School Year Podium: Tech Top Three

When I think about using technology in my classroom, I never want the chromebook to be an expensive pencil. How can I help my students experience collaborative learning that gives them a voice, and is authentic? How can I help them own their learning, and to think more deeply in more complex ways?

This year we began by organizing our Google drive into folders for long-term success in CISD. Over the course of the year we used many technology tools to leverage our learning, including Google Slides and Canva to create Word Study presentations, JamBoard to record stop & jots during reading, and the Clips app to create videos for our drama unit, bring their scriptwriting to life. We also used Book Creator in an unconventional way to write and produce book club podcasts, and Flip to prepare for STAAR academic vocabulary.

Effective digital learning is not determined by how the teacher uses technology, but how the learners use technology. These are our top three we used to learn:


Clips is an app found in the Apple store, so we used our campus iPad cart for this assignment. Working in groups, students chose a scene from our Read Aloud and converted the scene to script form. They were given 5 days of class time to write and record their scene. Once they began, they realized very quickly that if they wanted their work to match their imaginations, they would need to make costumes and props at home. This extra work I was delighted to see without any ‘homework’ assigned from school. Any extra editing they also completed at home on their own devices. We enjoyed watching our book come to life, and we loved seeing our peers on the big screen! Writing can be powerful and fun!


Flip was probably the kids’ favorite. Out of almost fifty STAAR commonly used vocabulary words, each student was assigned 2 or 3 to teach any way they wanted using Flip. They posted their word onto their class Flip page, and it then became their responsibility to watch their classmates’ posts and take notes on the remaining 40+ words they were not assigned. After watching a few that were very well made, some students opted to re-do their work.

I’m glad they enjoyed the assignment, and it definitely made a boring topic more exciting. But on the teacher side, it was a little more time consuming than I planned. I needed to watch every video/lesson for accuracy (but also to ensure they were all appropriate). Next time I might disable comments.


Aren’t the best discoveries sometimes accidents? After attending the campus Technology Coach training where we were introduced to Book Creator, I immediately saw what it could offer with its audio capabilities. At the time, I was brainstorming how best to set up podcasting for one hundred 5th graders. I loved how all the viewer initially sees on this app is the book cover. What if my book clubs created their cover, but then instead of creating a book…they recorded their conversations about the book?

It worked great! The app is very intuitive, and each book club was able to shelve their recording with the others in their class. Every 5th grader had access to each shelf, so each class could see everyone else’s work in our LC. I think this added to overall quality, as they knew they would be watched by their peers. Hands down, my favorite way we used technology this year!