Helpful Digital Teaching Tools
Are you looking for helpful digital tools to assist with your remote teaching? We’ve rounded up some great applications (apps) and websites that can help with various aspects of literacy education. All of these tools are recommended by teachers and offer a free or low cost subscription. Try them out for your lessons this year!
Mote is a Chrome browser extension that allows teachers to leave voice comments and feedback notes using Google applications such as Google Classroom. With the paid version, not only can you leave an audio comment, but also a transcription of your comment. A great feature of Mote is the option to transcribe audio comments into 25 different languages. This could be helpful for English language learners. Students could also record themselves reading and listen back to it. Learners do not need to install the extension, however it works more seamlessly if they do. The free version allows audio comments that are maximum 30 seconds long.
Flipgrid is a free, easy to use application (available as both a desktop and mobile app) for students to demonstrate their learning using video. Upload a task to your educator account for the learners to examine and print out if needed. The immersive reader tool can read out the instructions. The students film their responses and you use the feedback function leave written and/or filmed feedback. You can email feedback to the students or keep that information private and track their progress. To see this and other examples of literacy assessment using Flipgrid, check out this helpful recorded webinar, Using Flipgrid to Assess Primary Students’ Literacy Skills.
Recently, ESL Library announced a partnership with Flipgrid. Check out their Flipgrid page of materials specifically for teaching English.
Free Rice is a trivia game that gives back! It’s a simple game that for every correct answer, ten grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program. A graphic shows your bowl of rice filling as you play. There are many different topics you can select such as vocabulary, grammar or multiplication tables. You can use Free Rice in a virtual classroom by creating groups. It’s a simple game without an end and can get repetitive; however, its goal of ending world hunger can prompt further inquiry.
Quill is an online platform with free tools to help teach writing, vocabulary and grammar. It offers over 400 short exercises and students learn by fixing sentences, proofreading passages and collaboratively writing passages. Quill offers activity packs covering over 300 grammar concepts, as well as lesson plans and automatic grading and feedback. The best way to try it out is to visit their homepage and click on “try a sample activity.” To help get set up, read through Quill’s Getting Started Guide.
Pear Deck is a Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint add-on that makes your slide presentations interactive. It allows you to share presentations, ask questions and receive live feedback. It also has the ability to save students’ results. A free version is available, but keep in mind that some features require a paid subscription.
A useful feature that is in the beta stage currently, is the integration with Microsoft’s Immersive Reader. This feature is a great support for literacy instructors. Materials are not only read aloud, but the font type, size and colour can be changed, as well as the background colour for easier reading. It also includes a translation feature and even word visualizations using illustrations. Currently, this is a feature only available at the Premium paid tier.
For advice on getting set up for distance teaching, check out some of our previous blog posts such as Ready, Set, Go: Steps to Rapidly Start Distance Learning.
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