Want to inject a little technological spice into your classroom? Add a bit of e-enthusiasm to boost engagement and cook up some creativity. Discover 10 new ways to mix tech into lesson plans — for a balanced blend of fun and learning.
By Melissa Campeau
CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE
Ask students to write a paragraph — about a book, movie or current event — and then edit it with a number of diverse audiences in mind. They quickly learn how the same language they use in an email to a friend will not be appropriate for a newspaper item, a Facebook post or a tweet.
BOOK LOVERS, E-UNITE!
Is your class loving The Fault in Our Stars? Create an online book club (on a basic blog page) that lets students post their questions and thoughts as they read, all while inspiring student-led conversations. A side column that lists the next book you’ll be studying encourages ongoing reading.
DASH AND DISCUSS
Try a subject mashup! Use a GPS mapping tool (such as mapmyrun.com) to record a virtual journey by way of students’ accumulated running club kilometres. Trek from Tokyo to Nagano, plotting their progress on a map, then study related culture along the way.
Want to collaborate with a class in Australia? Use a camera-enabled laptop and an app such as Skype, then let students discover each other. Was their breakfast toast, for instance, with Marmite or jam? Are they fans of baseball or surfing? (Try epal.com to find a partner class.)
Use a digital camera to snap an image of an object, then zoom in until it’s unrecognizable. Carpet fibre? Looks like a textured, wavy jungle. Sea sponge? More like a crater-filled moonscape. Project the image on a screen and use it as a creative writing prompt.
MATH MADE REAL
Mountains, time zones and borders — also known as the basis for intriguing math problems. Have students visit Google Earth and test its tools for calculating distance, depth, hours and more. Find Google Earth-prompted math lessons at Canadian site realworldmath.org.
Lessons about animals and their habitats leap off the page when students use multimedia. Still photos show a wolf’s yellow gaze up close, videocaptures the speed of the hunt and audio records the chilling nighttime howl. (Download software at prezi.com to wrap it all up in a presentation.)
Imagine reviewing students’ progress without spending hours rifling through stacks of assignments. Online portfolios provide one spot for teachers to collect written work, art and even videos. You can share access with students and parents, too. (Try evernote.com or threering.com.)
PUMPED ABOUT POLLS
Inject some play into a unit review — host a quiz show with easy-to-use polling software. Zero in on who’s having trouble with new material, demonstrate democracy in action with a class vote and get candid feedback by using anonymous polls. (Try socrative.com or polleverywhere.com.)
Designate one day (or more) each week to tweet from the class Twitter account. Propose a hot-topic theme that ignites student interest, then step into a moderator role as conversations are sparked. Class not ready for prime time? Keep the conversation private with a backchannel conversation.
For best practices in technology, refer to the College’s professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media (oct-oeeo.ca/1N3t9iu).