Time for kid-friendly Tech Tools!

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Time for kid-friendly Tech Tools!  Let’s find out what’s popular with the kids. When did you last sit with a kid to watch them use a tech tool like an iPad or an application on your (or their) phone?  We all know that the under-30 crowd are much less intimidated and much more saavy with technology than any of us older folk. So what’s the buzz about? What keeps them glued to those tiny screens on the phones for hours until their necks ache? Let’s find out. If we don’t keep up with what’s on the horizon, we’re sure to feel left behind and “out of touch.” And the question is: Is technology the new face of reading? Hummm…sometime to mull over. Will these apps and gadgets take the place of in-your-hand books for reading and using paper for writing? Let me know what you think after you peruse these possibilities.


When it comes to using technology in classrooms, experts say it’s not exactly what you use but how you use it. Here are a few ways students are engaging with technology.

Google Drive

The cloud-based storage application lets multiple users share and synchronize documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Many teachers use this for group projects so students can share information with their peers.


The iPad application allows students to see their teachers’ lessons and interact on their own devices. Jenny Mortensen, a teacher at Fullerton’s Valencia Park Elementary, uses the app with her second-graders during addition and subtraction lessons. The following website featured a good screenshot of how Nearpod works:



My Big Campus

The online learning management system works much like such social media sites as Facebook. Many students in the Cypress School District use it to post and collaborate on projects. Another similar site is Edmodo.com.

Khan Academy

The popular instructional Web videos can be accessed at home in preparation for the next day’s lesson. This is part of a trend known as “flipping” the classroom, with online lectures viewed as homework and students practicing new concepts together the next day.

Note Ledge

The note-taking application allows students to take notes with editing functions like handwriting, typing, photo-editing, audio and visual. Teacher Carl Nelson of Laguna Beach’s Thurston Middle School instructs his students to take Cornell Notes on their iPads using this app.

A review of Note Ledge:  http://www.tapscape.com/app-review-noteledge-for-ipad/

My Story

Students can create a story using pictures their teachers send them or that they find online. Valencia Park Elementary School teacher Claudia Chavez assigns her third-graders to create their own books using assigned vocabulary words using the app.

Demo: http://www.mystoryapp.org/index.html

Motion Math

Different activities on this app let students practice real-life scenarios using the math they’re learning, like owning a pizza parlor. John Pascarella, assistant professor of clinical education at USC, says this instructional method challenges kids to use mental math and economics.

(Information about programs and apps was published in the OC Register by Lauren Steussy under the title “Best Practices” on Jan. 18, 2014)

So…what does all this mean for us folks in the education business or in the business of caring about the future of young people in our lives?  Perhaps we need to get more intimately involved with those young people sitting side-by-side with them, learning as we go. The more parents/grandparents/relatives/neighbors who get involved with their local schools, the better.

SM-Tuesday morning parent helpers

Can you count how many parents are in this photo, taken just today in a local Kindergarten classroom where parents are highly encouraged to come and read with their children and other people’s children? What you don’t see is those adults at the periphery of the room (perhaps at least 5 more), males as well as females. This can be as much a learning experience for the adults as for the children. The teacher strongly recommends that the parents stay for at least a half hour when they drop their child off in the morning to be a participant in the learning process. These students are truly blessed with learning opportunities!



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