@TeachThought Days 13 and 14: EdTech and Student Feedback

TeachThought Day 13: My Top Edtech Tools

I have a few edtech tools I frequently use and recommend: Edutopia, Smartboard Notebook Software,  and two sites from the National Archives.

Edutopia is an outstanding online resource for educators. I subscribe to their newsletter and there is always something new and relevant for me to learn and use in my classroom. It is simply outstanding. 

Smartboard Notebook Software: this software is vital to my teaching. I organize topics for both US History and Effective Teens (the leadership class I teach) through Notebook. I am able to embed links, video clips, interactive maps, and other resources electronically. Without it I feel that my Smartboard would be nothing more than a very large computer monitor. The software helps me achieve my goal of student smartboard utilization, as well. They love to use the board and this is another opportunity to promote student-centered learning in my classroom. Smartboard also has a SmartTech Exchange for teachers to share interactive activities for classroom use.

Finally, two very impressive sites from the National Archives should be on every social studies teacher's radar: DocsTeach and OurDocuments.

DocsTeach is an outstanding social studies resource created by the National Archives. Teachers can find and create interactive, critical thinking-based activities for students focusing on the primary sources at the National Archives. I have used this for the past few years with great success. Creating activities isn't too difficult and the results are impressive, as well. Students can also submit paperless responses and email them to the teacher.

OurDocuments is simply a resource I couldn't be without. This site lists what are deemed to be the 100 milestone documents in American History (which promotes a rich discussion in itself!) and provides an interactive document for students to investigate. The Archives also has a Teacher Resource page for educators and Teacher Librarians. I use primary source documents from this site often--one of my favorites is the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the treaty that ended the war between the US and Mexico. The treaty is presented in book form and includes a medal. It is a good reminder to students that primary source documents can be anything and everything that will tell a historian more about the time period that is being studied. 

In closing, I have to say that I now have one more important edtech tool I use: Twitter. I just joined Twitter recently and have to admit that I wasn't understanding its full power when I decided to join the @Teachthought challenge. My hope was that by tweeting for 30 days I would become more comfortable with it. 

Technology has had a way of "blowing the doors open" on my learning over the past several years and this challenge is yet another example. I can't believe how much I've learned and been exposed to by taking on this challenge. I feel like I now have a community of amazing educators to follow and learn from. It's been exhilarating and I can't wait to see what's next!

Day 14: Student Feedback
Feedback for learning is any response that comes from someone in a learning community. The teacher isn't the only person to give feedback, nor should they be. Feedback can be a critique or a compliment, a suggestion or a follow-up question. It can also be verbal, written, and non-written.

I strive everyday to give better feedback to students. I am good with non-verbal feedback, which promotes a sense of community in my classroom. (Even a "teacher look" given to a student still helps to promote a sense of community--it might be all the student needs to "save face" with their classmates and recommit to our classsroom expectations.) 

I feel my written feedback is still, after all of these years, a work in progress and I'm often reflecting and scouring websites for ways to make my written feedback even more beneficial for my students. 
#reflectiveteacher #teachthought


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