Disclaimer: This series of articles will feature tools, both on a tablet and on the web, that will allow your students to use their thinking skills in the classroom. Please be aware that we are not advocating or negating the use of technology in the Montessori classroom. We are simply offering a variety of tools that may be effectively used to assist your students with a variety of tasks. Furthermore, we believe that the technology described here is not intended for early childhood and in some cases lower elementary. Each article in this series will present tools that will support the following thinking skills.
Understanding, along with memorization, or remembering, is often considered as one of the two basic thinking skills students need to achieve. Per Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills, they are the two skills that form the foundation and are considered basic thinking skills. Although, as teachers, we often want to move children past these two lower level thinking skills, it is important to remember that many children still need to master these two levels to begin thinking clearly and begin to master the skills necessary to focus on the other higher level problem solving skills:
Following is a list of some of the technology tools we found helpful in promoting and fostering understanding.
Studyblue – studyblue.com
StudyBlue, presents itself as a crowdsource learning platform. It provides essential tools that allow children to take the information and process it. Using this platform your children will be able to enjoy such tools as:
Study guide creator
Find over 272 million study cards, already created by other users, on various subjects
Children can create their study aids using any platform
Create quizzes so that collaboration and self-study practice can take place.
Flipboard – flipboard.com
Flipboard.com is a platform where children can collect various articles and combine them into a “magazine”. This platform is ideal if all you are interested in is collecting information that you can refer to from time to time. The features work on a variety of platforms and gives you access to your content regardless of where you are, or what device you prefer to use.
Nearpod – nearpod.com
Nearpod.com pitches itself as a platform for schools. It features individual lessons that are research based, incorporate instructional best practices and many of the activities are created by other educational experts. Following our testing, we thought the tools on this platform would be useful for student projects, particularly since Montessori students are often involved in research. Students will delight in the ability to gather a variety of file formats and crate a presentation that they can then share with the rest of their group or other groups in the class. Nearpod is available online as an app.
Diigo – diigo.com
At first glance you might be fooled and think that Diigo is similar Flipboard. However, if you look a little deeper you will realize that there is a whole slew of things you can do on this platform that make it ideal for a classroom situation. Following is a short list of these features:
Annotate PDF documents on the fly
Organize links, references and personal input so that you can have a functional outline.
Share and collaborate with your classmates on a project while you exchange information or anything you have gathered.
Add texts and comments in the format of a sticky note
Tag your collected content so that you can easily find anything you need
Use the Outliner to streamline the custom content you have created
Highlight the words or phrases that matter
Store your online resources with annotations intact forever, even if the original source is taken down from the website, you can keep the content
Available online and as an app.
ThinkLink – thinklink.com
ThinkLink.com allows you to annotate and enhance images and videos with a variety of features that can engage students. The platform sports over 70 rich media tags that you can place on a picture and make it come alive. If your students are into creating graphical presentations that attract attention and encourage exploration, then perhaps this platform might be of use to you. If you are already using Apple iMacs in your classroom then the features presented in this platform, can be found in iBooks Author. What makes this platform different is that you can use your pictures across a variety of operating systems and devices. However, remember that you are limited to creating interactive pictures. Following are some of the features that are present:
Create interactive elements that are consistent across a variety of platforms
Embed data for re-teaching or to clarify items
Available online and on mobile
MindMeister – MindMeister.com
MindMeister.com is a competent tool for creating online mind mapping. If you are into creating mind maps, then this is the tool we recommend. It allows you to capture, develop and share ideas visually. Its main purpose is to categorize information and allow your child to understand the knowledge they have accumulated from a variety of sources. The site claims that more than 6 million people are using the features, and we enjoyed its capabilities. It allowed us easily brainstorm, plan projects, categorize information, and effectively organize information in a simple yet reliable manner. The platform is available both online and through an app for your mobile devices. One of the features we enjoyed the most was our ability to share any mind maps with anybody we chose to be a part of our group. What made it even more attractive was that our mind maps were shared in real time. That means that any changes you make on a mind map, your collaborators will see them instantaneously.