So, to begin my reflective and evaluative work...
Below is an explanation of the tools that I currently use regularly or am comfortable using with my students.
- I use the iPads as general search tools most of the time. It is much "sexier" for my students to use the dictionary app on the iPads instead of the old, smelly dictionary that weighs 5 lbs. Not only so, but when my students sometimes have background knowledge questions, it is so much easier to hand them an iPad and ask them to look it up themselves rather than interrupting my own activity in the classroom to go look it up at my computer. The conversations we have in class often lend themselves to questions about our world, our society, our government, etc., so it's helpful to have the iPads readily available for quick references. It also encourages students to be independent seekers of truth, rather than those who have adopted the ask-the-teacher-until-she-gives-you-the-answer habit.
- In terms of Web tools, I have used Facebook for quite awhile to post information, send reminders, as well as communicate with my students. At the high school level, we have access to Facebook, so Edmodo tends to be phased out after middle school; the kids don't seem to think it's as "cool." I also have begun to introduce my students to Twitter and often have them write "tweets" on index cards in response to things we read in class- I have yet to actually have them post to Twitter, as I would prefer that they have a more sound understanding and grasp of its function before throwing them in before they can even doggy-paddle I plan to have them posting by the end of this school year, however. More updates on that later. I use Twitter myself quite frequently for professional purposes- I am a part of an excellent cadre of professionals at NHS, and we constantly dialogue back and forth on Twitter about what we're reading, what we're learning, what we're doing in our classrooms, what we're finding, etc. etc. etc.
- I use goodreads.com both for myself and with my students. It is like Facebook but for nerds who read (like me). I find it extremely useful to read others' opinions of books I either have read, am currently reading, or intend to read. It helps frame my mind around the text a bit better. Not only so, but when my students use it, they are able to make better decisions about which books they choose (or choose not) to read. I love that it allows them to see just how vast and grand the world of literature is, and also that tons of other people (besides teachers and forced students) are actually reading.
My toolbox, however, is incomplete (of course, everyone's is in some way or another). Some things that I would just LOVE to be able to do and haven't found a way to do it:
- I would love for my students to be able to use the iPads, their phones, or the iPods as a grammar reference. When writing, they often simply have no idea what the "rule" is about commas, about semi-colons, about periods, even (yes, I teach freshmen). I wish I had an easily downloadable app that my students could all have access to regardless of whether they have an Apple product in their hand or not.
- I'll think of more...I just need to lets these thoughts percolate...