There are so many tools which I love to use not sure where to start. Our school received two iPad carts this year and I have been lucky enough to have one of them in my room since the first of the year so I will start with Padlet. I used this application on the first day of school with no real instructions needed with the students prior to use. I created a Padlet using my log and I included a prompt for them to answer. We had gone over my expectations of them and the prompt for the students to write about was, “What are your expectations for your teacher and your peers”. I created a tinyurl and posted it on the board for the students to access the web page for this Padlet. This made it easier and quicker for the students to access. Since Padlet does not require a log in for students to contribute, there was not a lot of set up for myself. In this original exercise, the task was as simple as students, bringing up the URL, double tapping to type their response. Since the students did not have to log in, I had to ensure that included their name in the response.
Since I started out with a small expectation and assignment with the student first using a new tool, I believe this alleviated any challenges the student might have had with the tool. This allowed the experience to be stress free for myself and the students and was a simple integration with technology. Padlet allows users to upload links, images or a file. Since I gave the students a sync preview with just simple text our next use of tool we were able to build upon. Many research studies have shown if integration of technology does not go right or has issues, teachers have greater tendencies not to what to use technology. I know have students creating Padlets on various social studies topics. Students were able to contribute to Padlets created on three of the three world’s religions. Students were able to upload pictures or links which helped describe the beliefs.
While Padlet is my simple go to tool, I also love Voice Thread and Thing Link. I have language arts teacher using Voice Thread in their classrooms by uploading a picture and students creating stories based upon the image. Voice Thread does have challenges. For students to use the actual voice piece, they must have a microphone and a quiet environment to record. There is a cost to student license or you can use a generic log in which you could continually change the password. My language arts teachers love it. They assigned each of their classes a different genre to create the story to the picture. The students individually added to the story one by one. So they build upon each other’s narrative.
I know we were suppose to only talk about one or two, but there are so many great tools. I have recently found Thing Link. It can be used as opposites of Padlet or you can have students create your own. Thing Link allows you to have links to various websites and uses various symbols. I have used it a site using a tinyurl for my students to access when I want them to do research. I set up a Thing Link, which just has the web sites which I approve for research. This limits what the students are doing on the iPads and I can easily look and see they are on task.
In using specific tools and understanding the expectations of how we want them to work and what they can do, technology integration can be easy. Using these tools allows greater controls of what our students are accessing on the internet.