My favorite technology from 2020 distance learning

I am so lucky to have such an innovative math team to work with, as well as some amazing educators around the world sharing what they are using on Twitter and blogs. These are some of my very favorite tools that I tried out this past year.

Desmos

A person recently asked me if could be sponsored by any company and advertise their stuff, what would it be? I said “Desmos.” Shockingly, they responded, “What is that?” I said, “It’s an online graphing calculator… But I mean, it’s more than that.” They laughed and our conversation didn’t go much further.

How would I describe Desmos in 3 words? I can’t. But here are some words I would use: innovative, engaging, beautiful, user-friendly, powerful, in-a-category-of-its-own… okay I’ll stop, but you get the idea. You might be asking, “But what does it do? What makes it unique?” I am so glad you asked!

  • You can pace students so that everyone is on the same slide at the same time, OR you can have students work at their own pace
  • Using the Dashboard, you can quickly and easily see which students are on task and which students you need to touch base with
  • Using the Teacher tab, you can quickly and easily assess student understanding on each question
  • Sharing student thinking is a breeze by either sharing your screen or using snapshots. You can even anonymize their names to talk about common mistakes! You can also allow students to share their responses (in writing) with the rest of the class as they work
  • You can copy and customize your own Desmos assignment. This is maybe my favorite part about Desmos. It already has so much to offer, AND I can customize it to meet the needs of my students and my teaching style

Google Jamboard

This has made collaboration so much easier and so much more fun. Students don’t like to talk to each other very much in breakout rooms, but they will still collaborate on a shared document, especially if there are all kinds of fun features like colors, images, shapes, and sticky notes.

Peardeck

Synchronous learning wouldn’t be the same without Peardeck. While I do like Nearpod (which has more features to offer), Peardeck is simple and easier for me to use, especially when pairing with Canvas. It also seems to have less glitches than Nearpod.

Nearpod Collaboration Board

This is one of the only reasons I still like to use Nearpod in my class. It’s so easy to share ideas and pictures on this board, and it transitions seamlessly with the rest of the lesson.

Google Classroom

Although I might like to have every lesson in Desmos, it takes time. For now, Google slides in conjunction with Google classroom does the job. I love that I can easily make a copy of an assignment for each of my students and then view the copy of their assignment as they work. It’s almost as good as Desmos (not really)!

Kidding aside, I love how easy it is to grade assignments and give feedback in Google Classroom and then have students resubmit when they make corrections. It’s perfect for quizzes and graded assignments. Simple, yet everything you need.

Google Forms

Escape rooms. They are so easy using a Google form. Special thanks all around to Google during this pandemic. This is the article that was shared with me for how to do it.

Canvas Video Quiz

I love EdPuzzle, so when I saw that Canvas allows you to do the same thing, I was hooked.

Kahoot

The classic. Kids love Kahoot, I love Kahoot, and I think there are great ways to use it, even in math class. Recently, I have been using it as an exit ticket to assess very basic questions that students should have taken away from class (especially vocabulary). I do not use it to test very complicated math problems or to encourage speed. I agree with several other math educators that speed only increases math anxiety. To avoid this, I make two Kahoot questions for every problem that I include so that students have time to write down their work and tell me their ready before they have to choose an answer.

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