My Favorite TCEA 2016 Takeaways

Well, we've been back from TCEA for a couple of weeks now and the dust has finally settled. In reflecting on my time spent there, to me, what seemed to be trending: Google, Makerspace, and Virtual Reality, so I decided to post some tech tools every teacher needs to take a look at in 2016. Some have been around a while, some are new, and some just need to be viewed in a new way.

Noisli: Who can resist a website whose goal is to boost focus and productivity? I love this site! It has many different ambient noises, allows the user to create combinations (that you can save if find some you love) and even has a built in timer! This site could be very beneficial in a classroom when students are working independently, writing, researching, brainstorming, collaborating...the possibilities are endless. 

Quizziz: I've shared this site multiple times before with our teachers, but I'm not sure anyone is listening. This site has the cool factor of Kahoot, but I kind of like it better. And I'm getting a little anxious that the day will arrive when our students are "Kahooted out"; don't let that happen! So check out this formative assessment site. What I like about this site is the students aren't just slamming down answers to beat the others playing. They still compete against their classmates, but they're working independently so they have to really read the questions and potential answers.

Adobe Post: Last year at TCEA, I discovered all these incredible Adobe mobile apps that were free and incredible. In fact, I have a folder on my iPad and iPhone JUST for my Adobe apps. Well, Adobe keeps adding to the collection! This app is great and so easy to use. Need a quick, visually appealing graphic on the fly? Adobe Post is the key. Create engaging writing prompts, bell-ringers, exit tickets and do it quickly! The app comes with many templates, allows you to snap your own photos or use theirs. At this time, I couldn't find an Android version, but I'd keep checking.

Google Cardboard: While Google for Education was definitely trending at TCEA 2016, Google Cardboard and anything related to virtual reality was "more than trending".  These inexpensive little devices can transport students around the world and literally allow students to experience their learning firsthand. The resources for these devices are gaining in abundance daily. Click here to check out Jaime Donally's Symbaloo of Google Cardboard resources, but I will tell you, this is the tip of the iceberg! Also, check out Two Guys and Some iPad's latest post on free apps for Google Cardboard. Can I hear an OMG?

#360Video Channel: Don't have any Google Cardboard yet? No problem...check out the YouTube 360º Channel for lots of 360º videos. It's not quite the same, but it's pretty cool nonetheless. There is also an iOS app, In360Tube.  Click here for the Android version. 

Timeline JS: There are numerous multimedia timelines out there, but most are a little cumbersome to use. This site uses a Google Sheets template. Everything is already set up; you just enter the data into the spreadsheet. The only thing students need to do is be careful not to mess with the template and it produces a very slick looking timeline.

Newsela: This is another website we learned about last year, but it has really gained a lot of buzz...especially since the development of expository writing skills has become such a focus. This website provides very visually engaging, high-interest news articles. There are text sets categorized by state, further categorized by grade levels, standards, and content areas. Couple this with Chrome extensions like Scrible, ReadWrite or and you don't even need paper to annotate the text! This site is free and you get a lot in the free version. You can set up classes and enter your students. You can assign articles and even give quizzes, but you can't monitor or collect any data. For that you will need a pro account and be warned...the pro version is pretty expensive.

Google My Maps: While this Google app isn't new, it's become so easy to use...students can now add data, photos, calculate distance, collaborate and share these maps. They can access them directly in their Google Drive. I see so many uses for this app. Have student plot battles in order and take notes directly on their maps. They can plot out the progression of a novel with reflection/reaction responses written directly on their map. A whole class could collaborate on one map, adding content simultaneously in pretty much any content area.

Have any favorites we need to try in 2016? Feel free to contribute to the conversation!

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