I recently learned that the Calm app is free for all educators. You can use this app for mindfulness practices, meditation sessions, instrumental/nature-based music, and sleep stories. Be sure to sign up on the website here: https://www.calm.com/schools instead of the app itself. It will take about three days for them to send you the free premium teacher subscription.
2. 360 Cities
"Find high resolution 360° panoramic images and videos for VR usage and more from the leading source of VR content."
Looking for an affordable way to connect with global classrooms through project based learning? iEARN costs only $100 for up to 75 students for an entire year, and they host dozens of different projects for all age groups to collaborate on. Open up the walls of the classroom with authentic learning with a global audience.
5. Merge Cubes
Want a super affordable way to bring more augmented reality to your students -- Merge Cubes are the answer. Normally, one cube costs $15, but occasionally they are on sale for as cheap as $1 at Walmart. Also, you can make your own cube with their free digital printouts for all six sides. The apps you use with the cube are all iOS based but are mostly free. You can explore all types of science displays, play digital games, and wander through different environments.
6. 12 Days of Teachmas
This is probably my favorite find of this school year! This is such a simple website to sign up for, and it's totally free. You can make infographics or have students make infographics that look professionally done with all the free layouts and designs. The company claims "Make infographics that people love: Tell your stories and present your data with infographics," and they totally live up to that goal. I recommend this site for any students and adults 4th grade and above.
8. 13 SpookTechular Seesaw Strategies
Feel free to borrow this Seesaw strategies challenge we did over Halloween. Or borrow or layout for a different challenge of your own. Our teachers earned "Jean Day" coupons for every three slips they completed.
9. Found Vocabulary
Recently, I began teaching vocabulary in a different way. Instead of assigned lists, my gifted sixth graders have to find new words in their chapter book or during my read alouds. These can be words they have heard before and even know how to pronounce, but they cannot explain or define the word. I have students find five new words during our lessons. Then students Google their words' definitions and related images, so they can sketchnote their words or use Canva to show visual representations.
10. Stop Motion Animation
This idea isn't new to me, but I still had not tried stop motion animation with students until this school year. My students and I love it. It is a bit time-consuming, but it's a great summary or culminating activity for a unit. I introduced stop motion to my students by watching Youtube videos of about how cartoons are made, the history of cartoons, and how to make a flipbook. We even made post-it note flipbooks first to practice.
Do you need to convert mp3 clips to Youtube videos? Use this super simple, free tool that places a JPEG or PNG as the "video" and layers the audio over it. Great for creating playlists of your own!
12. March Madness Elite 8 Tech Bracket
During the last three weeks of the NCAA's basketball March Madness, our district is participating in a Tech Elite 8 Bracket. Check out our examples (click to enlarge):
Week 1 -- Elite 8 (bracket & rules included)
Week 2 -- Final Four (will be filled in this weekend with winners)
Week 3 -- Championship (will be filled in one more week)
13. Anchor for Podcast Creation
Anchor was just recently released by co-creator Reshma Saujanni (founder of Girls Who Code) and is marketed as "The Easiest Way to Start A Podcast. Ever." And it really is just that. Check it out at https://anchor.fm I have used this with 1st thru 8th graders, and all students find it engaging and user-friendly. We listened to other podcasts first, and then we wrote our own. I even have teachers using it within their curriculum for students to make quick episodes to prove their understanding of a standard. As one of my Twitter PLN members constantly says, "Creation over consumption!"
If you haven't heard about BookSnaps yet, this is a must-have! Any age, any subject! It's not a tool or a website. It's totally free. Sounds too good to be true, huh?! Well, believe it. It's just a method of sharing your thinking visually and in a very engaging way. You can also make a BookSnap on any device and with so many different apps. My elementary students are creating them on Seesaw, BookCreator, PicCollage, and GoogleSlides. Please please please check out these two links to learn all about them: wp.me/p7I4RM-1Iu & here: goo.gl/HNZ3XN
15. Canva for Vocab & More
I'm so glad there are options for being an at-home graphic designer now through great websites like Canva and Adobe Spark. These sites are great for both educators and students. I use this in my job to my fliers for events, prize notes to staff, and more engaging graphics in my lessons. I use this in my personal life to make invitations. And most importantly, I use this with students to be creators instead of just consumers. Just like week, my students created vocab definitions for our economics unit using only graphics based on this post I saw on Twitter. I also appreciate that Canva and Adobe work across any device and with any age level and content area.
16. Mindmeister for Mind Maps
I'm a big fan of this super user-friendly website for making webs and mind maps. Think Popplet but better. I used to love Popplet but not since the free version changed and doesn't allow for saving now. Mindmeister allows students to easily sign up with Google and create/save three maps for free! It also has far more options and fancy tricks available than other tools. Great for many different ages and content areas! Here's an example:
17. ValenTech Challenge for Teachers
Follow this link to see the Valentine's Tech Challenge we posed to teachers in my district. We will also have challenges for Elite 8 during March Madness. Next year, we're considering a 13 SpookTechular Days and 12 Day of Techmas.
18. Podcasts for everyone
I love podcasts for anything and everything. I listen to some with my four-year-old. I listen to others with students from kindergarten through 8th grades. I listen to some for PD and others for personal entertainment (in all my free time, ya know?!) Anyway, check out this large list of recommended podcasts I made broken down by age group.
19. Google Tour Builder
Check out Google Tour Builder. My middle school students loved using it to plan an international vacation and to send me on a virtual trip of important landmarks throughout other countries. I've even seen ELA teachers use this to take a virtual trip the same as your novel characters followed.
20. Seesaw Digital Portfolios
I'm using Seesaw portfolios with students K-8th grades this year! I originally started this for parents to feel more connected to my gifted classroom. However, it has served me leaps and bounds more as the instructor. Since the gifted room has so many different things happening at any one time, building up daily reflections is a power accountability piece. I think I'd recommend this in the upper grades even more than the lower (and it's great in the lower, so that's saying a lot). Click here to check out just a snip-it of our Seesaw Journal.
21. Video Chats Other Than Skype
Over the past year, my classes have Mystery Skyped with TEN states and EIGHT countries! However, I want to let the world know that Skype isn't the only answer. To make all of those connections, we ended up using Facebook VideoChat, GoogleHangouts, and Facetime on iPhone. Use any platform that works for you to chat with other classrooms or career experts or classroom visitors. Don't get scared by the term "Mystery Skype." You don't have to sign up for another account to something new. Use what you have. The important point is for you to open up the walls of your classroom!
In case you're wondering, we've chatted with kids and adults in Singapore, India, Guatemala, Thailand, Vietnam, Uganda, Israel, Missouri, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, California, Wisconsin, and more! And do you know how I found most of my contacts??? I just asked my Facebook friends who they knew in those places. Trust me when I say, you know people who know people almost anywhere in today's world!
22. Twitter Chats
I know, I know. Twitter Chats have been around while. How am I a Tech Coach who is just now jumping on this train? It was really a time issue for me. But now I'm finally doing it because I discovered SlowChats and the power of reading old chats. I highly recommend finding an EdChat or two to follow when you have a free moment.
I'm thankful that in education today we can utilize online discussion boards. It's so nice to be able to hear/see from every student without spending 30 minutes calling on every single one of them. It's also nice that students can respond to each other so quickly because they thrive with a real world audience. Use discussion boards in any subject and with any skills. I just happen to be fond of Padlet, but there are many choices out there.
25. Digital Breakout Edus
I've always loved Breakout Edu since first being introduced to it, so I was disappointed when they started charging for their games this year. So if you're lucky enough to have a subscription to it, check out this website for games including digital ones. If not, check out this free Sandbox of games made by teachers for digital games.
The big discovery for me, though, last summer was DIGITAL breakouts. I love the box with locks, but with digital, it's so nice to never set (or break) a lock, have no clues to prep, and no kids destroying your room. The only downside is that the digital games on the Sandbox have no answer keys, so I've gotten lost down the rabbit hole more than once trying to solve clues before my students try it LOL
26. Year At a Glances
As an instructional coach, I have recently developed a Year At a Glance for every elementary grade level. It's a one page document that has every single subject taught along with ALL of the state standards organized by quarter. And yes, I really did fit it all on one page. My teachers love having this simplified pacing guide to stick in the front of their plan books to refer back to frequently. If you're interested in seeing a digital copy, just email me at email@example.com.