We, as educators, are in the midst of a technology overhaul. Schools are pushing teachers to utilize technology in the classroom in every way they can because we need to teach students how to be productive and relative in the 21st century. Many veteran teachers find this to be a hassle, a fad. However, I think the key here is not to submerge ourselves into an internet crazed, high-tech environment, but instead to learn how to use available technology to our advantage. Technology should be used as a tool to make our students learn more efficiently, not to make our lives more confusing.
When used skillfully, technology can actually make a teacher’s life easier. It’s true! But just like we need to get our students to master the class’s content, we need to reach mastery in our technology usage. It’s not something that will happen overnight, but an effective training, professional or self-taught, can work wonders.
Technology Can Help You Teach More
In the age of technology, we have information, as well as resources, constantly at our disposal. You can type “lesson plans for __________” into Google Search and immediately have a plethora of options and ideas. This alone should get you on board for technology use, because you can save so much time by having ideas for your next unit basically come to you. Most schools now give teachers access to SMART boards, laptops, tablets, or at least a computer lab, which are all vessels you can use to update your lesson plans. If you still feel skeptical, here are a few of my favorites:
E-Readers, Class Blogs, and Movie Making:
Other than being able to read class literature on them, students can highlight, annotate, and mark pages electronically. Make your kids into true, published writers by creating online content using sites such as WordPress, Blogger, or Ning. Another idea is to put them in groups where they can collaborate on Animoto, PowToon, or WeVideo to make a movie, short video, comic strip, commercial, or music video. I guarantee this will get them engaged.
Webquests are amazing for so many reasons. You can find one for essentially any topic, and they are already done for you! On webquest.org or Zunal, you can search or browse whatever topic you are considering. The webquests, made by teachers, have directions for students to go to different websites, read different articles, and watch different videos in order to ultimately complete a task. Basically, the students are completing an online scavenger hunt. You can also make your own, of course.
I love this one because at my school YouTube is blocked to the students. This means I can never post a video on our class website because their systems won’t allow them to watch it. Edpuzzle however, lets teachers take a video and assign it to students. You can post questions anywhere throughout the video to check for understanding, and you can change the settings to be sure they do not skip ahead. This works great when you want to make sure they are comprehending what you want them to get out of the video. Edpuzzle also will sync up to your Google Classroom account (if you have one) and you can post directly to your page.
I was newly introduced to this application, and I am obsessed. It lets you record yourself while it records the activity on your computer screen. You can get a video image of yourself while talking, but I use it to give oral feedback to all of my students on their assignments. I don’t do this for every assignment, because it can be time-consuming, but it it is great when grading essays. I will pull their essay up on my screen and start reading through and talking with them, and then just copy and paste the link onto the page. They can click the link and watch me grade their paper. It’s automatic feedback, it’s one-on-one, and I feel like I have a lot better chance of getting them to understand my comments than if I just wrote them on their paper. It also cuts out taking up class time for conferences.
This is another great, free option for all areas. You can find articles on any subject and adjust the lexile level according to your students’ needs. It also will include a four-question multiple choice quiz to check for understanding. My school subscribes to Newsela Pro, which allows me to input all of my students. I can assign them articles, and the system will adjust the lexile level to the student based on their performance. It also supplies the teacher with information and statistics for each student, which of course will aid in data-driven instruction.
All Things Google:
In all honesty, Google has changed the way I teach. I have formed Google Classrooms for each of my classes where I post homework, bell ringers, tickets out the door, and other announcements daily. Google Drive has become a Godsend, saving all of my teaching materials in one convenient place, allowing for collaboration between students, and letting kids work from any computer, anywhere. If you haven’t hopped on the Google train yet, do it! Something else I love about it is how it seems all other apps and websites have adopted it as well, working seamlessly together to make teachers’ lives easier. Whether it’s uploading rubrics directly to the document your students will write on or importing grades from Classroom to a spreadsheet, the technology here makes our lives simpler.
So How is This Saving Me Time?
When you are first becoming accustomed to using technology, it may seem like it’s more of a bother than it’s worth. It’s hard to change routines that we like, but if you follow through with even one new tech-based idea I think you will see the benefit. You can have students working at different centers on different things leveled to their ability, you can give immediate feedback, you can grade quicker and more efficiently, and the more proficient you become at using the different tools available, the more you will succeed in bringing your classroom into the 21st century.
This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools
To reach Lauren, please contact here.
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