Back in 2001, when I started as a teacher, the technology boom was in its nascent stage. I remember toting a large bag filled with papers home most nights and going to sleep drowning under a vast sea of student homework that needed grading. My classroom was even worse, cluttered with books, manipulatives, globes, maps, and learning stations that left little room for anything else. However, as I write this in 2018, things have changed dramatically. Today’s teachers have edtech in their corners.
When I was in the classroom, project-based learning was becoming popular among educators looking to encourage student engagement with the curriculum. If you are new to the term, it just means focusing learning around a specific question or challenge, to help students drive their learning – it’s a great way to encourage exploration and keep active minds motivated.
Today, teachers have it made, as edtech is well positioned to enhance project-based learning’s positive impact while also increasing classroom efficiency. I didn’t have this privilege. Edtech can get students interested in project-based learning, empowers them to direct their own work, and helps educators by providing valuable frameworks for large projects. If I were still in the classroom today, I’d use these professional development apps, tools, and resources:
MindMeister– MindMeister is an app available for both Apple and Android devices. It is geared toward dyslexic students, who typically have a difficult time reading the board, listening to the teacher, and taking notes. Using MindMeister to make mind maps and collaboratively create digital notes, students can get creative, keep up, and learn much easier. This app is useful in any classroom or school scenario, as you can analyze papers, notes, projects, or whatever you need with mind maps and graphic organizers.
Toontastic 3Ds: This is a tool for creating 3-D cartoons that can be animated and narrated. It is an app for kids who want to develop their characters. It is operated by moving characters around on screen and performing different operations on them, such as telling a story by recording a voice or a sound and using different animations. The whole project can be saved on your device as a 3-D video.
Mathalicious. This uses real-world lessons in support of project-based learning, with a focus on encouraging critical and independent thought.
Novare PBL Platform. Novare is an excellent project management tool which uses narratives, portfolios and learning goals to structure project-based learning.
Boxlight MimioFrame– This combined system creates a virtual work area spanning about 11 feet by 4 feet where students collaborate and learn together at the front of the classroom. The MimioStudio classroom software makes it easy to use other classroom products and enables teachers to create lessons and joint projects. Files can be saved in the MimioStudio files format and accessed on any device using the MimioMobile app.
Edmodo– While social networking has received its fair share of criticism about the bad influence it tolerates, this app is unlike all that. Edmodo is a powerful tool that can be used to pool the creative thinking of students. It helps them think critically while fostering student-teacher partnerships to create projects.
gTasks– No excuse for lateness or sloppy timelines with gTasks! One of the difficulties of a challenging project is organization and time management, especially for students who haven’t practiced skills in projects of such magnitude. gTasks remind students of the deadlines they’ve set for the projects they have by syncing tasks with Google Tasks and adding reminders to their Google Calendars.
Strip Designer: Create comic strips using an existing camera photo from your gallery or social media profile. Then, choose from the many page templates available and create your comic strip. Fill text balloons with conversations and include sound effects to spice it up. When you are satisfied with your creation, you can share it with your friends and family. Available on iPad, iPhone or iPod.
Did we miss any?