Have you ever gone to a professional development conference and just when the speaker is about to lose you, they ask you to pull out your phone or device? They explain the rules of a game and the game has a winner. If this did happen to you, would you perk up? Would you be more engaged in what the speaker was trying to teach you? Of course you would, and so would our students!
Technology is a tool that can help us in every aspect of our job, and when it comes to best practices, it helps us to help our students in ways we never could before. In this article, I would like to tell you some ways that I use technology in my classroom and some of the programs I use to help me do my job by describing the first hour of a typical day in my classroom.
As my students arrive, they unpack and do their chores. We have class pets, so all of their cages need cleaned and they need fed and watered. After they finish their job, they go to their seat and work on morning work which consists of individualized assignments based on need and level.
They are given a goal sheet on Monday telling what they need to have done for the week, and anytime we are not working whole class, they chip away at their goals.
Some great programs for individualization are Vocabulary and Spelling City where students can be assigned games and activities for individualized lists, BirdbrainScience where students are all assigned an article on the same topic, but the reading level is adjusted to meet the needs of the student, and ReadTheory which differentiates stories based on reading levels.
At 9:05, the music begins, the lights go off, the projector turns on and the SMART Board comes alive. All of my fifth graders rise from their seats and we begin our morning workout routine called “Wake Up” compliments of a program called GoNoodle. After our vigorous three minute morning stretch, we all feel great and ready for the day.
Next, we have science where we are reviewing for a test on the food chain. Everybody grabs a laptop, iPad or device. We use a program called Quizlet Live to review vocabulary. Students go to https://quizlet.com/live on their device, while I log onto my teacher account at quizlet.com. After I set up the game, students are given a code to type into their device. After they join the class, they submit their name, and I click a button to form teams.
The room is a flutter while students find their teams. What makes this formative assessment game so fun is that students really have to work together to achieve success. With three or four people in a group, a question is asked on their screen. The answer is only on ONE of their screens. At the front of the room on the SMART Board screen shows a race between all of the teams. The one glitch is if you answer a question wrong, you have to start all over.
The students seem to know the vocabulary well now, but can they apply it to the food chain? The next game is a SMART lab activity created using SMART Notebook. The students must put the pieces in order. We already have teams, so we add a timer to see which team can complete the task the fastest!
We finish off science with a race to the finish using a SpeedUp SMART lab activity in SMART Notebook. Boys race against the girls to answer questions a bit more complex where they need to apply the vocabulary and the food chain to determine whether a horse eating grass would be an herbivore, carnivore or scavenger.
Will my students do well on their science test tomorrow? Did technology play a part in engaging them in learning? I think so, but tomorrow’s test will give the real answer!
Try Jan’s recommendations with your class today with SMART Learning Suite.
- Using Technology as a Tool of Engagement - July 27, 2016
- How to Deliver the 4Cs in Education - April 26, 2016
- Gamification that Gets Your Students to Stand Up and Take Notice - March 22, 2016