Digital Classrooms

You are passionately teaching an important topic and notice that a few students are on their phone texting under the desk trying to look inconspicuous.

A couple of scenarios can occur; a) You give an inward sigh and continue b) you might stop mid-lesson to draw their attention c) exasperatedly exclaim and take their phone away d) pointedly call on them to answer a question regarding the topic under discussion.

We have all been there, sometimes multiple times a day. What's the solution to this madness? As it goes, "if you can't beat em' join em'" which in this case means it is time to bring technology into the classroom. Here's how you can quickly achieve this:

1. Socrative (iTunes and Android)

This fun app is an effective classroom management tool. It can be used pre, mid, or post lesson and is an excellent way to track student learning and understanding. Students can instantly connect to it by downloading the app on their phones, tablets, or laptops or just singing in to the website. One of the best part of this app is the instant student feedback that the teacher receives in real-time due to features such as space race, where groups can compete against each other (students favourite in my classroom), quizzes, and an exit ticket, think of that as an upgraded technological sticky note feedback tool. Another upside is that educators can also share their quizzes easily with other faculty members so you can end up with a nice assortment of them.

2. Poll everywhere (iTunes and Android)

Similar to socrative, this is student engagement in real-time except it takes the form of a poll. This app can be an excellent mid-lecture engagement tool to check whether students are actively listening and understanding the material or even to develop critical thinking skills. Another benefit of using quick polls is that it breaks the momentum of a lesson, re-energizes the students, and removes their itch to check their phones constantly.

3. Kahoot

Kahoot, otherwise known as fun learning games, is a website that allows greater student involvement and enhances collaborative skills. Students sign in by entering a pin and answer questions on their own devices. There are four formats available; quiz, discussions, survey, and jumble. The website also offers tips and tricks on making a great kahoot which can be helpful to first-time users. Incorporating Kahoot would be an excellent way to create icebreakers, review topics before a major test, or survey the students to see whether they have understood the new content.

4. Seesaw (iTunes and Android)

Think of seesaw as an educational Instagram. Instead of posting selfies or photos of their food, students will document their learning journey, which is instantly visible to the teacher and allows both the teacher and the student to review progress and growth over time. The documentation can be in the form of text, PDFs, videos, photos, drawings, and links. It is an excellent way to involve parents in the learning process as the teacher can share students’ work so they can feel connected at home and school. The portfolios make an excellent addition to parent-teacher or student-led conferences.

5. Educreations (iTunes)

Educreations allows teachers to record their voice and screen and share the lesson with their students. It is a mixture of interactive whiteboard and screen-casting tool to narrate, animate, or annotate. This would be an excellent app to use before introducing a new and challenging concept. You could record and upload an introduction to the topic the night before and then explain the concept in more detail during class. This would also give students the opportunity to start thinking about the content and perhaps get them to do some investigation on their own, so they come to class prepared.

If you use any of the above apps then do share your experience below

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