Like many teachers, I’m always searching for ways to adapt my teaching and learning to the digital age. When used according to the ISTE Standards, the right technology tools can help every teacher build a bridge to the future.
Here are five of my favorite ways to tie digital age tools to the ISTE Standards.
Diigo. As a teacher, the ISTE Standards for Teachers direct me to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity. My favorite tool to empower my students as learners is Diigo, a social bookmarking website and so much more. Diigo allows students to engage deeply with websites and PDFs. After students sign up for a free account, they can highlight, annotate and tag content found online. By recording and analyzing their thoughts, students become more than passive observers. Diigo helps them with the Knowledge Constructor standard within the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students by offering one centralized location to curate and evaluate sources. The Diigo Outliner tool allows students to create tags so they can organize their notes in outline format.
But Diigo isn’t just for individual student research. If teachers create groups on the website, students can share their annotations and sources with each other to address the Global Collaborator Standard. I find that when students work together to share the sources and notes, it enriches their understanding of a text. Students can work on school Chromebooks, their phones or a home laptop to collaborate with their groups on their own time, which supports their ability to contribute to the learning of others.
One caveat, it can be difficult to add annotations if the PDF has been uploaded as an image.
Touchcast. I want my students to do more than read the ideas of others; I want them to come up with their own ideas. Touchcast helps my students be creative communicators and global collaborators by offering an easy way for them to embed images, video and websites into their video projects. This allows a less linear and more creative way to interact with content, and students can share their creations on the Touchcast site giving them an authentic global audience.
Touchcast allows students to add their own commentary as voiceover in videos, draw on images to emphasize a point and contribute to group projects by sharing video files between iPads. Those features allow students a way to address the Knowledge Constructor and Creative Communicator standards within the ISTE Standards for Students, which expect students to curate resources and express themselves creatively for the purpose of informing their peers.
Some teachers even use Touchcast to work with students across the globe to solve world problems with #GlobalCoLab, while others use Touchcast to share their students’ love of books, both of which can address the Global Collaborator standard.
If you have limited classroom devices, students can install this app on their iPhones so they have access in and out of school.
Google Classroom. As a full-time English teacher, I’m not just looking for the latest tool to help my students make projects, I’m also looking for ways to model digital age work and learning, a hallmark of the ISTE Standards for Educators. All assignments are organized for students on their Google Calendars, and they can receive email notifications when assignments are added. Google Classroom allows for guardian email updates, too, which keeps parents in the loop about late or missing work, in addition to announcements and new assignments. Gone are the days when students wondered what homework I assigned.
Google Classroom is free to schools that have signed on to Google Apps for Education (now called G Suite for Education). By having one centralized location for creating and submitting student work, Google Classroom streamlines how I communicate assignments. Some teachers even post multiple versions of the same assignment to different groups as a way to differentiate work.
Screencastify. I use this tool to create screencasts of my feedback of my students’ work, instead of just writing comments on their papers. I find that if I talk to them, highlighting their strengths and scaffolding them through their weaknesses, they understand what they needed to do to improve their writing.
Screencasts are better than face-to-face writing conferences because students can replay and pause my comments. I’ve noticed that students actually revise their papers and become better writers with this method, which is not something that happened very often after offering students written or face-to-face feedback. After an initial draft, I often ask students to decide what skill they want to improve, and I then provide focused feedback on just that skill using a Google Form. By providing feedback for students via technology and asking them to determine their own improvement goals, I am creating empowered learners, ISTE Student Standard 1.
The one thorn in my side is that this does take some time, but the result makes the time and effort worthwhile.
Goobric. This is a Chrome extension that allows teachers to use rubrics to automatically score student work. When used in conjunction with Google Classroom and Doctopus, you can import and organize student writing, and Goobric will insert a rubric for each student submission. Just create a Google Sheet with the rubric, and then “ingest” the student work in a new Google Sheet, attaching a Goobric rubric. When I click on “Assess document,” it opens the student file, providing me with an easily clickable rubric, recording my responses on the spreadsheet and adding a rubric in each student’s work. I can still add comments in their documents and add audio files as well. This tool makes the time-consuming task of creating individual rubrics for students a breeze.
As times change, so do the tools we use to help prepare our students for the future. Although the tools will change over time, the expectations for a 21st century learner will not. ISTE Standards form the bridge that my students and I will cross to the future.
Veteran teacher Beth Crawford sees value in empowering her students with technology and is herself a lifelong learner. She currently teaches English at Kenton Ridge High School and New Media at Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @bethctech.