Tech tools are proving to be very effective for engaging students and maximizing the learning potential. It is a great method for facilitating all types and levels of learners and reaching out to students’ various interests. Technology is also excellent for communicating with parents, administering assessments, and monitoring student progress. Most importantly, technology proves to be a very effective way to help you differentiate your lessons.
Integrating tech tools in your classroom can be beneficial for many reasons:
• Actively engages students and encourages a desire to learn;
• Enhances technological skills, which are crucial in today’s technology-driven society;
• Boosts written communication and researching skills;
• Promotes both independent and collaborative learning, depending on the program or device;
• Differentiates instruction to facilitate various types of learners;
• Assists with lesson development and presentation, as well as student assessment and record keeping.
Blended learning is modernizing classrooms at a rapid pace, it is difficult for teachers to keep up.
Before you integrate a new form of technology, make sure you understand how to use it, how to teach students with it, and how it can assist in maximizing the learning potential.
If you wish to provide students with a top-notch education, consider integrating technology on a greater basis, and vary the programs you use. There are so many different options available to you that are educational, interesting, and help students to actively learn. The options are almost limitless. I’ve assembled just ten of my favorite educational tech tools that help enhance a classroom.
Below you will find 10 tech tools to help enhance and differentiate your lesson plans.
1. Document cameras
A document camera is a real-time image capture device that displays images to a large audience. It is like an updated version of an overhead projector. Teachers can utilize document cameras to take pictures and refer back to them during lesson plans. They are a great way to complement lectures and engage visual learners.
2. Smart Board
A Smart Board is an interactive whiteboard that uses touch. This technology encourages active student engagement and hands-on participation. It is an effective way to accommodate multiple intelligences, and promote cooperative and collaborative learning.
3. TED Talks
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The website hosts conferences and discussions that take place all over the world. TED Talks covers various topics, reinforces critical thinking skills, and promotes creativity and collaboration. Topics showcased by TED Talks can be applied to school, work, and home.
WebQuests are an inquiry-based activity which can be utilized for every grade and core subject. A WebQuest consist of six key parts: introduction, task, process, resources, evaluation, and conclusion. Teachers are able to actively engage students, introduce new material, and assess student learning. They are also quite easy to develop and can be adapted to suit a changing student population.
WordPress is an online program used for building free websites and blogs. Teachers can use it to create a class website, maintain communication with parents and students, and enhance students’ technological and writing skills. Educators are also able to control access to the content and keep students’ writing private.
Skype is a great tool for hosting guest speakers from around the world, staying in touch with pen pals, and communicating with other teachers and classrooms. It used to take weeks to months to send and receive letters in the pen pal program; however, Skype (and email) allows for instant communication between students. This is also an effective method for students to learn about other cultures, cultivate compassion, and become engaged in a global world.
Edutopia is an amazing website that discusses almost an educational topic you can think of, including technology in the classroom, classroom management, brain-based learning, curriculum planning, student engagement, and teaching strategies, to name just a few. This website allows teachers to post articles, read about different issues and ideas, and converse with one another. In addition to written posts, Edutopia hosts various videos. This website should be your number one go-to for classroom ideas! One amazing post is titled 100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media.
iPads can be used by individual students, in groups, or as a whole class. Various apps can be added for making videos, reading and writing, conducting projects and experiments, etc. If the technological budget in your classroom or school is tight, consider writing a grant proposal for new iPads or other devices.
PowerPoint may not be the newest form of technology out there, but it’s a tried and true method for presenting information. PowerPoint presentations are easy to create and can be as simple or as complex as you like. Your slideshow can include text, pictures, video, and sound clips; thus appealing to a diverse group of learners. In addition, the software can be used to develop exciting games such as Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Students can also make their own PowerPoint presentations to share with the class.
Like TED Talks, podcasts can be recorded and listened to anywhere in the world. You can find podcasts on almost any topic that students will enjoy and find applicable. This is a great way to complement lesson plans and facilitate students with auditory learning styles.
Technology should not take over your classroom, but instead supplement some activities and complement and reinforce the information you present to students. Many of the above tools are either free or relatively inexpensive. For the hardware that costs more, consider applying for grants and/or organizing school-wide fundraisers to buy or update your classroom technology. It is well worth it because you will get years worth of use out of these helpful tech tools like Smart Boards and iPads.
Regardless of the type of technology you choose to used, make sure you have a discussion with students about online safety. There are a lot of predators out there who are looking to get in contact with children and/or steal sensitive information. Ensure students know not to provide their date of birth, phone number, home address, photos of themselves, or any other identifying information to individuals they do not know. However, this is good information for everyone to keep in mind.
Technology has numerous uses and benefits that can help enhance your classroom, and thus, improve the learning experience. By using various products, software, and websites, you will be able to reach out to your students in a way like never before.
If you want to make a strong connection with students, reach out to all styles and levels of learners, and produce an interactive and engaging classroom, integrating technology is a must.
However, keep in mind that technology is not solely for the students; it can be a wonderful tool for you as the educator, as well. It can make your life much simpler, help you discover new ideas, and aid you in communicating with others on a more effective level. So now is the time to get excited about integrating tech tools into your classroom and rev up your students about learning!
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