Too often the magnitude of this sentiment is realized in hindsight, to which anyone who has tried to change course midstream may attest. The truth of Spurgeon’s words is likely especially true for classroom teachers, who not only have to bring their own work and progress to a stopping point before switching directions, but also convince anywhere between thirty and two hundred thirty students to do the same. Sometimes this difficult course of action is necessary; for example, a particular classroom management strategy may not be working as well as intended, and something else needs to be done. Other times, though, a changing of course isn’t necessary, but rather the result of a desire to try something new. When this is the case, the difficult process may not be worth the trouble, and what began as a noble venture to improve one’s pedagogical practices is too soon abandoned. Case in point: technology integration.
Technology integration is most certainly more successful when we begin as we mean to go on, instead of introducing students to a new way of doing things once they’ve become accustomed to the general operation of the classroom. To that end, here are four tools with which to start off the school year, establishing technology integration as the norm in your classroom:
1. QR Codes are a must for any classroom.
First, they provide the obvious functionality of a time saver and eliminate any issues associated with typing in a long URL; no one’s confused about 1’s and l’s or 0’s and o’s. Imagine not having to run around the room scanning various URLs trying to find the one mistyped character. Beyond that, QR codes can present plain text, so they can be used without Internet connection if needed; they can also do super cool things like activate settings or maps on a Smartphone. There are thousands of QR code generators out there, but I’m particularly fond of https://www.unitag.io as you can add a number of design features to your codes and keep a library of them all.
ON DAY 1: Have a QR code that points to a Google Doc with your syllabus and/or classroom expectations.
2. Google Docs and Forms can help massively with classroom logistics.
Something as simple as giving a quiz on a Google Form helps to establish the use of devices for learning as a norm in the classroom, while helping you keep all of the quiz responses in one place. With additional tools and functionality for Google Forms like Pre-filled URLs, Flubaroo, and FormEmailer, the possibilities for time-saving and ease of management abound. Allowing students to use Google Docs pretty much eliminates the lost paper issue; students would have to actively delete an assignment to get rid of it, and with tools like Kaizena, providing feedback couldn’t be easier.
ON DAY 1: Make your syllabus and/or expectations available on a Google Doc, and use Google Forms to gather student and parent email address, etc.
3. Collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices using Plickers.
Plickers, available here, is a great way to take surveys and give quizzes, presenting results in real time, in classrooms where access to devices may be limited. This tool allows teachers to still establish a technology integrated culture even if each student doesn’t have a device.
ON DAY 1: Run a Plickers quiz about the myths and facts of your classroom or subject area.
4. Have fun with Kahoot.
Kahoot (Go here to sign in and make kahoots, and have students go here to play kahoots.) offers an exciting, game-based way to present questions to students in order to check for understanding in real time. Students score higher for faster responses, so the games move quickly. Also, this is a great way to collect homework responses, instead of just doing a spot check for completion.
ON DAY 1: Play a Kahoot game as an icebreaker; they may be more likely to engage with you and with each other because of the pace of the game.
So, there you have it: four tools to technically kick off the year and establish a digital-age learning environment in your classroom. Beginning “as you mean to go on” will set the stage for any future tools, apps, and resources that you want to introduce to improve pedagogy and increase productivity.
And, please, don’t forget the second part of Spurgeon’s advice: “go on as you began.”