I have been spending a lot of time over the past couple of months trying to come to terms with the fact I have branded myself as a technology specialist. It really hit me when someone asked me to present at a conference and wanted me to send in a proposal for a session. I sent several possibilities with some sessions directly related to technology while others were geared more to literacy topics. I was surprised at the response I received. Actually, I wasn’t surprised, I guess I should have expected it since I named my blog “Tech with Jen”. She wanted me to teach a technology session. She said this was my area of expertise. I wasn’t at all upset about the statement, it is nice to know people value my experience and knowledge. However, I did start to think about the comment. To be perfectly honest, my area of expertise is teaching students how to read and write. I have a specialist degree in reading. I am a National Board Certified teacher in literacy. I’m not just about technology. This is why I started my blog in the first place. I want teachers, administrators, and anyone else who will listen to know it is NOT about the technology!! It is all about HOW we use technology in the classroom. Technology is such a valuable tool to take our lessons to a whole new level. It can provide numerous ways to help differentiate our instruction. Technology can help students create, collaborate, and communicate like never before!
Many teachers struggle, not only with ideas for using technology in the classroom, but how to make it work. Using augmented reality is super cool but if you don’t know how to create the triggers and overlays it can be hard to try these new tools with students. This is what I do. I provide the “behind the scenes” knowledge of how to make it happen in the real-world but I hope I offer ideas of how it works with the curriculum. So I have decided to take a look at several of my posts from the past and elaborate how these tools can be used in the classroom. These three ideas may help jumpstart your mojo to use technology for the upcoming school year.
One idea is from a favorite post about interactive notebooks. This is my version of the popular paper versions floating around except I use the Book Creator app. Using this app along with other iPad apps allow students to “think and talk” about their reading. I like to allow students to respond to the reading of text in a variety of ways. To be perfectly honest, I prefer students choose what works best for them. If a student struggles with writing why do we make them write first? Could they not draw, create a video, or maybe even a Toontastic presentation? Students really enjoy responding to text in this way and students’ writing improves. So start your year allowing students to respond to text through projects on the computer, apps, a poster, or whatever fabulous way you can think based on your students’ learning styles. Get to know your students; their likes and dislikes. If technology is not available, students can still respond to their reading in a variety of ways.
Speaking of writing, I wrote a post about using technology in writers’ workshop with a lot of ideas for infusing technology. Some other ideas that might be of interest is having young students rehearse their sentences using the Tellagami app. They record their voice and then go back and listen to the video over and over again to help with the transcription process. If you teach young children, I am sure you are aware of having students rehearse the sentence by saying it over and over again and counting the words. Using tools such as this will help your students like never before. You don’t have to have a classroom set of iPads. Even if you only have one iPad you could teach the students how to use it in a small group setting first and then begin to allow students to use it individually. Imagine this…picture in your mind the student that, when asked to write, just sits there and looks at his/her paper with a blank stare? Can you see his or her face? Now imagine handing your iPad over to create a gami. Is the student a little more engaged? I promise one device can be a game changer. Even older students love Tellagami. Students can explain their thinking about a particular topic or story they have read. The skies the limit and students usually come up with a lot of great ways to use this app.
Have you heard of augmented reality and how it can help you in the classroom? I wrote a post last summer about augmented reality apps. At the time, this technology was brand new to me but now I have had the opportunity to try it out with kids and get feedback from a lot of teachers about how this works in the classroom. I am excited to present about this topic at the end of the month at Technopalooza. There are so many cool augmented reality apps out now. I will be writing more about this topic at a later date, but I do want to share how augmented reality can help you engage your students before a unit. Build background for students by creating links to websites and videos. This can also be used to allow students to explore research topics more efficiently. I am currently working on a human body unit about the body systems and created this freebie. I thought you might be interested in taking a look at for me. Click here to take a look at my presentation from Technopalooza for more resources.
Many of you wrote to me and suggested students use Aurasma to create their own auras. I couldn’t agree more! Students can use the Aurasma app to share their work in a variety of ways. Let’s go back to the ideas of students creating a Tellagami or Toontastic during reading and writing. Imagine students linking this resource to a trigger image. When students scan the trigger image they can see the video the student created. I could think of all kinds of ways this could be used in the classroom. It would be great for book talks. Add a student’s trigger image to the inside cover of a book, when scanned an aura appears and a student’s video tells more about the book or their recommendation.
My hope for this blog to help you see ways you can develop your curriculum in the 21st century classroom. Remember to start small and never let the lack of technology keep you from doing what you want to do with your students. Let’s figure out a way to build these innovative classrooms together. Our students deserve it and so do you!