I think this commercial is an excellent parallel for teachers to consider. How many times have we taught a lesson (that we thought was perfect) and the students look back at us with confusion? Or we say something for the millionth time and get asked that question again…How do we overcome some of these issues?
Yes, Ice-T is there in the background. Yes, the kids are selling lemonade. Both of things can happen at the same time – eliminate the confusion. Make it easier for your students to see the lemonade and not get distracted by the Ice T. How? Here are some ideas.
Step Into The Students’ Rhythm
What is it that your students are really, really into? What are they talking about? How are they engaging the world around them? Step into these places. Teach through these places. Put yourself in these places.
With older students consider using Snapchat, Twitter, or Tumblr as part of your instructional practice. Students can follow you – you don’t have to follow them. Then use these social media platforms as a cornerstone of what you do in your classroom.
For younger students, there is always that popular thing happening. You know what it is because your students talk about it all the time. Take this opportunity and call an audible for your lesson plans, infuse them with this current topic. A quick example, my youngest loves to shoot zombies in video games. If she were to have a math lesson (or several) around zombies, she would talk about it non-stop.
Let’s start with Snapchat. This app allows users to take a picture or a short video and post it to their “story”, making it available for other Snapchat users to see. 24 hours later that media is no longer available for public viewing, although is it sitting on a server somewhere…
Use Snapchat to create some anticipation for what is coming up in your class. Use the virtual reality masks that Snapchat has built into their app and share a snippet of what is coming later today, or tomorrow, or next week.
Take a picture of the book you are going to be reading, markup the image, add some emoji’s and text, create a buzz. Share these to your story inside the app. Students are in Snapchat, sometimes in ways that are not quite appropriate. Be a model for your students, let them see you use Snapchat as part of the teaching process. If you ask, I bet you will get some great ideas.
I have written about the use of Twitter several times. Most of those being how beneficial it can be for teachers to use for professional growth. Consider using this in your classroom as well. I know from personal experience that students may be hesitant to engage on Twitter. There is a whole social status thing that happens here – but I also know that students continued to tweet questions to me long after they had me as a teacher.
Create a classroom hashtag (I used #haselcalc), then have them tweet questions or share media that is appropriate for the lesson you are teaching. Reach out to professionals on specific topics and ask them to participate in your classroom via a twitter chat. Ask an author to answer some student questions. Have an astronomer share what they do every day. Engage with a teacher who speaks a different language and have your students tweet in that language.
Be creative here, even if your students don’t want to tweet at you, they can still follow you or your class hashtag. Parents can as well. Share homework, links to relevant sites, or build anticipation – all from one easy to use app.
I confess, Tumblr is difficult for me to get into. It could be that I haven’t found my community yet. However, guess who is all over Tumblr? Your students. Step into this world, try something new and allow your students to follow you here.
What can you do in Tumblr? Everything. Post a picture. Write a blog post. Share a quote. Upload audio. Participate in a chat….There is so much that Tumblr has to offer, where do I even begin?
Let’s start with links, share the different websites that you use in your classroom through your professional Tumblr account and tag them with your last name. Students can follow you or the tag and always have access to the different websites you utilize in the classroom.
Get an idea while driving home? Talk to your phone and upload it to Tumblr. I am always surprised by what comes into my mind while I am driving. Take five minutes after you get home, record your thoughts to audio, tag the post with your name, upload to Tumblr.
Students always have access to what is going on in your class. This can be a simple and easy, all you need to do it try it.
Work To Make Edtech A Foundation In Your Classroom
If you put together that one lesson each semester infusing educational technology, then you are emphasizing that Ice T is in the room. Students’ will be distracted by the technology and as a result, the focus on your lesson will wane. Teachers need to focus on all of the procedures that need to be taught, how to interact and use the technology be used. Reminding students to be focused on the lesson…When you do this once a quarter or once a semester, the focus becomes the correct procedure, not learning.
Work to make educational technology a vibrant foundation of your teaching practice. Yes, those first few lessons can be difficult. But, the students’ will learn what your expectations are and will meet them. They will be learning how to use the technology as part of their educational experience, developing key habits that will help them in their future.
If you introduce different apps or websites during those first few days of school, then make some changes in the middle of the semester, students will have developed some of their own troubleshooting expertise through the experiences you have provided. So making necessary changes becomes part of the learning process instead of a situation that can wreck a lesson.
Make it a habit to show your students, of all ages, that technology can be used for learning. Yes, there are terrible things on the internet and on social media. But, there are powerful, amazing, awesome things that can be learned and created with the technology that is in our classrooms.
Make educational technology a habit, not a checkmark on the list of things required to be done during the semester. Share a favorite lesson in the comments – we can crowdsource some great ideas today!