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Why you must be selective with Technology: 6 questions to help you to select the right technology in the classroom.
I was lucky enough to go to EduTech this year. The experience was just phenomenal and opened my eyes to a whole range of technological tools. My mind raced with how I could use each tool. I madly took notes and anticipation of using all of these tools. However, when I stopped and reflected I really was struck by the need to be selective with the technology that we use in the classroom. As soon as I found myself matching an app to another focus, I realised the need to be cautious. Sure, these were amazing tools but didn’t match any focus at this stage. So why would I use them if they didn’t match my focus?. Here a 6 questions that I asked myself to help better guide my choices:
1. Do students have the appropriate skills to utilise this tool? Often, the apps are easy to use but require a hidden set of literacy skills that children may not have yet. If the answer was no, file it away until they do or build towards it
2. Will this technological tool upskill the students? If they are not learning new skills, building on a previous one or stepping up to the next level, what value does the tool hold? Technology, I believe, should offer some challenge or require some level of thinking. Unfortunately, some apps and tools require students to perform low level skills.
3. Is it to immerse students in new content, consolidate a skill or revise skills and knowledge? This is an important question as it brings you back to have a focus. At the heart of good teaching is knowing the focus. Why are the kids doing this and how will they get there? It is fine to use technology to revise or consolidate skills or knowledge. Just be clear on why the children are using it.
4. Does it match the focus? In this case, near enough is not good enough. Too many times, I have heard or read educators sharing apps. They look great but often do not match the original focus. What is the point of using it if it doesn’t steer kids in the right direction?
5. Have the kids done this numerous times before? Remember the children currently in schools are familiar and often confident users of technology. We may get excited as non digital natives but this generation have been exposed to technology frequently and repeatedly. They go home and play with apps of their choice. If they have done it seventy times before, then will seventy one make a difference?
6. Will it require an acceptable level of thinking? Will this just be a case of knowledge that they already know being regurgitated in a different way?
Educators must be selective with the technology that they expose students to, especially in our current world and environment. Not only do we run the risk of “dumbing” things down but we run the risk of stopping our kids from thinking.
I have been teaching for what feels like a long time now (14 years in reality). One of the most underestimated aspects of the school day is the need for students to get up and moving. Movement during various stages at the day doesn't always need to be complex, planned or timetabled. The benefits of small movement breaks during the day are huge! Kids often come to school either tired or full of energy which can stop learning either way. Here are 5 quick and easy tips to get your students moving throughout the day:
1. The Magic minute: my personal favourite. It doesn't take long and doesn't need much planning. If you see students in need of a boost, simply get them up doing some sort of activity for one minute. I call it the magic minute because after it has a very calming and focussing effect. Examples: one minute sprinting on the spot, one minute of star jumps or one minute of lunges. This list can go on and on.
2. Brain Breaks: if you see that your students are switching off, have a bank of brain break cards on your desk. I have them on icy pole sticks. Simply pull out a quick movement game like Simon says, line up in height order etc, find a friend who... which can break the day up for kids as well as have some fun.
3. Just Dance: Great and easy activity for getting kids up and switched on to learn. Grab a range of you tube links to appropriate Just Dance videos for kids, put them on and let kids get moving.
4. Hands on experiences: Planning hands on experiences as part of learning will ensure that kids are not just sitting at desks all day. Asking them to manipulate, construct, build, play etc as part of learning and this will ensure that they are not just sitting at a desk
5. Build in dance or movement into counting etc: There are so many great videos on You Tube to get kids standing up and dancing when they count or learn verbs etc. The kids love them but it also makes learning more fun and enjoyable.
Annette Palma and Carley Rogozik/ Dawson