What Are The Best Digital Tools To Engage Students?
by Rachelle Poth
Are you looking for some new ways to keep students engaged through the end of the school year?
Here are 6 tools that I have found to be quite helpful as this school year winds down. More importantly, these are also some of the student favorites, in no particular order.
Recap 2.0 is a Question and Answer platform available on Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones and Android devices, which can be implemented right away and is easy to use. Recap enables teachers and students to ask questions, share a reflection, and provides a comfortable way for students to communicate their thoughts.
Students can submit questions and receive direct feedback from the teacher, parents can receive feedback by email through Recap, and there are many other features available for assessment and classroom management. Recently Recap added another feature to its platform by introducing ‘Journeys.’
In a Recap Journey, teachers create a multi-step path for students. It starts with a 60-second video and then the learning path, which leads to more independent learning and can also be a great way to differentiate instruction. As an end to the “Journey”, students can share their information or create a presentation.
In my experience with the Journeys, I had students explore Spanish-speaking countries and included different links for them to explore more based on their own interests.
It was very easy to create my own Journey and there are also many Journeys available to try through the Recap Discover.
Flipgrid is another video response tool that offers ways for students and teachers to interact with a variety of discussion topics. You start by creating a “grid” and then adding a “topic.”
A grid in my case is one of my Spanish classes. Students go to the grid to see new topics which are posted for discussion and then record a response and even reply to classmates.
I have used Flipgrid as a way for students to reflect on their project-based learning, and for basic speaking assessments with my Spanish 1 and 2 students, where I can listen to their pronunciation and provide feedback. Flipgrid is also a way to connect students with other classrooms or even professionals in different fields, to connect with real-world applications of the content material.
Some additional features include the ability to give a rating to the response, read the transcript, provide written feedback which can then be emailed to each respondent, as long as an email address has been provided.
When setting up the topic, there are options for recording a video prompt, adding additional details in writing, and then customizing the topic based on whether or not other people can see the responses. You can freeze a topic, so new responses cannot be recorded but all prior responses can be viewed.
There are other features such as tracking the number of views, likes, and comments. Flipgrid is available on Chromebooks, iOS and Android devices and can also be embedded into an LMS or other websites. It is another tool that is easy to set up and might just be what you are looking for, especially at the end of the year, to have students provide feedback on the course, to offer some information to help with the summer reflection.
By now, you’ve likely heard of Kahoot!
Kahoot! is great for assessments and having a game based learning element added to your classroom. It can even be used for professional development or family fun. Kahoot! offers many quizzes in the public library which can be duplicated and then edited to make your own.
When playing, it also has added new features for auto advancing, playing in ” ghost mode ” which enables players to try and beat their first score. ‘Jumble,’ which is one of the most recent additions has proved to be a lot of fun and very beneficial for learning.
In Jumble, you create a question and each of the four colored tiles becomes part of the response. When the question appears on the board, the squares on the board are shown but the order is “jumbled.” Players must then slide the squares into the right order to either spell the word, properly form the sentence, or answer the question.
As a foreign language teacher, this has been quite beneficial for having students practice their spelling as well as for reinforcing proper word order for sentence structure in Spanish. Playing with Jumble mode has livened up the classroom because it is something different to try and the students are always excited about trying new things.
Setting up a game played in Jumble mode, or encouraging students to create games as a review, will add to classroom resources and be more authentic practice for the students.
Buncee is a multimedia presentation tool which can be used to create interactive presentations, cards, signs and other engaging visuals.
There are many new items added to their library and some additional features, including the ability to use it for assessment. I have enjoyed testing out Buncee with my students. It is easy to create with Buncee, you can add multiple items o n to the canvas and move them around very easily. Teachers can create lessons with assessments through the classroom edition.
But what is most exciting about Buncee is that it offers many ways for students to be creative and more engaged in learning by creating something authentic, as there are thousands of items that you can add to bring it to life and make it your own.
Students can design Buncees for any class and will have the opportunity to create more authentic work which represents what they can do with the language material we have covered. Creating will be a lot of fun for students and teachers.
Telegraph is a very easy site to publish a stand-alone web page, which can be used to create a sign, a newsletter, a journal entry, or anything as an alternative format to pen and paper or using a Word or Google Document.
It is simple to use: type in the website, add a title to it, your name and add some pictures or links to other websites and once you’re finished, you publish it and it provides you with a web address. You can easily share that link with anyone.
My students created a site to tell about a favorite trip, one to talk about sports and favorite athletes, and another some even made Mother’s Day pages and then printed them. If you’re looking for a way to have students practice simple writing skills and do so in a more digital way, I’d recommend trying Telegraph. No log-in is required and it’s very easy to use.
Quizziz is a fun assessment tool that continues to add more features, which makes obtaining feedback from students and providing feedback to them much easier. Some of the newer features include receiving a daily report of the Quizizz summary and being able to send parents the results of a student’s Quizizz game.
The daily summary report shows the number of Quizizz games used, number of responses, percentage correct as well as additional information. It’s nice to be able to have that data available so quickly. There is also the option to email the data directly to parents, which is great especially for communicating student progress and in a timely manner.
Quizizz is another tool which is easy to implement, you simply create your own by adding your own questions or search from the public Quizizz available and drag in the questions you want and then edit them according to your preferences.
Other benefits include the ability to either play it live or assign it as “practice” or homework.
And if you create the Quizizz and do not have enough time for students to finish, no worries because when students use the same login and pin number, they can pick up right where they left off in the game.