As my family and I wrap up Thanksgiving 2018, I want to take a few moments and give a shout out to several of my amazing EdTech friends who would be great people to check out if you do not already follow them on Twitter and/or their blogs. I also want to give you a few recommendations for my current favorite EdTech tools/sites.
The stated mission of EduMatch is “to connect educators around the world, along similar topics of interest.” EduMatch was founded by an amazing educator, Sarah Thomas, PhD (on Twitter as @sarahdateechur). She had the brilliant idea to put like minded educators in touch with each other so they could connect and collaborate. That idea has grown into something amazingly huge and powerful. EduMatch publishes books, does podcasts, and much more. Definitely check them out!
Nadia is a former middle school English teacher and current Digital Learning Coordinator for a large suburban district just north of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She has been referred to as Disneyland for teachers as she takes all of their dreams for the classroom and helps to make them possible. She is definitely one to check out, and I am thankful to count her as a close friend.
Find her podcast at https://anchor.fm/yourbestlife/episodes/YBL-E001—Believe-to-Achieve-e10vi2 and on Twitter at @kenyaransey.
Kenya is a former elementary school teacher and current EdTech Integration Specialist working with Kennesaw State University’s iTeach department (@ksuiteach). She is passionate about meaningful integration of technology into curriculum, but she prioritizes pedagogy over technology for technology’s sake. I’m proud to call her a close friend and my partner in several presentations.
I first learned about David when I came across a quotation from him that said, “Classrooms don’t need tech geeks who can teach; we need teaching geeks who can use tech.” I knew then and there that we had a LOT in common. I have said many times that #PedagogyIsKing, and I still firmly believe that. In EdTech, I think sometimes we lose sight of that. David hasn’t, and he is a truly inspirational principal. His blog never fails to give me something to think about, and if you’re not already following him, he’s one to check out. When my former principal John Kelly (on Twitter @theprincipaljpk) met him this past summer, he sent me a picture of the two of them together. I told him that I would be photoshopping myself in, so I offer this less than professional image of the three of us with my apologies to David. 😊
It is also available as an app for iOS and Android.
Microsoft Translator is truly revolutionary. We have all seen translator apps, and most of them offer similar options. Microsoft’s version has the typical options of typing or speaking and translating into a wealth of languages. You can also snap a picture, and Translator will decode the image for you. But what is amazing to me about Translator and what has blown everyone away that I’ve shown is the Conversations option. In Conversations, one person opens a conversation, and many different people can join. Each party to the conversation can join and participate in his own language by speaking or typing and receive everyone else’s input immediately translated. I have personally tried this out with friends who speak multiple languages, and the rate at which Translator was converting everything was phenomenal. I passed the app along to classes with new students from other countries, and suddenly these students were able to participate in class. Check this one out – it’s amazing!
Microsoft Learning Tools
Find them online at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/products/learning-tools/default.aspx and on Twitter at @microsoftedu.
Microsoft Learning Tools are an incredible group of tools to assist students in improving reading and writing. I first saw these when they were an optional add-in for OneNote and was blown away. The immersive reader removed all distractions from the screen, increased the text size, and gave the option of breaking words into syllables and highlighting various parts of speech. You can also have text read to you, which is such a huge advantage for kids with reading difficulties. Fast forward a few years, and now you can access Learning Tools in Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Edge as well. Definitely worth checking out. This helps to level the playing field for so many kids (and adults too)!
Their community manager Bethany Beaudrie (on Twitter at @bethanybeaudrie) is also amazing!
BoClips is a repository of video clips for use in your classroom. It’s easily searchable, and you can quickly share videos with your students. You don’t have to sort through to find ones that are appropriate or wait through the aggravating commercials that YouTube is now plagued with… Unless you’re willing to pay the YouTube fees, and I am not.
My friend Daniel John (on Twitter @daniellj83) is my contact there, and he’s awesome too!
How can I even begin to describe the magic that is Zzish? Zzish has taken all that is good about all of my favorite EdTech apps and combined them with brilliant pedagogy and reams of searchable data PLUS easy differentiation for students. It’s amazing. Legitimately amazing. Please, please, please check it out.
I hope that you have found someone or something new here, and I hope that this Thanksgiving was filled with joy, family, and lots of delicious food. I wish you all the best.