Recently I was fortunate enough to deliver an NQT training session at my school. I was honoured to be able to share with so many enthused teachers. We had a good catch up about challenges we face with technology and we also talked about how technology could apply to different subjects. This post aims to share with teachers different tools which could influence their teaching. These are tools which can be useful in any situation.
In the U.K we have many teaching standards which we must meet to become a teacher. When looking at technology I feel that these three areas can be assigned.
•Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment
•Make accurate and productive use of assessment
•Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
To summarise how each of these standards are applicable to technology I’m going to give you a few examples. Over the years I’ve spoken to many teachers who have talked about some of the challenges that they face on trying to get students to behave. When technology is used in an immersive way, it can help engage pupils. When your pupils are engaged and participating in your lesson, they’re less likely to misbehave. Not to mention, if you teach your students how to use technology effectively, they’re going to behave better online and become better digital citizens.
Making accurate and productive use of assessment can be addressed in a number of ways. There are tools available such as Plickers which allow you to give each of your students are QR code. They can hold this QR code up to the rest of the class and you scan the class with your phone. Upon scanning the room, you can instantly assess whether your class has understood something without giving away ‘who’ didn’t understand it. It helps create a safe learning environment.
Setting high expectations is also addressable through technology due to the challenge and pace you can set through technology. You can create videos to inspire and motivate your students. You can create resources and make them freely available at ease. You can record your lessons as you deliver them and students can revisit them later on.
Microsoft Office: –
I first started showing teachers tools that are freely available if you have Microsoft Office. If you use the internet and install ‘Office Mix’ it has an add in that allows you to record your presentation as you deliver it. This is the tool that I use for my own lesson. If you visit www.youtube.com/mrraychambers you will see many video tutorials of my own lessons. I use Office mix and I go to the office mix tab and create presentations and videos that my students can use for flipped learning tasks.
Speech tools – Do you have students who struggle to read? Did you know that you can go to File > Options > Ribbon and if you go down to speak. You can add this to your tool bar. Now, whenever you email a word document to your student, they just need to highlight the text and then press the play button. It will read out the text to them out loud and they can also use this for proof reading.
Present Online – Many schools struggle to get funding for tools that allow you to send your screen to your students. Did you realise that you can press the button present online in PowerPoint and this will create a link that you can email your students. Many people do not realise that it’s there! You email this link and your students can view your presentation through the internet browser. Students can access all of your content and you can even use it as a behaviour management tool. You don’t need to stand at the front of your class to present because you can see what you’re talking about on every screen in the classroom.
Plickers is a great tool for classroom engagement and it avoids that whole ‘hands up rule’. Everyone is expected to participate. You install the app on your phone or tablet to begin with. This can be found in the app store. Each student is given a unique ‘QR’ code. You can see examples of this in the picture on the left. You can create a login for yourself at plickers.com. You create a bank of questions really easily online and once they’re there you’re set for the rest of your classes. You give the students their card from 1 to 30. You can copy whole class lists into it.
From your tablet or phone, you select the question you want. Then all students hold up the QR code as either A,B,C,D . They tilt it in the direction they want to answer the question in. Once you have done this you push a button on your phone and scan the class really quickly. It recognises the answers and tells you the percentage of students that have the answer correct / incorrect and you can fill in the gaps. You can reveal the students who have got it wrong (if you wish). I prefer to make them anonymous and I address these students later.
Makey Makey: –
Makey Makey is a tool which will cost you roughly £40 to buy brand new. It is a great tool! I recommended this piece of kit to Computer Science and Music teachers. The kit works by connecting crocodile clips up to an electronic arduino board. You can then go onto something simple like scratch and program it to do things based on the keys the board represents. These are keys such as ‘up’,’down’,’left’,’right’ or space etc… There are extension opportunities on the board.
Once you have connected them up, the students can use any conducting material. I’ve used water, bananas and other fruit. Alternatively you can use tin foil and cover objects.
One area where this has been really effective has been design technology. I approached design technology teachers in school and said that they could use a Makey Makey kit in order to get their students designing game controllers. You can teach students about anthropometrics and ergonomics by getting the students to make it.
Songsmith is a tool that is predominantly for music teachers but when you’re using it you can relate it to other subjects. You record yourself singing and it detects the sound of your voice and the key. Once you’ve done this it creates a song with a backing tract which you can go and use for your lessons. I’ve seen english teachers use this to help students write songs about shakespeare. I’ve used this to get my students making songs about difficult topics. It helps them remember it.
You can get your students to record revision rhymes!
Answer Garden: –
One of the last tools that I spoke about was answergarden.ch It is a great way of getting your class to collaborate if you are using tablets, computers or mobile devices. You go onto answergarden.ch and type in a question. Press the generate button and it generates a cloud. The students have a link that they access and they keep typing in words that they can think of relating to the previous lesson. You can moderate these to make sure that students do not type in anything inappropriate. Once you’re happy with the results, you can reveal them to the class.
This is great for English teachers who are trying to get their students to discuss tone or emotion of material that they’re covering.
Summing Up: –
In summary, these are just a number of tools that you can use to make your classroom a little more ‘innovative’. I would say, use the tool because it works for you. If you try something and it doesn’t work, then try something else. We need to be reflective in our approach to teaching and if we use technology for the ‘sake’ of it, then we’re not going to get the best from our pupils.
I hope that this has been useful to you and the best of luck with trying these new tools.