• Gwen Hedden

Five Free apps to Flip your Classroom

Updated: Aug 19, 2018

On June 29th, I had the pleasure of joining my "tribe" of tech-savvy, passionate educators who are flipping their classrooms to best serve their students. Vicki Miles, Department Head of Middleboro High School (Massachusetts) Mathematics Department, was kind enough to share her favorite applications-- and here's the best part... THEY ARE FREE!

1) Schoology

Schoology is a great free LMS program that allows teachers to disseminate information, resources, and engage with their students in a virtual asynchronous space. The best attribute of Schoology, Miles argued, is the customizable features! Teachers have the opportunity to engage with their students, co-workers, other classrooms around the world, and other educators using social features that can be adjusted to best meet the needs and comfort level of the teacher -- for instance, they can turn off social features that connect with student accounts, but they themselves can benefit from a global PLC. Miles' favorite feature was the badging system, which encouraged her students to pursue mastery regardless of the level of challenge ahead. She indicated that Schoology was an environment that both streamlined her processes, but also motivated her students throughout the year.

Teachers can assemble courses and rubrics through Schoology and provide regular feedback using a variety of features. Even if your school isn't a Schoology institution, you can still use this amazing LMS to engage with your students and flip your classroom.

2) EdPuzzle

The biggest hurdle that teachers face when they consider flipping their classroom is figuring out how they will ensure that their students are watching the videos or engaging with the informational content at home. If they are unable to get students to comply with this aspect of the model, the whole concept of a flipped classroom is destined to fail. EdPuzzle is the tool that is the answer to that problem.

Through EdPuzzle, teachers can create their own interactive multimedia using YouTube videos or videos they have created themselves. Using EdPuzzle, teachers can insert questions sets, pause the video, and monitor that students are completing the task. EdPuzzle is just as thoughtful for the student experience, as they limit their video assignments to 5 minutes, ensuring that the student will not be forced to undergo unreasonably lengthy assignments.

This easy to use resource is a must-have for anyone who is curating or creating multimedia for the flipped classroom.

3) Edulastic

Edulastic is a free tool that aids teachers in creating dynamic, technology-enhanced assessments. Using Edulastic assessments, teachers can select from a library of assessment types, develop standards-based assessments, and monitor student growth and learning through comprehensive data-reports.

4) Desmos Activity Builder

As a non-math teacher, I cannot personally speak to the strength of the Desmos Activity Builder, however in nearly every district or school I work with, teachers recommend it to me as a great Math app-- that level of frequency is endorsement enough for me! Desmos Activity Builder allows teachers to build interactive math lessons and activities for students to use as they practice and explore mathematics concepts. As students login, they are able to engage with exercises that teachers design for them. This level of customizable guided practice is a game-changer for any math teacher looking to increase their student's digital literacy, and comfort with mathematics online. As a visual learner myself, I am a little jealous that I didn't get to benefit from this tool -- maybe then I would have been able to find more success in math!

5) G Suite for Education

((WARNING: Shameless plug ahead)) . Miles finished her presentation by explaining how her world was drastically changed when she was able to transition to cloud-based computing using wiki-enabled resources in Google Drive, collaborate with her students virtually using Google Classroom, and monitor their progress using other native features in G Suite. As a Certified Google Trainer, you can expect that I was in complete agreement with everything she said, but the thing I liked most was listening to her perspective on the matter. She shared that G Suite was most valuable to her because she was able to capture a history of her students' growth and learning using Google forms and working to collect metacognitive data. She was able to improve her practice, and inform the way she implemented flipped instruction because of the information her students shared with her using forms, classroom, and sheets.

To learn about more amazing applications and resources that I would encourage all of you to check out, look out or my Terrific Tools for Teachers blog coming up!


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