I spoke with Rachelle Wooten, a Common Sense Education Certified EdTech Mentor and digital learning specialist at Fort Settlement Middle School in Texas. She's an expert in connecting teachers to the best technology for their needs, and has tons of practical experience locating easy-to-implement and versatile tools great for teachers and students. See her tips and favorites below!
What's your teaching philosophy?
As a digital learning specialist, I am passionate about helping teachers find just the right tool to help them reach and teach each of their students. Sometimes that involves technology, and other times it doesn't. My focus is on finding the best tool to meet the needs of the task.
What questions do you ask yourself when evaluating a classroom tool?
Will students be able to use the tool without signing up with an email account? Can the average person get started after an initial training or overview? Is this tool relevant for the content area or grade level? Does the tool foster or cultivate communication, creativity, collaboration, or critical thinking?
What's your top five?
We do just about everything with Edmodo since many of our campuses are BYOD, and Edmodo is available on platforms. It’s perfect for submitting assignments, sharing resources across the district, and cloud storage. We even use it for some professional development in our district!
Students log in with Edmodo and create "tackks" to communicate their research findings or to use as visual support for their speech presentations. I’ve also used it to share follow-up resources to teachers after a training session. I can share links, images, videos, and embed it in an email.
Students can interact and view teacher presentations no matter what device they have. (We encourage BYOD at many of our secondary campuses, so that's important.) I’ve used this in math classrooms to have students solve problems on a "draw-it" screen and then send them back to me. I can see thumbnails of their work and their responses. This makes it easy for me to identify any missteps or errors in their thinking or work.
Adobe Voice stands out from other slideshow creators because it has so many different icons and creative images suitable for just about any topic. And because students can save their stories to the camera roll, they can upload them to Edmodo as an assignment when they're done. I’ve used it with science classes to make stories about moon phases and with speech students to create introduction videos for their speech topics.
Padlet makes it easy to get ideas, feedback, and resources from students without a login. Students love the real-time posts they get to make and share. I’ve used Padlet as a warm-up activity where students record their responses to questions, and for file or resource sharing during teacher and student trainings.
Want to be the star of a future Teacher's Top Five post? Create a Common Sense Education Collection featuring your five picks and tweet it out with the hashtag #teacherstopfive.