Making technology work for effective teaching
As educators (and as people for that matter), we would not want to stop learning and growing. This is where technology comes into play.
We need to get out of the 20th century mindset and re-envision what learning can look like for the future. And that HAS to include technology.
We need to embrace technology (flaws and all) and use it to help us achieve the core purpose of effective teaching and learning.
There are quite a number of tools that educators can use to maximize learning and assessments and lessen the time and energy spent on checking student work manually (saves you from wasting red ink, too).
After many trials and application downloads, I have drawn up a list of tools I personally use and recommend to educators who want to gear up for 21st century teaching.
ActivInspire. Using flip charts provided by prometheanplanet.com saves a lot of time and effort in preparing interactive materials the educator can present to his/her class to encourage active participation with the aid of a touch screen board.
Prezi. Instead of the usual PowerPoint presentation, Prezi offers an interactive presentation with simple, easy-to-use slides that takes your lesson to the next level. It is also versatile as you can save the presentation on your gadget or online.
Emaze. This is an alternative to PowerPoint with basic to complex forms of presentations.
Powtoon. Graphic-rich presentations are easily available to capture the interest of your learners.
Voki. To give your classroom presentation a facelift, use avatars to explain a concept or simply to capture the attention of your students who will be more than happy to see different talking characters fill your board.
Read Theory. At the start of the year, I stumbled upon this site, which offers online assessment of students’ reading levels. What is great about the site is that you can get individual and class progress reports every time you log in. Students are also provided reading materials fit for their individual levels and designed to improve reading comprehension. Materials can also be printed as additional reading materials in the classroom.
Quipper. My ever-reliable partner in assessing pre- and posttests is in constant upgrade to provide better, more efficient service to both teacher and learner. It does not only support individual mastery of lessons but helps the teacher provide assignments based on the K-12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) curriculum schedule and quarterly tests. The teacher can also share his/her lessons and tests with colleagues through QCreate.
Plickers. This is the latest tool to receive much enthusiasm from my classes. With individual boards to show their answers, I scan the room with my gadget to get automatic feedback on exercises and tests. Great as exit slips, too.
GradeCam. I was disappointed to learn that this great app has been available for years, even ahead of my favorite, Quipper. This is a wonderful idea for checking, recording and getting test scores and statistics to understand how effective teaching is based on students’ test results.
Of course, we also need to keep in mind the limitations of technology—and yes, there are some very big ones currently.
Technology is still limited by bandwidth, access, knowledge and server space. But improvements are being made all the time.
So let us take a big collective breath and step outside our comfort zones to open our classrooms to the wonders technology can bring to us as teachers and to our students for that ultimate teaching/learning experience.
The writer is the Information and Communications Technology district coordinator of Manila. She is a master teacher of English at J. Zamora Elementary School, Manila.
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