Guest author: Mark Anderson, ICT Evangelist
I consider myself fortunate to have had the route into teaching that I did. I completed a BEd (Hons) in Business Studies and Economics at University. Given the trend at the time to often combine Office Studies as a subject with Business Studies, we often saw Business teachers teaching students how to use productivity and office focused software tools. This transferred to there being units on my degree which had a focus on how to use the software for Business but also how it could be used to support learning.
Things have certainly moved on since those times in the mid 90’s. There are many ways in which technology can support the roles of teachers. From taking the register, to helping you record your observations, to improving accessibility to marking tests for you, there’s lots you can do and it’s difficult to know where to start. In this short article I’m going to share five ways that technology can help you in a number of different ways as a primary school teacher.
As many teachers have access to either a phone or a tablet in the classroom, a great simple tool to use to quickly gauge students’ understanding is the brilliant (and free) Plickers. There are a number of key steps you need to take to get Plickers to work, but essentially you only need your tablet or phone and a computer projecting a webpage in your classroom to get this great tool to work. Visit plickers.com and download a set of class Plickers (QR) codes and get started. You can find full instructions on how to use this simple and free, low stakes quizzing tool in their Getting Started Guide here: http://bit.ly/plickersguide
Often, discussion around learning can have great impacts on developing specific key vocabulary and securing more difficult-to-understand concepts. Peer assessment in an open and discursive way is great for this. The fantastic Flipgrid is a great tool which promotes all of this and student oracy too. It’s a free social learning platform that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a “web” of discussion. You can engage with Flipgrid on any internet-enabled device, either through your browser or the Flipgrid app. When you set one up, you’ll be given a Flip Code; simply share this with your class and away you go!
The benefits of this over simply asking the question in class is that it gives all your learners a voice. It gives everyone the opportunity to feed forward and it allows learners to share in a way which means they can do so in a manner less confrontational than speaking in front of their entire class. Users of Flipgrid are exceedingly vocal about their love for the platform. Check out Tweets using the hashtag #FlipgridFever for some great examples!
Oracy is really important as a tool for sharing student voice, showing knowledge and understanding, and for developing literacy. A great app that is available on iOS for this is Apple Clips. Clips is a fantastic tool which can be used to explain all sorts of things. I have a little playlist with some examples on my YouTube channel on how it can be used both by learners and by teachers – or check Twitter using the hashtag #ClassroomClips. It’s amazing how creative and inspiring teachers and learners can be! Note, this app only works on iPhones or iPads.
A key aspect of the role of a teacher is to record the learning that is taking place in front of them. Having access to mobile technology, often with a camera and microphone built in, has proven to be really useful at helping teachers with their roles in the classroom when it comes to recording learning. A great tool to bring all of this together for the teacher is the BETT Awards finalist 2019, ‘ReallySchool’. ReallySchool is a free Android or iOS app which allows you to capture and record assessments in your classroom. You can use the built-in list of assessment points, identify child-initiated activities, capture photos to support evidence, apply the same choices to multiple pupils to avoid repetition, share all this with parents – and much more besides! Find out more about how ReallySchool could help you by visiting the website: https://www.reallyschool.com
Working with young people, it’s often the case that they need some excitement about a topic in order to get them interested. One way in which you can engage learners is through the use of Augmented and Virtual Reality. Studying a topic around Ancient Egypt? Why not have a look at the BBC’s Civilisations AR app and explore a Mummy in Augmented Reality. Learning about Mosques? Then why not visit some of the world’s most amazing Mosques in Virtual Reality using Google’s free ‘Expeditions’ app. Wanting your youngest learners to explore emotions? Then why not use the AR emojis in Figment AR where they can record their own videos interacting with the AR characters to help them discuss those emotions.
I hope you find these different simple tools effective additions to your teaching and learning toolkit. For more ideas, inspiration or if you’d like to work with me, please visit ictevangelist.com