Technology Now, Insanity Later. How to Utilize Technology in the Classroom

I have vivid memories of standing in my high school foyer with a quarter, making phone calls to my parents using the Pay Phone to ask for a ride home. If they didn’t answer, I was quick to hang the receiver before the answering machine picked up and I lost my quarter.

My parents purchased me my first cell phone when I was in grade twelve. It was a black LG flip phone that had an LED light on the front that would display an array of colours when a call was coming through. The coolest part: it had a camera. I had to purchase time to use my cell phone, my mom would drive me to Avondale and I would purchase $10 at a time. Using a receipt print out with eight digits at the bottom, I would dial #9 and follow the instructions. That $10 of time would last me four weeks because phone calls that were outgoing usually were followed by a conversations like: “Hey! Call me on my landline!” and I’d hang up right away. Cell phones were a luxury then, used only for emergency purposes. Now, cell phones are an extension of our being. They are tiny computers that give us access to the world at our fingertips. Through Social Media we are able to connect with so many different outlets on so many different levels. This should be good for our classrooms… shouldn’t it?

Instead, teachers find themselves frustrated that their students are so attached to their phones. Any free time students are given, they plug into their phones and we lose them in translation. Whatever happened to talking to each other during class? Students sit silently now, checking the status updates and Snapchats from their friends until the teacher starts talking. Sometimes (more frequently than I’d like to admit) I catch my students using their phones during a lesson or seat work instead of doing what they are assigned. This drives me crazy! I want my students to think critically about what we are learning instead of relying on Google for the answer. So what can we do to provide students with the opportunity to use their SmartPhones in the classroom? Here are two helpful websites I’ve used in the past to bridge that gap:

  1. Use Kahoot! for in class quizzes. The website it easy to navigate and students can log in using their Smartphones. There’s even a shared screen to monitor learning and encourage your students to look up. Try it here!
  2. Create a Google Classroom where students can access all lessons and submit assignments electronically. You can monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback by using Google Docs for assignments and presentations. Students really like this method because they can have access to their work from home and if they miss a day, they can easily get caught up. Also, using a Doc for group work makes lives a lot easier since each group member can have access to what they are working on at any time in any place! It also doesn’t hurt that using a Google Classroom makes your life a lot easier as a teacher! The website is super easy to navigate and allows students to be responsible for their own learning. Give it a shot!

Even though our classrooms have definitely changed in the past 10-15 years, it doesn’t have to be a negative. Teachers can use these technological advancements to our benefit… if we let it! What are some of the tools you have used in your classroom to utilize social media and technology in the classroom? I’d love to hear about it… comment below!

 

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