Contributed by Rachelle Dene Poth
Summer offers a chance to relax, but also a time to explore new ideas and reflect on previous years. We have to ask ourselves what worked and what didn’t. As each school year begins, teachers set up classroom procedures, get students to know, and then begin their instruction.
Even with the best plans in mind, things can come up that limit our time to try something new. There is nothing wrong with sticking to some of the same instructional techniques and using some of the same tools used last year. We all have methods and tools that we use that are beneficial to our students. But summer gives us the opportunity to think of some new things to bring to our classroom and to our students at the beginning of the new school year.
Since time is a factor, it may seem overwhelming to try so many new things at once. It may be helpful to think about how we used a particular tool or presented a topic in the previous year to make a slight change. Start by focusing on one thing at a time and see how it goes. The most important part is to remember that we want to implement something that will positively benefit our students. It should be something that has a real purpose and it will enhance the learning experience and potential of our students.
Below are some ideas that I have used in my classroom that have been fun for students and have had a positive impact on their learning.
4 simple ideas to use technology to engage students
Idea: Use infographics to create an attractive syllabus
Instead of handing out your course syllabus to your students on paper, try creating one Infographic If you have to post online through your class website or LMS. It will be easy to read, create a sense of excitement for your own craft and set your classroom apart from others in the eyes of the student / parent / administrator.
With a graphic, you can print and layer the infographic to keep it accessible in your classroom. There are many tools to choose from to create one and many options to apply to your course To create one you just take the information from your document and paste the infographic.
There are many choices available for templates, icons, fonts and more. Ask your students to create something creative and visible using one of the available infographic tools, as an alternative to completing a complete assignment or project that is traditionally done using paper or word documents. It will be a more engaging, visual way to share information, have more authentic learning experiences and can be created rather quickly.
Some of the tools recommended for creating infographics are Canva, Piktochart, Smore and Visme.
Idea: Create interactive lessons
Students need to be actively involved in the classroom and in learning. A good way to do this is through interactive video lessons. There are many digital tools available that enable a teacher to select a video from YouTube or other video sources and create a quick interactive lesson with questions or other activities for students to complete. The great thing about the tools available for interactive video lessons is that there are some lessons available for public use that allow you to try with your class first before creating your own.
Attempting one of these first is a great way to see what students are thinking and using their feedback to help guide the next steps, whether to create one and which tool to use. It is great to offer such lessons as part of an asynchronous lesson or in a mixed or flipped learning environment for students to complete assignments outside of the traditional “brick and mortar” classroom. You can quickly evaluate students, track their progress, and hold them accountable for watching videos.
Some of the suggestions of some of the tools available are EDpuzzle, Playposit, Vizia, and even a Google document that can be used to add questions for students to complete. My advice is you choose one of these options, see what is available and then Be very clear on how you can use it to benefit your class. Websites have tutorials available that offer guidelines to help you create your first video.
Simply select a video that you typically show in class or assign to students to watch outside of class and think about the questions you can ask or ask to test their understanding. Easy to add your videos to the text editor, add a variety of question styles including true and false, multiple-choice or short answers, among other formats. There are also quiz options for self-grading, which provides direct data.
Each tool offers a variety of features that add additional benefits to learning. For example, depending on which tool you choose, you can see how long it took students to watch the video and whether they tried to avoid it.
Idea: Lessons created by students
Instead of creating teacher lessons, you can also create lessons for students to share with the class. When I did this with my students, they sent me their full video lesson and I completed the lesson. It gives their teachers a chance to see what they see and give their ‘students’ a chance to respond. By doing this, students learned in a more authentic way because they determined which video to use, created questions, and as a result, strengthened the material; It was more personal to them.
Teachers learn by looking at the type of content students choose and can use this information to guide them to the next step in the lesson. The class learns more and more resources are available for practice and students can become more proficient in the content. Another great thing besides advanced learning is that making these videos for students can also be fun.
And the fun is good, yes?
Idea: Use engaging digital quizzes and tools
Students have a variety of tools to use to create quizzes and lessons to complete in and out of class.
In many cases, you can upload your own documents or PowerPoint presentations to the lesson and keep everything organized in one place. Using some constructive assessment tools like Formative, Kahut, Nearpod, Quizzes and Quizlet is a way to have some fun with students and add the learning resources available to your class.
Students enjoy creating their own quizzes and lessons, incorporating tool and question types and being able to further develop their technical skills in the process. All these activities are extremely beneficial for student growth. By empowering students, we empower them in the classroom.
See more The best constructive assessment tools
When used with a purpose, There are many ways that technology helps teachers and students. Using technology saves time, provides immediate feedback and gives students the opportunity to be creators and make a choice. It also encourages learning outside of the traditional classroom, which spends class time doing other activities, eliminating any misunderstandings, and getting to know students and giving personal feedback.
Once you have decided on one of these ideas, give it some time, see how it goes and then think about taking the next step. Be sure to involve students in the conversation Because their input is important and that’s important. When students feel valued, learning becomes more meaningful and it leads to many positive results. Teachers and students will work together, create lessons, provide feedback, add to a positive classroom culture.
Perhaps one of these areas is the next step you can take, try and see how your students respond. It was a wonderful change in my classroom, my students were creative, engaged and really enjoyed the opportunity to lead. The learning that took place was more meaningful and they remember the content information a lot more when they make their own products or remember the work of one of their classmates.
Either way, it was a much more meaningful experience, and one that I will continue this school year to enhance my classroom.