Classroom Technology Wish List ARTICLE UPDATE: This was intended to be a living document but classroom technology changes. Quickly. This list was originally published in August 2008, with a few updates here and there. (Last updated on June 29, 2019.)
How do you use Classroom Technology in your program? Leave a comment below.
Sure, it’s summer time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a few ideas brewing on the back burner. Here are some technology things that you could do with your students. Not everything may be feasible (i.e. cost factors) or appropriate (i.e. security or privacy issues):
- some of the things we’re already doing,
- some of the things we’re thinking of doing, and,
- some of the things are simply wishful thinking, but great ideas have to start somewhere…
Some of the things listed could be considered authentic ways to use technology in the classroom (i.e. using smart boards as a teaching tool), where as other ideas might be considered using technology for technology’s sake (i.e. learning HTML to explore web design).
How do you integrate technology into the curriculum? Do you have any ideas to add to the list? (It’s a work in progress. Yes, we know there aren’t 101 things on the list… yet.)
Class Set of Laptops
- Get a company to donate a class set of laptops when they upgrade their equipment. (The company may be able to receive a charitable donation tax-credit.)
- Set up a wi-fi hotspot in your classroom so that students can blog online during independent reading and writing workshops.
- Purchase digital copies of textbooks to have a paperless classroom. Use text-reading software (i.e. Kurzweil) to highlight and take notes in the textbook.
- Get an e-Reader, Kindle, Kobo, iPad or netbook into the hands of your students so they can read ebooks or online texts.
- Purchase Chromebooks – they’re cheaper, they play nicely with Google Drive and Google Classroom.
Non-Traditional Reading and Writing
- Use bulletin board software to create online literature circles to engage your reluctant readers.
- Teach students the differences between formal, informal, and colloquial language and explore text messaging, chat rooms, and msn-speak as forms of colloquial language.
- Evaluate the evolving nature of language and develop word-attack skills by examining how words get accepted into everyday language (or the dictionary). For example, Google is now a commonly used noun and verb.
- Use text-reading software (i.e. Kurzweil) to allow students to access difficult texts.
- Use dynamic graphic organizer software (i.e Inspiration) to brainstorm ideas and show how to create outlines for writing.
- Use blogs, website articles, webzines, online graphic novels, wikipedia, etc as sources of high-interest, non-traditional literacy texts.
- Use blogs as a medium for students to post drafts and get peer feedback for the revising and editing stages of the writing process.
- Use Google Docs to demonstrate the writing process and as a way to monitor students as they edit and revise. (Thanks KC for adding this idea to the list!)
- Use the research tools in Google Docs to quickly look up facts without leaving your paper. (Note: you’ll need extra lessons to train students not to simply copy-and-paste and plagiarize the internet.)
- Go paperless – Mark student work online. Students share their work with you. You copy and paste a rubric at the bottom, highlight relevant sections, and provide feedback. We copy-and-paste comments from a comment bank to help speed up the process. (Having said that, it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per student to mark.)
- Create a “good stuff to read” website where your students could post some of their favourite texts (either links to website articles or names of books) and other students could then vote on whether they liked the recommendation. You could then sort the list of student recommended books so that students could read the best stuff first.
- Have students set up personal blogs as a medium to publish their writing portfolios.
- Explore how Google is a popularity contest. Publish work in an e-zine article directory to understand how to build inbound links. Post comments on other blogs to build inbound links.
- Publish work onto article directories to help students understand that anyone can post content online. They need to be critical when finding information online.
- Explore copyright issues. Publish work in a blog or an e-zine article directory will inevitably end up with your work scraped onto another blog without proper attribution. Explore how that feels and the ethics of using other people’s content without consent.
- Have your students take turns moderating the comments received on a blog. Explore what spam is and how spam filters work.
- Explore the differences between verbal, non-verbal, written, visual, and digital communication. Here’s a YouTube video on How Communication Works and here’s a lesson plan on effective communication.
- Discuss cyber-bullying: ways to protect yourself, how to respond when it happens, and how to avoid accidentally cyber-bullying when blogging.
- Explore computer safety: password strength, viruses, trojans, phishing, etc.
- Learn about online dangers and ways to protect yourself.
- Make hand-outs and homework assignments accessible on a classroom website.
- Use a secure website as a communication tool for marks for both parents and students.
- Introduce your students to HTML and web design.
- Use a translation service to automatically translate your website into other languages.
- Introduce students to the business of making money on the internet. Teach a unit on Making Money Online.
- Explore advertising online – how it works.
- Fund raise by selling stuff on e-bay.
- Sell products using affiliate marketing.
- Use online banking to explore how compound interest works.
- Use Dragon, Speak Naturally and dictate into you computer to make it easier to write long content that ranks on Google.
GPS and Mapping Technology
- Geo-cache with your students.
- Use GPS technology or mapping software (i.e. Google Earth) in math class to construct larger geometric shapes. (i.e. construct a circle that has a radius of 5 city blocks.)
- Apply GPS technology or mapping software in Geography.
- Create a structure that can be seen on Google Earth
- Use online mapping tools (i.e. http://www.mapmyrun.com/) to show students visually where they will be going for their fieldtrips.
The Internet as a Global Village / Community
- Find a class to pen-pal with and correspond using blogs, email, or IRC chat rooms.
- Use a voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) service like Skype to make long-distance phone calls to overseas pen pals. (i.e. set up a penpal partnership with a school in a developing country)
- Use a webcam and VOIP to make video calls with a long-distance pen pal in a foreign country
- Create a wiki so students understand how collaborative spaces like wikipedia work.
- Use a wiki for students to synthesize and evaluate knowledge gained in a content-subject like History or Geography. They can track how their understanding of concepts grow. Demonstrate how our understanding of a subject-specific topic evolves over time (i.e. a dynamic and digital KWL chart)
- Publish student work in English and in their first language online so that relatives overseas can celebrate in their success.
- Create a pen-pal site for classroom teachers to be able to have their students blog on other classroom blogs around the world. You could search the database based by grade or geographic region.
- French immersion students can post work in French and translate into English to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of online translation services.
- Investigate the role social networks are playing in changing the way the world communicates.
- Examine how Santa Claus has evolved as our technology has evolved. Track Santa using social networks and Google Earth.
Critical Thinking with Media by creating media
So often today, students will cite Google as the source of their information.
- Teacher: Where do you get this information.
- Student: Google.
And this makes perfect sense. Google is a verb. When we’re googling an answer to the question, it means we’re looking it up online.
But students don’t often recognize that Google is simply a company that provides us with answers to our searches. It’s a search engine.
Yes, on one level, we understand it’s a search engine.
But on the other hand, what does that really mean?
We need to start students to recognize that novels, songs, posters, pamphlets, ads, websites, and even search engines are all human constructs. We construct media to give a message to the viewer.
So, let’s create media… to better understand the tricks behind media.
- Use Photoshop or some other photo editing software to remove blemishes from your photo. (in a real way, as opposed to a silly, joking way.)
- Use photoshop to make yourself thinner and taller.
- Use photoshop to remove people from a historically significant photo (revisionist history.)
- Use SEO strategies to try to get a website to show first in a Google search.
- Try to get a pop up window to collect emails from actual visitors (not just friends)
- Create a YouTube channel and try to get legitimate subscribers and become an influencer. What do you need to do or say in order to get followers? Do you need to sell your soul or your privacy?
Technology as a Teaching Tool
- Use a data-projector in class to do modeled and shared readings.
- Use a data-projector in class to do shared writing: the modern equivalent of flip-chart paper
- Use a data-projector in class to explore media texts (i.e. commercials)
- Use a data-projector in class to conduct mad-minutes or Jeopardy-style quizzes.
- Buy LCD display screens for your school and publish school / student-made announcements on them.
- Use smart-board technology to write onto content that is projected onto the screen.
- Get a wireless mouse and keyboard so that you could “write” using the data-projector during a modeled or shared reading/writing lesson
- Use dynamic geometry software (i.e. Geometer’s Sketchpad) to explore math concepts.
- Use grade keeping software to assist with keeping records of marks.
- Fountas and Pinnell discuss in Guiding Readers and Writers (2001) having students take responsibility for routines like attendance (pg viii) by signing in on a clist list and indicating if their homework is completed (and at school), completed (but at home), or incomplete (and when it will be finished.) Why not automate this check in process with signing in on a computer instead of a clipboard?
- Use twitter as a collaboration tool. You can see a stream of conciousness as students work out a problem.
- Use clickers in the classroom and have students vote in answers. Here are five ways to use clickers in the classroom.
(Yes, we are currently in the 21st century.)
Yes, we need to teach our students digital literacy skills to know how to navigate around this brave new world of technology.
But, we also need to teach our students to be good people who have transferable life skills to adapt to any situation (6Cs of Education): character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.
Oh, and with this brave new world that hasn’t been invented yet, you can bet that there will be struggles and obstacles.
With, and without technology.
Music and Technology
- Buy songs (i.e. itunes) and allow students to DJ their own school dances.
- Use DJ software to allow students to explore basic DJ skills, including beat matching, creating loops, and mixing.
- Critically examine popular music to determine whether mainstream music is appropriate at a school dance (i.e. Soulja Boy – Crank that)
- Compose your own ring-tones / mp3s in music class.
- Create your own pod-casts. Students can use free sound-editing software (i.e. audacity) to mix in free sound effects (i.e. ljudo.com or freeplaymusic.com) with their digital recordings of their voices.
- Send an object around the world and invite people who find the object to leave a message online in the classroom blog.
- Test out the theory of six-degrees of separation using email. Students are trying to get an email to a specific person in another country. They send off the email explaining the activity to a friend or connection that they feel is in a good position to send it off towards the target. See how many people the email goes through before it arrives to the target person.
- Explore the video making process: scripts, recording, editing, post-production
- Explore youtube as a medium to publish content.
- Experiment with claymation and stop-motion photography to make short films.
Physical Education / Daily Physical Activity (DPA) and Technology
- Use active video games (dance dance revolution, wii fit) as a means of combining technology with daily physical activity.
- Use online GPS mapping tools (i.e. http://www.mapmyrun.com/) to map out distances for your cross-country team.
- Use a GPS (i.e. Garmin ForeRunner) to measure speed during track and field events.
iPad in the Classroom
- Get a class set of iPads for the classroom. (Before you say it’ll never happen, a school district in Maine is spending $200,000 to get 300 Kindergarten students iPad 2s for the classroom.)
- Use Google Docs on the iPad to take notes. You can be productive within seconds (compared to minutes to log in on a netbook.)
- Read novels or newspapers using various news apps (i.e. CNN, Globe and Mail,
- Use AudioNote to allow students to take audio recordings of your classes. As you type notes, the words sync to the appropriate parts of your audio recording. In other words, if you can’t remember exactly what the teacher said, click the word and you can hear that part of the lecture. (To be honest, this is probably more useful at the post-secondary level. Most teachers (and parents) would probably be concerned that the class was being recorded.)
- Give struggling readers an authentic reason to practice reading by having them train voice-recognition software like SpeakQ.
- Use predictive text software like WordQ to help students write.
- Install Google Dictionary in Google Chrome on your school computers so that students can get a quick definition just by double-clicking a word on a website.
- Use voice recognition software. Back in the 2012, we would use Dragon NaturallySpeaking for students with a SEA laptop. Now, it’s just as easy to voice-dictate into your phone or Google Docs on a chromebook.