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Teacher Technology Toolbelt

Page history last edited by Mallory Burton 10 years ago



"Question: what tools are essential to ... exhilarating learning? What is in your learning Swiss Army Knife?


Let me urge you to consider that question under the following fictional constraint: every time you tell a teacher to download a new application or set up an account with a new web application, the teacher loses a fingertip."--Dan Meyer




You have 10 fingertips. Which apps are you willing to sacrifice a fingertip for?


Minimum, you need:


Type of App  Paid (I use) Free (I use)
A word processor  Word   

An email application 

Outlook Gmail 

A browser for searching the web

  Google Chrome, IE, Safari 
A way to store bookmarks    Diigo 


Using Social Bookmark Collections


Many educators are storing and sharing huge collections of bookmarks online.  Even if you don't have an account, you can search these social bookmark collections.  The two main social bookmarking sites are called Diigo and Delicious.  Try searching both for awhile and see which you prefer.  Then consider creating your own account.


Here's an introduction to Social Bookmarking in Plain English


Social Bookmarking is a much better way to keep track of your bookmarks so you can access them from ANY computer, give your bookmarks names you can actually remember, make notes to yourself on what you did and didn't like about the websites, share them easily with other people, see what other people are bookmarking and even let other people browse your collection.  Here are some of my reasons for using social rather than traditional bookmarking.


If you think this sounds like a good idea, create your own free educator's account in Diigo, and join us on the BC UDL Diigo Group.  (If you've already started using Delicious that's great, too!)  Make sure you sign up for the educator's account as that will remain free when they inevitably start charging for other types.


Finding Digital Resources for Curriculum Units


I rarely start with Google when I'm searching for curriculum resources.  A general web search can return millions of results and you can waste hours and hours trying to find something worthwhile.  Sometimes it's better to choose just a few reliable sites to use for general planning.   These are also safer places to send kids for research.


Most school districts have purchased district-wide access to World Book Online, which includes versions for Kids, Student, and Advanced levels.  If you sign on at a school, you generally don't have to put in a username and password.  However, if you want to sign in from home you do need this information.  Articles can be emailed or downloaded as .pdf files and imported to Kurzweil or other etext readers.


The 42explore section of the Eduscapes website contains themed collections in many subject areas.  At the top of every theme section, there are several introductory paragraphs about the theme, presented at both an Easier and a Harder reading level.


The educational staff at eThemes, maintained by the Missouri-Columbia College of Education, has already prepared over 1000 themed collections of student-friendly links.


Thinkfinity collects educational resources from a dozen other educational partner sites.  You can search by grade level, topic or curriculum area and by the type of resource required: lessons, interactive, worksheets, reference, media, and assessment.


NeoK12 is an excellent place to search, especially for science and math activities and videos.  They also have a great collection of rhymes, songs, and picture books for young kids.


The first place I head to search for educational videos is WatchKnow. On this site, volunteer teachers are collecting, describing and rating educational videos in every subject area.


If you want to know more about strategies such as Literature Circles, Cloze Method, or Think/Pair/Share Saskatchewan's Instructional Strategies Online is an excellent place to check.   The site provides a great list of strategies for instruction with short explanations and resources including lesson plans, graphic organizers, checklists, and rubrics. 


Jordan School District UT has a great rubric site with instructions for creating rubrics and links to many rubric collections and tools.


I've created a sqworl page containing the above links to make your searching easier.  Sqworl is a free tool that is ridiculously easy to use (took me less than a minute to create the page of links).  It's ideal for creating a set of links for students to use for research, for class use in the computer lab (saves typing in all those urls), for differentiating instruction by providing alternate ways for students to get the information, for parents who want to support their kids at home.


Searching with Google


You may still need to use Google if you haven't found what you're looking for.  Here are some tips for Searching the Web in Plain English.  You can also use the Google search field for a number of special tasks including quickly checking a spelling or definition, checking time in another time zone, checking weather, doing simple calculations, and converting measurements.  Google also has a new advanced feature that allows you to search by reading level.  See Paul Hamilton's blog post for instructions. 


You can also narrow your search for Google images to just photos or just line drawings or photos of a particular color.  (Click the Image tab to restrict your search to images and then check the toolbar at the left to further limit your search.)


Google's dictionary provides easy to understand definitions, audio word pronunciations, a clear ad-free interface, and links to usage in Google.


Are you looking for a site that no longer exists?  Put its url into the wayback machine to find it!


Collaborating with Wikis

Thousands of teachers are teaching the same subjects but planning in isolation.  Here's a great introduction to Wikis in Plain English.  Using a wiki is exactly like using a word processor...you're just typing online where other people can view and also type on the same document if you give them writer privileges.  You can choose to have this wiki visible to the public or only to people who have been given writer status.


Here's an example.  The Fairview Elementary School team spent a NID putting together this collection of Poetry Resources for a school-wide poetry unit.  They used a wiki and organized the resources by Gardner's 7 Intelligences and by ability level.  These were very non-techie teachers who had never heard of or used a wiki before. 


We will use our curriculum wikis as vehicles for collaborative planning.


Eventually you may also need:

Type of App Paid (I use) Free (I use)

A presentation tool for delivering

lessons or workshops

SMART Notebook


An app for working with photos       

iPhoto (mac)

Picasa (win)

Pixresizer (online)

An app for working with sound
  Audacity  with LAME plug-in for Windows

An app for downloading/working

with video 

Tooble, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie

An app for managing music and

synching with mp3 devices

A way to send large files    Sendspace, Dropio 

A way to convert files from one

format to another 


A screen capture tool for snagging

pics off the web or taking screenshots



GrabIt (mac)

Snipping tool (win7)

A screen capture tool for recording

your actions and voice on a computer 



An app for collaborating on and sharing files/information online 
  PBworks, Google docs

An aggregator app that tracks your

favourite sites so you don't have to

visit each separately 


Google Reader for blogs and wikis

iTunes for podcasts and Ted talks 

A social networking tool for sharing news, photos, etc. Yammer  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr


Related Pages (we'll get to these later!):

Using Public Domain and Creative Commons Media

Working with Clip Art and Images

Working with Music and Sounds

Working with Video


















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