You want to experiment with technology in your classroom but you’ve already written all your lesson plans. Better luck next year, right? Wrong—you don’t need to rewrite an entire semester of lessons to integrate technology in your classroom halfway through the year.
With a few simple steps you can transform any lesson into a digital masterpiece, sure to impress every student in your class. Take your lesson to the next level, while staying focused on the objectives of the lesson, with these simple steps.
1. Choose a Lesson
Start simple, with just one lesson. If you’re unsure about which one to go with, go through this checklist of qualifiers. If you can say yes to 3 out of 5 of them, that’s the lesson to go with.
- Lesson activity is not built around activities in a workbook
- Paper-based tasks can be done in Google Docs or Microsoft Word
- The lesson is well suited for hands-on activities (i.e. write a blog post, create an infographic)
- Students need to do research (a great use for Google) to complete a lesson assignment
- The lesson is exploring a topic that can be expanded with the use of technology (i.e. a social studies lesson could be brought to life by using Google Maps street view, which pairs a real-time image with the lesson)
While these aren’t the only qualifiers for digitizing a lesson, they’ll put you on the right path toward choosing the best option.
2. Determine the Learning Objectives
How can the objectives that are already in place be enhanced with the addition of technology? If the lesson were about proper handwriting, technology would not be a great addition. However, if you were planning to teach students about famous jazz musicians from the 1920’s, YouTube would make the lesson come to life.
Consider that some of the lesson may be better suited to traditional learning methods like drawing or reading aloud. That doesn’t mean part of the lesson can’t be transformed or elevated with technology.
3. Consider Proper Tools
Once you know the objective of your lesson you can decide which tool(s) would be best to use. Some tech tools can be learned quickly (you need to know how to use it before handing the reigns over to your students) and are free, or cost a nominal amount of money. Some of the most popular and simple tools include:
- Android and iPhone apps
- Blog platforms
- Google Docs
Also consider learning and using free tools that you can bring into the classroom over and over again:
4. Modify Lesson
Now it’s time to make your lesson plan digital. When doing this, consider how both you and the students will interact with and use the technology. Ask yourself:
- Will the tool(s) be used more than once?
- Will technology be part of a group activity or individual?
- Will students take turns or work together?
- Do I need to set anything up beforehand?
With these answers you’ll be able to paint a clear picture of how the lesson will go and determine what you need for pre-lesson preparation. Use this information to modify all the important details.
5. Create Resources (If Necessary)
Resources can help your students learn about the new tool and prepare for the lesson. Nicole Long, a secondary language arts teacher, created new resources for her class’s first Mystery Skype session:
“For the first session I compiled a list of resources and added them to the sheet; these resources provide tips on how to navigate Google Maps, a World atlas and a map of different time zones, among others—this is a helpful resource for students to prepare for every session,” she said.
These resources can be used to define terms, provide directions or login information, etc.
6. Assess Student Progress
Assessment should happen during the lesson. Use this time to determine who’s struggling and who’s excelling, and then work to personalize the learning for each student as you walk through the class.
The key to making any tech tool effective in the classroom is reflecting on what worked and what didn’t. Take time after your lesson to run through this reflection checklist:
- How was the creation process? Easy, hard, fun?
- How did your students handle it? Who fell behind, who excelled?
- What did you notice you needed or missed after the lesson started?
- How could you improve it next time?
- What other lessons could be transformed with technology in a similar way?
The digital transformation of a lesson can be simple if you just follow the right steps, starting first and foremost with the lesson objective. Remember, tech doesn’t teach, only you can. Let technology enhance the great lessons you’ve already planned and then reflect on how you can make this a regular part of your lessons.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.