My Favorite Digital Learning Tools

If you would have told me that I would be teaching 100% from my home, I would not believed you. This is such a crazy time in our world. One that we will be telling our grandchildren one day. I have spent countless hours taking things that I have bought and creating them into digital activities for my students. This is an unprecedented time for not only teachers but out students too.

In this post, I put together my favorite Digital Learning Tools for you. I feel like this list will continue to be added to throughout this adventure in Distance Learning and I am in no way gaining any profit from these companies.
Screencastify is a Chrome extension. It allows you to use your webcam and your microphone to record instructions, help students and present material. There are so many uses for Screencastify.

With Distance Learning, I have specifically used it to go over instructions on my assignments and to help students who are struggling throughout the day. Recording my expectations and instructions and posting it with the assignment, allows students to understand full what I am asking them to do and cuts back on questions too. I've also used it to record my self going over/answering questions in real time when a student asks for help or is struggling. With Screencastify Pro (which they are offering for free because of COVID-19) you are able to draw on the screen. This makes is SO easy when working with a student. Just the other day, I was able to remind one of my 4th graders how to create an equivalent fraction by writing on the screen and recording my voice with the steps.

If you use Chrome, I highly suggested adding the extension to the browser. It saves all your videos to your drive and is such an amazing tool! Use the code CAST_COVID for the pro version. This allows you to record videos longer than 5 minutes, the writing tools and unlimited videos/recordings. 

Educreations was a tool that I was using long before COVID-19 decided to grace us with its presence. Educreations is an app and a website, however the app definitely gives you more options than the website. It is essentially a digital whiteboard that allows you to insert images, record your voice and write all at the same time. I make things a tad bit more complicated and make my slides first in PowerPoint, save them as pictures and then upload them to Educreations. Below is a video of my slides on Educreations, so you can see what it looks like. On Educreations, you are able to change the paper to blank, lined or graphed. You can insert maps, text, images and you have the ability to change the pen color. The web browser doesn't give you all of these additions. The web browser also won't save your draft like the app will. 

I also love that Educreations syncs with Google Classroom and Remind. Once you finish recording, it uploads it to your account and from there you have the ability to share it. This makes it SO simple when creating videos for my students. Educreations doesn't have a code but if you click on the link, you will be able to sign up and have access to the pro account!   

Can I just sing ALL THE PRAISES for Google Slides. It has literally been my life during all of this. Google Slides Google's version of PowerPoint but sometimes I love it so much more. I have been using Google Slides for 99% of my activities during Distance Learning. Again, I am a little extra and I will create my content in PowerPoint and then add it to Google Slides. From there, I will add text boxes so my students know exactly where they need to respond. I just couldn't be the digital teacher I am without Google Slides. 

If you are interested in further knowing how I use Google Slides, let me know! I can break it down step by step to show you. 
This last tool that has been so great is Zoom. Now, I know not every district/school is allowed to use Zoom because of FERPA issues, however I don't use it with my students. I use Zoom primarily to record my Morning Message to my students. Every morning, I jump on Zoom, record a message, with a fun background or just a regular background and post it in Google Classroom. I give my students a run down of what is expected of them that day and any reminders. I do enjoy Zoom because it allows me to record and share my screen, so if I needed to show them anything specific I can. 

Loom | Slack App Directory
This week, I discovered another Chrome Extension Tool, called Loom. Much like ScreenCasitfy, Loom allows you to record yourself. What I really like about Loom is that I was able to record myself and then I was able to pose a question at the end of my recording. My students then were able to actually comment right underneath the video. I liked using Loom, a lot for the reason that my students replies were right underneath the video. 

Flipgrid | Empower Every Voice
Flipgrid is a platform that allows students to video record themselves. It is great because you can set a prompt, give them a task or an assignment and students can respond to it via video. I will say, my students have found a way to not record themselves, but I think that is what makes FlipGrid so great. I had one student record his voice but the entire video was of a rotisserie chicken! FlipGrid allows students to show their creativity! During this time when we are separated, it allows students to still see one another and build community. You also have the option to hide students recordings so only you can see them. This is helpful for those who are shy and don't want the entire class to see them. Here are some ways I've used FlipGrid for distance learning: 
  • Posed a question and had them respond via FlipGrid 
  • Had students record a weather forecast 
  • Had students present their research on an invasive species
There are so many more ways that you could have students use FlipGrid as well! It is definitely being added as a favorite!

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