Integrating technology into your classroom can be overwhelming. After all, there are so many resources utilizing technology now – where do you start? If you're not used to having students bring smart devices or computers to school, setting the standards for technology use in your classroom can be intimidating as well. But most schools are quickly turning into digital communities – so where do we start?
Many schools are now a “Bring Your Own Device” school. With the accessibility of smart devices (phones, kindles, iPads, etc.) and schools going wireless, it's getting easier and easier for teachers to integrate these technologies into their classrooms. Fortunately, if the students are using a school's wireless network, many inappropriate sites are blocked, however, for students with 3G and 4G capabilities, unblocked content and social media access is still a concern. So, before you have your students take out their phones or devices, consider these suggestions to smoothly integrate technology into your classroom!
1. Only allow one device per group. This reduces the number of devices out in class; very rarely do I need 30 devices out at once. This also helps bridge the technology gap for students who may not have a smart device yet.
2. Give specific and timely tasks so students are busy on the device and know what they are researching or using it for. Giving a time limit also helps! Extra time = extra distractions. Use a visible timer so students can help monitor their own time.
3. Require evidence. Their task should produce a result: a definition, a website result, notes on their worksheet, or research, etc. Exit tickets can also be a quick way to informally assess what students learned through their research in class.
4. Walk around and monitor. Just knowing you'll come by is enough for most students to stay on task. K-12 students are also still pretty obvious. I can usually tell if they are looking at something they shouldn't, or laughing at something not assignment related.
5. Set standards for usage from the beginning and make consequences clear. Most students don't want their phone taken away and they want to use it in class! I tell them if they want to use their phones, then they have to be used properly. If too many kids in the class abuse the privilege, I won't use devices with that class.
All of the above suggestions help prevent distraction and keep technology as a useful tool in the classroom. I hope this means integrating technology in your classroom will be less intimidating and more engaging!
How about you? What tips and tricks do you have for integrating technology into your classroom? I'd love to hear from you!
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