Technology is already a part of children’s day-to-day lives, so why not use this to your advantage by incorporating it into your lessons? This doesn't have to be a planning nightmare. There are plenty of easy ways to make your lessons more tech-friendly. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a recording device
There are so many ways to use cameras when teaching. Try photographing work (or even videoing it) and then displaying it on the class projector. This creates a great platform for pupils to discuss and reflect on the work and allows them to "magpie" ideas and suggest improvements. After the lesson, it is easy to then share the work further – for example, on the class blog or school Facebook page. Sharing achievement and progress online has certainly motivated my students.
- Take advantage of online resources
Type what you’re looking for into a search engine and a wealth of classroom goodies will be at your fingertips. Recently, I have enjoyed using TED-Ed lessons which are ready-made, complete with teaching tools and fantastic ideas. Other websites worth using are YouTube (great for tutorials and documentaries) and also ClassTools.net, which has a variety of useful features including name generators and countdown timers.
- Flip your classroom
This is an effective strategy where students are set home learning to find out about a topic on the internet. In the following lesson, their own research allows them to get straight on with the tasks set. Teachers become facilitators and can go around the classroom supporting, guiding the students and answering questions. I find this strategy particularly useful in humanities; in the past I have given the class a link to a video, which they watch at home, and then in the next lesson they can get stuck into a project based on this.
- Use tech to support and encourage collaboration
Google Docs is an excellent tool in which students can work together on the same piece of work. They can add suggestions or comments and work as a team. The students don’t even have to be in the same place, opening up many opportunities for co-operative learning around the world. Another great tool is TodaysMeet.com, which lets you set up a class chat room. The students can discuss topics and issues as the lesson progresses – great for debate, reflection and inclusion.
- Gamify your classroom.
Kahoot! and Socrative are amazing tools that make it simple to set quizzes for your students. The magic is that they turn learning into a game. Exciting music and non-threatening leader boards enthuse the students and give them a hunger to improve. Every morning, my class ask if we are going to "play the game today".
Take these tech ideas one at a time and you will find they benefit both you and your pupils this year.
Neil Jarrett is a Year 6 teacher at an international school in Bangkok. He tweets from @EdtechNeil and his blog is EdTech4Beginners.