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Turn a favorite ed tech tool into a Swiss Army knife of innovation

By Team ISTE
October 13, 2016
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Educators often have a handful of tools they regularly use in the classroom. One way to increase student and teacher productivity — and personalize learning — is to re-envision those tools for new purposes.

Rachelle Poth, a Spanish teacher at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, knows how to turn a single tool into a Swiss Army knife of innovation by using it in new ways.

"The nature of being innovative is to use something to meet diverse needs. We don't just think of a paperclip as something to hold papers. You can also use it to fix a necklace. And a pencil is not always a writing instrument," Poth explains.

Here are some of the teacher-centered tools she has successfully repurposed to make her classroom more student-centered:

Quizlet. Designed as a tool for creating a class set of flashcards or practice tests, students can also use Quizlet to make their own flashcards based on the information they need to study. Plus, by sharing these customized flashcards, the entire class can benefit from multiple review tools.

Blendspace. Popular for teacher-created multimedia lessons, Blendspace becomes a student-based tool when kids use it to collaborate on projects or create lessons of their own to share. The drag-and-drop interface and cube-based display make the tool intuitive for student use. 

Nearpod. Frequently used for creating interactive lessons, students can get creative and come up with their own lessons using Nearpod. And if students share their lessons with the class, it lightens the load on the teacher.

Padlet. A favorite with educators for projects, collaboration and sharing, students can use it to create virtual posters or design their own projects. Teachers can also use Padlet to create discussion questions for individual students to respond to.

Educators interested in learning how to integrate new web tools or repurpose their favorites can watch a recording of Poth's ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar "Creative, Personalized and Productive Classrooms," With the webinar, you will:

  • Learn how to easily integrate web-based tools to engage learners and inspire creativity.  
  • Practice thinking differently about the tools they use.
  • Understand how their favorite tools can be used to personalize learning or create efficiencies.    

ISTE members can access ISTE Professional Learning Series webinars including "Creative, Personalized and Productive Classrooms" at any time. Not a member? Join ISTE today or click the button below to try out ISTE member resources free for a limited time.