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Photo: Book Creator
It really should come as no surprise that the use of technology in the classroom is becoming more widespread all the time. Teachers now have access to more technology than ever before, allowing them to communicate with students on a whole new level.
Before we look at 5 classroom tech tools that can help with learning, what exactly are the benefits of bringing more technology into our schools.
Keeping Students Actively Engaged
Getting students to pay attention in the classroom isn’t a new problem. Particularly in the younger grades, when children have a hard time focusing for very long on what they’re supposed to be learning. When we give students technology in the classroom, they pay more attention to what they’re learning. Computer games and simulations aren’t just fun, they become tools to keep children actively engaged in learning new information. My own nephew is a good example – he’s quite capable of doing grade four math but his mind wanders, and it takes more classroom time than he’s given to complete assignments. But put a game like Minecraft on the tablet and he’s building and designing with 3D blocks faster that I can understand.
The Ministry of Education in British Columbia defines digital literacy as “the interest, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, create and communicate with others”. With most of the jobs in the future being in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – it’s important that we help students prepare for these future jobs. Most students are already using tech tools at home for fun and entertainment. Using them in the classroom gives them the ability to build strong digital literacy skills that they can use throughout their education and on into whatever career they choose.
Learning at Their Own Pace
Tech tools let students set their own goals and work through learning materials at their own pace. With their teacher available to help and answer questions, students can work through information in ways that best fit their own learning style. Some will quickly move through lessons, easily absorbing information. Other students need a bit more time to understand. Tech tools allow kids to review material until they feel ready to move on. Many tech apps and games for the classroom allow teachers to individualize lesson plans for each child.
Teachers Love Tech Tools
With the availability of tablets, laptops, and computers in the classroom, teachers are using technology to teach and to develop lesson plans in ways they couldn’t before. With tech tools, educators are able to engage with their students and keep them interested in learning. Many tech platforms for education have the ability for teachers to create their own activities and quizzes, allowing them to address the needs of not only the entire class but also to focus on individual students. What once took hours for teachers to do can now be done quickly using a variety for tools for lesson planning, tracking student progress, and interacting with each student through apps that allow individual feedback.
Classroom Tech Tools
There’s an endless number of tech tools available for teachers to use in the classroom. No matter what the topic and subject matter, there’s an app, game, or tool that uses technology to teach children skills and provide them with information. These 5 tech tools stand out from the rest for combining education with fun technology.
- Whooo’s Reading
No matter how good students are with technology, they need to have strong reading skills to be successful throughout their school years and into a career. Whooo’s Reading lets students connect to books through technology, keeping them engaged as they connect with their peers and comment about what they’re reading. Whooo’s Reading encourages critical thinking and helps children look beyond words on the page towards character and plot development.
- Book Creator
Book Creator does just that – it allows students to create books on their own or in teams. Children can use ready-made templates or use a blank one for their own style design. They then combine video, audio, images, and text to create anything – fictional stories, science reports, their own personal journal, and even comic books. Once done, students can share their creation with others in the classroom. Book Creator helps children develop a variety of skills, such as creativity, language, and social collaboration.
- A Clockwork Brain
With its creative and unique Steampunk interface, A Clockwork Brain isn’t just for kids. This educational app uses a wide range of games to strengthen skills as students solve problems before moving on to the next set of challenging puzzles. Learning becomes fun as children work through levels that focus on reasoning and problem solving, language, and memory.
MindMeister is all about mind mapping, a strategy that helps students of all ages to think critically through one topic. Mind mapping encourages children to see connections and relationships that they might otherwise miss. Even though you don’t need a digital tech tool to create mind maps, tech-savvy children love being able to touch and click the screen, watching their mind map visually appear before them.
SimplePhysics engages students in problem solving using puzzles and games. Students can design their own blueprints for bridges, houses, and even space ships. Then they process their blueprint through a simulation to see how their structure works and holds up to the laws of physics. This tech tool is a fun and effective way to introduce children to the concept of physics and structural engineering.
Young students today love this age of technology they’re living in. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles are an everyday part of their lives. Using tech tools such as interactive whiteboards and tablets in the classroom is going to become even more widespread, with new developments in educational technology coming out every year.