Technology is ubiquitous in the modern-day classroom. But even though it is plentiful in many places, the way in which it is used varies greatly from one classroom to another. Technology can be used for all sorts of different reasons, some of which teachers may not have considered before.
Why is it important to think through all technology options in our classrooms? The technology resources that we have are valuable. There is an investment in cost from the district, but also a hope to gain better outcomes by this investment.
Think of it this way: You buy your mother a new Apple Watch for her birthday. She thanks you for the kind gift, and a few weeks later, you ask her how she likes it. She comments that she likes how it keeps track of the time, but that is all she is using it for. An Apple Watch makes for a fashionable timepiece, but there are hundreds of other uses that mom could be taking advantage of.
Getting More From Your Tech
Teachers, at times, are no different. They might have a tool at their disposal that meets a need, but they could be meeting the needs of dozens of other classroom issues if they only knew how to get the most out of what’s available to them.
Here is some encouragement and inspiration to help you think wider and broader about how technology can help in the classroom:
- Creation and demonstration of learning: Once a student has learned a skill or concept, how could they use technology to demonstrate what they have learned? For older students who have more technical skills, there should be more options. Think of it like multiple intelligences, except for technology: video presentations, infographics, screencast videos, PowerPoints, or musical creations. Think of all the ways that kids can mesh their technical passions and knowledge to show that they have mastered a concept.
- Housekeeping and organization: Technology doesn’t need to serve only the students in the classroom—it can help to make the teacher’s life easier too! For some strategies, it can take a time investment for a teacher to fully utilize something that might help with management and organization, like Class Dojo for example. But on the back end, the results are so much better for students, teachers, and parents alike. A good starting point for a teacher is to think about the tedious tasks or those that seem to take the most time and start there. Often times, there are many solutions to improving these areas—some that involve technology and some that do not.
- Learning anywhere and anytime: The idea of flipping the classroom has been around for a few years, but many teachers haven’t dipped their toes in yet. It is worth exploring, although does not always have the outcomes that teachers desire. Through Google Classroom or any other LMS available to teachers, there are numerous avenues to make this happen.
- Tinkering and exploring: One area that we often forget in schools is curiosity and excitement about new learning. Technology is no different. How can we use technology in our classrooms to help excite students or get them to be more curious about the world around them? Technology can take our kids to places they would normally have no ability to go to. Think about how you could use tech more in that way to really engage and hook your students.
- Helping the sub: This one might seem random, but teachers need to think about how they can ensure great instruction happens when they are gone. On average, students spend almost an entire school year with a substitute teacher through the course of their K-12 life. That is a lot of time and worth investing in. Obviously subs can’t be trained by the teacher on how to use technology, but through students and partner teachers in the hallway, I believe that it is possible for subs to not miss a beat with a class when the teacher is gone.
- Coding is knowing: In a school where I worked, the consistent go-to for when kids finished work was to read for Accelerated Reader. It was always the same and across all different subjects. As we think outside the box, we should consider other options for students to practice when they have time available. I think computer science would be number one on the list. For coding, the basics matter—both now and in the future. We should be encouraging kids to code when they have free time so they really learn how the logic works and what could come from it to improve the classroom.
Teachers always seem to need more time and learning new technology can exasperate that feeling. I would encourage all educators to consider how technology could help them in the classroom. From saving time to igniting excitement, there are many avenues for letting tech help make the classroom a better place.
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