A Few of My Favorite “Techie” Things

There are so many websites and apps these days, it is hard to keep up with them all!  There are some that come and go quickly and others that stick around for the long haul.  My favorite type of tech tools are ones that are used for creation purposes, easy to use, and can easily be shared globally.  I have a few that I use consistently each year because they have all of those qualities.

The first tool is Storybird.  Storybird is a FREE website where students choose artwork for the pages of a book and then write a story based on those pictures.  Here is my Storybird book called Dreams.  As you can see a simple story can have a big message.  The creativity, critical thinking, decision making, and writing are all a part of the process to create a thought provoking story.  Adding on top of that, the opportunity to share their story with the world, a real live audience, takes it to the next level.  I set the stories as public and I have my students share their stories on their blog.  One more thing I LOVE – parents can purchase the book as a hardcover or softcover.  Not only is this tool amazing for writing instruction, students enjoy reading each other’s books – along with the hundreds of thousands of books written by children and authors around the world!  So EXCITING 🙂

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Speaking of reading…another website I find my students engaged in often is Newsela.  Newsela is a website FILLED with non-fiction articles.  The articles can be changed to several different Lexiles so every article can be enjoyed by your struggling reader to your strongest reader with the click of a button.  Teachers can assign specific articles and levels to their students or students can choose on their own what they’d like to read.   Newsela also offers text marking tools, quizzes at the end of articles, and open-ended questions for students to answer.  Articles are categorized by subjects such as “Money”, “Kids”, “Art”, and “Science” to name a few.  Newsela has recently updated their site with Text Sets.  Text Sets are a group of articles related to a specific topic.  You can create your own Text Set for a topic you are covering in your classroom or use someone else’s Text Set that has already been created (and tweak it to make it perfect for your classroom needs).  I have used Newsela in two ways this school year.  Each week students are required to read an article of their choice.  Then students create a Google Slide with the title of the article, four detailed facts (as bullets) that support the main idea, and their opinion or thoughts on the article.  Students have also written a blog post (bitly.com/5Gblog) about an article they read and commented on each other’s posts.  I plan on assigning more of those posts in the future.

NewselaLogo

News-o-matic is an app that has non-fiction news stories written by children for children.  We were fortunate enough to have a trial period at the end of last year with this app and my students LOVED it!  They loved reading the stories so much, that several of them had their parents buy the app for their personal devices at home.  The stories include fun visuals, video clips, maps showing where the story takes place, puzzles and much more!  Unfortunately, it is an expensive app so we don’t have it this year. However, it is definitely worth looking into for your classroom!

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The last tool is a fun way for students to create a summary of ANYTHING…Tellagami is an app that allows your students to choose a background, create a personalized Gami, and either type in what the Gami says or record themselves saying what they want their Gami to say.  Once the 30 second video is created, students can email it to themselves and use the link to put their video into their blog post.  In the past, students have used this tool to give a quick summary of an object they took a picture of and use it as the background.  For example, a summary of a book, a description of a plant cell, a historical photo, or an explanation of a piece of art they created in art class.

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There are so many wonderful tech tools to enhance instruction in the classroom and unleash your student’s creativity out into the world.  Allowing yourself the time to explore new tools and take the risk of trying something new and unfamiliar in your classroom can lead you to find some of YOUR favorite “techie” things.  So go ahead….Give one of these a try!

Now that is Positively Techie 😉

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