Technology in the classroom has become a vital part of teaching. With technology comes many new tools that can be used to organize your digital resources and engage your class. When I began teaching used an overhead projector. Let’s just say, we’ve come a long way since then. Whether you are just getting started or have been using tech in the classroom for years, here are some helpful tips for making the most of your digital tools.
Organizing Google Drive
If your district uses a Google Suite then your Google Drive is an invaluable tool for organizing your class materials and making them easily accessible to you and your students. There are several ways you can organize your Google Drive to make sure everything is easy to find. First, create folders to store all of your documents, assignments, presentations, etc., you do not want them all lumped together in one place. That will only frustrate you in the long run.
If you still have multiple files saved on your school computer hard drive, you can transfer your files directly to your Google Drive. I did this step about 5 years ago. I uploaded everything and named the folder school hard drive. Dragging your main file folder takes about 5 seconds. It will take a long time for the upload to complete, however, so be sure and pick a time when you won’t need your computer for a while.
You can also use labels to help sort documents by topic or subject area. Additionally, setting up a shared folder with all of your students will make it easy for them to submit their work directly into Google Drive without having to email it back and forth.
Using Smart or Promethean Boards
Smart and Promethean boards have become increasingly popular in classrooms over the past few years due to their interactive features – but there are so many wonderful ways to use them to keep your students engaged! Start by familiarizing yourself with the features of the board itself; Yes, we all have our instruction manuals, but to really become comfortable with your device – I recommend using YouTube. Think of what feature you want to use and search for a quick tutorial of it on YouTube. I’ve learned so many tricks this way.
Once you’ve got a handle on the basics, explore some more advanced features like writing directly onto slides or controlling your computer from the board itself. Find cool ways to allow your students to interact directly with the board – after all it’s their board too. Finally, don’t forget about screen sharing! This allows you to project student work onto the big screen so everyone can see it in real time – perfect for group activities or presentations!
Managing Student Devices
It is also important that you have a plan in place for managing student devices. Whether you’re a one-to-one school, or students share devices, it’s important to have them organized, charged and ready to go. That means that your students should be able to maintain the organization. Last school year I had separate charging stations around the classroom set up with surge protectors. That worked wonderfully. This year, I wrote a DonorsChoose grant and received a Chromebook charging station for all of our devices. I prefer this, because it takes up less space. I assign 2 technology helpers each week to make sure that all chrome books are put away and changed in their correct dock before going home each day.
It’s also good to have guidelines and expectations around device usage – this includes things like when devices can be used (or not used!) during class time as well as any restrictions on what apps or websites are allowed during class time. It’s also good to let students know the consequence up front for going on an unapproved website. In my room, if you’re on an unapproved website you lose your Chromebook access for the rest of the day.
There is no denying the power of technology when it comes to teaching and learning. These tips can help you maximize the effectiveness of your technology while making lessons more engaging for students. Here are some other tech tips that will keep your technology running smoothly. Happy Teaching!
Looking for more teaching tips, check out this month’s Teacher Talk