S'Cool Tools Reviewed by Educators: Formative, PicCollage, Strict Workflow

TOO COOL (PERFECT FOR SCHOOL): We write about classroom tools every week, but there are many more edtech experts outside our newsroom than within. Educators interact with edtech every day, so asked educators in our community to share with us how they use their tools, what they like and what they don’t for our Instruct newsletter. To be clear, these reviewers have no financial interest in promoting these tools, nor do their opinions necessarily reflect those of EdSurge. If you're an educator who would like to share your experiences with a product that you use, click here to complete a case study.

Free!Formative—“I have used Formative to give exit surveys and end-of-unit tests. Formative definitely works as a successful exit survey, but I still prefer Google Forms when giving quick surveys or polls. On the other hand, I believe that Formative is an amazing way to assess students on end-of-unit assessments. Also, Formative is an easy way to differentiate assessments because students can have the option of typing their work, showing their work by drawing, or by attaching an image.” —Kara (@kara_welty), 6th Grade ELA and Social Studies Teacher

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FreemiumPicCollage App—“I wanted my students to be able to create detailed digital art collages. Essentially I wanted them to be able to do everything they could do with a piece of paper and a magazine, but on an iPad so it could be shared and stored more easily. This product allows students to take images and combine them with text, frames, and other graphics to create detailed collages and works of art. It also allows students to edit images, clipping out portions of them like they would with digital editing software but all on the iPad. It also had lots of other great features like easy text manipulation and a set of stickers which students enjoyed using. The free version does watermark the image until you purchase it, but it's inconsequential. The only drawback is it only allows about thirty "layers" or image/text/sticker features to be added to a document, which some students found to be limiting.” —James (@saintfester), 8th Grade Social Studies teacher

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Free!Strict Workflow Chrome Extension—“We are a 1:1 school with both Chromebooks and iPads, and it is sometimes difficult to monitor what students are doing when their screens are facing away from you, even when you're walking around and being active with your management. Strict Workflow is a whitelisting/blacklisting extension that keeps students from visiting specific sites you select. Simply put, if you type the address of a site into the blacklist, students can't visit it. If you type in the address of a site into the whitelist, students can only visit it. This effectively barricades things like games from students who use Chrome. The extension is also timed, which means that once you see a student off task you can activate it with one click and it stops after the set limit, going back to a fully open browser. Once activated, the settings on Strict Workflow cannot be changed until the timer runs out. This extension was effective in reducing off-task time. Students also sometimes elected to turn it on as a way of self-monitoring so they could complete their work. The extension is hard to program, though and requires the teacher to enter the whitelisted/blacklisted sites individually. This can be time consuming.” —James (@saintfester), 8th Grade Social Studies teacher

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