In what ways do you now authentically and effectively use digital texts and tools in your classroom?
Three years ago my school was BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Though a majority students brought a device to school, it was very difficult to use digital texts and tools authentically. Some parents did not allow their students to bring a device, not all students’ devices operated on the same platform, and students often forgot their device at home or brought it to school without a charge. I was only able to integrate the device for supplemental lessons or group projects, counting on at least one member of the group to come prepared.
Fast forward to 2015 and my class is almost completely paperless. I use digital texts and tools every class, all class. After being awarded a state grant to fund a one-2-one initiative, every student has their own Lenovo Chromebook. Each class begins with a Do Now posted on my Smart Board. My students login to their Google Classroom and complete the Do Now “assignment.” I begin the year with a unit on how to research online. I instruct students on how to Google Search using YouTube videos and hands-on practice. Students are assessed with a Google Form quiz and receive immediate feedback with Flubaroo The research unit culminates in a blog posted to KidBlog. It must include a Works Cited, created on EasyBib.com. These are some of the digital texts and tools used in the first few weeks of school. My classes also play Kahoots, make note cards on Quizlet, and watch the CNN Student News broadcast every Friday. We watch Crash Course History and Discovery videos, read online articles, make charts on Google Spreadsheets, and revise writing with add-ons like Pro-Writing; the list is endless.
There is of course a steep learning curve as my students and I try out these new technologies. I reinforce the idea that we are pioneers of these new platforms and sometimes our wagon wheels will break or we will run into a mountain we can’t scale. Then we will be forced to turn back and try a new path. Other times we will make it straight to California and hit the jackpot in the Gold Rush. I actually think this is a tremendous benefit to my students. They are not only learning how to use digital texts and tools, but they are alos learning what to do when faced with difficulties or failure. It makes the learning more real. The only problem I have with technology in the classroom is I don’t know all of the amazing options available to me that might benefit my students.