When I first started teaching it was a goal of mine to integrate technology into the classroom as much as I could. I began my teaching career after being a graphic designer and working for a textbook publisher. That experience taught me how important technology is in the real world. Over the years I have continued to try to find new ways to use technology and changed how my students learn. I love discovering new ideas and trying out different ways to best reach my students, regardless of their learning needs. Technology integration not only engages my students but it also gives me the opportunity to differentiate their learning in a variety of mediums. At times, this can feel somewhat overwhelming but there are many creative ways to bring technology into everyday lessons. Here are 10 creative ways I integrate technology into my own classroom.
Morning Check In Using a Interactive whiteboard
Morning check in allows teachers to know which students are present and what their plans are for lunch. Having them raise their hands and check a seating chart can be time consuming and not always easy to fit in at the beginning of the day. Using a template on the interactive whiteboard makes each child responsible for his/her own check in. The first week of school take a picture of every student. Use these pictures in a Notebook file that states their lunch choices as well as, a morning activity. Each morning students drag their pictures to show they are present. This allows students to practice using the interactive whiteboard touch daily and helps them be accountable.
Recording student Reading
When students read they don’t always realize what their voice sounds like. Talking about fluency and expression with students can be a hard concept for them to grasp. Using an iPod or iPad you can easily record their reading to play back for them. Using Voice Memos or other similar apps you can record a student reading aloud. Catching them using expression in their reading gets them excited to read aloud. When you record them more than once they can hear the difference in their own voice and learn to recognize what it means to read with expression.
Sharing examples of student work
When students get the chance to see what their peers are doing it is a great way to set expectations and boost confidence. However, it is not always easy to hold up an example and expect the rest of the class to clearly see it. If you have access to an Apple T.V. or an application such as Reflections you can use your iPad and projector to show work. This magnifies the student work and clearly lets every child see what you see.
Taking a movie of your students
There are times when I catch my students doing something I want to show to the rest of my class. Reading to another student, or listening intently to someone else are some examples. Recording these moments provides you with an opportunity to model behavior and learning for other students. After making sure the role model is comfortable with their image being on the projector send the movie to the computer or use the Apple TV to show it to the entire class.
Displaying student writing
When it comes time to teach students about editing and revising it is always beneficial to use some of their own writing. I select a few examples ahead of time and scan them. Once those files are digital they can be displayed on the interactive whiteboard. It gives students the chance to be an interactive participant. They are able to see and understand what is being changed and why. Editing their peers work makes it more meaningful.
Digital Newsletters allow parents to be more engaged in their child’s learning. Links can be inserted into the newsletters allowing parents access the same technology their child is using at school. Pictures and videos can also be inserted so parents can more clearly see what happens in the classroom. These newsletters can be shared in a variety of ways. They can be emailed, posted to a website, or even shared via social media.
Students love sharing their ideas and learning with others. A great way for students to share about a book they’ve read or other information they have learned is by creating a slideshow. A reading group might want to share a book they’ve read with the class. I have my students collaborate on slideshows using the Keynote app on the iPad or using the interactive whiteboard. Keynote and Power Point are both slide show programs that are easy to use. Setting up the expectations and parameters ahead of time help them determine what to include in their presentations. They can use bullets to tell important facts, insert images, and take pictures. When students are first starting out it’s a good idea to make the format of the slideshow in advance. That way students focus on inputting information and adding elements.
Technology has become a larger part of my reading group instruction. When a group is reading an informational book they often have questions or want to know more about the topic. Using the Internet either independently or as a group we are able to research and find out more information. This can really help engage students. Students are able to feel more like experts on a topic. Using a dictionary app also teaches them how to search for and find new vocabulary. Their reading group books aren’t just something they read once and then move onto the next one.
Digital books are becoming more popular in general. Many of my students tell me about books they are reading on their tablets at home. Using digital books in the classroom allow students to relate their learning at home with what they do at school. Interactive books can be on the computer or a tablet. Not only do these books allow students to read in a digital format, they can also be interactive. Students can play games, answer questions, and even listen to others read the story. Many libraries now offer ebooks to be borrowed at no cost. Overdrive is an app that allows you to check out books from the library at no cost.
Listening to books
Listening to books has always been an important part of my classroom. When students listen to someone else read it models the behaviors good readers need. Using an iPod gives you the opportunity to use a variety of books in a much more efficient way. Downloading audio book files into iTunes you can create playlists for students. Even if the book you want students to listen to is not already an audio file you can make a recording of yourself reading the book. Using an app such as Voice Memo you can record your reading of a title and then send the recording to iTunes. Students are able to take the iPod to a place in the classroom they chose and listen on their own or with a friend. Using an iPod makes listening to books much more accessible.