Tech Selection - 6/10 Update

How do you select the best tech tools for students?  I start with the learning goals.  What do I want students to achieve? How do I facilitate that achievement?  What does my students' tech diet look like each day, week, month and year?

Teachers who will be attending my tech workshop prompted me to think about this question.  Many wrote that they were looking for optimal technology tools for their students, but they didn't know where to start.  Below I've listed some of the goals and tech tools I use to engage, empower and teach students. Note that this is a work in progress, a document that I'll revisit again and again in the weeks to come as I prepare for the workshop.  Please let me know what you think is missing?  Also note that this is written with my school system's infrastructure and the elementary school focus in mind.

Goal:  Independent Learning Skills:  Now that information is only a click away, it's important that students understand how to access information in meaningful, productive ways.
Tech Tool:  Ning Network and It's Learning:  The closed social network provides students with a 24-7 vehicle for asking questions, posting information and sharing what they're learning.  Through this venue, I can guide and support independent learning.  It's Learning, Wayland's learning management platform, also prompts independent learning.  It's Learning hosts all the links and materials related to a specific project or unit of study (course).  Students easily choose the learning topic, then access learning venues.
Student Example:  NING 4th Grade Discussion Thread

Goal:  Writing Skill:  Writing remains an essential skill. To be successful in our world, students need to know how to write well.
Tech Tool:  Google Docs/Presentation/Sites Tools, KidPix:  Google docs/presentation is an excellent tool for writing development.  Students can easily draft, share and edit (w/classmates and/or teachers) their stories.  Google docs also lends itself to publishing with ease.
Student Example:  Second-Fourth Grade Buddies Digital Story, The Homework Excuse Book

Goal:  Multimedia Composition:  Today most information is presented through multimedia composition.  Multimedia composition blends images, videos, music, text and other information types to communicate ideas, information and narratives.  Students are better able to access information from multimedia compositions if they have the chance to create similar compositions as that process creates familiarity and understanding of the venue.
Tech Tools: GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto, Google Presentation, KidPix, YouTube, VoiceThread, Animoto:  These tech tools create a wonderful multimedia tech palette for multimedia composition.
Student Example:  Save the Arctic Fox Public Service Message

Goal: Global Connections:  Our students will live and work in a global community.  It's essential that they begin to collaborate with children, teachers and experts throughout the world in developmentally-appropriate ways.  
Tech Tools:  ePals, Skype, Edmodo, NING, Twitter, Discovery Education, National Geographic:  We have started to explore this area through ePals.  Next year I'd like to explore this area with greater depth using some or all of the tools above.  I want to engage my students in a global project related to one of our curriculum areas.  There are many projects available.

Goal:  Knowledge:  There are many, many venues for knowledge development on the web.  It's both important to determine useful resources and to teach children how to evaluate and choose the best resources.
Tech Tools:  Discovery Education, Enchanted Learning, YouTube, expert websites, and national and international organizations related to the content areas such as World Wildlife Fund, National Geographic:  Educators should continue to investigate and research the best sites for their content areas.  Wayland teachers are able to link those sites to content courses/projects on It's Learning.

Goal:  Professional Development:  Excellence in instruction depends on a teacher's continued, focused professional development.
Tech Tools:  Twitter, EdCamps, Blogs and PD websites, Online communities and conferences:  Twitter is an exceptional idea-exchange for educators.  By developing a Twitter PLN (professional learning network), educators can link to numerous professional articles, activities and connections. 
Educator Example:  Join Twitter #edchat on Tuesday nights at 7pm for a good start.

Goal:  Math and Science Education
Tech Tools:  That Quiz, expert websites, Google forms, statistics/graph sites, interactive models:  The web offers numerous sites to support math and science engagement and learning.  Educators should seek interactive models that demonstrate math and science concepts, knowledge and information.  While there are many programs to boost computational skill and knowledge, technology more importantly supports project/inquiry-based learning which is the best way to develop meaningful math, science development.
Student Project:  Student Fraction Models and Problem Solving Project Snapshot

Goal:  Reading
Tech Tools:  Lexia, reading related search engines, author sites, online books.  All tech venues require reading skills and comprehension.  Technology tools are motivating for children, and therefore promote reading.  Use of noteworthy literature is essential to the development of successful readers.  There are many tech tools available which can help students with comprehension as well as connecting students to authors' websites and optimal search engines for finding just right books.  Online books will eventually replace most hand-held books since online books are current and will offer comprehension assistance (images, definitions, synonyms, translation, links and more).
Student Example:  Poetry Podcast

Goal:  Infographics
Tech Tools:  Data/Image Research, Publishing Software. Infographics are becoming a meaningful and valuable medium for demonstrating data and information related to a specific topic.  Students will face infographics increasingly in text.  Creation of infographics should be integrated into our curriculum programs from 4th/5th grade and up.

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