If you’re a regular library user, you know I give lots of tips about how to use technology at home (spoiler: keep it mindful and meaningful) but have you ever wondered how teachers are using technology at school?
At Northside, our Core Values of collaboration, individuality, and responsibility are reflected in our educational technology use. In particular, we as a faculty are passionate about creating a seamless collaborative environment. We find that the more we work together across specialties and grade levels, the richer our school environment becomes. You’ve seen our collaborative work on display throughout the building; here’s a little bit about how we make that happen.
Keep in mind we never use tech to replace in-person communication. You’ve likely noticed the friendly atmosphere at Northside and a large part of that is due to the fact that teachers meet regularly to brainstorm and reflect. But technology certainly facilitates and enhances our ability to create meaningful student work. Here are some apps and platforms we use and recommend:
Padlet is a sharing platform, much like a virtual bulletin board with easy access points and rich opportunities for content.
A padlet can be as private as you want. We use “secret” settings at school, which limits access and keeps information private for our students. The real wonder of padlet is that you don’t need an email address to post anything, making it an ideal sharing resource for those who don’t have email (like our students). Teachers are able to share vetted, reviewed research websites and videos with students who can access them at school or home. Students can share written work. Everything is available to be moderated by a teacher.
Padlet works just as well for colleagues. As the librarian, I create padlets with recommended resources for project work that the classroom teacher can view and interact with. That same padlet then becomes the platform for the class’s research. Seamless and simple!
This is one of my favorite apps for sharing learning. Chatterpix is a talking picture app – take any picture, draw a mouth, and record your voice. It has a simple and kid-friendly interface that’s a snap to learn. Obviously there’s a ton of potential for fun but the real draw for educators is that Chatterpix allows our students to give voice to their work. Oftentimes our young learners have more knowledge than they can gracefully communicate with writing. Parents of first graders will especially relate to this! Combine Chatterpix with Integrated Art and suddenly art can talk and let everyone know all the information the student has learned over the course of a semester. Static work becomes active, and your child’s knowledge is visible.
Adobe Spark Video
Our older students use Adobe Spark Video (formerly Adobe Voice) to create incredible, meaningful animated videos. Adobe Spark provides creative ways to make quality informational videos. Spark has thoughtful guidelines that help students navigate the design process and organize their thinking. The streamlined system means that students feel confident and comfortable throughout their project. Most helpfully, while students can upload photos, Spark limits photo searches to those within Creative Commons, reinforcing good citation habits. Students use logical reasoning to add their own narration, choose music (also credited), and themes. Using video to express knowledge adds a deeper layer to their learning and reinforces concepts in meaningful, dramatic ways.
These are but some of the apps and websites we use to foster impactful learning at Williamsburg Northside. For more information about technology use, please come visit me in our Library. I also invite you to read my favorite App blog.