What are some technologies that are widely available to teachers in k-12 education to facilitate teaching, learning, and communication?
The Web 2.0 and companies such as Pearson, Scholastic, Tech4learning, and Sunburst Digital offer a plethora of resources online that can either be purchased or accessed free of charge. All of these companies have websites that can be accessed and a section dedicated to teachers along with access to freeware.
For typing, second language, spelling, language arts, music, and just about every other academic area, websites such as ABCYa, Enchanted Learning, and Scholastic offer online practice and excercises for students of all ages from K-12.
The Creativity Suite uses Kidspiration 2, Pixie 3, and Image Blender as graphic organizing programs that can be used as early as Kindergarten, and evolve onto middle school and high school, from Kidspiration to Inspiration.
As recently as 2007 SecondLife was the preferred method of interactive technology instruction for High School and Middle School teachers, because students can create their own avatars and interact with the teacher's own avatar. This latter can be built to look exactly like a classroom, or like a time and place in history. From this idea also came Fakebook which is a part of Classtools and DigitalHistory online. This is a version of Facebook where students play the role of a historical character and, similarly to how it is done in social networking, the students will write updates, upload pictures, write blogs, or interact with other characters as they relate to the role that the student is playing.
From the idea of SecondLife came SmallWorlds, which is a less complex version of it. SmallWorlds is linked to the Ning network which allows teachers to build a virtual classroom that students can access after school hours to review information displayed by the teacher.
Math and Social Studies, and History have the most amount of practice websites online. The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is generated by Utah State University and it contains the largest amount of virtual and interactive activities for all Math levels available. Along with the NLVM, there is CoolMath4Kids and even websites like Lego is offering enrichment activities for Math through its robotics initiative.
DigitalHistory online has sub-sites that organize history by timelines, and students can build their own using the Timetoast, as well as going straight to the History Channel webpage where they can take quizzes.
A useful tool for teachers who use smartboards is Taggalaxy, Visuwords, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary online. All of these are visual dictionaries. The teacher enters the word and it will break itself into pictures, then organize itself into parts of speech, definitions, or synonyms depending on what the teacher needs.
Here on Enotes there are many additional resources since all educators are licensed teachers who have a lot of knowledge about where to find resources. Check out the Teachers Group and the Technology in the Classroom resources and you will find much more.
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Our world is growing so quickly and technology is advancing every day. How do we keep up?! Education is a great place for kids (K-12) to get their hands dirty with real technology tools. There are some great programs and grants out there to help educators outfit their schools with things such as iPads and laptops. These technologies facilitate learning, collaboration, and thinking! Technologies such as digital whiteboards and document cameras can help facilitate teaching, and kids can be teachers too with these wonderful tools.