Yes, I created that word…. EdTechinize. (well, I think I did at least) Lately, several people have made statements along the lines of how difficult it can be to bring technology into a classroom where there has never been tech before. More than a few fellow teachers have asked about easy ways to start to try bringing it in, so, VIOLA, here you go.
First, almost every teacher who has commented or asked has facilities capable of easily bringing in some tech, and capturing kids interest. They have projectors, they have a laptop, some even have access to carts of Chromebooks. The problem has more been they are not familiar enough with any of it to try it out. Even if you don’t have the greatest of tools, you can probably get your hands on something.
Sign up for Google Classroom, and make use of it. Use it to send out assignments and announcements. Get the kids used to using EdTech as a learning tool.
Remember, kids are extremely tolerant of tech screw ups. A lot of times, EdTech can be introduced just by stating something along the lines of, “Hey, I want you guys to try this out.” Put it in a way that it makes the kids feel like they are trying something new, not you.
Take stock of what technology you do have available. Have a cart available? Great! Check it out and bring it in. No cart? No problem. Take stock of who has a smart phone. Odds are, several of your students have one. If you have more than a few, you can easily include sites such as Kahoot, Quizzizz, etc. Put together an activity on one of those sites, put kids in pairs or groups if there are not enough devices for everyone, and you are off and running.
Have a cart of computers? Let the kids actually DO something with them. Don’t make it an expensive alternative to pen and paper. If the task is the same, just being typed instead of handwritten, students will figure that out in a hurry. It needs to be something authentic, something interesting, something ENGAGING.
Believe it or not, a simple lesson on digital citizenship can be very engaging for kids. They love to search for themselves. It’s a lesson that needs to be taught right up front anyway, so you might as well start with that.
Or, perhaps they have a solid footing on digital citizenship, and understand what a digital footprint is. Then, do something different. Part of the key here is that teachers need to take the notion that everything done must be graded and toss it out.
Want the kids to do a ‘book report’? Try a book trailer instead. Show the kids examples, they are all over YouTube. Let the kids work on putting on together. They will still get across their main points, prove they read the book, and have much more fun putting it together than filling out a worksheet.
If you teach older kids, show them Wikipedia. Now, do everyone a favor and don’t roll your eyes about it. Wiki has become much more credible than it used to be. I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago discussing that very topic.It’s time to take Wiki to the next level. Don’t just show students how to research on it… your older kids know this already anyway. Instead, show them how to judge it, how to contribute to it. Teach them how to add to Wikipedia. Get them to add something to a topic they are passionate about, and they will take learning home with them. They will work tirelessly to make sure everything is as correct as it can be. They will want everything just right for a global audience.
The point is, we all start somewhere. Don’t let the excuse of never having done it perpetuate the reality of not using EdTech. If you are thinking you don’t know how to do these things, it is time to learn. Take to Twitter. Create your own PLN (personal learning network) and join Twitter chats. The people on Twitter who are passionate about EdTech, I have found, are extremely friendly and helpful. Ask questions, make mistakes, get messy. (Thanks Friz)
Most importantly, don’t just let the kids take the tech and run. Establish ground rules up front as to what is acceptable, and what is not. Remember, they are still kids. They will push limits (often this is what we should want), they will find loopholes (thinking critically about how to get around rules), and they will LEARN…. Just make sure that they understand what is OK, and what is not.