In order for technology to impact student learning, it must be used to deepen student’s engagement and understanding in an authentic manner. Before getting too invested in a technology tool, focus on the learning objective. There are so many resources available nowadays and being able to sort through them all can be overwhelming. Take baby steps and start with one tool and build upon that once you are ready. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t be afraid to take risks and let your students take charge and become your classroom “Tech Champion.”
One of my favorite online resources is Interactive Sites for Education. This site works well with all interactive white boards and will get your students engaged and interacting with the content through educational games and simulations. This site works well in a variety of settings, from whole-class, small group, computer lab, or at home for student practice. This site organizes their resources by content area and then by topic. They are continuously adding new content, so be sure to check back regularly for updates.
Another of my favorite online resources is StoryBots. This site is 100% free for teachers. There are learning videos that are engaging and fun for example: Letters, Numbers, Colors, Outer Space, Body Songs, Great Innovators, etc. Did you know that a student’s ability to retain knowledge increases 60% when the subject matter is delivered with video? With your free teacher account, you can upload pictures of your students and create “Starring You” books and videos to spotlight a student. Many upper elementary classrooms use picture books to introduce/review concepts, and the list of titles available in the “Starring You” books continue to grow, for example: Shape-Land, Weather Sounds, The Pirate’s Tale, etc.
Another great resource is my compilation of Webcams Symbaloo webpage. I have compiled animal webcams from around the world for students to venture out of the classroom and view animals in their natural habitat. One of my favorites is Explore.org because they do the work for you and update their main page with animals that are active and also integrate information about the animals, location, date/time, and many also include sound. What an amazing way to allow students to “visit” another part of the world and make observations, predictions, collect data all while never really leaving the classroom.
In order to drive instruction, teachers often use formative assessments to get a read on students understanding of concepts. There are many online resources that are excellent formative assessments, here are a few of my favorites:
- Plickers – No need for 1:1 devices, students use reusable cards to show their understanding, while the teacher scans the room with his/her device to get a quick snap shot of students’ understanding of concepts.
- Kahoot – Teachers create a fun learning game, ‘kahoots,’ made from a series of multiple choice questions. Students then use devices in small groups, 1:1, or in a computer lab setting where they answer on their own devices and then overall results are shared to promote discussion and pedagogical impact.
- GoFormative – Teachers create an assignment and assign it to students and then can receive live results and give feedback. GoFormative goes beyong multiple choice as students can type, show their work with drawings, or submit images.
Did you know that giving feedback has the highest impact on student learning?
Technology in education continues to grow and it is our responsibility as educators to provide our students with the opportunities to create, collaborate, challenge, and enhance their learning. The best thing about integrating online tools is that they can be molded to fit each teacher’s specific needs in order to ultimately meet the needs of the students in the classroom. So be a risk taker and start integrating!
Jenn Kapp is originally from Michigan, but has lived in NC for over 20 years and considers herself to be a North Carolinian. She is married to a Veteran U.S. Marine and they have two children. She began teaching in Wake County for seven years, then we moved down to Jacksonville where she has taught for eight years. She attended Appalachian State University to earn her Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education and continued on to earn a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology at East Carolina University in the spring of 2014. Go Pirates!!! She enjoys working with two elementary schools assisting with integrating fun and exciting technology tools into the already fantastic teaching and learning that is happening in Onslow County. She believes that the possibilities with technology integration are endless!