Wednesday, April 28, 2010

EdTech Blog Swap - FREE Tools for Secondary Students

This post was from yesterday's Ed Tech Blog Swap.  You can check out the original here at Elisha Reese's Blog.

Some of my favorite tools for personal use, would be perfect for many students in high school.  These are tools that help me stay organized, create materials, and keep myself on track.  Let's start with one of my favorites - Diigo.  Diigo is a web-based bookmarking site, basically it allows you to store all your bookmarks online and they are accessible from any computer. You "tag" each bookmark with words you will help you remember what it was about, makes it much easier to find. You can even install a toolbar for Chrome or Firefox (this will only install if you have Firefox running) to make it really simple to bookmark sites.  Once you bookmark a site you can share it with a group.  Anyone can start a group, I started one called AT in SPED, you could make one for your classroom, a grade level, or maybe an entire section.  They can be both private or public.  Another nice feature is annotating.  Diigo allows you to create post-it type notes that appear whenever another Diigo user visits the site.  So as a teacher you could create annotations and share them with your class.  Teachers also have the option of creating classroom accounts, which allow you to create users, classes, and groups.  It gives you a great amount of control over what students can do with Diigo.

Another tool I use constantly is Google Calendar.  Google Calendar is a great way to organize your schedules.  Some of the features of Google Calendar include multiple calendars, invitations, viewing of shared calendars, and syncing with mobile devices (like iPhone's or Blackberry's).  Teachers can create a classroom calendar and share with the students so they can follow due dates and other important dates.  Students can create separate calendars for each class, color code them, to help keep track of assignments.  You can set reminders to pop-up at a pre-set interval.  Reminders even transfer to mobile devices so you can get a reminder anywhere!  You can use the invitation system to schedule meetings with students and it will show available times to each person.  The uses are endless!

And last but not least is Remember the Milk.  Remember the Milk is a to do list on steroids!  After setting up a free account you can start setting up your to-do list.  You can include a due date, time estimate, location, set it as repeating, assign a URL and tag it.  RTM will email you a to-do list everyday when you ask and remind you at a pre-set interval (like 1 hour before due).  You can set up list items on the website, by text message, from Twitter or by email.  You can even send list items to another person, so I could email a list item to my wife to remind her about something!  It even integrates into your Gmail if you want.  RTM could be used to supplement a Google Calendar for a classroom, or just to help a student stay more organized.

While definitely not an exhaustive list of tools, these are some of the ones I use on a daily basis!  Check them out!


Patrick Black has been a special education teacher for 9 years.  He currently teaches students with significant cognitive disabilities in a self-contained classroom in Mt. Prospect, focusing on children with autism and behavioral disorders.  Describing himself as a "geek" he loves to share all things technology. Over the years, he has integrated technology into his classroom to assist with communication, cognition, and socialization.   On top of presenting locally, he has presented his ideas at the Assistive Technology Industry of America Conference in Schaumburg and Orlando within the past year.  You can find more ideas at his blog Teaching All Students.

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