Here are some technology tools and ideas that can help bring authenticity to student work. They lend themselves to collaboration, critical thinking, and sharing to a wider audience.

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Shelfari
Used in middle school humanities classrooms as a yearlong tool for tracking reading, answering prompts, and opening student reading to a larger audience, Shelfari can be used in many different contexts. It has proven to be a useful tool to be used in conjunction with lessons based on literary elements studied in class with the reading that students complete independently. By posing comprehension based questions that connect skills and concepts learned in class to books that are read at home, students can see that their independent reading is valued and deeply connected to works that are studied in greater depth. Books that they load onto their reading shelf can also be reviewed by the students, and these reviews are visible to those who search the book, bringing further authenticity to their work. Finally, many students find opportunities to join reading groups who share similar tastes in reading. These mini “book clubs” form by students taking their own initiatives.

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Storify
Storify.com is a web curating tool that puts students in the driver seat of their own content. In today’s world of mass information, students need to learn how to discern what information is useful and truthful. In saying this, it should be encouraged for students to try and curate from various mediums, such as print, audio, and visual. This is a website that can be used across the disciplines, and can be used in a variety of ways. Commenting features allow for opportunities of formative assessment and taking control of learning.

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Prezi
Interested in creating beautiful classroom presentations that can potentially reach a wider audience? Prezi is a powerful presentation tool that can be used across all subjects. With zoom-in and out features, the “wow” factor is present. One of the more interesting features is that the presenter and audience do not need to be in the same room, which opens student presentations to a global audience.

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Skype
Skype is a wonderful communication tool that has potential classroom use. Recently, “Mystery Skype” is making its way into the classroom. Why not connect a classroom in the United States with a classroom in South Korea? Students studying a variety of global issues and/or inquiries about place can question one another to find location hints. If time zones are a concern, segments can be recorded to accommodate the unruly 14 hour difference.

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QR Codes/Readers (Quick Response Codes/Readers)
QR codes and readers are not just for shopping. Students can develop QR codes for many learning purposes, but bringing them into the community is a way to reach a broader audience. For example, QR codes can provide an English version of a museum exhibit that is written solely in another language (after research that is!) It serves the community and brings a genuine sense of accomplishment as the views increase. There are many QR code generators, but QR Stuff.com is a starting point.

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TED/TEDx/TED-Ed
TED/TEDx/TED-Ed all have videos that can potentially change how students think and can truly inspire students to take action. The subject matter in these videos transcend subjects. It takes quite a bit of planning, but with TEDx any school that takes the steps can apply to host. This opens so many opportunities. If not interested in hosting, how about a TED inspired speech for student-led conferences? Content, writing skills, and a parent audience can all be intertwined.

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Wikis
Wikis come in various platforms and offer different features based on the platform chosen. They are collaborative and showcase learning. Take this site for example (wikispaces). Several people were able to generate ideas together and edit collaboratively. Various subjects can make use of wikis as educational tools.

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Blogging
Blogging is a powerful tool and suites various content areas. There are many platforms available to choose from, but a suggestion for younger students is to choose a platform that is simpler, such as Blogger. Blogging is also a chance to create e-portfolios to showcase larger bodies of work. The pride that students feel documenting and reflecting upon their work is evident in the portfolio that they create over the years. Other great blogging sites that are recommended are WordPress, Wix, and Weebly.