My building went 1-to-1 with iPads three years ago, and that obviously tops my list of tech that I'm most grateful for. I would not be able to do the kind of writing and responding I do without a device in every student's hands. I grumble about iPad issues a lot, but they were revolutionary for our building. I generally think that's how I feel about most classroom tech: I'm a grateful curmudgeon.
While the Google Docs app leaves a lot to be desired (C'mon Google. What is stopping you from creating an app that's as good as the real thing. No indent? No double-spacing? REALLY?), I do appreciate the comments feature. Not only is it a lifesaving tool for my response to students, but it's also one of the best ways I've found for students to provide authentic response to each other. They love comments. They write better comments using this feature than they do when I have them write comments on physical paper copies, and they're definitely stronger than what they say during verbal response. I still require a variety of peer response types, but comments in Docs are usually the most successful. It also allows me to creep on and include myself in every peer response group. The collaboration this provides is phenomenal.
Having an Apple TV and document camera/projector in my room are also tools that are essential to my classroom (when they work...grumble, grumble). It was so difficult to write with my students and have them see my process before I had these tech tools. Now, whether I'm typing or handwriting, my students can see it displayed on the screen, my process right next to theirs. They can see how much I delete, how many times I stop to re-read what I've written, and how it evolves. They can see how terrible my grammar and punctuation use really are. They can watch my careful selection of narrowing down word choice and trying different sentence structure combinations. They see that I value personal voice in my writing as opposed to technical proficiency, and that more often than not, I'll choose to write how I really sound instead of making sure I'm doing it correctly. Some kids rarely look at what I'm writing because they are so in their zones. Some kids look at it when they get stuck. Some kids use it as a model text. Most of them are genuinely excited to see what I'm writing about, where it goes, and how I get there, and it helps them create the same feelings for their own writing. They want to talk about it with me, and then they want to talk about their own. We all have our own writing, but these tools allow us to stay connected. We can commiserate about the process and celebrate the developing product in real time.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.