Technology in the Real Classroom
Is there really time to include new technology with our students?
Technology is more than just an additional task for teachers to check off. It can and should be used in your classroom as a tool to support your students academically and even to close the learning gap. Edtech exists for every grade level and every subject. Features can range from read aloud for struggling or emerging readers to math support for students at a lower level or enrichment activities for advanced students to scaffolding for learners of all ability levels. This can be an overwhelming amount of choice!
One of the biggest challenges when integrating technology is knowing what tools to use and how to use them. This is where a Classroom Technology Coach comes into the picture, if your school has one! The CTC at your school is an expert in all things Edtech. They will work around your schedule to meet you where you are and help you level up your classroom technology game. Additionally, your CTC will come into your room to assist you with introducing the technology to your students and ensuring that all things run smoothly, taking this pressure off of you.
Let’s explore some ideas of how to use technology to bridge gaps in reading and mathematics, as well as using technology to adjust your assessment practices.
Tech Tools to Assist with Reading Abilities
There are many tech tools available to assist with reading abilities. One tool to use for the read aloud feature is Wizer.me. This is a digital worksheet creation tool that is easy to create and easy for students to use. It gives you the option to record yourself reading each question and even gives students the option to respond with their own voice recordings. Check out this activity created for a Kindergarten class with varied question types and read aloud from the teacher!
Technology can also be used to differentiate traditional pencil and paper tests. The example above includes:
- an embedded YouTube video,
- multiple choice with pictures,
- a “draw your answer” question,
- and a matching activity.
Images taken from Frosty the Snowman – By Mary Man-Kong | Kids Books Read Aloudand canva.com
This is a lot more variety than is possible with pencil and paper tests. Varying your test question and answer types gives you the opportunity to engage more students and to meet more learning styles. Wizer.me is one option but it is not the only option.
Using Technology in Mathematics
Another area that can be addressed and supported using technology is mathematics. The Desmos Activity Builder is perfect for math practice, but it doubles as an assessment tool. By using the Desmos Activity Builder as an assessment tool, you will be able to provide all students with a more equitable assessment experience. Students who struggle to express their answers on paper may experience more success using the various tools that Desmos has available. The question and answer options are varied, students have a built in calculator, and students of all learning styles can be engaged.
In the Desmos Activity Builder you have the option to include:
- multiple choice questions,
- extended response questions,
- self-checking questions,
- sketching on a graph for student answers,
- interactive card sorts,
- easily typing equations in the question as well as the answer,
- and students have the option to insert a picture of their work.
See this example of a Desmos assessment to explore some of the possibilities.
The examples explored here are just 2 of 100s of different Edtech tools that you can use in your classroom. Hopefully this article has inspired you to take advantage of technology for your students’ benefit. My advice would be to find a pain point or need, research the available resources or reach out to your CTC for support, and try it out in your classroom. You just might be surprised to find that educational technology is more than an afterthought!