As we near the end of 2011, I thought I would invite you to add to this post by linking and reflecting on the tools that have most transformed your classrooms this year. (Note, I didn't say technology tool... we don't want to limit ourselves to the "new and shiny;" please add the tool whether it's technological or not).
I will start the list with a tool that has been around for years, one that I've held as an exemplar to provide transformation in the classroom on many levels: a tool for authentic assessment, a tool for authentic publication, a tool for documenting learning for individuals, classrooms, and teachers in an easy to produce electronic portfolio.
The tool I speak of is VoiceThread which as a web-based, inexpensive and easy to learn product that I have been able to share with teachers just starting to integrate technology into their classrooms, as well as seasoned "techies."
The reason it takes first place for me this year is that it has evolved into being a mobile tool. Whereas in the past, the creators of the VoiceThreads (either myself or my students) had to be anchored to a computer, now I can create entire VoiceThreads from an iPhone or an iPod Touch/iPad with a camera.
I now carry in my pocket a tool that makes it effortless to capture learning as it happens. Students can easily carry an iTouch around and film, record with their voice (or typing), no matter where they are.
Rather than bringing the learning to the tool (i.e., having to sit at a the computer to make the VoiceThreads, separate from when the learning happened), the tool can now easily be brought to the learning (i.e., capturing the learning while it is happening).
Here's a VoiceThread that was captured almost entirely by walking around the room and having students reflect as they were learning/working.
What tool would you add to the list for "Best Transformational Tool of 2011?" Please let us know in the comments below. Thank you in advance!