Kids love technology. It’s a simple known fact, dating back to when it took 20 lines of code for a computer to create simple circles and the Oregon Trail was at the height of technological advancement.
Today, the technology landscape looks a great deal different. Many schools are fortunate to have a variety of devices, classroom resources, and online tools to support their blended learning models. Use of technology in the classroom benefits students in so many ways, including:
- Bringing out children’s excitement for learning (you’ve seen their eyes light up when the computer cart rolls into class!) and keeping them engaged in lessons
- Giving students of all socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to be hands-on with the latest technology
- Preparing students for the real world where dependency on technology is growing
- Encouraging collaboration and cooperation with classmates
- Providing students with the most up-to-date information right at their fingertips
Whether used for reading, math, or Common Core test prep, eBooks move instruction and review to a format that is second nature to many students. One of the main advantages of using eBook technology is that students have the ability to go back and reread, rewatch, or relisten to any concepts they did not grasp on first review.
eBook features vary among publishers, but many give students the option to personalize their learning as they move through the pages. Some eBooks include options to highlight and bookmark content, as well as add notes to reinforce skills or call out areas where help is needed. These features form a “journaling” tool that helps students create a study guide of important information.
Social sharing is another feature to look for. Students can collaborate with their peers by sharing their journals and guiding each other through difficult skills. Teachers can also participate in social sharing with their students or colleagues, and add web links with supportive content for the lesson. The ability to add web links is especially popular among teachers using the flipped classroom model.
Flipping the Classroom
Ask teachers what a flipped classroom entails, and no two answers will be the same. The essence of flipping the classroom is moving the traditional role of instruction from the teacher to the student. Home time focuses on introducing a skill or concept with the help of technology. Class time is reserved for reinforcing those concepts by addressing individual concerns and completing assignments.
Incorporating the flipped method into your classroom can start with as little as a smart phone with a video camera or a whiteboard for PowerPoint presentations. Create your own videos with as much imagery and as many examples as possible. And remember to keep lessons brief at about 1 ½ minutes per grade level. Break a complex topic into a series of videos, if necessary. Videos can be shared on a private YouTube channel, Wiki page, or classroom blog.
Until you get more comfortable creating videos of your own, you can use (with permission) videos that other teachers have shared on the same concept. Seek out experienced teachers who have shared their content on Pinterest or Twitter, or search online for lesson videos from reputable sources like Khan Academy.
Teaching your students to use social media responsibly is essential in instituting your class Facebook or Twitter profile, blog, or other site. There are many benefits to bringing social media into your classroom, including parent involvement. Families can get a glimpse into daily activities, and celebrate and share student work.
For younger students, social media also provides real-life practice with communication and writing skills. Working in groups to post updates encourages collaboration, cooperation, and respecting others’ opinions. Choose one group of students each day to write, edit, and post a rundown of the day’s highlights. Encourage others to respond with their comments.
For older students, you can use social media to hold “flash (pop) quizzes” for extra credit. Post a question on your class’s social media profile at a designated time in the evening. Students who see the question and answer correctly can earn extra points or other perks.