There are actually quite a bit of tools out there that can help any teacher become a bit more tech savvy – and also add more free time to your life.
One of the biggest fears for teachers is that taking on projects that incorporate technology will cost money and demand more time. Although these are legitimate concerns, if done correctly, implementing technology can offer many solutions and enhance student learning.
Power Point Presentations
If you have the software to create Power Point Presentations, then this is an easy solution for you. That is, if you know how to use the program of course. If not, I suggest searching for a Power Point presentation and loading it up into your Power Point (PPT) software to take a look at it. There are millions, seriously millions, of PPT’s out there for you to take a look at and even use in your own class – just give credit where credit is due.
But let’s say you want to create your own PPT but your school can’t afford the software. Well, there are plenty of free options for you out there:
Open Office Suite – features, among its software, a Power Point creation set of software as well as a Word Processor and Spreadsheet software. Very similar to Microsoft Office’s solution, but FREE. In fact, can be very user friendly and can do many of the same things as Office.
Google Docs – I recommend this because it is web-based. That means that no matter what computer you are on, if you have Internet access, you can access your files and documents. Even better, Google Docs has Spreadsheet and Power Point software that is web-based, too. Just use your Google account to get started. You can even use Google Docs to collaborate with your students. Watch the following video to get more of an idea:
Slideshare.net – another valuable resource as it easily lets you host your PPTs online. You can also upload and share PDFs, and Word documents. Easy way to find more material for you, and even share what you have done with others.
SlideRocket.com – offers tools to build your own PPT and is web-based, like Google Docs. Offers a bit more visually interesting material; wipes, effects, etc. Take a look at this basic example I created (use the password “aperi” which means “open” in Latin):
Use Social Networking Platforms for Your Classroom
Twitter? Facebook? I am sure you have heard of them and are probably using them both right now (to reconnect with friends, family, ex’es – I hope not; you can never go back…). Well, why not use them to communicate with your students? They know the sites inside and out and will probably think you are somewhat cool for even mentioning the sites at all – even if you are using these tools to get your students the latest deadlines.
How? Well, you got to create an account first. Go to Twitter.com and Facebook.com and create an account – if you haven’t already. (You may want to create a “professional account” that way it can stay seperated from your personal life and account)
Your Twitter account is easy to use. Simply put, it is like a text message that is sent out on the Internet. Anyone who “follows” you will receive your updates on their Twitter account. How can this be of use? Well, “tweet” (making an announcement on Twitter) your assignments. See an example here.
Facebook is a bit more complex, but if you play around with it, you’ll get the hang of it. Essentially it is an online portfolio where you can plug in to the Facebook network and communicate with everyone else on that same network. You can upload pictures, write announcements, send messages – all using your Facebook account. Everyone you befriend will see your profile (you can limit what is visible, but that is a bit more complicated, too) so you have to be careful of what you put on it. (WARNING: You will also see others’ profiles and they may forget that you can see what they are doing on Facebook, too.) You can also create a “fan page” of your class, if you so desired, and could easily get your students to join – it is like having your own free website for your class.
Free Web Sites for Your Class
There used to be legions of these like Geocities (closing October 26, 2009) for example. There is still Facebook to consider. You should also check out Google’s Site building software which is available online and FREE.
Make Exciting Content for Your Class
What if you could make little music videos set to music? How would that inspire your students? Or what if you asked your students to create their own cartoons about a given topic? Another way to reach your students and make the material more relevant. How would you do that? Would you believe that you could also do it for FREE?
Animoto gives you the tools to create, edit and publish your own videos set to music. Gone are the days of boring and bad PPTs. This will really grab your students attention and impress your colleagues.
Have you ever wanted to give your students a cartoon or an assignment in which they drew a cartoon about an event but you didn’t have the materials or they hesitated because they felt they couldn’t draw? Well, fear no more! Pixton.com has a solution for you and, gasp, it’s free!
Well, that should do it for now. Stay tuned for more technology solutions to get your students hooked and make you the envy of all your peers!