Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ed Tech Series, Part 1: Microsoft Tools

This is the first of several posts regarding the use of educational technology tools that I'm going to manage to coordinate into a mini blog series (hey, I can get fancy sometimes). that being said, I'm not guaranteeing they will all be in a row because when I get the urge, I sometimes just have to share something else.

This summer I took several professional development classes from the Learning Center of Cooperating School Districts. I consider myself an Ed tech geek, but know that to keep on top of my game, I need to keep learning (any other lifelong learners in the house?). I signed up for classes having to do with free Microsoft tools, digital literacy, and Common Core resources. These classes were some of the best PD I've taken.

Microsoft Partners in Learning is a great resource for educators. It gives one access to several tools well worth the time to introduce to students. One that students would find fascinating is WorldWide Telescope. It's similar to Google Earth, but it deals with the universe. Any student that loves space will dig this site. Any teacher educating students about the solar system, will want to utilize this resource. Equipped with photographic images, the user can explore the Milky Way as a whole or narrow in on a specific planet, moon, and so on. Information regarding the objects is presented, too.

One that all the educators in my group were impressed with was Mathematics 4.0. It shows students step by step how to solve mathematical equations! Not only generic ones, but ones they need help on. Some might see this as a handicap, but for students and teachers who really struggle, it would be beneficial. It also has features that allow students to self check, where the student could enter the equation and then the answer and click through to find out if they were right. This tool covers the gamut of subject areas that use math, from addition to chemistry.

Another tool I will be utilizing for my RtI students is Flashcards. The user can either find a digital set already made or make up their own with text and picture. One is then given options as how to proceed studying the Flashcards. The user can turn them from front to back or look at one side and then input what was on the other side of the card before flipping it. The cards go through a rotation several times to enable memorization. Once the user has got a card down pat it moves to a "done" pile to enable work on the ones that need more processing time. 

And the last tool I'll explain more thoroughly is AutoCollage. The user simply uploads photos to make a collage with and it does the rest with a click of a button.  Other options are available to make some photos more prominent than others, shrink or increase size, limit the number of photos wanted.

Other tools that are worth mentioning are OneNote, Math Worksheet Generator, and Skydrive. 

Have any of you used these tools in the classroom? Have tips you want to share? Bring on the comments!

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