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Engaging Every Student

March 31, 2022

3 Tech Tools I Can't Teach Without by Susan Aplin

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Susan Aplin

My interest in meaningful educational technology started when I was a high school English teacher. However, over the last few years, I have developed a passion for teaching teachers, administrators, and support staff how to use instructional technology. I love helping others grow and bring the best of themselves to their jobs and their students. I coach adults one-on-one, but I also lead professional development and teach instructional technology classes to both teachers and administrators. In these roles there are three tools I can’t live without: Google Workspace, Pear Deck, and Screencastify.

Google Workspace for collaboration

Google Workspace is really a bunch of tools rolled into one. But, just like with students and children, I cannot pick just one favorite! I use Google Docs, Drive, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Classroom, Gmail, and Sites daily. These amazing tools offer me real-time, remote collaboration with teachers throughout my district and beyond.

Google Workspace allows me to stay organized and help others to do the same. I can share ideas, gather data, and create effective lessons with these seamlessly-integrated tools. I also love that these tools are both simple to use and provide so many possibilities for personalization (and that’s even before you consider some of the possible extensions and Add-ons). Put simply, Google has changed everything I do.

Pear Deck for engagement and flexibility

I love Pear Deck because it helps me “level up” one of my favorite Google tools: Google Slides. Using Pear Deck has transformed my online and in-person teaching and professional development sessions. By inserting questions into my Google Slides, I’m able to gather instant feedback and keep my teachers more engaged.

I love Pear Deck’s variety of question types, but my two favorites are Drawing and Draggable. From my Teacher Dashboard, I can share responses with the whole group anonymously and leave personalized responses for participants. I also love that Pear Deck allows me to create self-paced professional learning that teachers can complete on their own time and at their own pace. Plus, Pear Deck offers amazing templates and a blog full of ideas for teachers. They know what matters to both teachers and students, and they provide pedagogically-sound resources and tips.

The Pear Deck Teacher Dashboard allows teachers to see student Drawing responses in real time.

Screencastify for better tutorials 

The final tool I can’t teach without is Screencastify. The majority of my teaching is done remotely and asynchronously. Being able to record my screen with the click of a mouse makes my thinking visible for my teachers. I can narrate Google Slides for mini-lectures, give feedback on teachers’ lesson plans and create quick “how-to’s” when a teacher needs help using a tool or fine-tuning a lesson.

Even when we’re not online, creating and sharing screencasts allows me to multiply myself. My teachers can review the videos as many times as they’d like. I also love that Sreencastify allows me to embed questions and make my videos interactive. Combining that interactivity with the ability to count video views has been a game-changer for me.

EdTech helps me personalize both teaching and learning 

The online world is full of many versatile and amazing digital tools. Google Workspace, Pear Deck, and Screencastify are definitely three edtech tools I could not teach without. They’ve allowed me to personalize my teaching, stay connected, and meet the needs of all of my learners.

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Susan Aplin

Instructional Technology Specialist

South Carolina

Susan is a Google Certified Trainer, ISTE Certified Educator, and Pear Deck Certified Coach who serves as a district Instructional Technology Specialist in South Carolina. Her goal is to support and lead educators in authentic technology integration that helps teachers and students meet instructional goals. You can follow her on Twitter @AplinEDU.

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