time, I can award points without saying anything, and the positive chime sound gives the students the little reminder they need to get back on task.

Challenges: When the app is up on my screen, you can see everyone’s point values.  I wish there were a way to make it a bit more private for the students, especially when taking points away.

Image result for popplet
Popplet

Popplet is an app that I’ve just started getting familiar with recently and I can’t wait to use it more frequently in my classroom! Popplet is available as an app or online, and it allows you to mind-map.  This is a great resource to use for brainstorming, comparing and contrasting, listing the characteristics of something, the list goes on and on!  You can both text and picture in your Popplet.

Positives: Popplet is very aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.  I can really see my 2nd graders being successful with this tool!

Challenges: It can be easy to get lost in your Popplet when it’s zoomed in too far.  When there is a lot of content, it can sometimes be challenging to navigate.

 

Image result for gonoodle
GoNoodle

GoNoodle is a staple in my classroom on a daily basis.  It is a website that has all different kinds of short brain breaks to choose from.  There are different dances that get kids out of their seats, mindful activities like yoga and stretching, and even some activities that connect to the curriculum.  They are all fun activities that give kids a short rest from all the learning!

Positives: GoNoodle gets kids up and moving around throughout the day with fun activities.  They’re all different lengths so it’s easy to squeeze one in if you have a jam-packed day!

Challenges: The videos are geared toward younger kids, so sometimes my 2nd graders even think some of the videos are a little too silly.  I wish you could filter based on the age of your students.

Image result for quik
Quik

Quik is an video-making app that is downloaded right to your phone.  You select which pictures/videos you want to use from your phone gallery, put them in order, pick a filter with music, add text and BOOM! You have an awesome video! I made a few short videos to Tweet out or share on Seesaw this past school year.  It’s so easy to do, that I think this upcoming school year I will release the responsibility off to my students!  The app really does everything for you in minutes.

Positives: With only a few clicks on the app, you have a nicely polished video. As someone who often struggles with creating videos, this is almost too easy!

Challenges: With Quik, you can’t add voice-overs to any of your videos, which is something I find myself wishing it could do.

Write About

I was just introduced to Write About this summer, so I have not used it with my students.  However, with what I’ve seen in my exploration of it, I can’t wait to dive in and share it with my students!  Write About is a tool that get kids writing.  Students get to choose from a variety of writing prompts and once they choose one they get to type up their ideas.  Once they’re finished, they can share their writing with an authentic audience, either their class or the public!

Positives: Write About offers a wide range of writing prompts.  There are a lot of visuals on the site, which helps students feel inspired as they begin to write.  You can also pick a grade level, and the prompts change accordingly.

Challenges: There is a free trial, but after a certain amount of time you do have to pay to use it.

Trello

Okay, okay, so Trello isn’t technically an educational tool, but I want to scream from the mountaintops how much I love it!  Trello is a project management tool that allows you to create different boards for aspects of your life.  As an educator about to start the new school year, as well as finishing up a semester of classes, my to-do list is halfway to Mars.  Trello has been key in keeping me organized and keeping all of my to-do lists in one place to ensure I get everything done.

Positives: Trello is available on the computer and as an app you can download on your phone.  It’s super easy to log into if you’re checking your email and review your boards, or quickly pull it out if you’re at the grocery store and remember something you forgot to add on there.

Challenges: I haven’t figured out how to move my cards around.  I don’t like that they’re all in one long line.  I wish I could create a second row of cards!