Over the past two years, I have been blessed to partner with District 205 in Elmhurst, IL. I still vividly remember having lunch with Dave Moyer, the superintendent, where he explained in detail the vision that had been set for the district, centered around the six C's (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, character, citizenship). It was at this time that the decision was made for me to assist. The overall goal and focus of the partnership have been to help them get the most out of the devices that were rolled out a few years ago across the entire K-12 district as part of a 1:1 implementation. My role, like in many other similar districts across the country, has been to assist the teachers and administrators with digital pedagogy leading to purposeful use and efficacy using the framework below.
One of the best parts about job-embedded, on-going work with school districts is facilitating a variety of professional learning opportunities. They have utilized me as a keynoter, coach (leadership and teaching), and workshop presenter. Recently the district asked me to be a part of their professional development day, which consisted of seven different learning strands specific to the needs and interests of their teachers. During a planning call prior, I was asked to work with special education, math, and reading teachers in particular. To be honest, these groups are not in my traditional wheelhouse, but I saw it as a learning opportunity to branch out and expand my level of knowledge.
Prior to the day, I spent a great deal of time planning my slide deck and associated digital handouts. The overreaching goal for each session was to support instructional strategies aligned to rigor & relevance and the 6 C's with a focus on the purposeful use of technology. What resulted was a great resource that I plan to share below on specific edtech tools that can assist special education (SPED), math, and reading teachers.
With the SPED sessions, everything was tied into support and planning for the six approaches to co-teaching embraced by the district. I realized early on that I consistently see all of these in action regularly through my coaching work in schools across the country. I went deeper into the models from a pedagogical standpoint to help them better plan for instruction. This was then followed with strategies and tools for embedding tech that would assist with both differentiation of instruction and co-planning (virtually). Both the math and reading sessions focused on how edtech could be used during independent work, formative assessment, and pedagogically-sound blended learning.
Below you will see the specific tools I provided during each session. Some aren't new, but others might be.
- Pear Deck (formative and targeted assessment)*
- Nearpod (formative and targeted assessment)*
- Padlet (cooperative learning, closure, checks for understanding)
- Linoit (cooperative learning, closure, checks for understanding, annotation)
- Flipgrid (video creation for closure, checks for understanding, blended learning)
- Newsela (assign current event articles by Lexile and quizzes)
- Freckle (differentiation, stations)*
- Edpuzzle (upload videos and insert questions)*
- GoSoapBox (confusion indicator, quizzes, discussion forum, polls)
- Formative (formative assessment, differentiation)*
- Gimkit (formative assessment, closure)
- QuizWhizzer (formative assessment, closure)
- Seesaw (demonstrate and share learning)
* Denotes importing and syncing with Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology
- Voxer – (push to talk app that works like a Walkie-Talkie; share synchronous and asynchronous voice, test, and video messages in a threaded conversation)
- Google Drive
- Slack (workflow tool with instant messaging)
- Padlet (collaborative board with text, video, audio, drawing, and screen sharing)
- Linoit (collaborative Post-It note space)
- Prodigy (K-5 games)
- Xtra math (free program that helps elementary students master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.
- IXL (paid personalized learning tool)
- Educreations (create mini-lessons for students to watch/refer to and then practice concepts)
- Khan Academy (videos for supplemental support and practice)
- Knowledgehook (formative assessment tool for grades 3 – 9)
- Patrick JMT (short instructional videos for middle and high school)
- Hooda Math (K-12 math games)
- CK-12 (adaptive practice problem sets; also check out their PLIX series)
- Freckle (differentiation, stations)
- Flipgrid (have students solve problems on whiteboards and then explain how they solved them using video)
- Math Pickle (puzzles and games organized by grade level)
- IXL (paid personalized learning tool)
- Epic (access to 35,000 of the best children's books for elementary)
- CommonLit (free reading passages with formative assessments for grades 3-12)
- ReadWorks (K-12 articles and assessments)
- Read Theory (online reading activities by reading level with associated quizzes)
- Smithsonian Tween Tribune (articles and quizzes for K-12)
- Rewordify (simplify difficult to read English text, monitor students' reading and learning progress)
- ReadWriteThink (a wide array of free student interactives)
- PBS (games for elementary students)
- Starfall (K-2 reading games and activities)
- Flipgrid (have students record themselves reading passages and excerpts in order to assess)
- Newsela (current event articles by Lexile with pre-made assessments)
So, what would you add to what I have curated? Please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section below. As I facilitate future workshops, I will add more tools to this list that align with other content areas.