A Guest Post by MERIT Teacher, Karen Larson:
It’s safe to say that an engaged student is a sign that quality learning is taking place. Over the past year I have adopted some tools that allow my students to be more engaged in their learning:
First, keep it simple. How many times has there been 20 – 30 minutes to fill and you’re grasping for something to have the students do? Using technology is a great way to fill that time. Technology in the classroom should no longer be that “big project” you assign once a quarter. You should be collecting an arsenal of tools the students can quickly turn to that engages them and enhances their learning. Consider using an online bookmark organizer like Symbaloo or Pearltrees that links to tools you want your students to use. Check out the one I created for the 8th grade and posted on their class web page. All the tiles are free tools that cover a wide range of purposes.
Second, find your guru. Think about whom you depend upon for advice and guidance. Maybe it’s a family member, colleague, or good friend? Confidantes are blessings in our lives. Sometimes, though, we need to reach beyond those we know to help us with certain aspects of our lives. Blogs can be a great resource, especially in education. Twitter can be too. Finding good blogs or Twitter feeds can be a challenge. It take times and a little trial and error to find reliable resources. Use their RSS feed and link to your iGoogle or Yahoo home page.
Third, keep it copyright-friendly. What do you know about using copyrighted media (photos, videos, music) in the classroom? It is a very confusing concept. It’s difficult to model good practices when we hardly understand it ourselves. General thinking in the past is that use of copyrighted material in classroom was allowable under the “fair use” clause. As long as the material was used in the quiet of a classroom for educational purposes, teachers were free to use just about anything out there. With the advent of “the cloud” however, greater care needs to be taken when using copyrighted material. Posting work online is a great idea; we want students to realize they have a larger audience than just their teacher. A larger audience usually equates to better quality of work.