Most view me as the “tech guy.” I guess I understand why…….I use technology all the time. It’s rare to find me making copies. Often times though, I feel like I’m viewed as the tech guy for the wrong reasons.
I don’t use it because it’s cool. I don’t use it because others want me to. I don’t use it just so I can say, “Hey, look at me, I’m awesome with technology.” I use it for one simple reason: Doing Different. Doing different needs to happen for students and myself on a yearly basis…..for growth and learning purposes.
Teaching is different. Our world is different……..and we need to change with it. Outdated methods can take a hike. Don’t get me wrong, I throw in paper and pencil when it’s necessary (For example: collecting new information or offered as choice). But, each year I’m discovering more meaningful ways to use technology and getting students to use the 4C’s (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication).
This year, I’ve had students make awesome projects with colored pencils, paper, Legos, Playdoh. Again, this was their choice and it worked for me and them. I give students lots of choice in creativity……I don’t want 60 of the same project. That’s a recipe for boredom.
My 2 favorite apps for creativity are: Adobe Spark and Buncee. Adobe Spark is great because students can make awesome infographics or professional looking videos. Plus, it’s easy to use!
I described Buncee as Flipgrid, Canva, and Google Slides smashed together. Students can show their creativity in so many ways with this app. This was a recent find late in the year, so I’m still exploring it’s potential. But, I can tell you this – it’s easy to use and students loved it.
Through Iron Chef, Cybersandwich, and Mini-Report Eduprotocols, students are researching and learning to evaluate sources and information. (Click Here to learn more about these Eduprotocols) They have freedom to collect information they find important for the topic of study and create their presentations.
I love these Eduprotocols because I have gotten away from worksheets, fact memorization, and me controlling the learning. Students process the information in their own ways, and decide for themselves what important enough to share with others.
Why did I decide to different with Eduprotocols this year? It’s a simple answer: School is not about out-remembering people anymore. It’s all about out-thinking, out-creating, and out-sharing each other.
My favorite tech tool for collaboration is Google Slides. I use this app with my weekly Iron Chef and Cybersandwich Eduprotocols. I started the year super, anti-Google Slides because it’s the default, easy go-to for projects. It drove me up a wall everytime a student turned in a boring presentation. Let’s be honest though, I was mad because I didn’t have good ideas for students to use Slides. However, Eduprotocols changed my mind, and gave me a reason to get students talking, creating, and sharing.
My favorite tech tools for students to share information with others…..
- Flipgrid – this app pairs nicely with the Cybersandwich. After students research their topic, then compare and share with their partner, they share their findings through Flipgrid. It’s easy to use, fun to grade, and allows students to learn from each other.
- Screencastify – this app goes nicely with the Iron Chef and plays nicely with Google. This is a great presentation option with the Iron Chef because I dislike the awkwardness of live presentations in front of the classroom. Plus, this screen recorded captures the presentation and can leave the students face off of the presentation (some students hate having their face in videos). When the recording is finish, it automatically saves in Google Drive. I have the students embed the videos on a Google Slidedeck, watch them, and give honest, constructive feedback.
I use technology to get students using the 4C’s. Of the 4C’s listed, the word cool is not one of them. Before stepping into the world of tech, ask yourself, “Why am I using this tool or app?” If you can’t think of a good reason, then don’t use it. If it seems overwhelming, start small and try one thing at a time. Afterall, we must do different – not only for ourselves, but for our students.