Teachers are constantly vying for their students’ attention. A great deal of the trouble teachers face with engaging students in their classrooms is because some of the old ways of teaching no longer work with the digital generations. Kelly Walsh at Emerging EdTech shares with readers wonderful tools and strategies to use with students to boost engagement in the classroom while promoting crucial 21st century skills.
posted by: Ryan Schaa
Are you tired of delivering the same old lectures on the same subjects year after year? Are you using the same lesson materials over and over and wishing you could make learning in your classroom more interactive?
While lectures and lessons can be informative and even “edutaining” when delivered with passion and good materials by knowledgeable experts, sadly many traditional lectures and lessons are boring, and even worse often ineffective. The good news is that the Web is loaded with great free tools that can enable teachers to bring a sense of fun and engagement to their lessons.
Of course, you do need devices with Internet access to give these tools a try. Even if you don’t have computers or tablets available in your classroom, the fact that an increasing number of High School and college students have smartphones is making it easier than ever to leverage technology to create engaging, active lessons students enjoy working on. For younger grades, if you don’t have access to devices with Web access, perhaps you can access a computer lab by request, or use devices in your library.
Here’s a whole bunch of ideas for leveraging technology to kick those lessons up a notch!
There are many applications that allow students to provide live feedback. A lot of them can be used from smartphones. You can also gather feedback by creating a “back channel” using Twitter.
Leveraging gaming mechanics can make learning more fun is probably easier than you think. For example, any time you bring competition or levels of achievement to a classroom exercise, you’re gamifying your classroom. For example, in one recent assignment in my classroom, I had students search through an interactive computer history timeline for specific facts. The first student to correctly identify a fact (like “what was the first computer bug?”) that I had them seek out “won” for that question!
Here’s a variety of resources and ideas for using gaming in the classroom:
There are so many fun free tools and apps available today that can let students create all kinds of awesome digital content. Below is diversified set of different article and resources that share different tools and ideas for students (and teachers) to create digital content – presentations, interactive digital posters, eBooks, videos, and more. In the spirit of creating in the classroom, we also included an article introducing the burgeoning Makerspace Movement in education.
Many teachers enjoy using interactive tools with their students. Here’s a few tools and ideas to consider.
Getting students to work together as partners, in small groups, or maybe even as one large group, teaches them about team work. Collaborative work can be fun. It is even possible to collaborate with students across the world thanks to many of today’s technologies.
Here are a number of tools and techniques for classroom collaborations.
When students apply what they are learning to projects that they undertake, the topics they are learning about can take on a much deeper meaning. Not only does the activity and the increased sensory exposure of project work help to stimulate the mind, the extended time often required of project work, and the visible, tangible results further reinforce learning.
Here are two excellent, rich resources for further exploration of PBL from TeachThought.com:
Simulations can be a powerful addition to the classroom. Since they tend to be somewhat complicated, they are typically suited towards high school, college, or post-graduate or professional studies. Here are some examples of simulations being used in education:
With the power of video conferencing apps like Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, and others, our ability to connect with people all across the world has never been better or less costly. Teachers have been using Skype and similar tools to being guest lecturers, experts, students, and others into the classroom for years. Nothing breaks up the monotony of “same old thing” like an enthusiastic subject matter expert from another county or a room full of students from another continent!
Check out this great video about Skype in the Classroom. This is a perfect way to wrap up this post about leveraging tech in the classroom to make lessons captivating, fun, and exciting!