Satchel looks at how technology can support your teaching and your students' learning.
The days of dictation, overhead projectors and silent classes have passed. No longer is there a barrier between teachers and their children, now teachers are encouraged to collaborate with their classes to create a fun and engaging learning environment. This stems from a wide range of reasons: from changes in government who made changes to learning outcomes and therefore the way we should teach, to a move to the next generation of teachers who have their own ideas about what school should be like, to the way technology has developed and changed the way we can learn, and so much more. Technology has become an integral part of teaching - even if you haven’t realised it! Basic improvements in technology (like moving from blackboards to whiteboards) lead to huge leaps (like progressing from overhead projectors to interactive whiteboards) which paved the way for massive changes in lesson structure (like the integration of apps, online resources and new gadgets) - all of which you can use in your classroom today.
It can be a little daunting to know how to use technology in your classes, but once you know where to start it becomes easy as 1-2-3!
Step 1: Let’s start small!
Using apps to enhance learning
There are millions of apps out there that can help you engage your class in a wealth of ways. Apps can be used to mimic classwork, to extend learning, refresh a student's interest in the topic and so much more. These apps come in so many forms - you can use quiz apps instead of setting textbook questions, make use of exploration apps where the children learn and find out things for themselves, and even apps that add a gaming and competition element to their learning. Take some time to research which ones you think will work best with your classes, and don’t be afraid of trial and error!
Ask your kids to bring in their tablets or phones in advance for your fun-filled lesson and you can be guaranteed they won’t forget (we can’t say the same for their PE kit though!).
We recommend: Scoodle Jam (get your class engaged with this interactive whiteboard app), Duolingo (learn a new language using mini games).
Step 2: You’ve grasped the basics - now let’s take it a step further!
Take advantage of your school’s resources!
Many schools now have tablets, laptops, gadgets and equipment bought specifically for integration with your class plans. Find out what your school has to offer and make a bee-line to reserve it for your classes. With this you might be able to get your class to use an education app on the tablets for half a lesson, have the class work in groups to carry out an experiment they haven’t done before or discover something that isn’t on the syllabus anymore! Most schools will even have a budget for buying new classroom tech so do a bit of research and put your request in!
We recommend: Augmented Reality books such as Disney’s Colouring Book (bring your characters to life) or Ed Shelf’s Planets (explore the planets like an astronaut); using old science equipment to create a potato clock or lemon battery; or playing around with solar panel science using low-tech equipment.
Step 3: Now that you’re a pro let's take tech out of the classroom!
Research after-school clubs, competitions and events
Sometimes technology doesn’t always fit naturally in a class but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it! There are a wealth of projects, competitions and schemes that you and your school can take advantage of to ensure your kids get the opportunity to engage with tech. Why not try starting up a robotics club? Or perhaps a programming challenge? This really helps to stimulate the children’s learning and engages them in something they wouldn’t get elsewhere. For them, it isn’t regular lessons, it isn’t learning for exams or in any way ‘boring’. They may be learning a hard skill that is super useful for later life (I’m looking at you programming languages) but to them it’s creating their own JARVIS like Iron Man, building a robot (almost) battle-ready for Robot Wars, taking fun day trips out to explore tech events and so much more!
We recommend: Lego League (build a robot as a team and enter into different challenges to become UK, European or even World Champions); Code Club (a volunteer led club where you students can learn how to code); British Science Week (take your kids to exhibitions, get them engaged in competitions and speak to subject-specialists for a week each year); I’m A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here (have your classes challenge scientists and then vote one off each week).
Technology doesn’t have to be hard or daunting to use with your students and in school. All you need is a bit of passion and a sense of adventure, and you’ll enjoy it just as much as the kids!
Next: The Perfect Lesson Plan