Teaching in the 21st Century where to start with tackling all that is available!

It can be overwhelming to feel like the world of teaching has completely changed with the surge of technology. Some may say teaching has gotten easier and technology has opened up a world of opportunities for our students, while others might feel they are getting left in the dark ages, completely unsure of how to keep up and still feel they are meeting their students' needs. Technology is only effective if it is a tool, rather than a burden. I hope this website helps to zero in on a few areas to begin introducing technology into your everyday teaching life. The best advice for starting out with technology is this: Learn to love GOOGLE, and get familiar with the concept of "Googling it!".

Okay so it may not be the answer to everything, but more often than not when you're stuck, if you type your question into Google and do some digging around the pages you get, you will probably find the answer! This alone should comfort you as you dig through the trenches of all that is technology. You're never alone, you have Google!

While we're on the topic of Google, I highly recommend starting by creating a Gmail account if you don't already have one and make either a class website on Google Sites or explore using Google Classroom. Check out the videos on Google Sites and Google Classroom, this is a great place to start, and a hub for your new "digital" class. Updating your site and using Google Classroom regularly will get you in the habit of getting on technology, and that's half the battle. Use it, or lose it!

Get comfortable with asking yourself as you think about every lesson you're about to teach, "How can I incorporate technology?" The more you ask yourself (and GOOGLE) this question, the more you will begin to push yourself to add technology to your day. It may start out small, but you will move toward adding technology in ways that will completely REDEFINE your lessons! Check out this link to learn about the SAMR model, an excellent way to re-frame your thinking with the levels of technology you are adding.

How will your teaching look different?

There are so many things you can do now to deliver lessons! Here are some basic ideas....

  • Do a PowerPoint “Game Show Review”

Many tech-savvy teachers have used Microsoft PowerPoint to create review games based on famous game shows, including “Jeopardy!,” “The Weakest Link,” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” These templates are available online for teachers to download and revise, including their own content. All you have to do is, you guessed it, Google it!

  • Do written tasks online

Ever have your students write a diary from the perspective of a character or famous person? Why not have them create a blog instead? Take a look at various blog sites (Blogger and WordPress are two of the most popular) and create a template for your students to fill in.

  • Explore social media in safe educational ways

Want students to summarize information? Ask them to tweet the lesson – that is, have them write summaries of 140 characters or less, as if they were writing on Twitter, or better yet, do it on Twitter!

  • Try a Webquest

A webquest guides students to search the Internet for specific information. For example, students are asked to serve as curators of a museum on a particular topic. They must search the Internet to determine what artifacts belong in their museum and explain their choices. There are tons of already-constructed webquests out there, a perfect way to teachers to begin integrating Internet searches into their curriculum.

  • Use an online grading system

While some schools are mandating the shift to web-based gradebooks, you don’t have to wait to try one out. Sites like MyGradebook.com (http://www.mygradebook.com) offer the opportunity to track grades, record attendance and seating charts, and compile reports on student progress. You can also email students and parents directly to allow them to view their updated grades. Never worry again about bringing home your gradebook – you can access it from any computer.

  • Do an email exchange

When we were kids, some teachers had class penpals or had you practice your penmanship by writing a letter to an author. Try the 21st-century version of that by instituting an email exchange. Have your students exchange emails with students in another school, city, state, or country – especially valuable if both sets of students are studying the same material. Or arrange for a group of experts to accept emails from your students on a particular topic. Students who fail to see the “real world implications” of math or science may develop new interest if you can put them in touch with a video game designer, astronaut, or engineer who uses those skills every day. And for adults who might want to volunteer but feel pressed for time, email can be a great way to help out, since they can respond on their own schedule.

  • Give multimedia presentations – or have your students give them

Liven up a traditional lecture by using a Google Slides or Powerpoint or even Prezi presentation that incorporates photographs, diagrams, sound effects, music, or video clips. Consider having your students develop presentations as a review tool before tests or for projects. Their work may be so good that you will want to use it in future classes!

  • Supplement your lessons

When you’ve taught the same material for awhile, you – and your students – may find it less-than-exciting. A quick Internet search may help you identify ways to supplement your lessons with interesting new material. Make a habit of searching before you begin each new unit. You may find photographs, sound clips, video clips, and more that can bring your lessons to life. Many museums now offer online “virtual tours” and teachers are constantly developing new presentations and webquests, which are posted online. Add these in to keep your lessons fresh!

  • Listen to – or create – a Podcast.

There are thousands of podcasts available on the Web. Search for ones that meet your students’ needs. Some colleges are offering professors’ lectures via podcast, which can be great for advanced students. In other cases, you may be able to find an interview with the author of a book your students are reading, or other supplemental material. Make arrangements to download it and play it for your students. For the really ambitious, have students create their own podcasts to document their progress through the year or discuss their ideas on a variety of issues pertaining to the course.

  • “Publish” your students’ work

Tools exist today to allow your students to create really professional looking work using a desktop computer. Have students create a short film, run an ongoing class website that features student work and opinions, or – if they’re really ambitious – raise the money to have their work professionally published by a self-publishing company like iUniverse or Lulu.

  • Get student answers and responses in real time

Use sites like Kahoot or Socrative to facilitate a digital quiz or class discussion and see the results pop up live on the screen as the students are giving their responses.

No matter what your skill level, integrating technology in the classroom offers the chance to increase student interest and teach valuable professional skills – and have some fun!

It's important to not get overwhelmed with all that is available on technology, but instead, get good at one or two things and slowly learn more as you feel comfortable. As stated above, Google would be the area I would focus on getting good at first. Once you have a site, or Google classroom, as well as a Google account, start exploring what the Google Drive has to offer you and your students. The "Drive" will act as the student's desk, or binder, or locker, or any other no longer needed "storage" compartment. It will be a virtual work space for your students, where they no longer need to save, organization is made easy, and it is always at their fingertips. Click the link below and follow the Wiki tutorial on using the Google Drive.

From Google, you can now explore all different kinds of apps and extensions by searching through the Chrome store. The opportunities are endless, but again, pick one or two and master them before bogging yourself down with so many but never being comfortable with any!

A few I recommend checking out are the extensions "Read&Write", "Mindomo", " Kami", and "Move It" and the apps "Calm", "Pow Toon", and "SeeSaw". However if you're interested in a more extensive list of suggestions click this link:

Remember... you are never alone... you have Google! The more you sit down and try these things, the more comfortable you will get. It is my belief that as teachers implement these things and witness the student engagement and how exciting it is to offer such exciting things, their desire to continue to move up the SAMR model will naturally increase! Good luck, and welcome to the 21st Century of teaching!

Credits:

Created with images by Maiconfz - "computer laptop macbook" • StartupStockPhotos - "student typing keyboard" • CIMIC Centre of Excellence (CIMIC-COE) - "Complex Twente" • lcr3cr - "ipad technology tablet"

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