Using Technology in the Classroom – Three Simple Tools to Start With

Three easy ways to start using technology in the classroom
You will be amazed how simple it is to use technology in the classroom!

Do you want to use more technology in the classroom, but you are not sure where to start?

Try out these three tech tools that are so simple and easy to learn, you can start using them in your classroom tomorrow!

Using technology in the classroom can bring so many benefits! Not convinced? Check out this article!

Lets start with the tool I think is super versatile and (in my opinion) the easiest to use:

ThingLink

Here is the very first ThingLink I made. It is about the History of Life on earth. My goal was to introduce my students to the timeline from the formation of earth to today, focused on the evolution of life.

This one page digital resource replaced a 40 minute lecture. Students have a sheet of notes that go with it, where they create their own time line and answer some guided questions. On average it takes them about 15 minutes to complete. Class time saved!

ThingLink allows you to make an interactive image. You can select whatever image you want – one of your own or one you find on the internet. Then add buttons, which students click to get information.

You can put text into these buttons, or a video clip, or an image, or an audio clip! Creating a button is as simple as clicking anywhere in the image, and adding your content.

Scroll to the bottom for a link to a ThingLink tutorial!  A perfect way to start using technology in the classroom!

Padlet

There are so many ways to use Padlet! Padlet was the first of these tools I started using technology in the classroom. I instantly got hooked!

Padlet makes a great content-delivery tool.  Similar to ThingLink, you can make a Padlet with embedded text, images, and video clips for students to learn from. What makes Padlet unique is that students can collaborate in real time and add to the content themselves.

When you create a Padlet, you can set it so that your students can add to what you have made. For example, they can watch the video clip and post their own reactions or questions to it. Or you can present a topic and invite them to conduct research and post their findings. They can even comment on and add to each other’s work.

Here is an example of a Padlet created by my Anatomy Class about vaping. It was their job to research vaping and decide if it is safe, safer than cigarettes, or not safe at all. They then posted a summary of their research along with the source link.

Students were encouraged to discuss their thoughts and opinions digitally by adding comments on Padlet, much like a Facebook discussion.

Spend Less Time Grading using the assignments you already have. (1)
Read to see how using Padlet for assignments can dramatically reduce time grading!

In another example, students watched a video I put into Padlet to learn about blood typing. They were each assigned a letter of the alphabet, and had to write one fact from the video that began with that letter. All of these were typed by the students onto the Padlet.

In the end we had twenty-five key facts from the video to discuss, review, and study – composed by the collaborative effort of the entire class.

When creating a Padlet, there are several formats you can choose. My favorite is the ‘Shelf’ which allows me to organize topics in rows. Both examples above are Shelf format. Students then add comments and posts to the appropriate row– which keeps everything more organized.

The ‘Backchannel’ option is great for group discussions. It works just like a chat room. While I don’t use Padlet for every discussion, I find it really helps give shy students a place they can feel more comfortable sharing.

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Sutori

Stutori is another fun, easy way to use technology in the classroom to delver consent.

The best way to describe Sutori is like a custom made, interactive, multimedia text book.

Where ThingLink invites students to explore resources in a random way (whatever button they want to click at the moment), Stutori allows you to organize information into a set order.

Think of a Sutori kind of like a list that you can add elements to in whatever order you want students to access them. Like ThingLink, you can include text, images, video and audio clips.

Here is a Sutori I use to teach students about the causes and dangers of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. As you can see in the example, Sutori allows you to embed other websites- including  ThingLink,  Padlet, and even GoogleForms! 

So consider this- My goal is for my students to know the role of Mitochondria in the cell – its structure and function.

I can set up a Sutori that starts them with a picture and written description of a Mitochondria.

Then they watch a YouTube video clip about the Mitochondria – but it is embedded into the Sutori – they don’t have to go to YouTube (prevents so many potential distractions!)

Next, they can explore a ThingLink that labels the parts of the Mitochondria and how each part contributes to its function.

You can embed websites for articles or interactive activities. Maybe they can read an article about a mitochondrial disease – again without having to leave the Sutoi.

Are cellphones distracting your students?
Click to read!

After that, they can interact with the content in a Padlet – maybe they can pose a question that another student answers, or post a picture of something like looks like, or behaves like a Mitochondria, or come up with a written analogy to the Mitochondria.

Finally, at the end is a Google Form with questions.  Do they know what the mitochondria does and how its structure contributes to its function? Did they meet your learning goal? The Google Form lets you know!  

Sutori is so versatile because it can be used to leverage so many other digital tools. That is what makes it my favorite tech tool for the classroom.

Don’t hesitate to use these tools to add technology to the classroom! They are so simple, you can learn all three in less than 15 minutes from these tutorials!

Itching for more chances to use technology in the classroom? Try one of these seven new ways to use Google Forms!

Tell us about your experiences using ThingLink, Padlet, and Sutori! How did you use them in your classroom? What other tools do you use? Let us know in the comments!

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