As curriculum meshes with technology in the classroom, teachers are discovering that tablets can be game-changers.
Students can research without leaving the classroom, teachers can project and manipulate 3-D objects on a screen and a virtual library is available at the swipe of a student’s fingertip. Backpacks are lighter, teachers’ handouts are almost impossible to lose and it’s harder for a dog to eat homework.
St. George’s School fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Smith says Microsoft Surface tablets have been a great addition for her students. “They are flexible and portable. We can take them outside if we need to. We use them for social studies and science. They are great support for what we are already learning.”
At the same time, teachers say iPads and Microsoft Surfaces aren’t the be-all and end-all of technology in the classroom; it takes a digital ecosystem.
Nothing terribly earth-shattering happened the first time elementary teacher Krissy Venosdale used Skype to connect her Missouri students with children in another state. “It was kind of awkward at first,” she admits, recalling their first attempt at video conferencing. “Everyone was new to it and kind of nervous.”
Nonetheless, she knew she had found a digital tool she would use again and again to take learning deeper in her inquiry-based classroom. “When we hung up, my students said, wow –we just talked with kids in another state. And I realized, here was a way to open our classroom to the world,” she recalls thinking.
Ever since, Venosdale and her students have continued bringing the world — virtually — to bringing their small community (3) south of St. Louis. Through a project called KnowGlobe (4), they regularly talk with students on other continents, learning in the process about time zones, cultural differences, global weather patterns, and the state of education worldwide. If they come up with a project question that requires the expertise of an astronaut, space engineer, or Egyptologist, they ask their teacher to “tweet it out” and track down an expert for a Skype interview.
What caught my attention was the election project that Venosdale’s students organized in November (with some artful facilita
Skype in the classroom, a free online educational enrichment community for teachers, has added six new partner organizations to its roster, including NASA’s Digital Learning Center, The National Museum of the Royal Navy and HMS Victory, British Council, Woodland Trust, Education through Expedition, and Choose2Matter. Skype in the classroom is announcing these new collaborations in celebration of World Teacher’s Day, which takes place Friday, Oct. 5.
Skype in the classroom is a free service that provides resources and tools that teachers can use in their classrooms. The service includes over 2,000 projects from Skype in the classroom partners and other teachers. Projects are categorized by subject and student age group. The new partner organizations will add more projects to the service.
One of the most interesting ways game-based learning (GBL) is being implemented is with the use of Microsoft’s Kinect. Kinect specifically is an accessory to the Xbox 360, where motion and gestures control game functions. From sports games, to “hack and slash,” the Kinect physically involves the player in gameplay. But why use it in the classroom? And how should you use it in the classroom? Today I present not only a great rationale for use the Kinect in the classroom, but also some specific ideas and resources for doing so.
September is National Literacy Month, and what better way to celebrate and promote literacy than focusing on the tools that students own and love: their cellphones! Using cellphones to enhance learning does not require that they be used in class. If you are in a school where cellphones are banned, the ideas shared here are also applicable outside of class.
Cellphones are a great tool for enriching literacy instruction. Here are three ways innovative educators can use the tools in their students’ pockets for learning inside or outside the classroom.
For many schools [in the northern hemisphere], today marks the first day of a new year. In addition to thinking about tools that help boost educators’ teaching practice, this moment might be a good time to pull back and think about some big-picture ideals, too. Here are a few to consider.
As schools get ready to deploy iPads this year, each one is scrambling to figure out how to develop an efficient and effective system that works. With no standardized system or uniform roadmap to follow, at the moment, it’s up to individual schools to reach out through their networks to find information about best practices and smooth, streamlined service.
Without professional development and a set plan in place, educators in individual classes might be stumped by how to set up iPads for different uses. But once a system is in place, educators will intuitively be able to move on with the business of guiding student learning.
To that end, here are some ideas about how to put a system in place for iPad use in classrooms:
Implementing iPads isn’t exactly a just-add-water proposition.
While they’re wondrous little devices capable of enchanting learners for hours, to get the learning results you’re likely after will take planning, design, and reflection.
It can help to start out by asking yourself some important questions, such as “What can the iPad do that is not possible without it? Put another way, what problems does the iPad solve?”
But the learning environment you’re starting with can make a big difference as well. It’s one thing to come up with individual lesson plans high on the wiz-bang factor, but low in terms of sustainability.
Below are 4 distinct areas of instruction and instructional design that can help frame the concept of iPad integration. Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Integration.
There is more to the conversation, but rather than overwhelm you (not that you couldn’t handle it), it seemed better to simply start your thinker.
Skype, the free, ubiquitous VOIP downloadable, offers some unique opportunities for tech-savvy teachers to get their students learning in exciting new ways. It might prove a buggy affair depending on the version, but all the same the service still makes for a phenomenal classroom tool. Read on to find out how you can put this cool tool to work in your classroom.