Because of the pandemic, technology in the classroom has become a well-adopted practice for many schools. For others, it’s been harder to find helpful ways of incorporating it with classroom learning. To help bridge the gap, here are some tips for evaluating technology and bringing it into your classroom.
The choices for technology in the classroom are endless. To help you avoid overwhelm, start by choosing a learning objective first. Are you trying to promote collaboration? Help students improve their writing skills? There’s certainly technology that can help, but ensure it supports your practice before adopting it in your classroom.
Reach out to your technology or grade-level team to see if anyone else is already using that technology, how it’s working for them, and what they think of it. If nobody else is using it, read reviews from other educators online.
When evaluating whether a certain technology is right for your classroom, judge it against these three criteria: engagement, enhancement, and extension of learning goals. Just because you’re excited about something doesn’t mean it’s going to help meet your targets.
Take It Slow
Bringing a new technology into your classroom can feel big and scary, but taking it slow will make the process easier for you and your students. Start small by incorporating something you’re already familiar with such as a YouTube video. Try adding just one new thing at a time and don’t give up too quickly. Build in plenty of practice and scaffolding for students to use the new tools and give them multiple opportunities to try it out. After a couple of weeks, you’ll know if it’s working well with your lessons or not. If it’s not enhancing your lessons, it’s not worth it.
Consider the Students
You never know how students will use the tools you give them, so keep an open mind. Start by laying out expectations and provide examples of what that looks like. Then, let them try it out and see how they express their learning.
Monitor how much screen time is used in a lesson, and try to get students working with pencil and paper when possible. For example, have them watch a video then write their responses in physical forms. For remote learners, they can take a picture of the paper and share it with you. HUE cameras are great for this.
You may also consider technology-free portions of the day where students place devices in a storage cart or their backpacks. This way, the gadgets will be less distracting and they can focus on learning. Some students may benefit from a 2-minute warning before it’s time to go tech-free or a reminder that the current discussion should have their attention.
Technology for a New Age of Learning
There’s no denying that teachers are burnt out and stressed, but incorporating technology into your classroom lessons doesn’t have to add to it. Start where you’re comfortable, take it slowly, and build from there. You and your students will become more confident in the technology over time.