Easy Ways to Bring Tech into Your Lessons #edtech #edtechchat #edtechbridge #Bigdata

Sunday 1st May 2016

An article by Richard James Rogers

I’m 33 years old and my life has been filled with technology since I was little nipper. At five years old I was beating up bad guys and firing bombs from cars on the Atari ST computer and at school I was playing  word games on a BBC Microcomputer that had green text on a black background. That was the eighties – full of innovation, colour and 8 bit music.

Double Dragon
Me fighting bad guys in Double Dragon – a classic game from the eighties played on the Atari 520 ST. This game built up my hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills, and intiated my interest in martial arts. I would later start my journey learning Shotokan Karate – which I’m still practicing 22 years later! This picture is from my iPad – lots of old games can now be downloaded as apps.

Three decades later I find myself teaching students who have never known a world without the internet. It’s often hard for me contemplate the significance of this, especially when I think back to my teenage years when I spent many a long night and weekend studying from (dare I say it?) textbooks, at Flint Library.

We’ve made huge leaps and bounds as a human race in the past three decades, and when our current students enter the world of work and business they’ll be using technologies and systems that haven’t even been invented yet. Now how on Earth do we prepare them for that?

The answer is simple in theory: expose our kids to as much technology as possible and, crucially (and this step is seldom completed in classrooms today): get students to reflect on what technology they could have used (real or imaginary) if they had had access to it. 

Let’s take a look at some easy steps you can take right now to bring more technology into your teaching.

Encourage your students to use their smartphones and tablets

Smartphones and tablets can often double-up as great learning tools! Try these actvities and you’ll see this for yourself. If some of your students don’t have smartphones then be sure to book iPads or school tablets in advance of the lesson.

QR Code Treasure Hunt

Step 1: Plant ‘clues’ around the school that each have some content on them. I often print A4 sheets of paper, each with a stage on it (e.g. one stage of cell division). Make sure that each piece of paper has a QR code clue on it that tells the students where to go next (e.g. “This is where you have fish and chips on a Friday”). An example of one of these sheets can be seen below.

QR hunt summary jpeg
Instructions for using QR codes treasure hunts in your teaching practice.

Step 2: When you’ve placed all of your clues around the school, make sure that your students have downloaded the ‘QR Reader’ app onto their smartphone. Split them into groups and get scanning!

IMG_4446

Step 3: When the students have collected all of the clues they can then come back to class and make a display or poster of them. This can then lead on to a cool game such as the poster game and others

Making videos and stop motion animations

Great for any subject, movies and stop-motion animations are fun projects which can really encourage students to approach a problem from creative perspective. The result?: Memory of the concept is greatly enhanced when compared with traditional teaching methods.

beautiful-15728_1280
Children enjoy making and editing movies, and they are learning great skills that will help them later in life too.

Stop-motion animations do take a long time, and are more suited to processes and systems (e.g. DNA replication, corrie formation, steps in differential calculus, etc.), whereas movies have a wide-range of applications. An example of a stop-motion animation is given below:

Making graphs and charts and editing images

Any form of data set can be graphed in various ways by tablets and smart phones. This could happen in a history lesson in which you’re studying the number of new cases of the bubonic plaque over a set period of time; a mathematics lesson where the students have conducted a simple survey; a science lesson where the kids are measuring the light absorbance of different solutions or even an English lesson where you’re studying the frequency of particular adjectives in different texts. Good graphing apps include ‘Numbers’, ‘Viz’, ‘3D Charts’ and ‘Chart Maker’ (Apple™) and ‘Simple Graph Maker’, ‘My Graph (Chart)’, ‘ChartGo’ and ‘Juice Labs’ (Android™).

Portable homework diary

Are you sick of your students forgetting their homework? Does your school still use those old-fashioned homework diaries where everything needs to be written down? If your school isn’t using a homework database or a VLE to set assignments, then one way to solve this is to get the students to take a photograph of the homework task after you’ve written it on the whiteboard or projected it. This is also a very good option for students with additional learning needs and those who are operating with English as their second language. Additionally, if the homework is complex and involves multiple steps (e.g. navigating through a particular VLE portal), then students should be encouraged to take photographs of each step in the process.

IPAD

 

Online Learning Games, Simulations and Activities

Book your school’s ICT lab and get your students to play some games or complete activities. Make sure you’ve checked out the website first so that you can give your students some direction before the lesson starts. Some suggested websites are given below:

Monsterland Challenge
Monsterland Challenge from Cool Math Games

 

Don’t be afraid of using social media in your teaching

Go back two or three years ago, and the thought of using any kind of social media in lessons was still very taboo in most schools. Now, however, a growing number of high schools are seeing the benefits that platforms such as Facebook™, Twitter™ and Instagram™ can bring to the classroom. Whilst all of this is very exciting, and very ‘modern’, we still have to tread very carefully. Some golden rules that we must follow as teachers when using social media with our students are as follows:

  1. Always make sure that your students are of the permitted age to use the platform
  2. Always show the students how to delete their account if needs be, and how to turn off notifications (some students and parents get very annoyed when they’re constantly receiving e-mail updates from whichever social media platform it is that they’ve signed up to)
  3. Remind your students of the SMART acronym:
    • Stay Safe: Don’t give out your personal information to people or places you don’t know
    • Don’t Meet Up: It can be dangerous to meet up with someone you’ve only been in touch with online. Always check with an adult first
    Accepting Files: Accepting images, e-mails, files or messages from people you don’t know can cause problems
    Reliable: Is the website or person telling the truth? Always check information before you believe it.
    Tell Someone: Always inform an adult if someone or something online makes you feel uncomfortable or worried

If you follow these guidelines, then social media can offer a wealth of excitement, enrichment and interest to your lessons. It can encourage students to produce rich content, and can be examined instantly in a whole-class context.

Using social media in education
Here are some ideas for using social media in your practice. Can you think of others? Please feel free to download and share this image.

 

Conclusion

I’m still fighting bad guys like you can see in the screenshot at the top of the page. The bad guys of making mistakes, fear, hatred, disappointment, loss and resentment. Just like in Double Dragon I still get my butt kicked by life, but I get back up and keep playing like I did as an excited 5 year old all those years ago. Isn’t that what life is all about? Perhaps games and ICT activities can teach our kids to be resilient, as well being open minded.

Some teachers are resistant to this rapid development, mostly because it causes an inconvenience for them. The days when we could know our subject and teach the same material the same way for years on end are over. Totally over. The modern practitioner must constantly skill-up and learn new tools and techniques, often at a faster rate than the students do. This has proven to be real challenge for me too, and I can still can’t figure out how to record a good podcast or YouTube video series, but I’m working on it (and you’ll be the first to find out about it when I do figure this out!).

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Was this article useful to you? Richard goes into great detail about the myriad of ways that ICT can be used to enhance learning in his books.

IMG_4498       Marking_and_Assessment (1)

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Author:

High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK).

2 thoughts on “Easy Ways to Bring Tech into Your Lessons #edtech #edtechchat #edtechbridge #Bigdata

  1. We are a 1:1 district since last year. While technologies are a bonus, the downside is how easily distracted students get while using devices: shopping, games, snapchats–it’s all too easy to lose them. We still use our textbooks for some research and I have students who prefer hardcopy over downloading from their computer. Tech is here to stay, yet paper literacy is crucial to academics as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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