“Technology” has become a 'buzz word,' but what we forget is that technology is a tool that makes accomplishing a task or solving a problem easier. Sometimes that tool might be digital in origin, but other times it can involve using physical objects, drawings, music, or good old fashioned pencil and paper. Finding a balance of the use of technology in your classroom, whether you are new or more experienced with teaching, is the struggle, but balance is within the reach of every one of us.
Technology, or tools, are everywhere--look for tools that best meet the needs of your students.
Check out these tools and ideas!!!
* Infuse manipulatives into math instruction. Using manipulatives to introduce or reinforce a math concept slows down the process, but can improve the critical thinking and discourse. Manipulatives such as Base-10, algebra tiles, or fraction tiles can be used whole group or small group. They aren’t limited to math either...they may include letters, words, or phrases, especially with the elementary grades or English language learners.
* Pull out a reader’s theatre script that helps students model how a group of people worked out problems during a historic time period. Construction of props adds another layer of depth. Engagement in this type of discourse encourages empathy for times that provide lessons for the future.
* Use art to draw in (no pun intended) engagement into a difficult idea or concept. Visual and spatial learners can help the more concrete thinkers expand their thinking by explaining their interpretations.
* Digging into a science tub to find the right pieces to help your students explore and investigate scientific phenomena--pushing a science concept into real-time answers to “why?”
* Using index cards linked with tape to demonstrate the sequence of events in a novel or steps to solving an equation on a scientific calculator.
* Try out a new app/extension that you saw modeled at a conference (make sure it is on the approved list prior to classroom use). Or maybe find a new way to use an old one, such as using Google Earth to show where in the world that place is located.
* Turn paper into objects that are manipulated to accomplish a task, such as constructing a geometric shape, using pencil to label the parts.
* Drop a prompt into a slide, but then let the remaining slides be a collaborative project developed by small groups, each group presenting their part.
* Learn a song or a cadence that helps students memorize steps in a process or find their way through a historical event.
* Develop a “What do I do, now that I’m Done?” Tub in Google Classroom called “Brain Stretchers” with links to independent critical thinking projects students can use to extend their thinking and learning, rather than being off task.
* Jigsaw reading and have students create a quilt of responses to the reading, each complete with a border that reflects the content, mood, or theme of the reading--also effective using Google slides with each student presenting their part.
* Have students explain HOW they would research a topic by drawing or creating a map of the steps they would use. Make creativity count!
The list could go on, and some of us have used some of these things before, or the idea might be completely new. The point is that before we go searching for the best way to integrate technology into learning, we need to look at what learning we want students to demonstrate and find the right tool(s) or technology for the job--find the balance!
5th Grade Teacher, Virginia Parks Elementary
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