Saturday, May 19, 2018

#EdTech and the 4Cs

I started my career as an educator 10 years ago. At the time, the buzzwords regarding preparing students for college and career was "21-century skills". In fact, I received Trilling and Fadel's "21st Century Skills" as a graduation present from my mentor teacher, and it was the text under which we anchored the AdVENTURE program. Of late, the 21-century skills framework has been distilled into what we now call the "Four Cs" (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity), and while all of them can be taught and practiced using Google Drive Tools, there are many other free tools that can also be used effectively by both teachers and students as we progress in our educational journey.

These are my favorite:

📝 Collaboration: Tools that help us work together

Scrible: My students use this chrome extension to curate, annotate, tag and share articles. The extension also reminds you when you are on a webpage you previously annotated and prompts you to load previous annotations.

Padlet: A digital canvas that allows users to add all sorts of items as they work together on a project.
I know. There is an uproar among educators because of their new pricing/limits on the number of free Padlets. However, once a Padlet is no longer active, you can export the content to make room for more.

Trello: A project management tool that helps keep teams organized as they work. I create board templates for students. They make a copy of the board, add collaborators and move things around/upload documents, etc. as they get done.

💬 Communication: Tools that help us share what we've done

Blogger: Although part of the Google Apps suite, I still mention it since it is not part of Drive and it is a powerful tool to elevate student's voice. My students write a post at least once a week sharing their learning with the world at large.

Flipgrid: Easily and quickly create topics for students to discuss ideas. These quick videos provide insight into student thinking. I also use it for mini classroom presentations that students can then watch over and over.

Seesaw: Allows students to capture, organize and share their learning. Extremely popular with my elementary colleagues as a way to share classroom activities with parents.

Jilster: A really cool tool that allows you to create online magazines. The best part is that it is collaborative. I create a magazine, assign pages to student editors who can then work collaboratively on their assigned pages.

🎨 Creativity: Tools that help us develop products to explore the content 

WeVideo: Online video editing software. We video has a shallow learning curve and gets students creating in minutes. 

Canva: Easily and quickly create visually stunning flyers, posters, collages, infographics and more. They also have a complete selection of tutorials that help students (and teachers) explore how different design elements work together (or not) to tell a story.

Tinkercad: This easy to use 3D modeling software allows my students to bring their ideas to life in a way that 2D drawing cannot, even if it remains as a virtual product for lack of a 3D printer. 

MakeBeliefsComix: What my students and I like about this site is how easy it is to start creating and the fact that the comic can be printed or e-mailed. Its major con is that it is a "one sitting" deal. However, other comic creator sites come at a price making this site my go-to for quick student developed comics.

💡 Critical Thinking: Tools that help us go beyond the content.

Coggle: Collaborative mind mapping Chrome extension that integrates with Google Drive. My students use it to brainstorm ideas and develop maps to show how the content they are learning integrates with previously understood ideas.

KQED Learn: Students work in a semi-gated environment (all students must be attached to a teacher but can communicate with each other), responding to prompts and investigations. Absolutely awesome to help students extend their thinking as they curate resources and craft responses. This is only available to students in the U.S.

I'm sure that I missed some of your favorites. I invite you to add them in the comments.

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