In a generation, kindergarteners may no longer know what a physical book is.
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, how can teachers hope to keep up? There’s so much out there and so many different ways to use it. And to top it off, education itself is changing as new school models open their doors and politicians hoping to make headlines chase after every success story to show that they’re on board with “reform.”
For teachers down in the trenches fighting the good fight, constantly changing the teaching models and requirements needed for their students to pass isn’t helpful. What they need are the right tools to engage their students and the knowledge to utilize them.
To that end, we thought we’d make our hardworking teachers’ jobs just a little easier by coming up with a few useful ways to incorporate technology and new media into their lesson plans. Also, a word of advice: one great way to keep up with all these changes is to explore the archived webinars at eSchoolNews. They focus a lot on ways that you can utilize technology in the classroom.
Research Scavenger Hunt. Kids today are extremely digitally savvy, so why not exploit that and engage them at the same time? Come up with a list of things for them to find online and see who comes up with the most. Just make sure your school has a good security system in place to filter certain sites, and lay down any ground rules you want, such as, “You can’t use Wikipedia.”
Write someone important. With the internet, it’s possible to contact your state or national representatives via email, and many important people – artists, musicians, novelists, scientists – have followings on Twitter and will actually communicate with their fans. Assign your students the task of coming up with a good question and a person they want to ask, then let them do it and try to get a response.
Tweet to organize. Many teachers are afraid of and confused by Twitter, but you don’t have to be. In fact, if most of your students have accounts (and they do), Twitter can be a great way to keep them informed about upcoming assignments, tests, due dates, and so on.
Virtual dioramas. Old school dioramas and reports where you have to lug in visual aids are so five years ago. Instead, have your kids join Pinterest, that bastion of all things visual, and create virtual dioramas that they post for the class to see.
Make a viral video. Want to really get your kids excited? Task them with coming up with an idea for a video based on a lesson. Film it on something simple like an iPhone then challenge them to get the video to go viral. You can even use sites like GoAnimate or the school-safe version GoAnimate for Schools to create free or very affordable animated videos and really get creative.
Twitter Tales. Doing an exercise in storytelling? Write the opening line to a joint story for the class and tweet it, then have each student use their 140 characters to add a line to the tale until it’s finished. You might be surprised with what they create.
Find and contribute to a research team. There are lots of professional research teams online who are happy to use good student work if it helps their research. Individually or collectively, task your students to find and contribute to a research team and report back on what they learned.
Incorporating technology into your classroom lessons is important for many reasons. First off, it will help you to engage more with your students because you will be working with something that many of them are familiar with and enjoy doing already. Secondly, it will prepare them to use the technologies in a constructive, professional way that many will likely end up doing in their careers. And finally, by utilizing technology and especially social media in the classroom, you can help them to become good digital citizens and understand how to behave online, and how what they post will live there forever.
– Aileen Pablo
Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges and InformED, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Learning and distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career.She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.