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Easy Ways to Integrate Technology Into Your Classroom Tomorrow!

With the demand for 21st century skills in today's classroom, educators are feeling the pressure to prepare their students with the “skills of tomorrow," right now. Considering the rate at which technology is expanding, however, this goal can easily intimidate even the most tech-savvy educator. Never fear! Education World is here to the rescue with easy ways to your students engaged with technology tomorrow! Not only will using these tools increase student engagement, they are easily integrated into any classroom and they may even reduce your workload significantly.

Nearpod for Quizzes, Openers, and Exit Tickets

This is definitely one of the cooler new innovations to classroom technology:  instant data. Apps like Nearpod have created the opportunity for students to answer questions in the classroom—whether they are openers, exit tickets, or quizzes—using their computers, tablets, or smartphones, giving the teacher live statistics on student understanding. Sign up for Nearpod online as a teacher, create a presentation, add an activity to your slide, type in your question and multiple choice answers, and it will give you and your students a PIN code to access—it’s as simple as that. When students log in using their devices, they will type in the PIN code and they will see your slides, including the quiz you’ve developed!  When they submit their answer, the data will appear live on your computer screen, so they can immediately see how the class did on each question! Used in this capacity, the app is a phenomenal “dipstick” tool for both opener and exit tickets. As you explore the site, you’ll see that they have also included the potential to create full quizzes, written responses, and groupwork.

There are other apps that allow you to create similar lessons online, however Nearpod is pretty clearly the easiest to use, for both teachers and students. Once you’ve mastered Nearpod, however, you might want to upgrade to Socrative, which has similar features, but with more options and settings for educators for manipulating content. Plickers also gives a pretty cool opportunity for teachers to print out QR codes that allow students to answer manually with paper signs while your phone’s camera function tallies the data for you—adding a little magic to the classroom.

Watch a “How to create a poll on Nearpod” tutorial HERE!

Google Docs for the Writing Process

Now, you might not be new to Google Docs. If you are, it’s certainly a phenomenal way for students to share their writing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets with you and their peers. In particular, we’re going to talk about the writing process. To start, with all of these programs, users can share their documents with others for editing, as well as live commenting … there’s even a chat function, where all users looking at a particular document can chat live with each other as they are viewing and working together. For the 21st century educator, this creates a phenomenal opportunity for quick and efficient feedback. When students are working on an essay or presentation, have them share it with you. When using class time to write, you will be able to open each of your students’ essays in new tabs on your browser, which will give you live access to their work. You can move from student to student, adding comments to their document, asking them questions using the chat function, highlighting and editing their work as they are writing. Google Docs allows for incredible accountability and the functionality allows students to feel supported—and sure beats having to run about the room from student to student, squinting at each of their computer screens or drowning in paper. You can also use the “share” function to allow students to peer-edit each other’s work, while all edits are recorded with Google’s editing history function, so you can easily see who did what and when.

Watch a “How to comment on Google Docs” tutorial HERE!

GlogsterEDU for Presentations

If you’ve had enough of PowerPoint presentations for the year, but still want to tap into student creativity, check out GlogsterEDU. GlogsterEDU allows students to mix different types of media on an online canvas to create multimedia posters, or “glogs”. Students will be able to link videos, add a huge variety of hip and intriguing image files that are hosted on the site, and have complete control over the look and design of their poster. Students on Glogster also have access to an extensive library of engaging educational glogs created by other students and educators worldwide. You might ask students to create a glog that represents a central idea to them or expresses the heart and soul of the period of time you might be studying. Have students create a historically accurate propaganda glog or to show and explain multiple routes to solving an equation. Glogster is fun, but also incredibly intuitive to use—having students “figure it out” themselves is a great lesson in tackling new technology platforms. You don’t have to be a pro; have them teach you the ropes! Completed glogs can be shared with anyone online and teachers have easy access to their GlogsterEDU classrooms for commenting and sharing.

Watch a “How to use GlogsterEDU” tutorial HERE!  

TodaysMeet for Online Discussions

If we’re being honest, we have to admit that classwide discussions can be nerve-wracking to facilitate. TodaysMeet is a simple platform that allows teachers to create a virtual chatroom, where students can banter back and forth on a topic of your choosing. Teachers can also chat in the forum, as a moderator or as a participant. Once you have created a chat room on the site; you simply give students the web address to your particular room; they create a temporary username (no account necessary); and begin chatting.  Keep in mind, students can create any username they like, so anonymity might cause silliness to occur. Feel free to allow only certain usernames to be used by students in your chatroom (e.g., must be lastname, firstname). Another option, however, is to tolerate the silliness, as it models the real-world Internet, where not everyone can handle the responsibility of anonymity. This can be a great forum for large crowds, where boisterous conversation can quickly turn to incomprehensible noise.

Watch a “How to create a TodaysMeet” tutorial HERE!

Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor

Lambert is a English Language Arts teacher and teacher trainer in Connecticut.