By Erin Klein
Currently working in education, with a business background, Erin values the importance of integrating technology and global preparation into the learning environment. Being an involved person, she streamlines her creative teaching ideas into project-based applications that enhance the academic standards.
The focus of her master of education degree is curriculum and instruction. She has researched best-practice teaching methodologies and traveled the state, presenting to educators on how to create twenty-first-century learning environments that will help shape the future of our practices in education.
1. Make Your Records Reportable
All teachers keep records, whether they are supported by technology or kept in a paper grade book. One of the great features of keeping records using tablet technology is that the records can be shared with families, using beautiful reports and easy-to-understand graphics.
Apps such as FluencyFinder provide a fantastically simple teaching tool for educators wanting to assess students’ word-per-minute reading fluency. This is done by printing out a passage from the FluencyFinder web site and having the student read while you follow along on a tablet or smartphone. You begin the assessment by starting the app timer and then tap + or – as a student makes or corrects a mistake. When the student is finished, you stop the timer and then click the “finish assessment” button to get instant, real-time results. The detailed results include words per minute, word count, number of mistakes, and more.
2. Create Digital Workstations
Digital workstations provide a structure without the confines of a script or program. Simply organize a rotating schedule where students can be in partnerships or small groups for 40 to 60 minutes. During this time, they can rotate to two or three stations, depending on your available time. As students are engaged in station activities or projects, you can meet with individuals or small groups and facilitate as needed. Each station can offer a variety of activities so that students may choose. They can even develop their own ideas based on the available tools at the station. How creative! You may be amazed by what their inquisitive minds develop! You can use your tablets to play practice games on sites such as ABCya.com and Splash Math, work on projects, or utilize other devices.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
It may be an old saying, but it still rings very true: Practice makes perfect. Whether it is math facts or this week’s spelling list, students need practice and are often very interested in practicing digitally. Sites such as IXL Learning, SpellingCity, and Splash Math provide a platform on which kids can compete against their own baselines while conquering advancing material. Many of these platforms allow for customization by the teacher and also deliver reports to both teachers and parents.
4. Connect to the Common Core
As a classroom teacher, I really enjoy finding resources that help me with my practice and that help me professionally. One of a teacher’s greatest responsibilities is lesson planning, but many plans have to be tied to the common core. Having an app at your fingertips makes it so much easier to ensure that you are creating core-aligned plans. I first started using the Common Core app by MasteryConnect for this reason, and I later found out that there was so much more this company offered through its user-friendly web site.
5. Send Class Reminders
I started using Remind101 several years ago, and I enjoy how simple and effective the site and the app are to use. A friend of mine who also uses Remind101 states, “The impact it’s had on my students turning in assignments and the amount of time it has saved me is incredible.”
When I first started using Remind101, I immediately loved the platform and the thoughtfulness behind it. The concept was beautiful in its simplicity—a safe way for teachers to text-message students and stay in touch with parents. It is easy-to-use, easy-to-manage, safe communication that is 100 percent free. All the bugs were worked out. There are no real phone numbers flying around, and everything is safe and easy to use. You can set up your reminders on a tablet, PC, or smartphone.
6. Bring Student Work to Life
Words cannot properly express the look on students’ faces when their drawings come to life and fly off the page right before their very eyes. It is nearly impossible for me to describe what actually happens when you use the colAR Mix app, but I will give it my best shot.
Using the colAR Mix app, students can color on templates and then use their tablet to hover over their drawing—and a full-scale cartoon breaks out. Their planes take flight, dragons breathe fire, and dolls become dancers. It is simply amazing to observe their joy at turning a simple coloring sheet into a 3D flying machine.
7. Use Augmented Reality
Augmented reality allows someone to add another layer to an existing image. For example, imagine holding your phone over a poster on the wall as if you were going to take a photo of that poster, and then instantly a video starts playing that offers you additional information about the poster. Pretty cool, right? The first time it happens, it seems like magic.
I started using augmented reality to extend my students’ learning. We started with making our word walls come to life. During one lesson on weight and capacity, I had students think of a brief way to describe each vocabulary term in the lesson. I simply passed out index cards and had each child work with a partner. They chose a word to define and explain. The entire activity took about six minutes. They loved it!
There are many great ways to use augmented-reality tools such as Aurasma in your classroom, and the most fun part is that students will think of a lot of them. A big favorite this year was when my students’ families were able to hear their voices describing their own work during parent/teacher conferences.
This lesson plan is brought to you by Intel Education. Follow @intelEDU on Twitter for more great lesson plans and ideas like this one.