Hey Creative Thinkers!
What do you think of Yoga? For your kids? Well school’s over (for now anyway) and the adrenaline that was sustaining our children during school has thankfully drained out. But they are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted.
The Need for Unnatural Craziness
As a teacher-mom I have had firsthand experience with the anxiety that rises to proportions so high I’ve had students vomit, or cry or flat out refuse to take the exams on the day of the exam! The months leading up to this were just as bad. The pressure! I have left my children burning the midnight oil making all attempts to pass their exams.
Of course, we should know this is an unhealthy practice on all fronts! Finally,in rolls June and the students are completely burnt out.
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In my own journey to living a more focused and peaceful existence I turned to yoga. One afternoon I was scrolling through YouTube and uncovered a gem, Boho Beautiful check out the video. In addition to the slow lessons to the poses in yoga and moved into the meditation videos that was available as well. Seriously guys I loved it! And while the poses required some stretching of muscles I had long ignored due to the close to sedentary lifestyle of teaching and mom duties, they felt wonderful.Over the next few months I continued to practice yoga. When I did the poses in the morning, I literally felt relaxed and energized simultaneously.
Then next morning I introduced my children to yoga. My son took to the practice. I think more so because it helped stretch those muscles he used during his intense soccer training sessions. My youngest daughter… well I’m working on her. I’m hoping to be great model and she will join in at some point.
Body Benefits of Yoga
While there are many physical benefits of yoga for our younger counterparts such as flexibility, strength, and coordination there are also mental and emotional benefits as well.
Breathe in Peaceful Reflections
The breathing exercises alone is an excellent benefit for our over stressed kids. Learning to calm your mind and focus on your breathing takes a level of mindfulness. Many of our children have not mastered or practiced. They are over stimulated. So, having them remain still and just breathe takes practice, practice, practice. This practice during the stressful days of school time and the overwhelming study sessions during exams comes in very handy.
The breathing exercises is a great relaxation technique for peaceful reflections. A study at the Harvard Medical School showed yoga as a beneficial activity to support mental health in children. Here’s an article that discusses the benefits for yoga for kids.
Yoga Equals Downtime
Breaks throughout the school year are welcomed. However, the breaks for our kids involve some form of activity. Camp, sports, family visits and other time sucking activities that are most times a necessity (working parents) they stimulate. Making downtime nonexistent. Yoga is downtime.
So, when summertime arrives we, as parents, want to try to give our kids downtime.While we still have to schedule activities for our kids (working parents); we want to teach our kids how to calm their minds and learn to center themselves. Yoga offers the opportunity to learn patience and practice discipline. Both equally excellent tools needed for school. Grab a mat and you too, a towel, water and this awesome video to get started. I promise you won’t regret it.
Educational benefits of Yoga
- Enhances concentration
- Teaches mindfulness
- Increases self-esteem
- Cultivates self-awareness
- Gives tools for stress management
- Allows for increased flexibility
- Strengthens growing bodies
- Cultivates a peaceful mind
- Teaches self-acceptance
- Supports mental health
Have you ever tried yoga? Do you think your kids would enjoy practicing yoga? Let me know I would love to hear about your experiences.
Happy teaching and learning
Discover the Different
It’s June! Are you ready for the summer? (football season theme song). I know I am and based on the raised noise levels in my class so are my students. Are you ready parents?
To calm the storm, in my classroom, I’ve taken extra steps to ensure my students are engaged ALWAYS. If you want to hold on to your sanity. One afternoon, for a writing activity, I asked the students to write down 10 things they would like to experience this summer. We talked briefly about the plot of the movie “The Bucket List” and then furthered our discussion on understanding what is means to discover the different and even better to document it. I asked how can we document our experiences this summer; and though most of my students checked out mentally sometime in April some were still holding on and offered “by writing it down and taking pictures”. This of course was a welcome surprise. TaDa…
Summer Bucket List-Kids Edition!
Their list included some fantastic events from a beach barbecue party to visiting some wondrous places like the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which they were going to and I secretly envied. I looked it up, totally adding that to my bucket list. The activities, events, and places were great and while some would raise some eyebrows, the rest were super awesome and would indelibly leave memories to last a lifetime. Let’s get to that summer bucket list kids remix.
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Water Gun Fight
Who doesn’t love a good water gun fight? Kids will love playing with water guns during the summer. I’ve had 5 well 6 if you count the extra one I tried to hide behind a tree during one of our family take downs. (Fun family time) Get the family together, create teams, get outside and enjoy some water fun. But be forewarned you will get completely soaked and therein lies the summer fun.
Camping in the summer outside can be done in the park, somewhere where it takes more than an hour to get there or you can just as easily set up a tent in their backyard or rock a sheet with some PVC piping; check out Pinterest, it’s awesome. Now grab a flashlight and tell some ghost stories! Do a little barbecuing outdoors and we got ourselves a super summer memory.
Now I know how this sounds and no you’re not just staring up at a bunch of stars (crickets) OK so that’s part of it but stargazing can be rewarding and educational! (hey I’m a teacher). I mean there’s a whole universe out there. Stargazing can turn into a family fun activity. View the planets and constellations either late at night or very early at dawn. Watch an early morning meteor shower. Another one of my favorites, tracking the moon phases. All part of an amateur astronomers’ to do list.
Summertime Outdoor Movie
You can search of an outdoor movie facility in your area, it is simply one of the best experiences I have had with my children. Or you can DIY it. Gather up a white sheet for the screen, the production control center (laptop), and a projector for big screen time. Take all these supplies and set them up in your backyard. The kids will never forget this summer night.
Make Homemade Ice Cream
What’s one of the best ways to cool off in the summer? A delicious, creamy, melting down the sides of the cone ice cream. And it’s totally not as complicated as it sounds. My favorite Jamoca Almond Fudge with the smooth fudge and crunchy almonds. Oh Yumm! But this is about the kids so grab toppings such as nuts, waffle cone pieces, chocolate chips, gummy bears, and pieces of fruit (let’s keep it healthy please). Don’t forget some cream, milk, vanilla extract and only add sugar if you want to. I usually add some fruit such as bananas, mangoes, strawberries to keep the sugar count down. Check out Pinterest; there’s enough recipes for the whole summer.
Summer time Smores
This traditional treat is not just for camping. You can enjoy smores anytime. Stuffing oneself with chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers what’s not to love. Throw a bonfire together and we’re looking at some serious bonding time for the family and friends. I have some great bonfire, smore-making memories.
Picnic with Friends
When was the last time you went on a picnic? What about the kids? Video games, smart phones, and tablets seem to be the order of the day. I remember going on picnics quite a bit when I was younger especially during the summer. Family members and friends would bring food and games and sheets or blankets whatever you can throw in a bag. This is a great experience for the kids. Send out invitations, help prepare the food and pick out a spot.
Kids love an adventure. Rappelling is definitely something to put on your bucket list. Rappelling is rock climbing in reverse. At least that is my interpretation. Rappelling, meaning to ‘rope down’, is an awesome activity where you control your descent of a vertical drop. Some parental precaution here because you are literally scaling down the face of a very tall rock wall. It’s a super memorable activity your kids will love; check out this video. So, who’s up for an adventure?
Paint the Summer Sunset
Make a Time Capsule
This is a classic. Why not reintroduce this blast from the past to kids of this generation? Kids can collect and create mementos of their life with pictures, letters, special gifts, or just about anything that can fit into their capsule of choice. They can choose from a shoe box or a plastic bottle. The summer is always full of memories; a time capsule is the perfect way to freeze that and many other moments in time.
Here are some other great activities for your Summer Bucket List 2017, Kids Edition!
-Visit a National Park
-Dance in the Rain (I have done this one with my kids. They thought it was super weird but they still remember it and isn’t that the whole point). Bonus 😊
-Go white water rafting
-Have a bubble blowing contest (the big ones we’re not amateurs!) 😉
-Ride the scariest roller coaster you can find.
-Build a swing and hang it from a tree in the backyard
-Design, build, and fly a kite.
-Go hiking and discover the different insect or animal species.
-Make a Pizza… from scratch!
And….. take lots of pictures and Make an Album of your all your experiences from Summer 2017!
What’s on your summer bucket list? If you try any of these suggestions I would love to hear about it.
Happy teaching and learning!
Check these activities your kids can do at home with family and friends!
Read?… in the summer? A collective sigh rolls through the classroom like a wave breaking onto the shore.
Summer is screaming its way in. Teachers are scrambling to keep their students on task and engaged and parents are furtively thinking and searching for ways to pick up that baton to continue the uphill race to keep their kids entertained and engaged as well. The task can be downright daunting. Speaking from experience of course.
Getting kids to read is a challenge in and of itself. Getting your kids to read during what they consider their time, well you have stepped into hostile territory. Throughout the school year teachers and parents make great efforts to introduce, maintain, and develop a love for reading in their children. As a student, I happened to have that mom that loved to read and travel. Oh, the stories! Among my favorites, Greek mythology. Then as a teenager I went through a serious phase of reading romantic novels. Can we say addiction? Addiction doesn’t sound healthy, right? So, let’s say… a healthy addiction to reading romantic novels. Fast forward to my adult years and I can practically live in a Barnes and Nobles.
So as a teacher I sought to instill this love of reading in my students and my own children. I truly disliked reading logs because I realized that my students were not reading, parents were not signing, or were signing and students were ‘pretend’ reading, so I implemented different concrete ways to track my students’ reading. Here are 5 creative ways to get your kids reading this summer.
Reading Book Clubs
If you are a literary lover like myself, I am sure you enjoyed when Oprah started her book club. Well this concept is similar: The Kids Reading Book Club. Start a kids book club with the neighborhood kids or your children’s’ classroom friends, or your friends’ children. Of course, try to group the children by levels. But here’s the splendid part, when the book club meets how about arranging it in a park, under a tree, or meet in a tree house? Set up a tent in someone’s backyard or throw a picnic. Who doesn’t love reading and food (finger foods!).
Summer Reading Listening Program
During the school year, I try to get my most reluctant readers to listen to the books their reading while they follow along, great motivator. This can be done at home as well. Libraries have hundreds of books on CD’s ( I do this as well. It brightens my otherwise mind-numbing commute to work). There are audio books available as well that can be downloaded. Here’s a way to take this listening gig to the next level and make it even more kid-friendly; have your children record a book and share it with their book club members.
Read and Travel
Well, if it’s in the budget why not? But I meant have your children read about places around the world. Time for Kids and Newsela are two great sites that have articles about different places around the world and current events. Bonus: Nonfiction reading. Which brings me to my next amazing, creative tip!
Not traveling this summer? That’s ok, your children can still use their passports. Create a reading passport, get a free fold-able here and when your child reads a book this summer have them identify the location, the setting. By the way they should have heard of the ‘setting of the story’ it’s one of the story elements. Have them draw a picture of the setting, label the city, state, and/or country like a real stamp from the airport! Remember reading can take you places.
Every child I know loves a good competition. Hey, it’s healthy, gets the adrenaline pumping. Which in turn makes the brain turn on like switch! Ok so I’m not a neuroscientist, but I do know well set-up challenges in my classroom and at home has been entertaining, engaging and most of all rewarding. It has been so much fun to hear and see the excitement in my students. Now there are several ways you could implement this at home. Pinterest has some interesting reading challenges or you could pick up a free printable here.
There are many more ways to get your kids to read for the summer and continue this energy throughout the following school year. This summer I’m actually going to try the travel and read. I love to read but my last daughter doesn’t. So, I am willing to try anything to get her to enjoy reading as much as I do. Wish me luck 🙂
Have you got some amazing reading strategies you would like to share? I would love to hear about them.
Happy teaching and learning!
l love fruits. Living in the tropics gives you every opportunity to pick your self one (or 5 as in my case) of the many varieties available. Papayas, oranges, tangerines, and mangoes (yum!). Though we have ‘seasonal’ fruits, any season fruit is good fruit. I do not complain. I literally just finished off my papaya explosion (see pic above) for breakfast. Which brings me to my topic for this post. How do we get our kids to eat fruits? Well ,I have 3 tried and true ways of getting your kids to eat fruits. One is exactly like the picture above.
Dress up your fruits!
Much like the breakfast pic that inspired this post I dressed up the papaya. Why serve plain papaya when papaya explosion looks much more appealing. I cubed some papaya, placed them in a bowl and added colors. I love colors in my food. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Wink, wink. I sprinkled some flax and chia seeds then showered it with freshly shredded coconut. It totally looked like snow, I promise. I served this up to my daughter and before she could get out ‘what’s that black stuff’ I said “Try it, it’s really good”. She is so used to this she just took the bowl.
Success! Judging by the smile and look of utter bliss. But papaya is really delicious. Now the banana that you see in the picture, I knew there was no way my daughter was eating that. Even as a baby she wouldn’t touch the stuff. You know those Gerber baby jarred fruits. Well, I ate it. Don’t judge me, you know you enjoyed eating those jarred fruits. Now those veggies… no comment.
Disguise the fruits.
For me, I like to disguise my fruits in a yummy smoothie; breakfast and lunch, check out Pinterest there are loads of ways to whip up a smoothie. The green ones too. Sooo much better than those jarred veggies. So, because my daughter does not eat bananas, she doesn’t like to smell them guys, I, as the super health conscious mom that I am, disguise’ my fruit in a smoothie. Yep it’s deception plain and simple. Smoothies can be made without the bananas but why. Bananas make smoothies creamy. Mixing up bananas, mangoes and strawberries with almond milk and a splash of vanilla (to mask the smell) 😊 and viola! You’ve got yourself a delicious, healthy, fruit smoothie that even my banana-hating child will drink.
Fruits and Desserts!
Oh, my goodness! Need I say more? Fruits and chocolate, fruits and nuts, fruit pies, fruit parfait, frozen fruit pops and let’s not forget fruit and yogurt. Keeping it healthy people. Pinterest! because there’s tons of recipes for desserts. Oh yeah and fruit desserts. Creating a dessert with fruits is definitely a way to get your kids to eat fruits. Of course, we want to watch the sugar content but this is dessert. Make a fruit pizza where the ‘sauce’ is yogurt on a cookie dough crust. (sigh)Oh joy! Don’t forget to use colors. Lots of them and put them in a circle. Remember we can always find a ‘teachable moment’. What? Colors, shapes, fractions (it’s a pizza). All part of a well-rounded education. 🙂
Enjoy making these with your children; they would absolutely love it. Another ‘healthy’ way is fruit and granola. And if you have a banana-loving child (unlike mine) try frozen bananas dipped in chocolate rolled in almonds or sprinkles or caramel. Wow! I need to stop. This is for the kids.
How do you get your kids to eat fruits?
Happy teaching and learning
Hey creative thinkers!
I know all of you know about YouTube. In short, I go on YouTube for just about everything, no scratch that everything. I am a DIYer at heart so I either live on YouTube or Pinterest (my favorite past time, no seriously just ask my kids).
YouTube is simply awesome and for transformative teachers like us, it is a magnificent place to go to not only supplement our lessons, but to also fire-up our students’ learning.
It’s time for some hard truths:-
Students are not learning the traditional way (you can thank technology for that).
But I happen to like technology minus those video games. Ugh! ‘Traditional’ can no longer be our go-to. As creative thinkers we are always on the lookout for non -traditional ways to enrich and engage young minds.
YouTube can hold our students’ interest and engage beyond the traditional.
There are so many educational videos and some that are not so educational (we’ll talk more on that later) that are available for teachers to incorporate into their lessons. Students learn by watching reenactments, demonstrations (experiments), listening to stories, songs and notes! What’s notes you ask? Well take a look at ‘Thug notes’ on YouTube. It was a great find when I was searching for another way to explain “Lord of the Flies” to my son who was in 8th grade at the time. Well one introduction was enough to make Thug notes my go-to when looking for an alternative way to explain a classic. (Disclosure: The language in this video is for middle and high school students). And even knowing this you guys I would check with administration (as she whispered on the side).
Students attention spans are lower than ever.
Unfortunately, this frustrating truth is here to stay as long as we live in an instant gratification society. So, what do we do creative thinkers? We become innovative and transformative.
YouTube can spark impressive discussions and debates! (I love those)
During my reading lessons, I implemented a Socratic method called “Circle session”. The students form a circle on the rug and conduct a Q & A session using accountable talk sentence stem. I do not participate in any way during these sessions. Rather I use this time to informally assess my students. These discussions were sparked by books we were reading and YouTube videos I chose to supplement the reading lesson. The YouTube video held their interest, encouraged questions and responses. They were fired -up. I have to tell you watching my students actively using content rich vocabulary was spectacular. Even my most reluctant students joined in.
There are increasingly more incidents of disruptive behavior.
Based on my career as a teacher, which has been about 15 years, I have run the gamut of disruptive students. Putting it nicely, it was an eyeopener. One thing I have learned is 80 percent of disruptive students need redirection. How about a trip? A virtual trip that is.
YouTube can transport your class around the world.
I didn’t believe until I went looking and I did say I live on YouTube. I mean who just types up virtual field trips? Me! Technology, gotta love it. We are always searching for a thought-provoking ways to fire-up our students. Every September I do my very best to plan class trips to the museum, planetarium, the library, etc. We’ve gone on neighborhood walks, grocery shopping (yes, I’ve done that; I promise I didn’t actually shop). YouTube offers virtual field trips to the Amazon Rain forest or go on an African Safari! All without leaving your classroom. And it’s free (bonus!). I can not tell you what a sanity-saver this was. My disruptive students (and I had whoppers) were engaged and…wait for it; they wanted to do the follow-up activity as well. I was jumping for joy (not outwardly cause that would totally ruin the stern look). 🙂
So, about those not so educational videos…
You want to be super diligent when choosing the right videos for your students. Always watch your selected videos before your students to the end. There are some videos that are point blank inappropriate depending on grade level (see previous video).
Accessing YouTube videos
Most schools have firewalls installed to prevent inappropriate content exposure to the students. And this totally blocks out YouTube. But there are ways around that. Once you’ve selected and viewed the video, download the video or link it to a PowerPoint or Word document and Voila! YouTube also have an education section called #Education YouTube. Check out those videos as well.
YouTube is a useful learning tool. Use it to supplement your lessons. It provides a visual not to mention audio means of learning. Go ahead and fire-up your students!
So, creative thinkers, how many of you are using YouTube? Can you share some of the awesome ways you’re using this great resource?
Did you hear that? It’s that faint sound enthusiasm being let out of your classroom. Take the groaning sounds out of test-prepping time. So, instead of only preparing review chapters and practice tests, play games!
Let’s face it test-prep time is by far the most dreaded time of a school year for both the students and the teachers. I mean what could possibly beat the #1 way to teach students how to hate coming to school and learning. It is stressful, exhausting and downright boring and that’s my opinion, the teacher! Students like this time of the year even less. Furthermore, unfortunately it begins right after the wonderful holidays. Certain to suck out every joyful moment you had during those times. And speaking from experience any kind of alternative ways used to teach a lesson that was implemented before this time immediately turns to this enormous countdown clock to “test time”.
I mean there’s a lot riding on those scores but no pressure… yeah right.
Over the years, I have tried to talk myself off the ledge and make great efforts at incorporating engaging activities for my students while still ensuring they are learning and practicing the skills, strategies, and knowledge required to pass the upcoming exams.
So, I have personally used each one of these engaging activities in my classroom.
Jeopardy takes first place because this game can be used for every subject from Math to Writing. The game Jeopardy is structured as an array with rows and columns. The top row squares have the categories for example, geometry, fractions, and decimals. The column squares would have the questions or statements based up the category topic for example: What geometrical shape is a quadrilateral with four equal sides and four equal angles?
You can create a jeopardy board with paper using colored paper to represent the concepts (for the creative and adventurous type) or you can create a jeopardy board on PowerPoint (for the technologically inclined teacher such as myself). The students really enjoy playing this game!
To teach is to learn twice—Joseph Joubert
2. Teacher for Day
This concept can be applied to and renamed as “Teacher for review” or “Teacher for a lesson”. You get what I mean. We are teachers rename as you see fit. Though this is not much of a game, it would be an awesome activity for the students for test-prep. The students become the teachers for the review lesson. Bonus: the ‘teacher’ student learns the lesson twice. The ‘teacher’ student can conduct test-prep review during collaborative grouping. With this scenario, you can have multiple teachers (a teacher for each group). The ‘teacher’ students are active learners responsibly engaged in their own learning. There is also an element for self-evaluation for the student as well. By the way students love to be the teacher!
The game Memory or what a student once told me “Oh miss this is just a matching game.” Memory can be used for test-prep in a variety of ways or learning and practicing math concepts such as multiplication, or algebraic expressions. I love this game for language arts such as grammar or vocabulary terms. You can even use it for reading comprehension such as Q &A. The basic rules for Memory is there are 2 players, each competing for the most matches. The one with the most matches can be “graded” (bonus) for understanding the concept that the game focused on.
Educational Bingo that is! There are so many ways you can use bingo in the classroom as a test-prep activity. This immediately changes a dreaded test prep into an exciting one. Educational bingo is perfect for multiplication facts, states and capitals, grammar, review of historical events and the list goes on. Bingo cards can be printed blank, laminated and reused over and over. Even when it’s not test prep. I use it to break up the monotony of lessons.
5. Wheel of Fortune
I have left the Wheel of Fortune game for last because it can result on some serious learning fun and… it also takes some time to prepare. At first glance, Wheel of fortune lends itself towards words, phrases, and sentences for Science, Social Studies, etc. But it can be used for Math as well such as definitions, formulas, geometrical shapes characteristics you get the picture; all great for test-prep. Now back to the prep time. It will take many weekends to create this masterpiece but I promise you it will be used year after year. And I have to tell you I had so much fun creating this game board there was glitter, glue and paint. Need I say more?
Final words on test prep
Inspire active learning. When a lesson is structured as a game, what was an eye-rolling, sighing day is a play day with a bonus. The active learning encourages interactive engagement with a little friendly competition thrown in. Your students will be having so much fun they won’t realize they are preparing for a test.
I would so love to hear what test prep alternative methods you have used to engage your students during test-prep time. Have you tried any of these activities? Do you have others you have used in your classroom? Let me know!
Happy teaching and learning!
Hey Creative thinkers,
I am a lover of all things techie and bringing technology into the classroom for me was a dream come true. I used technology in the classroom before it was ‘innovative’. Such as Microsoft Office including PowerPoint (definitely) , Word, and Publisher. My students loved the activity where they got to type out their narrative stories on Word or presenting their research on PowerPoint. I even created a newsletter where I grouped the students and put them in charge of editorials, advertisements and the “funnies” (remember when it was called the funnies).
Technology is here to stay
Yes, I know how it takes away the personal connection between people but… it’s here to stay. So why not make use of the benefits of technology offers the classroom culture. Technology can address your most distracted students (I’m actually dealing with that right now) and it can engage and challenge your honor student.
Well it has become my personal and professional goal to integrate technology everywhere I can to enhance my classroom activities and student engagement from planning to classroom management (yet another professional goal). Oh, the apps and programs you could use to increase positive classroom behavior but I will save that for another post.
So, what are the 5 Key Benefits of Technology in the classroom…
1.The students know it… so you better
- Kids are becoming progressively adept at using the different computer programs.
Yeah, I had to show this pic… are there really babies working on the computer?
So I had a very embarrassing incident where I was reading my nephew (he was three at the time) a story on my IPAD. During the story, I enthusiastically turned to him and said “ isn’t this fun?” He said “Titi can I show you something?” I said “sure, honey.” He took the IPAD and proceeded to adeptly move the mouse over to lower left, click on a symbol that looks like a microphone and ‘ta-da’ another voice took over reading the story for me. He looked at me and said “see Titi, the IPAD will read it to me.”
Emotional moment for me
I was awestruck by his knowledge and his eye-hand coordination (the teacher in me) but simultaneously I flooded with sadness. He didn’t need me to read to him… I didn’t want him to see the utter rejection on my face so I gave him a blinding smile and said jubilantly “that was awesome honey, you are soooo smart.” I mean I should be proud right? I should be jumping up for joy that my three-year old nephew knows how to maneuver an IPAD right?
Lessons must be meaningful
2. Technology allows students to have meaningful learning experiences.
Let’s face it…there has been a major paradigm shift worldwide in computer usage. It is now critical that our children have computer skills in preparation for the 21st century. So, how does a teacher know if their lessons are meaningful?
Student engagement equals active learning. Nothing and I mean nothing is more boring that sitting still at a desk listening to a teacher go on and on about a particular topic. And then being forced to fill out charts, tables, and yes those graphic organizers (which I still use but in an improved way). But there’s a way to turn those volume intensified groans to “yeah!” in your classroom. Integrating technology like webquests, podcasts, interactive math programs, and listening to pre-recorded stories (like my nephew) to ‘liven’ up your lessons (Check out my post on the 10 Awesome Classroom Friendly Websites coming soon). Learning becomes actionable (for the students) and quantifiable (for the teachers, lets not forget data collection…Sigh) and fun (for students). Alright, for teachers also.
3.Technology in the provides constructive learning.
Remember that theory we learned in teacher education? Constructivism. Well, it hasn’t disappeared entirely. Students learn through trial and error. They are given the opportunity to reflect upon what they have learned. Especially, when the student answers incorrectly. I actually relish this “teachable moment”. To ask questions such as “What other ways can we look at the problem?” Technology learning tasks assigned to students are scaffolded; challenging them. Tasks are cross-curricular meeting the standards for several subjects simultaneously. Task are problem-based (a favorite of mine) so the students use deductive reasoning and logic to complete the assignment.
3.Technology in the classroom provides the students to learn old lessons in new ways.
Ok so every year as a fifth-grade teacher I whip out my curriculum map and take a look at what’s the unit for September though to be honest I know it like the back of my hand. How can I spice up this unit on Reading, Math, or Social Studies? Well, technology of course!
How about teaching the story elements using the PowerPoint, or teaching figurative language using YouTube. I recently did a lesson about similes and metaphor and I found a ‘rap’ song explaining the difference between similes and metaphors. By the end of the lesson my students couldn’t get the tune out of their heads. But guess what? for the quick review I gave the following day every hand went up because they remembered the difference between metaphors and similes. Seriously, a proud moment… I know it was mostly due to the song…but I integrated it (bonus).
And what about using PowerPoint to enhance the presentation of a research report. When I did this it turned out awesome. The students always eager to finish the other classroom assignments so they could use their extra time to work on their research assignment. I was amazed that even my most disruptive students hand in completed work (ok not the neatest handwriting but baby steps) because they wanted to get to the library to add to their research then transfer their work on the slides in PowerPoint. And when I put them on the bulletin board they couldn’t wait to stop teachers and administrators alike to show them their work. Using technology in the classroom can open up endless possibilities to enhance and expand your lesson; taking it to the next level.
4. Technology in the classroom provides ample opportunity to assess your students
Remember when I mentioned data collection? Well, here is the perfect opportunity to collect data on your students. Tracking and the chance to statistically view how your students are progressing. With the many varied technological programs and apps out there, you can tailor the programs to address different components of the curriculum. The technology is relevant and intentionally constructed to target content that is difficult for a particular student to learn. That one topic in Math that the student is struggling with (for me every year it the unit on fractions). Through the programs and apps available to supplement your lessons that ‘fraction lesson’ (insert here that one lesson that some students are not getting) are made meaningful. They are engaged, focused and probably doesn’t remember this is the lesson they couldn’t get.
Somebody save me from Lesson Planning
Well I think I have a remedy, not cure mind you but a remedy that will definitely help.
Technology in the provides the flexibility expand lesson planning.
When I started using the different websites and apps, it really helped with my lesson planning. Of course, initially you must spend even more time planning (Ok stop groaning it gets better) . Once you have established the websites, programs and apps you are planning on using in your lessons for let’s say… an ELA unit, the daily planning will integrate these technological saviors, group your students, show what areas they need to practice and so much more. The different websites like IXL and Khan Academy does exactly that. I personally use Khan Academy for my children. Differentiated Instruction planning becomes a breeze because you have planned your lesson to meet the needs of the various academic levels you have in your class. And…. wait for it…
These websites and programs are really an extra teacher in room. Bonus! We all know we have those moments when we could use an extra teacher. I mean we are SUPER awesome but we have some limitations. 😊
So, these were my 5 key benefits of technology in the classroom. Though I have expressed my total support for integrating technology into the classroom it by no means releases the overarching responsibility of the teacher. Technology is a supportive partner. Teachers, you still must know your students and plan, plan, plan. Technology fosters learning and elicits engagement and mindful thinking. 😊
I would be interested in hearing about how you use technology in your classroom? Has it been successful or have your efforts been lukewarm at best? Let me know.
Happy Teaching and Learning!