Sam Kary is an ISTE Certified Educator, Google for Education Certified Trainer, and Founder and CEO of New EdTech Classroom. As part of our Diploma in Education and Training module on Facilitating Learning, he delivered a seminar titled “Integrating Technology in the Classroom”.
Are you nervous about using technology in the classroom? Are you concerned that using online apps will hamper your teaching rather than help it? Technology should enable your teaching, not hinder it. So where do you start? How do you choose what tools to use when there are so many available? How do you maximise their pedagogical potential and save yourself time and energy?
How often do you start your lessons with a short “do now” activity to get students warmed up and introduced to the lesson? How about making it more interactive and getting more students engaged in what you’re teaching? Right at the beginning of our seminar, Sam introduced a dynamic online bulletin board called Padlet. Sam challenged participants to find a gif (an animated or static image file) that represented some of the common problems of getting students engaged in the classroom and to post that gif on the bulletin board. (Imagine images of people asleep at their desk, looking bored, being distracting.) Other participants then had to guess what the gifs described by writing their answers underneath the image. Not only were participants challenged to think more creatively, but it also allowed everyone to get involved and interact with each other’s answers in a much livelier way.
You can watch Sam’s full tutorial on how to use Padlet.
Sam went on to showcase a range of tools that he uses with students which each aim to solve a unique challenge in the classroom. He showed us how to use a tool like Pear Deck to create interactive slides and how to create a tutorial with ScreenCastify which your students can work through at their own pace. Your slides on Pear Deck instruct but ask questions of the student, and give feedback to the teacher so you know how far everyone has got. Using these tools enable you to focus on students who need more help while also ensuring those who are moving ahead are still getting rigorous instruction.
Question 1: If you’re new to using tools like this, what’s the best way to get started? Sam says: For a quick start, try using interactivity programs like Padlet or Nearpod which allow students to start sharing with the whole class, not just the teacher. They have lots of templates for collaboration. If you’re feeling more ambitious, take a completely new approach to creative projects by challenging yourself and your students to make a podcast!
Question 2: What tool could I use to teach SEND students in a reading class?
Sam says: a tool like Nearpod has pre-made lessons which allow students to drag and drop a picture as a way to answer a question on what they’ve been reading together.
Question 3: What do you do when things go wrong?
Sam says: Make it fun and learn from your mistakes. Be OK with making mistakes.
If you’re intrigued and excited about exploring how to use some of these tools in your classroom, check out New EdTech Classroom’s YouTube channel. And if you’re looking for a teacher training course and want to learn more about how to use technology to facilitate learning, you’ll be pleased to hear that Teacher Training UK uses many of these tools to educate aspiring teachers.