Over the years I have worked in many schools and
FET centres, so I have had lots of experience with different platforms such as
Google and Microsoft. Google and Microsoft TEL tools help me stay as organised as possible and aid in assessing my students digitally.
These TEL tools not only contribute to my own organisation, planning and assessment, they can also assist students with additional learning needs.
I would define myself as a digital teacher and digital tools really help me to be organised in my classroom. In this article, I outline some of the tools I use every day in my classroom to enhance teaching and empower learning.
1. Keep the students up to date on all work if they are absent
2. Schedule work in advance
But also keeps me extremely organised. If I have a free class period or I am covering for a colleague who is absent I try and use this time very wisely.
I try to schedule material and assignments in advance for my students. If I find a remarkably interesting lesson on Twitter, I will schedule it on Google classroom. Google classroom is like a digital diary for me.
If we are permitted to have parent teacher meetings again this year, I will not be carrying heavy hardback copies to the meetings. I will simply open the student's profile and show the parents or guardians what work their child has been doing.
There are rare occasions that some students do not have access to a phone or a device at home, so exceptions are made for those students.
Google Classroom is a helpful tool if you, the teacher is also absent. All work can be posted to the students stream and can
be corrected anywhere. Private comments can be posted for feedback to the
student and a rubric can be set up to show the student where marks can be
There is a plagiarism checker built into Google classroom for typed work on a Google Doc which is an excellent tool when teaching your class how to reference online sources. As a history teacher I find this extremely beneficial when correcting their senior cycle essays.
I also create topics within Google Classroom, which is not only useful for myself but also for the students as they can access each chapter very easily.
Top Tip: I would recommend not posting everything to the stream as by the end of a term the students will not be able to find anything. Start from day one and create topic by topic and by the end of the year you will be so glad you did.
Further, Google Classroom allows you to record the material you are covering in class. In the event of an inspection, I will be using my Google Classroom to easily showcase lesson plans, as all of my resources are built into each class.
Google sites allows you to build your own websites
which is an excellent tool for whole school, to use for both planning and as a digital staff room. Using Google Sites allows all important information to be centralised in one place.
I have started creating my own Google Sites for teaching, learning and assessment. I have all my resources, links, Google form quizzes, PowerPoints etc all built into one location.
This can be imbedded into Google Classroom very easily and once this is created, it will dramatically reduce your planning time for next year.
Google calendar is another favourite of mine for
organisation. My school has a whole school events calendar, as a result all staff members
know exactly what is happening in the school.
We also have a subject planning calendar where we enter our subject department meetings and the schedule for the CBAs or senior cycle field trips etc.
In addtion, Google calendar easily imbeds into a Google Site, which is useful for whole school planning purposes.
Top Tip: I enter everything I am doing on my own Google calendar and set reminders for continuous professional development events!
Digital Assessment Tools
I do also give written class tests, but I like providing a variety of assessments to create a break from always reading and writing into a copy.
My Top Picks
Students can work together collaboratively in groups remotely on a Wakelet collection. We have completed several projects together during remote teaching and learning thanks to Wakelet and Google Meet.
The user can insert images, YouTube clips, written text, items for your device and your drive. You can search other people's Wakelet collections for ideas, and you can keep your collection private if you wish.
Teachers can add students to the collection which is ideal if you want to mix stronger and weaker students together. I will definitely be encouraging the use of Wakelet for CBA1 in history this term!
Wakelet has a tool called the Immersive reader that is built in, and this is an excellent tool to assist students with dyslexia and EAL students. The Immersive reader is a Microsoft tool and can be found in Microsoft Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and now recently in Google Docs using a chrome extension called Helper Bird.
The Immersive reader could be categorised as a piece of assistive technology and the fact that is free to use is amazing. I encourage my students before submitting a large piece of written text to listen to the essay back for any mistakes.
Top Tip: I use the immersive reader myself for checking errors in my own writing!
I am a huge fan of Google Jamboard for an AOL tool. My current second year geography students have been tracking the events of the volcanic eruption in La Palma as practice for their geography in the news CBA1. They have created beautiful visual digital displays on the eruption whilst quoting from local broadcasting networks and referencing their work. They also must communicate and collaborate with each other and present their findings each week.
Students are given a code to login, and they write the answers to the questions, they then pop up on the overhead projector. This is all anonymous, so a student has no fear of getting the answers wrong.
Again, this is a free tool to use and once you have added your students into your Edpuzzle class you can reuse the class if for example you had the same group for three years then just edit the class name and use it again in 2nd and 3rd year.
There are so many fantastic resources already on Edpuzzle so you do not always have to create a brand-new resource from scratch.
Quizlet has a feature called flash cards I really love using as a way for students to test their own knowledge at home or in class. Again, there are so many resources already available on quizlet for teachers to use with their students. Quizlet can now be imbedded in a new quiz platform called Blooket.
Blooket is another tool that incorporates fun into your lessons. Blooket is ideal for first- and second-year students as there are so many ways to play the quiz.
My students get extremely competitive when they play this, and I find that if I say we are having a Blooket quiz on Friday on a given chapter title they study for it as they want to win. This an excellent way to enjoy the last class on a Friday or last day of term and I like to throw in a few treats for the winners too.
Devices for whiteboard & sketching
Microsoft Whiteboard is an excellent application that allows me to incorporate plenty of colour, insert sticky notes, a ruler for precision and items from my drive etc.