Essays. Quizzes. Reports. Q/As. Tests.

Let’s face it. As teachers, we get tired of grading the same types of work. As parents, we get tired of reviewing the same types of activities. As students, we get tired of showing our understanding in the same types of ways.

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Photo in public domain

With the big boom in K-12 online education came an onslaught of new and innovative online tools for us to use to our hearts’ content. Unfortunately, these new ways of assessing and demonstrating learning aren’t as widely used as they could be, and that is for a number of reasons.

Primarily, teachers just don’t have enough time to sit down for hours and explore all the new ways to make learning interactive and tech-infused. It has nothing to do with time management and everything to do with the ever evolving responsibilities and expectations of classroom educators.

Often times, parents don’t know where to look for these tools and have a limited network of technology experts within their circle. It’s not that parents don’t care about their children’s interests in education. On the contrary, we care a great deal. We just don’t always have the exposure to or information about new ed tech.

Generally, students’ engagement in online technology is relegated to non-educational social networking. We can expect this because friendships and social interaction are high priorities for most children regardless of their age. Perhaps they don’t readily connect technology to classroom learning because it’s not a pillar in their educational experiences now. Who knows, but we can change that.

I’d like to share with you three online tools that are engaging and innovative.  You can use these free (and low cost if you want added options) ed tech tools in your classroom or home to support your students’ demonstration of their learning.

Kahoot

This is free clicker technology! Kahoot is an online game that allows you to create questions with answer choices. Creators designed it to be used for quizzes, discussions, and surveys. Any device with internet access works (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.), and all participants need is the pin number to join the game. Users all over the world compete against each other over a wide array of topics. You can even set the points for each question so that your grades are finished for you when your students complete the game! Check out the video below, and head over to getkahoot.com to create your free account and get started.

Glogster

Glogster is a multimedia poster generator. Say no to basic graphic organizers, paragraph writing, and Q/As! Your students can use Glogster to present everything they know about a concept in a visually appealing way. Not only is this tool great for developing students’ design and creative skills, it teaches them how to present the most important information. The app has video and audio integration options, so students can record a voiceover or video for autoplay that gives more detailed information. Below is a photo of a Glogster I created for Kahoot, and this link http://edu.glogster.com//glog/48762914 is an example of a Glogster with voiceover. For more information, check out http://edu.glogster.com.

Kahoot GlogsterEasel.ly

I was super excited when I learned about this little tool because I’d grown tired of Word document clip art and PowerPoints. Easel.ly is a free program that allows users to create their own infographics. The free version has tons of templates and icons for students and teachers to use to attract  readers. You can spice up your lessons and handouts with infographics designed by YOU! The paid version gives you thousands of additional resources, but you can use this tool for free and get some pretty neat things out of it. The two examples below are from Easel.ly. The “Services” image appears on my “About SinA” page and was made from a template. The “Building Effective Curriculum” is my own infographic made from a blank slate. Click on each picture to enlarge it.

These three ed tech tools are available for immediate use in your classroom and home. They offer a great way for students to build their creative portfolios and develop tech skills while also demonstrating their content mastery levels. Teachers should also consider using these apps because they can add a dimension to the learning environment and their curriculum. It doesn’t have to cost us an arm and a leg to integrate technology into our classrooms. It doesn’t have to cost us hours of sleep to amplify technology for student consumption. Essays, paper quizzes, and reports have their place in the curriculum, but they don’t have to be the only way we assess student learning and understanding.

Feature photo is in the public domain.