3b. Manage a variety of digital tools


Of all the ISTE coaching standards, this one is the funnest (in my humble opinion). For those of us who love teaching and trying new technologies, the world of digital tools offers the perfect marriage of our two passions. 

Substandard 3B calls for coaches to maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources. In my evidence for this substandard, I have chosen to highlight some of my favorite presentation tools. I have also included a prior blog post on student blogging which is an excellent way to make learning authentic and personalized while exposing students to a variety of digital tools. Another benefit of student blogging is that it is an opportunity to teach essential elements of digital citizenship such as copyright. My third piece of evidence highlights the importance of visual literacy and presents a digital tool that allows students to create professional-looking infographics.

A critical piece of this substandard’s wording is to ‘maintain’ digital tools. With an endless variety of tools and resources that are constantly changing, how can coaches and teachers navigate? A solution that I have found is Raindrop.io. I’ve tried many sites that offer bookmarking (Pinterest, Evernote, Pocket) but none have met my needs in the way that Raindrop has. With extensions for Chrome and the ability to add content using my Apple phone and tablet (not to mention a very user-friendly app), I have all of my resources in one place. The cataloging process allows for full customization. You can choose a custom photo, description, and icon for each bookmark. You can also organize by tags or drag and drop into nested folders just as you would on a desktop. The layout of the website allows me to see what I’ve saved along with my comments for why I saved it. Everything is searchable and the program will identify broken or duplicate links for you. I cannot say enough positive things about this bookmarking tool!

Evidence: Digital Tools for Student Presentations

When my high school students are asked to make digital presentations, their default program is still Microsoft PowerPoint. While PowerPoint is a tried and true method, there are new tools which I encourage students to try out. Below are the top three digital presentation tools that I recommend to students.

Challenge Level: Moderate

Cost: Free; $7/month for additional features 

Prezi allows for a more interactive viewing experience than a traditional presentation with the ability to zoom in and out of content.

Challenge Level: Moderate

Cost: Free; $40/year for additional features 

Piktochart is a powerful tool for creating infographics and presentations. Work can be exported or embedded online using HTML.

Challenge Level: Easy

Cost: Free

Google Slides offers many of the same features as PowerPoint on an intuitive, cloud-based platform. Students can collaborate on Google Slides in real-time.

Evidence: Student Blogging

Students can utilize blogs in the classroom to set and achieve personal learning goals that correlate to learning standards while gaining exposure to a wide variety of digital tools. Though my case study was written for the Language Arts classroom, this is easily adaptable for other subjects. For example, blogging would be an excellent way to interact with Social Studies content in new ways or to share new knowledge from a Science course.

Students can choose how to demonstrate their learning and exercise choice in what they want to explore and write about. Blogging provides students with an authentic and real-world way to write frequently over an extended period of time for different purposes. Blogging is also an ideal way for students to collaborate in a way that is measurable by the teacher. For this peer feedback to be successful, online communication and collaboration must be explicitly taught and should be practiced informally before students move to actually commenting on live blog posts.

For an in-depth look at student blogging including advice on content, grading, and the collaboration process, please use the link below to access my blog post.

Evidence: Visual Literacy with Infographics

When talking about digital tools, it is important to consider a relatively new form of media made popular with technology: the infographic.

Images are a form of communication. Consider the emotion that can be conveyed through a group of emojis or the shared humor of a meme. For a more academic example, consider the power of World War II propaganda or the tactics used by advertisers to manipulate consumers. It’s easy to see how interpreting and creating images are a critical part of media consumption and production.

In my 2018 blog post, I completed a deep dive into infographics… what makes a quality infographic, how to interpret infographics, and how to incorporate infographics into the classroom.

Ideas for Using Infographics in the Classroom

  • Support nonfiction: Students can create infographics in support of nonfiction articles. Challenge them to consider what information can be represented visually and how best to do so.

  • Start a discussion: Present a controversial topic (perhaps this infographic on gender pay inequality) and have students discuss the main points and brainstorm the causes.

  • Demonstrate learning: Students can create book infographics in lieu of traditional book reports. Consider this Fahrenheit 451 infographic for inspiration.

  • Offer additional context: Instead of teaching Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in historical isolation, why not explore how far America has come in fulfilling that dream?

  • Support arguments and research: Charts, graphs, and visual data can be easily incorporated into student presentations for added impact. Consider making visual data a required component of a presentation or research project. Check out this excellent tutorial for making charts and graphs in Google Sheets.

  • Present content: Infographics can be an engaging way to present content to students. Instead of a traditional lecture, students can independently review infographics on the topic–such as this infographic on the water cycle and conservation efforts.

  • Share passions: All students have a hobby or interest that they would like to share with others. Creating an infographic can be an engaging and creative way to share that passion while practicing visual literacy skills.

I also created an overview of Piktochart, my favorite tool for creating infographics. That overview is posted below, as is a link to my post where you can read more about using infographics in the classroom.