Sunday, January 22, 2012

Technology for the Gifted Classroom


Yes, I know; this is a blog to provide support to parents. And I try to keep on topic; it is in the interest of parent-teacher relations and for homeschoolers that I decided to talk about tech tools for the gifted classroom. One can never have too many tools in the toolbox when it comes to teaching gifted kids.

There are, in fact, so many resources available to educators and parents that it would be impossible to cover them all here. The criteria that I considered when choosing tools were cost, ease of use, and availability.

All of these tools are available online and are free. Some have additional upgrades, but I don’t consider them necessary. School administrators are under extreme pressure to cut budgets and home budgets are already tight for many homeschoolers. So, free is nice!

Ease of use is an important consideration as well as professional development (PD). PD budgets are often the first thing to go when districts are looking to cut costs. Technology is great, but not if the teacher has no idea how to use it. Utilizing technology tools such as podcasts, webinars, and Skype can be a very cost-effective way to provide PD for teachers. They can also be utilized for personal development outside of school.

It is important to remember that technology is an enabler; not a replacement for authentic pedagogy. Instructional technologies empower educators to facilitate learning, increase student engagement, differentiate curriculum for each student’s learning style, and connect classrooms around the world. Students, in turn, can collaborate with gifted peers anywhere and at anytime while fostering problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and teamwork. They can communicate with master teachers, create new and innovative content, and learn at their own pace.



My first stop on the Technology Tool Tour (TTT) would have to be Google. Recently, Google made access to these tools seamless with their search engine. Once on the Google Search homepage, roll over the Google logo at the upper left-hand part of the page to reveal all they have to offer, Google Docs is a collaborative tool that allows multiple people to access and edit a document online from anywhere. As a bonus, it auto-saves every few seconds. Google Calendar can be accessed by anyone you grant permission to use. Teachers can place upcoming assignments and projects on the calendar and students can view from school, home or even on the bus ride home. Google Books, Search, Translate, and Scholar are great resources for research materials. Google Earth can make geography lessons come alive!

Other programs on the TTT, include:

            Classmarker – design quizzes & tests; administer them; & grade

            Diigo – add to ‘favorites’ as well as search tags you set up

            Dropbox – doc sharing site, accessed from multiple platforms 

            Emodo – share ideas, text alerts to students, conduct polls, & share files

            Evernote – accessed from any device; record student presentations

            Pinterest – ‘ideas’ are searched & pinned to the user’s board. 

            Podcasts – For ‘flipped’ classrooms & to view a wealth of PD podcasts .

            Screencast-O-matic- teachers can make tutorials for staff & faculty.
                                              
             Skype –  free, video calls; connect classes, teachers, & students.

Finally, our TTT draws to a close with a look at social media tools; many of which you are undoubtedly already familiar with and will need little explanation. Facebook has a neat feature called Groups which can be open, closed, or secret. Taking privacy into consideration, closed groups would be the best choice for classroom. Here students can collaborate on projects, share research, and ask questions of the teacher. Google + has a similar feature called Google Hangouts. Virtual Reality programs such as Second Life (older students with adult supervision) and Mission V (Ireland) provide virtual classrooms where students can engage in global projects, conferences, and lectures from world-class educators. And last, but not least … Twitter … perhaps the greatest source of PD, late breaking news and trends, and a great place to grow a personal learning network (PLN) with other professionals and educators.

Of course, there are literally thousands of other sites on the Internet that provide tools for teachers and the classroom. Hopefully, I have whetted your appetite to explore the ones I’ve mentioned and then look for other tools on your own!

3 comments:

  1. Nice blog! I really appreciate for sharing this information. Your website is very cool. I am so impressed by the info that you've on this website. Keep it up.

    Classroom Technology

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  2. I am a parent and a teacher of gifted kids. Your site has been SO helpful to me! I use many of these in my gifted classroom. Thank you for sharing. I am going to check out the others now!

    I would like to offer one more: (I hope that is OK - I am not endorsing, it is just helpful to me.)I use http://www.symbaloo.com/ to keep links to all of them (and the many, many others I use)on one page, for quick access.

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  3. Thank you for the wonderful blog. I find that screencastomatic is limited to only 10 or 15 minutes on recording length. My Screen Recorder Pro is an excellent screencasting tool. Records your screen and audio from the speakers or your voice from the microphone - or both simultaneously. The recordings are clear and look great when played back on your PC or uploaded to YouTube. It will record directly to AVI, WMV, MP4, or FLV. Just perfect for creating tutorials, demos, and presentations. Plus, there are no limits on recording length.

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