Monday, October 10, 2011

Should I try something new?

Often teachers wonder if they should try a new technology in the classroom. Will it work? How will the students respond? Will the time spent learning the technology skills interfere with the content learning associated with the activity? These are all great questions. Considering implementing a new technology does take some planning and some instructional time. For example, using the ActiVotes or ActivExpressions for the first time can be challenging as you learn all the steps. Additionally, using a new web site in the computer lab that reinforces the content being taught can be confusing for students if the site is difficult to navigate.

Here are some suggestions to help you implement new technology in your classroom.

  1. Keep the instructions close by and make sure they are in terms you understand. When I first used ActivExpressions, I made a “cheat sheet” to help me with the steps in case I forgot a step.
  2. Never be afraid to tell the students that you are trying something new and ask for patience.
  3. If you are using a new web site, ask a student to look at the web site with you before the lesson and see what questions the student has.
  4. Make sure your objectives for the activity are clear. Give the students a “cheat sheet” of instructions. This will help them troubleshoot on their own.
  5. Use the Demonstrate, Model and Do strategy. Have the students watch you, then have them follow you step-by-step, and finally have them do the activity on their own.
  6. Have a backup plan! If you are using the ActiVotes or ActivExpressions for the first time, have a paper version available just in case the technology does not work so the learning activity will continue.
  7. Ask an instructional technologist to help you plan. They are a great resource and will be happy to help you.

Above all, it is worth trying something new. In the end you grow, and the students have fun learning!

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