As a tech-minded soul, walking into a non-tech and often banned tech, PLC was an eye opener. Right away I knew that this was something that I could help to improve. PLC, professional learning communities, is meant to support teacher growth through conversations about student success, instructional goals, assessments and instructional design. Lessons are also modeled during this process. Over the course of the year, I found various ways to change the way that we collaborated. There were successes and failures. Below is a list of tools that managed to serve multiple needs.
My RockStar Tech Tools List
Tools with (chrome app) can be made easily accessible through the Chrome App Store
1. Google Drive (chrome app) Free
NewsFlash: Google drive is MORE than just Docs, Forms, Spreadsheets, and Presentations! The power of google drive lies not just within its collaborative appeal but in the Apps that extend its power!
With apps like Lucid chart, teachers can build mind maps of where instructional units need to go based on probable student thinking. It’s a great way to build conversations around the what-ifs that can often be ignored! Looking for data to have real mathematical talk, check out the Fusion Table gallery . It’s a true data beast! If you are creating graphs and mathematical diagrams for class, geogebra and desmos are web apps that will save your work to google drive for sharing. Of course, teams can use the standard google tools to write lessons, but incorporating apps, when needed, turns the power of google up a notch!
2. Dispatch.io (chrome app) Free
Their site spells out why I love dispatch.io: “Dispatch helps teams discuss and organize their projects, including the things they have in Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and Box.” I like to think of Dispatch as the “anti-reply all”. Users can upload documents from their personal or collaborative drives and proceed to revise/finalize without having streams of email attachments. For teams creating lesson units, dispatch makes building the “right” lessons based on needs much more email user friendly. Since I mentioned email, team members can also send files and notes directly to dispatch via its own project assigned email address.
3. Edcanvas (chrome app) – Collaboration cost
I love edcanvas because it is perfect for visual learners like myself! Edcanvas is definitely an amazing curation tool as well as lesson experience tool! The appeal of edcanvas is that it allows users to pull and post media resources from all over the web. Whether you are looking for a video, image or a great website, Edcanvas allows users to create a visual & customizable grid. Have great questions to include? The text or quiz feature is amazing to curate questions from the entire team! There is a collaborative feature available for premium users which allows “google doc-like” collaboration which would be perfect for groups of teachers or even students in planning. See information about connecting your school here.
4. Trello – (chrome app) Free
If your PLC does in fact design common lessons, Trello is great for getting the “task driven” detail down to the wire. Each activity is contributed via “Task Card”. Cards can be organized however you choose. For us, we chose three columns, Goals, Ongoing and Done. Each task card can be assigned to a user or group of users and time stamped by due date. Each task also allows upload of materials from computer, drive or dropbox. This came in handy for us because it was contained into a platform where instructional information could be organized and accessed easily.
With all of this said, a true tech rockstar doesn’t use every single tool listed but chooses what fits the task and the team. For PLN, consistency is key, however don’t be afraid to change if what you are trying isn’t working. There are plenty of other tools on the web. Just remember, that when it comes to PLC, it isn’t about one individual person but about the needs of the students and the team.