Some tools and resources in the module were ones that I am familiar with like Twitter and Podcasts. Although I have gotten away from using Twitter very often, I certainly see a benefit for teachers. Personally, I would not recommend it to my students. I listen to podcasts all the time. As a tool for students, I think it could be a wonderful way for students to express themselves creatively and they could certainly collaborate on podcast projects. I think a downside to something like implementing podcasts is there is a large learning curve. Many of my middle school students would struggle with putting together something as sophisticated as a podcast. It is a challenging task for some adults. I explored Canva for this module. I have heard of it before, but I have never used it before. I found a great tutorial on how to create infographics using Canva. I have a project (Brainstorming Challenge) that I am going to incorporate that tutorial into, because it requires them to synthesize data from research they are doing on real-world problems in our world. As Sheninger (2019) states,
[In] an information-saturated world, students are drawing on tools that help them analyze and understand multiple representations from a range of disciplines and subjects, such as texts, data, and photographs.
I have found that infographics help my students express and organize their ideas. This project is also a group project, so they will be working collaboratively. Adobe Spark is another tool to that I have begun to explore and can see the potential for creativity and collaboration. This is another tool I am planning to incorporate more into my curriculum. Two extensions that I find super useful for myself and am going to introduce to my students are Grammarly and MyBib: Free Citation Generator. My students are not great spellers. Grammarly will help them with suggestions and corrections when they are writing, as well as provide them with definitions if they are not sure about what a word means. I do not do much written work in my class, but sometimes I do. It is important for me to know what sources they are using for their research. MyBib makes it super simple to cite work and will allow me to do detective work if needed regarding their projects.
Most of the tools I have found and used are extremely helpful and useful. The resources you can get for free are amazing, so I hate to cite too many problems with them. f I must mention a disadvantage or problem with the resources I have used, I will say that I wish they had more of the premium features available for free. Another disadvantage is that extensions that you find for Chrome aren’t always available for other browsers.
In my classroom we mostly use desktop computers; however, we do use our browsers a lot and I have not incorporated extensions and add-ins (we are Microsoft) very much prior to now. I do enjoy exploring these add-ins and extensions and can see their usefulness, particularly with exceptional students.
My county uses Vision software to manage our student workstations. I can see their screens and have options to use when necessary. I even can log into their computer and control their computer if necessary. It has come in handy over the years in various situations, but once they know you can view their computers, you usually do not have as many issues as before.
For me, implementing mobile technologies is a bigger issue. I have seven iPads, but I do not use them as much as I would like, because of compatibility issues. I could train the students on how to transfer movies and artifacts from the iPads to their workstations or the cloud, but honestly, I just have avoided it. I have used my iPads to record STEM builds and to photograph projects that I transferred over later. Also, I have used them for enrichment with students and some enjoy using them, others do not seem to care as much. I know many rely heavily on BYOD, but luckily, I have a computer lab. I insist that they do not have their devices out for the most part.
The best way to keep students safe of the Internet is to educate them. The Common Sense Media curriculum is an amazing resource. Some strategies I suggest would be to implement Common Sense Media lessons and game-based learning (digitalcompass.org) into their curriculum. There is a vast library of lessons, activities, and support material available for educators. Begin to develop and build on vocabulary that addresses digital citizenship and digital responsibility. And lastly, reinforce the vocabulary and concepts introduced in Common Sense media throughout your curriculum.
Common Sense. (n.d.) Common Sense Digital Compass™ | Educational games for kids to help
teach digital citizenship and digital literacy skills. https://www.digitalcompass.org
Curtis, E. (2016, October 8). Chrome Extensions for Struggling Students and Special Needs. Control Alt Achieve. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from
Gonzalez, J. (2018, April 15). 4 Ways Microsoft is Making Learning More Accessible. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved February 28, 2021, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/inclusive/
Sheninger, E. (2019). Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times: Digital Leadership:
Changing Paradigms for Changing Times (Second ed.). Corwin.
Singh, N. (2020, October 13). How to make an infographic. Learn; Canva.