Chapter 9 – Utilizing technology in the classroom
In Chapter 3 I mentioned how important keywords are during the interview process. One keyword that seems to have been all the rage for the last few years is technology and how best to integrate it into the classroom. This is a concept that won’t soon go away since technology is evolving faster than we are.
On a typical day I wake up to the alarm on my phone, check my email and the sports scores before getting out of bed. I head downstairs, have breakfast and briefly look over the news on my iPad to see what happened in the world while I slept. I get into the car and drive my sons to school while listening to their favourite songs on my iPhone, which is being streamed over the Bluetooth in my van. I get to work, open my MacBook Air, automatically connect to the wireless network in our school and review my lessons for the day. Head to my class, ask my students to open the lesson they downloaded last night from our class site on Edmodo and then connect to the overhead projector wirelessly using my Mac and the classroom Apple TV. Lunch rolls around and I again check up on how the world is going, reply to a few emails then repeat for my afternoon classes. Once dinner is over and the kids are asleep, my wife and I flip on Netflix which streams HD content wirelessly to our Smart TV. What I’m trying to show is how connected we all are to technology and this is no different for our students. Why should we be having them head to the library and check out a book when they can be accessing a more updated resource online or through an electronic textbook? Why should they be taking notes with a pencil when they could be doing it on their phone, an iPad or a computer? I know you are all thinking that if we do this, they will abuse it and use their devices for other purposes. You are right; they will at some point probably abuse the privilege but think about this. Is it worse to have their attention waver to the their phone instead of out the window? You might say that the phone is more interesting and therefore they will abuse it more. Ok, again you might be right but then think about this, if you are doing something worth their attention, won’t they choose to listen to you instead of allowing themselves to become distracted? If you are moving around the room making your presence felt, won’t they maintain their focus? People only get distracted because what’s distracting them is more interesting than what they should be focussing on. This is an excellent opportunity to step up your game and instead of blaming technology for your students lack of attention, reflect on your own teaching and figure out ways you can use technology to better your students’ educational experience. Here’s why technological integration is so important in the classroom:
- Technology is everywhere in our lives. Don’t simply pretend that it isn’t. Instead, embrace it and move forward otherwise, it will leave you behind.
- Students are dependent on technology and you won’t be the one to break them of it. Instead, use it generate excitement and engagement in your classroom.
- Technology connects us anywhere, anytime. Students can access your lessons, videos, simulations, etc. whenever they wish allowing learning to happen anytime and anywhere.
- Simulations and videos can provide a learning experience that students wouldn’t be able to tap into during a normal school day. This can be due to monetary or safety issues (some demonstrations can be very expensive and/or dangerous).
- Electronic resources are dynamic and allow for an ever-changing educational landscape. Teaching ever changing subjects like Science can be difficult with a 20-year-old textbook (just consider poor Pluto).
- Businesses of today can’t survive without a constant stream of communication. Employees communicate via Skype and collaborate using tools like Google Docs and Evernote. Meetings take place over great distances and presentations are delivered using cell phones. Marketers must utilize Twitter, Facebook and Instagram otherwise they fail. It is a global marketplace and we need to prepare our students for it.
So how can YOU get started right now? Here are 8 easy ways to improve your use of technology in the classroom
- Create A Simple Class Website:
Create a class website using simple and ready-to-use hosts like http://www.edmodo.com. If you are feeling up the challenge, create your own website using these free providers.
- Online Quizzes and Exit Cards:
Easily create free online quizzes and exit tickets using the following sites:
- Kahoot – https://getkahoot.com/
- Socrative – http://www.socrative.com/
- Plickers – http://www.plickers.com
Note: Plickers is my absolute favourite; it’s an amazingly effective and easy to use program that my kids love. If you want to learn more about them please read my post (Plickers – A FUN, EASY, and EFFECTIVE way to assess student understanding) by clicking here: http://wp.me/p3pnwJ-1FI
- Online Field Trips:
Something that is relatively new to the field of education is the online field trip where you can visit anything from the International Space Station to the White House and even the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory for free. The trip comes to your classroom through a program like Skype Education – https://education.skype.com/ or Google’s Connected Classrooms – https://connectedclassrooms.withgoogle.com/. All you need is an Internet connection.
For more information on online field trips please check out:
- Flip Your Classroom:
Try out the flipped classroom. Record your lessons using your computer, lesson (PowerPoint, Word, PDF, etc.) and some free software. Once it’s ready to go, upload it to YouTube (unlisted if you only want your students seeing it). This is a great way to free-up learning time in the classroom. If you don’t want to create your own videos there are plenty of people online who have already created them and these can be accessed for free via http://www.youtube.com. Click here to learn more about flipping your classroom – https://teachwithfergy.com/the-flipped-classroom-how-to-flip-your-class-and-increase-student-success/
- Genius Hour:
Have you heard of Genius Hour? It’s so easy to understand and use. I use it every year and the kids love it. Worried that it’s too technical? Trust me when I say it’s really easy to implement and it gets your kids to do something they are passionate about it, which is something that is sorely lacking at times. Click here to learn more about using Genius Hour your classroom – https://teachwithfergy.com/genius-hour-have-you-tried-it-yet/
How can your STUDENTS get involved right away?
- Create virtual masterpieces:
Get your students to show their creative side and technological skills by producing a virtual masterpiece such as a Prezi, a website, an app or an infographic. Genius Hour works very well here as well (see point #5).
- Prezi – https://prezi.com/
- For more information on infographics visit – http://www.creativebloq.com/infographic/tools-2131971
Let your kids interact and become more engaged using a variety of free online simulations and applications. Don’t have iPads in your classroom? No problem. Simulations and videos can be accessed free of charge and provide a learning experience that students wouldn’t be able to tap into during a normal school day. This can be due to monetary or safety issues (some demonstrations can be very expensive and/or dangerous). Check out https://phet.colorado.edu/ (100% free) and http://www.explorelearning.com (requires a paid subscription). These two sites allow students to get hands-on with the content and bring learning to life. The simulations also offer full walkthroughs and guided activities, which can be accessed for free and come with an answer key.
Have your kids make a podcast as their project submission or make it an ongoing, semester-long assignment. It’s a lot easier than you may think and opens up a lot of unique and useful possibilities. Check out http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech252.shtml to get started.