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Choosing Tech Tools

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Since the pandemic began, we as music teachers have been thrown into technology. Whether you’ve had to record yourself on video, have created lots of activities for  Seesaw, or have figured out how to upload assignments to Google Classroom, you have learned a lot! Now that we know so many programs and apps, the question is: how do we decide what to use, when?

In this blog post, I’m discussing how to figure out which tools to use, whether you are delivering lessons, communicating with parents, or having students perform on video.

Here are questions to ask yourself:

Which tools are approved and used by my district?

Before you do a deep dive on a tool, first make sure you are allowed to use the tool. When I was first distance teaching this past spring, I got really excited about Google Sites and did a bunch of work with it…only to realize it wasn’t an approved tool in my district! It’s best to check on that first, so you don’t waste any time. If it hasn’t been considered yet, you could ask for approval before creating with it. Or you might love the idea of using Google Classroom…but if your district doesn’t use that as a Learning Management System, there isn’t too much you can do.

Which tools are my students familiar with?

I found out a few weeks ago that my Kindergarteners were using Seesaw every day (virtually) with their classroom teacher. I was super excited to hear that, because it meant I could start learning about it, and once I created and delivered lessons, they would likely be familiar with the functions within Seesaw…and I was right! It has been a seamless experience because they are so comfortable with the platform. If you want to use Seesaw, or another tool, and your students aren’t familiar with it, you may need to consider whether there is a similar tool that students are familiar with, or be prepared to do some coaching at the start, to familiarize students with it.

What do I want to do in this lesson?

Before deciding on a tool, ask yourself what exactly you want to do with the lesson, and then make your decision about the platform. Like I stated above, I was excited to hear that I could use Seesaw….but I had been using Nearpod successfully, so I had to think about why I would use Seesaw over Nearpod.

Which platform is easy for me to learn?

You do have to consider what works well for you as a learner. Maybe everyone raves about Nearpod, but you just can’t wrap your mind around it. Maybe you love the idea of Seesaw, but it’s hard for you to figure out what to do. If you have the time, explore and learn, but if not, it is okay to stick with what you know and what makes sense to you. When you have more time, if a platform still seems intriguing to you, check it out then!

Here are some thoughts about various platforms, and why you might want to use each:

  • Google Slides:
    • Why use it:
      • Deliver lessons
      • Embed YouTube videos without commercials, as well as other videos
      • Embed audio
      • Link to other websites
    • Tutorial: Webinar with Katie Wardrobe
  • Nearpod:
    • Why use it:
      • Deliver lessons
      • Embed YouTube videos without commercials (staying in the same window)
      • Embed other videos
      • Embed audio
      • Embed other websites within lesson
      • Add other interactive features, like quizzes
      • Great for assessment
    • Tutorial: Blog post about Nearpod
  • Peardeck:
  • Seesaw:
    • Why use it:
      • Have students record themselves singing, speaking, and playing instruments
      • Have students draw, copy, write rhythms, etc.
      • Embed YouTube videos without commercials
      • Communicate with parents
      • Give immediate feedback
      • Great for assessment
    • FB group:  “Seesaw for Music Teachers”
  • Flipgrid:
    • Why use it:
      • Have students record themselves singing, speaking, and playing instruments
      • Build student relationships and community
      • Give immediate feedback
    • Tutorial: Webinar with Katie Wardrobe

Are you wanting to learn more specifics about all of these tech tools? Sign up below to receive notifications when I open my “Tech for Music Teachers” course. 

Happy teaching, and happy “teching”!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your post! I am a senior vocal music education major and your post has been very helpful. I haven’t heard of/used Peardeck before so thank you for that resource. My question is would you still use SeeSaw for if you had an older group? I like the suggestions that you have but I was curious if you would still utilize that platform at a middle school level. Thanks!

    1. Hi Emily! I think Seesaw is a really popular platform to use for K-2, but I do think it could be used successfully with older grades, especially if students had to record themselves or add text to a slide. I plan on using it with all grades when I am back in the classroom, in person, and I have K-5. Hope that helps!

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