Students learn better when they are able to apply what they are learning from the textbook to real-world problems and situations. There are a lot of ways to do this without technology, sure. We also know that when it comes to technology, there is no shortage of tools and apps available for teachers to use with their students. Technology is changing the way we teach, learn and work, so careful consideration of which tools to use is critical. As educators, we need to prepare our students for the digital world in a blended-learning classroom and offer them tools that will allow them to study independently and with their peers. The top 4 tech tools for student learning that I have selected for this post include Bookwidgets, Quizizz, Blooket, and Microsoft Flip. This is just a small portion of what each of these tools have to offer.
BookWidgets enables teachers to create fun and interactive lessons for tablets, smartphones, and computers. There are over 40 exercise templates (quizzes, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, web quests, etc.) that you can adapt to your own content. Are you needing a way to gather formative or summative data? Bookwidgets has over 35 question types that get auto-graded, so students can learn on the spot and improve their learning right away without having to wait on you to grade! This is generally how I am using Bookwidgets. It is easy to create practice activities that students can then do independently. I love getting the data so that I can see where the class as a whole is struggling as well as where individuals are needing support. Creating activities that help students be independent learners and also frees up my time to provide extra support to students who need it is a winner in my book, and Bookwidgets does precisely that! The people behind this amazing tool are so helpful! They continually work to make sure you are able to use the tool to its full potential, and they are cranking out new features at the same time. I recently discovered that I can monitor my students’ progress in real-time while they’re working on BookWidgets assignments. By doing this I can immediately discover students who need extra challenges, help struggling students, play live games, take real-time surveys, and much more! Here are a few of the awesome ways to use Bookwidgets:
- Hotspot Image Widget — Create an image (or use one you already have) on Canva, Adobe Express, Buncee, etc. and upload it to Bookwidgets to create an interactive game or lesson with your content. This is cool! Check out this board game example using a template from Canva that was uploaded to Bookwidgets as a hotspot image widget!
- Video Quiz Widget — As the name implies, with this widget you can insert questions into a video at various stopping points. For those familiar with Edpuzzle, this widget is a great update. You can start with a YouTube video, choose the different points where you want to interrupt the video, and then use the power of BookWidgets to insert your choice of over 30 different types of questions, making your questions video instantly interactive!
- Live View — Some widgets support a live view which enables you to click on a question to see live results from all your students on that question.
- Reuse Content from Other Widgets — This is a huge time saver for teachers! There are lots of times when I want to reuse content from something else I created, so now I can do that in Bookwidgets! Just click the setting wheel icon in the upper right corner and choose “Import from widget”. This is definitely a great feature.
I have barely scratched the surface of this great tool, so be sure to check it out!
Where to begin with Quizizz? This learning tool has been around for a while, but there are some new features that may encourage you to take it down from your edtech shelf and dust it off again. The redemption questions were a great addition, but the improvements didn’t stop there. While not all of the improvements are available in the free plan, there is plenty in the basic plan. I currently pay for the premium because those additional features are worth the extra expense due to the value they provide for student learning. Quizizz question modes that go beyond multiple choice can hit those upper levels of the DOK chart. See the chart linked below to see how the various question modes can hit those upper levels.
Quizizz has some amazing automation features as well. I have long loved the “Teleport” feature that allows me to create a quiz in seconds by viewing quizzes created by others and then selecting individual questions or all of the questions in that quiz.
- Question Timer — Want to change the time allowed for each question? Change one and then you will be prompted to decide if you want to change them all or just that individual question, with just one click!
- Autoconvert — Autoconvert is magic! Auto-convert simple questions to highly interactive ones in one click. You can choose to go back to the original question too!
- Skip Questions — Another premium feature my students love is the “Skip Questions & Attempt Later” feature that allows students to skip questions and revisit them later during the quiz!
- Adaptive Question Bank Mode — This mode, when selected, generates a unique set of questions every time to prevent copying and rote learning. This is helpful since I no longer have to create my own multiple sets over my content in order to help students transfer the learning from their working memory into their long-term memory.
- SEL Options — Quizizz has templates and other SEL options now, including check-ins (see how students are feeling), drawing (help students find non-lingusitic ways to express their feelings), and poll questions (allow every voice to be heard).
- Add Your Own Memes — Using Canva’s teacher memes templates, you can customize memes, download from Canva, and then upload into Quizizz. Great way to surprise students!
Blooket (pronounced blue-kit), is a favorite of my freshmen and sophomores. Created in 2018 by Tom and Ben Stewart, this learning website offers a freemium and two higher levels of subscriptions for its millions of users. One of the big draws for my students are the Blooks that they can unlock as they play. Students do not need accounts to play, however, students who do create accounts will have the ability to unlock new Blooks and track their stats. Nearly all of my students have accounts because they want to unlock new Blooks, and I realized early on this year that they could spin a wheel for extra tokens or items in the marketplace. They all love spinning the wheel once our game has ended, so I give them that extra minute to conduct their Blooket business. Tokens are a type of currency in Blooket and can be earned by playing hosted games or solo games, or by selling Blooks that a student owns. Students can use tokens to unlock blooks from boxes from the Market too, which they LOVE to do. I love the fact that students can track their stats, because that aids in having them practice goal setting. The most popular game modes among my students are the ones in which students can “steal” from or “swap” with each other, though there are a lot of engaging game modes. The homework/asynchronous option is a great too. If you haven’t checked out Blooket, I encourage you to not wait another school day.
I realize that a great many educators are already doing great things with Flip, and some have been using it for years, but I can’t leave it out of this post. The team at Flip are always working hard to help all students share their voices and deepen their learning experiences. The new features that were announced at ISTE 23 make this a phenomenal tool in the hands of students. Here are just a few to whet your appetite:
- Create Mode – I am really excited about this one. Create Mode allows you to tell a story through visuals by using text, photos, and my personal favorite, stickers! Now camera-shy students can share their ideas without being on camera, which also helps the students whose parents prohibit their child from being on camera too. You can also use Create Mode to combine video with title cards or transitions. Awesome!
- The Flip lenses — Flip lenses from the mobile app are now available on Flip web! How fun is that! Tap into the engagement and fun that lenses provide with Flip!
- Video Backdrops – Flip has a whole new library of fun videos to choose from, right in the camera. How cool is that? Not only are backdrops fun, but they help students (and teachers!) feel secure no matter their surroundings.
- ASL Learning Lens – Are you Flip-in’ kidding me? This is amazing! The ASL Learning Lens teaches the basics of American Sign Language (ASL), tracking your hand movements as you learn each letter of the alphabet. Flip is just beginning their journey to help educators and students learn new things with the help of the Flip camera. I can’t wait to see what other learning lenses they create for us next!
- Edit Captions – We can now edit the captions and watch videos side by side! We can also safely edit captions with automatic moderation. This is a great update by Team Flip!
- Screen Capture — Okay, this isn’t new, but it is a great way to use Flip with students. Students can record their screens in a few different ways without having to pay for or sign signing up for another platform. Like many screen recording platforms, Flip offers users the choice of recording their entire screen, a specific app, and a browser tab. Screen recording has so many classroom uses, like showing your work in progress as a fidelity check, a way for students to explain their thinking, a way to show mastery, and so much more!
While there are a lot of really great edtech tools available currently, it can be overwhelming to sift through them all while trying to plan lessons, grade student work, and have a life outside the classroom, school, or district. If any of the above features from these fab tools appeals to you, I encourage you to check them out more fully. Consider the ways these tools can elevate your student engagement and learning of your content, and then spend a moment contemplating what else these tools can do that maybe haven’t been tried yet. Be bold, take risks, and create learning experiences for students that will not only stick in their long-term memory, but will also shape how they view school–as fun. That is a big ask from one lesson, but you can do it, one activity at a time.