Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Integrating Technology into Your Classroom -Start Personally

Start Personally

In Transforming Classroom Practice:  Professional Development Strategies in Educational Technology, authors Bowe and Pierson state that when educators begin to adopt technology for use in their classrooms, they begin personally, with classroom housekeeping tasks like lesson plans and attendance, before they begin to use technology with their students.

Keeping that in mind, this inaugural blog is dedicated to all those educators who are just beginning to think about how to begin morphing their current traditional classroom into a digital one, or those who are using technology with their students already and now need to play catch up with their own planning and management practice.

The FREE resources below are a sampling of what is available to begin to move your classroom "into the cloud"....and did I mention FREE?

Record Keeping with Engrade

   Engrade is an online digital classroom space that I am using mainly for attendance, assignment calendar and grading. There are also parent codes for each student, so the parents can see what their child is doing, and what is expected. While it includes the ability to give quizzes and have students turn in assignments, I'm using a different product for that.  If you want to begin to dabble in creating and online space for your classroom, this is a good one to play with.

Online Planbook with PlanbookEdu
     PlanbookEdu is an easy to use and customize online planbook that is a great "green" resource and convenient time saver compared to a paper planbook, or even a Word template.  The free version is limited in that you cannot "share" it with your principal, and you cannot add Curriculum Standards to your plans.  That having been said, it's a great start and well worth a look.  The $25.00 per year price I found to be extremely reasonable and well worth me spending out of my pocket for such a great resource.  

     If they added an attendance and grading piece similar to the one in Engrade, I could stop using Engrade, but I need the attendance and gradebook.  I'm keeping my eye open, and hope they work in that direction!  I'll keep you posted!!

Behavior Management with Class Dojo 

    If you have a projector connected to your computer, or an Interactive White Board, or an iPad or iPhone, you can use Class Dojo to track student behavior, positive and/or negative.  You CAN do this in Engrade, but Class Dojo is much more visual for a class of students with learning needs, or young students.  You can still use this site without projecting it, but I've found students behavior changes quickly when they can immediately see the positive points they can get for positive behaviors, as well as losing points for negative ones - if you choose to use it in that manner.

Online Classroom Environment with Edmodo 

    Once you've begun record keeping online, you may want to begin to expose your students to an online classroom environment.  After personally using Blackboard and Moodle for this sort of endeavor, I find I prefer the ease and look of Edmodo.  The interface is very simple to use, and I find I can create a class and assignments in less than half the time it took me to do the same thing in Moodle.

     The kids have really taken to it, as it looks very much like Facebook, but for the nervous teacher, has way more controls.  The students can only correspond with those in their classes, and no postings are private for the kids.  They can comment on each others work, and with the grading component, can receive and send messages from/to the teacher.  You can add teachers to the group in a co-teaching situation, and can there are parent codes for each student so a parent can monitor their child's progress.

     **A related thought about universal access.  If you require students to login to Edmodo from home to get homework, complete lessons, or access materials, you must be completely sure they have the necessary access to equipment and the internet to make that happen.  Be conscious that not all students are "wired in" at home, and may be too embarrassed to tell you.

Start Small - Move Slowly

      My suggestion, so you don't get overwhelmed, would be to add each piece slowly.  Add one, give yourself a month or so to become familiar with it, and for its use to become a habit, and then add the next.  If by the end of this year - or the middle of next - you've moved in the digital direction, I'd call that success.

      Educators don't have time to ADD one more thing to their days.....but we can substitute old ways for digital ways....and drag ourselves into the 21st Century.

       Please comment and let me know how you do!!

Out on a whim,

Bowe, R. (2008). Professional development in educational technology. In M. Pierson (Author), Transforming classroom practice: professional development strategies in educational technology. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

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