As each year has gone by, with hands on practice, PD from colleagues, personal research and ‘tinkering’, as well as learning ‘on the front line’ from my students, my growth in utilizing a variety of devices with students in the learning environment has been pretty good! I have gained knowledge and acted on implementing ideas into the classroom, I have integrated it into my curriculum (blogging netiquette post & project), I am able to see how much guiding, modeling, hands off or hand holding approach is needed to ensure the knowledge part of the experience is not lost and, I also feel I am at the point of being able to say no, we don’t need an ipad for this learning experience, the alternative options offer a much deeper and effective opportunity for my students. This last one is often the hardest one to do when working in an environment where integrating technology is the big push.
I found my colleague Bettina’s post titled ‘I’d be Lost Without My Devices’ an interesting read. She had posted about how, after making a list of her weekly tech integration, the realization of how heavily she relied upon the use of a device and the internet in her classroom had hit home. The post gave me food for thought as to what apps do I tend to use that I consider truly effective in the learning environment of the students. And here are my top 5 tech busters!
Starting off the list – Number 5 would be ClassDojo. This class management app I found worked well with Grade 2 students. It is an engaging tool for managing behaviour which is a huge part of being an effective teacher, and ensuring there is more time for quality instruction. Students are given specific, positive instant feedback, as are parents which keep them informed and can therefore act on and support their child to find a more positive way to behave. The aim of ClassDojo is to develop an intrinsic motivation over time, and I have found this to be the case for the majority of my students.
Number 4 would be good old Google Slides! This app is a great quick go to for me as well as my students. It is easy to use, with little training required, great for new students who have little technology background. It helps students organise their work, and allows for collaboration. Due to the fact it is fully integrated with google drive, it allows me to be mindful of where students are with their work. Ideas for usage are endless. I often use it for students to create short formative projects that inform me of where they are with their learning, as well as a means to show case learning. Due to the ease of this app, one of its brightest light for me is it allows both myself and the students to focus on the teaching & learning and not on all the bells and whistles that students gravitate to when asked to make a ‘tech’ presentation. HUGE bonus!
Coming in at number 3 is pic collage. A great app for students to create visuals on any content. Using images or words students are able to share ideas and thoughts on anything such as their own passions a blog post without writing on the weekend’s activities to a poster advertising a healthy snack. It’s easy to manipulate, encourages creativity and can be created reasonably quickly.
Number 2 would be Explain Everything. This app is a screen casting and interactive white board that gives students a wealth of options as they ‘create’. Annotate, animate, narrate, import and export to and from most things. It is a great app for students to show their learning. Students in my class frequently pick this app (along with Haiku deck) as their favourite go to when asked to present work. I have had students create some wonderful math tutorials that we have then uploaded into a u tube of ideas for other students to refer to as a learning tool
Number 1 – Padlet. This app is wonderful as there are so many options for great collaborative learning opportunities, and more! Ideas such as brainstorming ideas, collating research on a topic, to gauge understanding of a topic, to give feedback or for reflective purposes, to share information with others…collaboration. I love that the information is stored in a central place, and accessible as a reference tool. The ability to not only scribe, but drag in videos and images allows greater scope for students to use it for individual or class projects, alone or collaboratively.
All of the above apps feature regularly in my plans. I have several other favourites such as SeeSaw (a student-driven digital portfolio for students to independently document their learning), Kahoot (free game- based learning platform to create, play and share learning games). Finally iMovie is a great option for students to create videos, reports, presentations, even digital storytelling, and created both collaboratively or independently.
There are so many apps out there to utilize, and old ones are constantly being updated. Am I effective with the utilization of them? Whilst my power points are visually HUGELY improved, effective with the apps? I am getting there! I’d like to think I, like my students, make smart choices with and when to use them. As with all that is new to teaching in education, my aim is to continue to learn and apply what is best practice to my classroom, and now featuring – the new and improved tech component!