we get that sometimes technology can be a hassle, and feel hesitant to use it for the sake of using it. like, if there’s already a good way to do something without technology or if there’s a face-to-face interaction that gets eliminated by the use of technology, we aren’t as likely to get behind it. but! there are some ways we’ve grown to love using technology in our classroom, that have helped us nurture connections that may not be there otherwise, boost student engagement, and support student learning.
some of our favorite ways to integrate technology into our teaching:
#1: qr codes: qr codes can be scanned by any smart device that has a qr reader app (like qrafter pro). your students can read and record a favorite piece of writing and create a URL for the voice recording that can be linked to a qr code. (we used audioboom, formerly audioboo, for students to record. they could even record at home and then email the link to us so that we could tie it to a qr code.) some ways we use qr codes:
- for back to school night in our classroom, students write and record short informational pieces about various important topics in our class including our class values or book reviews on books read over the summer. when family members scan the qr code, they hear a student voice recording of the informational writing piece.
- students create recordings of their about the authors or their favorite lines from a published piece, and hang the qr codes as a companion to their published writing pieces.
- students have a qr code to keep in their writing notebooks that is linked to an ever-changing list of writing homework options (saves you the steps of reprinting & redistributing every time something is added or removed from the list!).
- we’ve even used qr codes to provide an audio recording of a text to support fluency practice at home. we’ve recorded an excerpt of a text and linked the recording to a qr code that is placed in a student’s notebook along with a copy of the text. students can use the qr code to read along with a recording of the text.
#2: student bloggers: in our class, a student blogger is assigned each week. the blogger completes an entry in his writing notebook or on a google doc that’s shared with the teacher in place of another writing homework assignment that week. student bloggers have total choice in what to write about. some possibilities: spotlight a special event like an assembly, teach how to play a favorite math game, or share what a typical day is like in a subject. the blogger often decides to include something to accompany the writing – most often, a video or a photo. we’ve found the most success with using our class ipads for the photos and iMovie for the videos. while we’re there to support students, we try to make the blog post as much of their work as possible, so the photos and videos are kid-created.
#3: google docs: google docs can be used for publishing writing pieces across the year. they also allow for easy cutting and pasting into our class blog. as our kids become more proficient typers, we work in opportunities for them to do some writing homework on google docs, too. using google classroom is an easy way to set students up in this work so that the teacher is also able to access it.
#4: twitter: our students rotated randomly as teachers’ helper throughout the year. the teachers’ helper was allowed to use our class ipads to tweet about things going on in class on our class twitter account. our kids would hashtag their first name after the tweet so families knew who it was from (e.g. #fromlaura). we’d also tweet as the teachers, sometimes putting “ask me…” at the beginning of our tweet to encourage families to ask their child specific questions about the learning happening in our room.
#5: educreations: we used this interactive whiteboard app on our class ipads for students to create tutorials in math. they’d choose any topic they wanted to teach (e.g. multiplying large numbers), and created a video to teach it. after noticing that the tutorials were not always clear and organized, we did an inquiry with one of our own tutorials, during which students investigated things we did or said during the tutorial. we charted their observations, and the level of their tutorials immediately lifted, without us needing to support them when they were created. we posted the tutorials on our class website so that students could access them at home, maybe even when they were stuck on a homework problem! we also used educreations to create our own demonstrations of difficult concepts we were learning in math, and posted these to our class website. this was especially supportive for parents who learned algorithms differently than we were teaching their child. seeing while at the same time hearing us step out the examples supported parents in helping their children at home.
#6 ipads: we take digital photos of anchor charts that we are retiring from our walls and students can access them through google drive on our class iPads. having these charts available helps students to help themselves when they are feeling stuck. we’re big fans of finding ways to help students be more independent.
how do your students use technology in the classroom? what’s out there that you just love that you could share ?