Thursday, November 16, 2006

What’s in Your Digital Bag of Tricks?

In this era of burgeoning internet resources, how does one choose the right tools when developing a professional work flow? Assistive tech expert Brian Friedlander recently shared via his blog a web site that catalogs a plethora of Web 2.0 applications called Go2Web20. While I am a huge fan of these user generated content sites, I am sure the available choices must be overwhelming for some of us! It occurred to me that every teacher seems to incorporate “a bag of tricks” into their teaching repertoire and while keeping it simple, I’d like to share a few resources that I’ve found to be essential additions to my own digital repository.

The other Lucie mentions in her previous ITM post a web site called NoodleTools. NoodleTools, and in particular the tools NoodleQuest and Choose the Best Search for Your Information Need, have long been in my digital bag of tricks. Both of these services match digital search tools to the needs of the user, and I appreciate that guidance.

Another amazing resource has been ALTEC’s 4Teachers web site. Numerous tools for both teachers and students are available here including an online quiz creator, a floor plan designer, and a lesson plan builder. Because much of my teaching revolves around digital projects, I regularly use this site’s rubric tool, Rubistar, to create and store evaluation tools online. I also am a big fan of their customizable project-based learning checklists.

I also often find that comprehensive resource databases are helpful when looking for activities and lessons for my students. My personal favorite is the Michigan Teacher Network which contains annotated descriptions of educational web sites. Visitors are also able to rate and comment on these sites as well.

And finally, as a computer science teacher, I use a great deal of software. I recently found a nifty Web 2.0 app for cataloging the software I use and sharing it with others. It is called MyProgs and you can look specifically at some of my software mainstays here. Best of all, for my fellow RSS geeks out there, you can subscribe to this list of software in your newsreader and you will be able to track any updates.

The aforementioned sites are just a few of the resources I’ve incorporated into my professional life and I’d love to hear what you consider essential to your success as a teacher. Please share any ideas in the comments section!

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