Technology advancements have tremendously improved the learning experiences of all students. Technology provides opportunities for students to interact with kids around the world, publish their writing and drawing/illustrations online, and access engaging, educational videos, games, and apps anytime and anywhere. Implementing new technology in your classroom is about more than just finding the latest and greatest apps, however. To make the most out of technological resources in your classroom, check out these essential steps:
1. Join or Create an Educational Technology PLC
While you might be a part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in your school based on the grade-level/content you teach, PLCs are also a great platform for learning about the technologies your colleagues are using in their classrooms, sharing troubleshooting ideas, testing out technology with a group of educational experts, and asking for and sharing advice about your struggles and successes with supporting the specific needs of your students. You can search for a PLC in your area, or you can create your own within your school. Learn more about PLCs, here.
2. Re-Use Technology in Your Lessons
To save classroom time, you should always test new technologies before you introduce them to your students. When you find an app or digital tool that you think will work for your students, choose 2-3 lesson plans within a unit that will benefit from that technology. Schedule ample time in the first lesson for your students to ask questions and practice using the new technology. Then, when it’s time for the second and third lessons, your students will be comfortable using the technology independently and more time can be spent supporting your class with the lesson. Allowing your students time to get familiar with and master new resources will also help build confidence.
3. Get Students Involved in the App Selection Process
Your digital native students already know a ton about technology and chances are, you can probably learn a thing or two from them on the subject. Give your students the opportunity to research and select apps or online resources that they enjoy using. You can then ask them to present the technology—either to you, a small group, or the whole class—to share how the technology works, why they think it’s important, and why they think the class will benefit from it.
This is an excellent opportunity for your students to take ownership of their learning, share with you the supports they find valuable for their unique learning styles, and be a leader in the classroom on a topic they care and are knowledgeable about. In this flipped classroom environment in which you are the student and your students are the teachers, you will also learn from your students about a range of new resources that you may never have been introduced to otherwise!
4. Never Stop Looking for New Technology
The search is never over when it comes to technology for your classroom. New apps and software are constantly being created. It’s important to stay up to speed on what’s new in the cyber world in order to provide your students with the most relevant, valuable resources.