Tech Tools

Cool Tech Tools


What’s this tool all about? After reading Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer, I decided I need a tool to help me more purposefully and deliberately include reading as a part of my daily teaching and learning routine. GoodReads lets you keep track of books that you have read, books that you are currently reading and books that you would like to read in the future. It recommends books you might like to read based on what you have read and allows you to rate each book as well. You can connect with friends and then easily find out books that they recommend.


If This Then That (IFTTT)


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What’s this tool all about?

Don’t you wish when using so many different online tools and offline technology for various parts of our lives that we could link some of these websites, programs, and even hardware? If This Then That allows you to create “recipes” that link various “channels” (for example: E-mail, FaceBook, Twitter, ect.). For example if this happens (I take a new iPhone photo) then that action occurs (Send that photo to my E-mail). You can create your own “recipes” from scratch or use the many already shared “recipes”. One of the constraints of this tool is that it is not yet connected to all channels. For example, I would like to connect my Weebly website to my Twitter and cannot yet since Weebly is not a channel option at this time. However, there are tens of thousands of really cool recipes already out there to increase efficiency!

IFTTT reminds me of this:



What’s this tool all about? Jing is a free screencasting downloadable program from TechSmith. I used Jing for the first time during our Jing Off competition in class. It is a very intuitive program that allows you to capture video and images from your screen. I love the feature that allows you to choose the section of the screen that you want to capture. I used it in the example to record a YouTube video and my voice practicing the vocabulary to learn French.

Camtasia is a more advanced screen casting tool also downloadable from TechSmith.

Google SketchUp



What’s this tool all about? I used Google SketchUp to create my experience design 21st century classroom. It is a 3d design downloadable program which allows you to create pretty much anything you can dream up. It is also compatible with 3D printers so that students can turn their ideas into reality. This program in my opinion requires some devoted time to really understand all the tricks of use.



What’s this tool all about? MentorMob is a website where you can create learning playlists of almost any resources you can imagine. You can compile websites, YouTube videos, documents and multiple choice quizzes into a step by step learning playlist for students. I am working on creating a few of these right now to use with my students. I think this is a great resource for differentiation. You could use it for compiling challenge learning playlists or support learning playlists. MentorMob was a tool I discovered through our speed dating activity in the MAET program. I love the above example on La Virgen de Guadalupe.



What’s this tool all about? Montage was a tool my group discovered through our first Chopped activity. Montage is unique in that it creates a virtual album on a certain topic based off of web drawn images, videos and articles. It pulls media from RSS feeds, Twitter and Youtube. You can search for boards that have been already made on a topic or create your own. It was a neat tool to use for current events as all the material is obviously extremely current. However, we decided that you do need to look out for adult content popping up as there is some questionable content that students may run into when using this tool.

Popcorn Maker


What’s this tool all about? Above is the video we created using Mozilla Popcorn Maker for our Conference Proposal website. Popcorn Maker is a website that allows for re-mixing YouTube videos with other content. I think that the constraints of this program is that it takes a bit of time and effort to truly understand. On the plus side, Popcorn Maker allows you to take links from SoundCloud, YouTube and Vimeo and mix them with text, GoogleMaps, images and even Wikipedia entries.



What’s this tool all about? HaikuDeck is a presentation tool available for iPad. It uses hi resolution images and short and concise headings to create a powerful presentation tool. I have used this app multiple times already in the MAET program and find it much more powerful presentation tool than PowerPoint. Above is an example from our reading presentation.




What’s this tool all about? I love PicMonkey. I love PicMonkey so much. Seriously, you must check it out. I did not have a reliable photo editor before discovering this tool. Now all I need to do when I want to get creative or want to just quality control a photo is open up PicMonkey. I discovered this tool while trying to find a way to brighten up my blog. My custom blog header was created using PicMonkey. PicMonkey is a photo editing website that allows you all kinds of photo editing tools from basic cropping to special texture finishes and overlays. My favorite part is combing photos in the collage option and overlaying them with text. It’s so easy! I will be sharing this resource with my students as they work with a horrible photo editor currently.



What’s this tool all about? This tool is a free and easy site where students or teachers can create podcasts. I thought about using this as a tool for my students to record their speaking assessments so they can share them with others. There are also education podcasts that you can listen to on this site.



What’s this tool all about? Voki is a fun tool that was demonstrated during a reading presentation. It allows you to create an avatar for yourself with tons of customization options. You can then type text and have the Voki talk for you or you can use a microphone and record your own voice.


Example: PLN

What’s this tool all about? I used this tool to create my Personal Learning Network visualization. It was my first time using it and I was impressed with its ease of use.  It is a visual organization tool that can be used to arrange and connect information, whether it be images, text, videos, even embedded Google Maps. I liked that I could share the completed popplet via multiple social networks as well as export it as a jpg or pdf file. I definitely will be using this tool again either as a visual presentation tool or as timeline/graphic organizer assignment for my even my very young students.


                                    Example:   I believe…

What’s this tool all about? I used this tool to create my “I believe…” story our first day of class. I actually attended a session on VoiceThread at MACUL 2013 with all intentions of using it with my students but have yet to try it out in the classroom. VoiceThread is a website that allows you to create a slideshow of images, videos, and documents while adding audio and/or text commentary. It can be used as a presentation tool or even as a collaborative commentary on a topic as you can make your VoiceThread open to public commentary.

One of the hardest things as a language teacher is finding time to assess speaking in the target language. I know that in using a tool like VoiceThread, my students would be able to tell stories, repeat vocabulary, respond to a story collaboratively in a way that allows me to go back and listen at another time. This would allow me to give me more time to give more valuable feedback- even verbal!

CONSTRAINTS: However, to really access any features you must cough up the money for the Educator or Pro version of this. Speaking from experience, the restrictions on the free account made me want to quit using it all together. I’m not sure if I will use this with all of the free and awesome tools that are available elsewhere.



What’s this tool all about? PicLits is a picture writing tool that encourages critical thinking and creativity. It is currently only available in English but they have an “En Español” version in the works. Fingers crossed that it will be available soon so I can use this awesome tool in my classroom.

Basically, you can choose one of the images on the site and you are given a list of related words that coordinate with that pictures. You can than drag the words onto the image to create a sentence. If you have an account, you can save and share your image with sentence.

I thought this tool would be a great writing tool in the foreign language classroom because:

1. Students are exposed to a mix of target language vocabulary, familiar and unfamiliar.

2. The words are divided into parts of speech which can help students focus on deliberately creating more effective sentences in the target language.

3. Students have to think critically while writing their sentence as they want to make the image relevant to the message they are conveying.



What’s this tool all about? Geography can be one of the most mundane topics to teach and learn if you go the “memorize these Spanish speaking countries by next week” route. Knowing geography though, is really key for students to put culture and the target language more successfully into context. I have been using GoogleMaps in the classroom to explore countries and landmarks but have not been able to successfully take it further.

Placespotting allows you to create a “quiz” from a geographical destination in GoogleEarth. You can either create a quiz using clues or solve someone else’s quiz using the hints and GoogleMaps. There is no log-in required for creating or taking quizzes but that also means if you actually want to see students quiz results you would have to get creative and maybe have them take a screen shot of their matching result. I think I would have students create quizzes and post the link to our website so they can each then take each others’ quizzes.

Diffen: Compare Anything!


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What’s this tool all about? Comparing is one of the five C’s of foreign language teaching. It plays a huge role in creating meaning and inviting critical thinking about cultural and linguistic differences between the target language and the native language. Diffen is like a Wikipedia site where anyone can compare two things. They can view what has already been written and can edit and make changes.

This would be a really neat way to again do focus on culture or linguistic differences. As you can see I looked up Mexico vs. United States and there are actually a ton of basic facts missing about Mexico that my students could easily do research to fill in! The fact that their input will be viewable to world would absolutely give the research a more meaningful purpose.

Go Animate!


What’s this tool all about? GoAnimate is a tool that allows students to very simply create an animated video by simply choosing characters, setting and typing text for dialogue. I have students create skits and dialogues all the time in the target language. This would a great way to mix it up and create something shareable that they can give each other feedback on.

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