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+ Background

+ How to Use

+ Citations

+ Symbol Key

+ Criteria

Quill

Book Creator

AdLit.org

Padlet

Animoto

NoRedInk

Vocaroo

Glose for Education

Miro

Mentimeter

Exploring& AssessingOnline Learning Tools

Miro

Go visit!

Miro, although not specifically marketed for education, is a great tool for giving students a way to organize their thoughts, brainstorm ideas for writing essay drafts, charting things like plot and character development, or even work with a team to organize notes for a group presentation. It is a "mind map" tool with many different templates that students can choose from, but they also give users the option to start from scratch and get creative! I can definitely see teachers using this to facilitate group discussions about characters and plot, or to model how they want students to structure their essays.

Quill is an "interactive writing and grammar tool" that allows teachers to assign targeted mini lessons to improve very specific, discreet skills. Some lesson topics that teachers can assign involve appositive phrases, sentence fragments, and even simple nouns. Quill sections off their lessons based on grade level; any student in grades 4-12 can use it! Something that I consider to be a special feature is that they aniticipate the needs of Emergent Bilingual students and they have a whole pack of lessons designed specifically for them!

Quill

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Book Creator

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This program, an alternative to Storybird, is perfect for the ELA classroom! Its purpose is for students to write, narrate, and illustrate their writing (they have templates or blank books and even comics!). What makes this extra special is that it gives you the option to publish your writing: students can print, download as an ebook, or publish to the internet! This would be a great tool to use as a culminating project for a creative writing or poetry unit and it would be perfect for those students who love to write or for those who want to gain confidence and see that their writing is publication worthy!

AdLit.org

Go visit!

While AdLit has some tools geared toward teachers, I was engaging with the Books & Authors drop-down menu where I found a collection of author interviews that could easily supplement/introduce a new book we'll be reading and give students some much needed context before diving into a text they've never encountered. Within that same tab, they have a page titled Book Finder which is an excellent tool for getting students to examine diverse voices and identities in the books they read as well as finding books that appropriate to their age, comfort level, etc.

Click: Books & Authors Tab

Padlet

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I think of Padlet as Jamboard's more engaging cousin! Students can use it as a tool for digital citizenship because it is so grounded in peer interaction: you can leave comments, likes, or upvotes. I used this in a fieldwork lesson, and I had it as an accommodation for assessment with minimal language. I like this tool because it also opens up the discussion for lots of "nontraditional" forms of participation. Padlet allows students to express themsleves with text, images, gifs, screen recordings, or even relevant songs. I see this tool as a way of showing students how to take a lot of the media and ways of communicating on the internet that they're already using and applying it in a different context.

My students' Padlet!

Mentimeter

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I saw Mentimeter being used to gauge student reactions to texts and to springboard more in-depth conversations about what they'd read during my fieldwork observations. This program is a great for students to see their peers' reactions to the same questions via polls, surveys, and word clouds and how their thoughts can be vastly different! From a teacher's perspective, this is a good way to check for comprehension as well as ensuring that all students have a chance to participate. One feature that my fieldwork students enjoyed was that their responses showed up in real-time--they loved to compare answers as they were coming in!

Animoto

Go visit!

Animoto is a tool designed to scaffold the video-making process so that even students with limited experience with this, they can still use it to make a presentation other than a slidedeck. As with many of the other tools, there are many themed templates on Animoto, and one of the features that I enjoyed was that you can add music to your video! I think this is a great beginner's tool to introduce students to video editing (rather than something more robust like imovie) where they can drag and drop pictures, stock images, and even screen recordings.

NoRedInk

Go visit!

NoRedInk feels very similar to Quill because they both have to do with writing, but NoRedInk is more specialized for the writing process than for discreet grammatical skills. For example, some of the areas students can practice are "Clarity and Style" and "Evidence, Citations, and Plagiarism". Other than honing their skills, this tool is great for students to get more comfortable with peer and self assessment of their writing, and one of the features that I liked about it was that it has a preliminary diagnostic writing assessment that you can assign that will look at your students' writing through state standards so you can see how to individualize future instruction.

Vocaroo

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Vocaroo is a very straightforward voice recording app. It allows students to easily upload their audio files and insert them into something like a google slides presentation (which is how I saw it used in my fieldwork placement). Students would use this tool to practice reading sample passages aloud so they could listen back and evaluate themselves for fluency, pronunciation, pacing, tone, etc. I have seen this used with bilingual students, but I could definitely see this being used in an English class for practicing a speech or adding voiceovers to a story or presentation to make it more engaging.

Glose for Education

Go visit!

Glose is very much like a Facebook or Goodreads for the classroom---an online reader community with just your teacher and peers! Glose is available for all students, but their website says that one of their special features includes the ability to manipulate font, text size, etc. for students who have reading difficulties. In addition to students learning how to use this tool to annotate the text they're reading (they can highlight and post questions or do something more creative like post emoji reactions), they can also use this tool as a model for "real" social media sites.

I was very pleased with Miro because I have tried other mind mapping websites for assignments, and a lot of them were either really clunky or expensive---sometimes both! The first thing that struck me was the clean, polished interface which I think lends itself nicely to a software devoted to organizing lots of ideas in one place. The website's tool dashboard wasn't overwhelming, and I loved all of the creative templates that they have available! Although I feel confident endorsing Miro because I've compared it to similar sites, one thing that I couldn't test out yet was the collaboration feature. I would like to see how it holds up when multiple people are working simultaneously!

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Miro

Since starting at Muhlenberg, I've looked into lots of tools that I can potentially use in my future classroom, and Quill was often on recommended lists, so this was the first tool I thought of when I saw this assignment. So even though I didn't hear about this from a past teacher or professor, I knew that it was a popular tool online. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype and my high expectations! Although I signed up with a teacher account, it gave me the capacity to see the student view and do some practice sessions. I loved that the program gives immediate feedback and that the student workspace is very clean and simple, limiting distractions. Another thing that demonstrated their committment to personalized learning was that they have lots of practice sets about the same concpet, but the sample sentences are about different themes. So if you have a student interested in dinosaurs, they can do a skill session about conjunctions where all of the sentences are about dinosaurs! The one thing that I thought they could do better came from the educator side of things: they gave a lot of data and analytics, almost to the point that it was overwhelming! To be more effective, I'd like if this were a bit more streamlined.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Quill

I was extremely impressed with how accessible this is---especially because I thought that they would be more focused on how books are "traditionally" written and illustrated. However, I was glad to be proven wrong because Book Creator gives students the option to narrate their book rather than stick to the more traditional text-based story. I also loved that they were very cognizant of students who might have reading difficulties or language barriers and who might benefit more from graphic novels/comics. I can only imagine how empowering it will be for students to make the kinds of stories that not only suit their interests but also their reading style! The one qualm I have with this compared to StoryBird is that I didn't see an option to send away for a physical copy of students' works. I think that having that "published" feel to it would be even more impactful for students.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Book Creator

The one aspect of AdLit that made me a bit hesitant to include it in my list is that the website doesn't have separate domains for student resources and teacher resources. I know that there might be some overlap, but I'd like to see them make separate spaces for teachers looking for lesson plans and curriculum and for students looking to engage with more diverse literature. With that being said, I think that the student-centered tools they have are very intentional for curating interest in literature and, especially if they use the reading discussion guides, sharing that interest with others! I wish I would have found this resource while making my unit plan last semester because I think that one of AdLit's strengths is that the information is so accessible and it gives students agency over the books they can read for assignments, helping to disrupt the idea of this fixed set of books that they "should" or "must" read.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

AdLit.org

I heard about this tool from Professor Kim last semester and I immediately wanted to try it in my fieldwork placement. I used it as an opening activity to ascertain my students' preconceptions about poetry and what makes a poem "good"---I loved how I could get immediate, focused feedback to jumpstart discussion. Although I modeled how to use the different forms of interaction, my students didn't utilize much other than text responses; so while I think it's easy to use, I don't have student input on that criteria yet. Reflecting on that, I think that something they could do to help with the learning curve is to have a introductory video or "how to" guide to model how they can use the tool effectively.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Padlet

Like Padlet, I discovered Mentimeter last semester! My cooperating fieldwork teacher used it in her lessons, and while I observed how students interacted with it, I saw that they were very engaged with the resulting poll results and the word cloud where they could easily see trends in their answers based on how big the words got. The clear, compelling visuals were a key part of the resulting discussion, which I think is indicative of how effective Mentimeter is! The only thing that I remember discussing with my cooperating teacher is that while the tool is initially free, you can only do about 2 activities before you have to pay for a subscription. Knowing this, I was a bit hesitant to recommend the tool, but my teacher really loved it. I think that this is something they should look into changing, but I still look forward to using it.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Mentimeter

While thinking about potential tools to use for this, I remembered using Animoto around 2013 when it was still a newer company and you could only use a handful of images to make your videos. I thought it was the coolest thing then because it was so easy to use, and the finished products were professional and even set to music! I decided to check it out to see what had changed, and I found that it was a bit more overwhelming to make videos because there were lots more media types than pictures that you could upload, but it didn't detract too much from the overall experience. I think that users who don't have a simpler experience to compare it to would find it more accessible, but I definitely think that it is a possibility that all the different media types could get to be a bit much in a single video.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Animoto

Although I was initially impressed with NoRedInk's wide range tools (much like Quill) that were easy to use and had a wide array of student data for teachers to continuously personalize instruction, I admit that this didn't meet the "ease of use" criteria. When I went through their extensive list of possible lessons, I was disappointed to see that many of them aren't available without paying for a subscription. I would love for them to make this tool more readily accessible, especially since this tool is so closely aligned to state standards and would make this easier for teachers to integrate into their curriculum and lesson plans.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

NoRedInk

One of Vocaroo's strengths is how practical it is---absolutely no frills, just a record button and an image of a cute robot adorn the page. This makes it extremely easy to use, and my one fieldwork teacher swore by this software. When she first recommended it to me and I looked it up, I was confronted with one of the website's greatest weaknesses: its appearance. It looks very outdated and not too professional, to the point that I wondered how my fieldwork teacher had found it and still wanted to try it out! I think that Vocaroo is an excellent tool, but it needs some major remodeling before it looks like a tool to be taken seriously.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Vocaroo

I think that one of Glose's most appealing features is how similar it looks to a Facebook or Twitter page---I love that it models real-world social interactions in a moderated environment. Students may not think of their responses and annotations as feedback, but I think that this is a much more engaging way to learn to interact with a text than the traditional pen and paper marginal annotations. The one issue I had with this (which I can also see as a hidden strength) is that it was a bit difficult to get an educator's account---I ended up watching screen recordings and testimonials to get a feel for the software. However, this shows me that they take student security seriously, and I think this is arguably one of the most important things that a digital classroom tool should consider.

Ease of Use

Appealing, not too flashy

Trusted source?

Does it meet the criteria?

Feedback or assessment data?

Glose for Education

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Criteria is met

Criteria not applicable

Criteria is not met

Beyond the initial criteria of whether the tool is free and aligns with the curriculum standards I discuss in the Background window, I also looked at:

  • Ease of use
  • An appealing, but not overstimulating/flashy interface
  • Who recommended this tool to me? A trusted source? I'm mostly looking for if a teacher/professor recommended it, or even a reputable website
  • If applicable, does it provide feedback/assessment data?

Assessment Criteria

  • Click each tool's company logo to read about what the tool is, how it works, etc.
  • Click the magnifying glasses to read my assessment of each tool.

How to Use

Citations

I had already heard about Quill, Padlet, Mentimeter, Animoto, and Vocaroo. Miro I found through a google search for "free mind map software". But I found the others on:

  • Book Creator and NoRedInk: https://www.teachthought.com/technology/essential-edtech-tools/
  • Glose: https://www.commonsense.org/education/lists/10-best-ela-tools-for-high-school
  • AdLit.org:
  • https://www.smore.com/rvpxr-digital-tools-for-ela

  • Subject: English Language Arts/Writing
  • Grade level: Approximately grades 8-10
  • Student learning goals: Thinking about the standards that we have to align our lessons to, I was looking for tools that would strengthen reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills. More specifically within those sectors, I wanted tools that would target their skills in collaboration, feedback, and media literacy.

Background Info