Friday, June 13, 2014

Common Core and Technology--a Powerful Duo!

For teachers, summer vacation is here--time to recharge their batteries:).  Some of them will be reading, others traveling, while others working.  Yet, over this short break, teachers might want to explore some new approaches to building lessons with technology woven throughout.  For such an approach to be successful, the teacher must first become an expert in using these tech tools.  To achieve this, time must be spent exploring the program or playing with it.  The teacher must become proficient in its use if the lesson is to proceed smoothly with minimal to no classroom behavior issues.

Active engagement is a key to academic success for students.  They must be involved throughout is activities that stimulate academic discussion, thinking, discovery, etc.  To assist students in this exciting journey of self-discovery, technology should be built into activities whenever possible.  If they are to become life-long learners, they must be allowed to stumble along the way, learn from their mistakes, make the needed corrections, and then move on with new confidence to handle similar situations on their own.

So how does technology fit in the picture here?  Think about those powerful mini-computers all the students carry in their backpacks everyday--cell phones!  Since most students from every socioeconomic group carries them, teachers might wish to consider bringing them into classroom instruction. 

How can they be used with little to no classroom instruction?  Establish clear rules for their use and even clearer consequences for breaking them (ex. third offense-take phone and hold til end of day OR call parents from confiscated phone about the infraction, etc.).  Once the class fully understands what IS and IS NOT acceptable use of cell phones, teachers can now proceed with educational apps which stimulate learning.

Here are apps that teachers enjoy using.  They can be used to administer quick assessments, take polls, chart class growth as well as individual student growth, inform parents of their child's progress, provide approved content related internet resources for students to work with in class or at home, provide students with subject related games to reinforce instruction, and more.

1.  SOCRATIVE--For a quick overview, teachers should view the quick video.  This tool is one where quick quizzes on subject material just learned can be presented to students as a quiz which they can solve on their own or with partners.  The results can be tabulated on the teacher's phone and then presented to the class as a graph with each of the columns representing one of the 4 choices (for example).  If the majority of the students have the right answer, the teacher can proceed to the next level of the lesson.  If not, the teacher knows which material has to be retaught.  Since this might be an exit ticket, there is no grade so students are less anxious.  Quick quizzes build student self-confidence for the REAL exam:)

2.  EDMODO--An app that over 35 million students and teachers are using all over the world.  Some of its features are similar to SOCRATIVE, but there are some additional components that teachers will be impressed with.  After a teacher joins, s/he can join educational communities around the world in any subject area.  Within theses groups, teachers can ask for help in a given subject area OR assist someone asking for support.  Also, any quiz given is saved.  This comes in handy when students were absent.  Quizzes/tests can also be timed.  Adults have time limits in completing their job assignments so why shouldn't students? :)  Another teacher plus is that assignments can be differentiated with ease.  This allows a teacher to stay on the lesson's theme while allowing every student to complete assigned tasks on a level that they can handle. One awesome new feature is that common core standards based quickie quizzes for ELA and Math have been added.  Impressive!

3.  POLL EVERYWHERE--If a teacher would like immediate feedback on a concept taught, s/he would have students pull out their phones, and text their feedback to a number provided by the teacher.  Students could also have fellow students provide feedback on their presentations right after they have finished (no grade--just feedback).  This type of active involvement stimulates instruction and motivates students to want to learn (as well as demonstrate what they understand and how well).

Note:  With students all using cell phones, teachers may need to buy some power strips so students can keep their phones charged.  Small price to pay to maintain student excitement:)

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I will be addressing ways to keep a paperless classroom over the next 7 days:)

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