Here are great ways classroom teachers of any grade level or content area can use 8 free tech tools to reinforce literacy strategies for all learners and foster student engagement and collaboration.
- Google Slides: Using Google Slides create a “Bookflix” presentation of book titles for your students reading choice. This Netflix-like display will be a more engaging way for kids to select books than looking at online books catalogs. To keep kids coming back for me, refresh your Bookflix list every month!
- Padlet: This is a useful space to house text sets for reading, research, or reference. It’s also a great way for students to share projects, videos, writing, etc. and fosters collaboration and feedback. It mimics social media with “likes” and “comments,” inviting students to engage with their peers in meaningful and purposeful ways. This is an ideal tool for writing celebrations, project galleries, and more.
- Jam Board: This can be used as a formative assessment tool. The platform is sponsored by Google and is free and easy to use. It also fosters collaboration among students. Use it to collect quick responses from students or gather “exit ticket” information, to name just two possibilities. Teachers of all grade levels and contents love the multiple uses of this tool.
- Canva: Links to your Google Classroom and is free and easy to use. This site offers a multitude of templates for students to create infographics, online posters or visuals for presentations. It’s a great way for students to show off their research, artistic, and thinking skills, while aiding students who find it hard to create visuals.
- Zoom: Many educators have become expert Zoom users. But did you know that Zoom allows you to conduct quick online participant polls? Or, that breakout rooms can foster collaborative discussions, group work, or book clubs among peers? Breakout rooms are also useful for individual students to take an assessment or complete a task before rejoining the main group. In addition, educators can use Zoom to record mini-lessons, presentations, or whole class sessions to post for students who are absent or as a reference for students who need a “refresher.”
- Bitmoji Classrooms: These are like Google Slides 2.0. They are a fun and engaging way to deliver content and house material. Bitmoji is connected to Google, so the two platforms “speak easily” to one another. Bitmoji has apps for smartphones and Chrome extensions to enhance ease of use.
- Escape Rooms: These are a fun way to engage students in learning or assessment through the use of Google forms, slides, docs, etc. Students go from question to question, completing a task at each stop along the way. If they get it right, they move on, if not, they must go back and try again. Not only is it fun for students, it’s easy to grade since students must gain mastery to get to the end. Setting these up can be time consuming, but they offer a lot of reward for students.
- Choice Boards: They’re like virtual Bingo cards of choices for students, offering them autonomy and choice in meaningful, purposeful ways designed by you. They can be set up through Google docs and shared with your students via the “share” button or Google Classroom.