We have many new teachers in the district this year and I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of great tools that every new teacher should consider when starting their teaching career. Do not feel pressured to use every one of these tools right away. These are just suggestions based on my experience and the experience of many other veteran tech teachers when asked. If you have any questions about any of the tools listed here, please do not hesitate to contact me.
There is a ton of information on the Internet, it is tough to keep up with your favorite sites. Often you find yourself wasting time to check websites that have not been updated or you miss other sites that are are updated constantly. By creating an RSS Feed, updates to your favorite website can be sent to one spot for you to read. I prefer to use Google Reader. It's easy to use and you can access it from mobile devices. Here is a cool little video that will explain the process of RSS Feeds.
Here is a great site for teachers that want to show some YouTube videos but might only want to show certain selections. Tubechop is a website that lets you take any YouTube clip and chop it down to size. It is very simple to use and does not take very long. Just select the video you want, select the portion you want to watch and click the chop button. You will be given a link or a code to embed into a website. This site can come in very handy if there is a specific part of a clip you want to show your kids without constantly resetting the video player. This can save you time in the long run. Check this site out.
Livebinders is a great site. It is a great way to keep any or all of the documents you have for a unit or an entire class. I have created a binder for my Graphic Novel Class. It's labeled as Pictorial Literature and it was a way from me to keep an organized binder of all of my new materials I wanted students to have access to. I was able to create individual units on each tab of the virtual binder and cut and paste my documents. Each assignment was clearly labeled and easily accessible for my students. As the Semester went on, I uploaded and linked more work to the binder. Each Binder has a 100MB capacity. I find it hard to believe that people are going to cross the 100MB mark, but you can always create another Binder. The Binders do not have to be teachers only though.
Students can use binders for projects. I hate having to carry around a bunch of different projects that students have created. They were frustrating in paper form and are a different type of frustrating if they are sent to my email or are burned to a disc. I use a Mac (Love it!) and might not be able to check the assignment at home if they used some weird program I don't have. Also, I just don't trust what kids put on their flash drives or email to open it at home. Livebinders allows anyone to create the binder and store on their website. With the ability to upload PDFs, Pictures, videos, etc, the students will be able to create a full presentation that a teacher can check from the comfort of home. For Social Studies teachers, I know you like to use binders for current events and other projects. A virtual binder would be a great way for students to link to current events and other important Social Studies materials that you can check at your leisure. Also, this is a free service, so it will not cost your students, or you, a dime.
I find it is a great way to store all of my documents in a easy to use location without taxing the school's servers. It also allows you to access handouts from the Livebinder that might have been previously saved at school. The Internet provides teachers and students with options, so it's important to try them out.
Drop Box is a service I use and love. I wrote a post about it last year. You should check out this post and see how you can use Cloud Computing in your life. Drop Box Post. If you are not sure what cloud computing is, watch this video to see if Drop Box is for you.
In the old days, when you found an interesting website but did not have the time to read it, you would create a bookmark in your browser and read it later. That worked fine unless you wanted to read that page from a different computer. Social Bookmarking sites, Diigo or Del.icio.us, allow you to bookmark sites to be read at a different time and place wherever you have computer access. The title link will take you to a post I did on using Diigo with students. It has made my life a little more organized, which is a huge help as a teacher. Below you see a video explaining Social Bookmarking and using Del.icio.us. Diigo and Del.icio.us are both great bookmarking sites. Try both out and see which you prefer.
I have written multiple posts in the past about the benefits of using Twitter as a teacher. For some reason, it has been slow to catch on with others. I can honestly say that I have learned more from the connections I have made through Twitter than any PD or grad class I have taken. When I have questions, my Twitter teacher buddies will have answers in minutes. You can follow me @TheNerdyTeacher and I would be more than happy to connect you to the teachers I chat with daily.
Why You Should Tweet!
Twitter in the Classroom
Hello Twitter World
There are many more articles and posts out there about Twitter and how it has helped connect teachers from around the world. It is an amazing tool and you should seriously consider using it.
I love using Wallwisher! I wrote a post on using it last year. It is great for peer feedback for projects. Check it out.
Using Wallwisher in class.
Here is a screen cast I had to create for a grad class. Embarrassing, but helpful.
A collection of sites:
Below are a list of sites that I cannot live without. They are blogs and sites written by some very amazing people that will go out of their way to help you. I don't have the space to really list all of the sites I follow, but here are just a few to get your RSS feed going.
http://edutechintegration.blogspot.com/ (New post on using the SMART airliner)
www.thenerdyteacher.com (Yup, self promotion)
I hope these sites are just a jumping off point as you continue to explore the wonders of Social Media and how it can make you a better teacher. Give it a Try!