Sometimes it can feel difficult and frustrating to try to think about ways to integrate technology into lesson plans and every other aspect of school life.
Classroom life has certainly become more complicated than it was 50 years ago. Back then, the beginning of a class could be as simple as telling the students what page to turn to in their books. Or it could have been passing out the quiz or test they were taking. In the 70's, technology consisted of overhead projectors, tape recorders, and the TI Graphing Calculator.
It is mind-boggling to see how much technology has changed since then. And sometimes, it is just as mind-boggling to figure out how to best integrate it into the classroom. On the one hand, you don't want too much--kids are already tech-saturated in all areas of life. But on the other hand, you also don't want too little--it's a great way to acclimate your students to new and different forms of tech. Learning it by watching it work in the classroom is such a natural way to learn. So grab your cup of coffee and read on about some of the best creative ways to integrate technology into your lesson plans.
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Online Lesson Planner
Of course, the first way to integrate technology into lesson plans needs to be online lesson planners!
This one is amazing! It is called Planboard. (Click on the name to see it!) First, it is 100% free. And it will save you so much time. You don't have to start with a blank chart for every day's lesson. Instead, you just fill in the differences from the previous day. No extra looking-up required!
You can access it anywhere. Just sign into your account. Additionally, you can align it with other curriculum sets. Plus you can use it to manage your overall schedule.
The site also includes some great resources to help make your classroom management and lesson planning even stronger.
Take a look! The time spent looking into it will be more than made up by using it.
Every single lesson you teach can incorporate some location on the earth. It can be the founder of an organization, a leader's home town or country, the source of an invention, a special event, where a math or science concept was experimented at, a famous location from a book. The possibilities are endless. But so are the locations on Google Earth.
Zooming in on your target can become such a fun activity with your students. You can turn it into a guessing game. You can also have the students show a place to other students based on research projects they have done. It is an amazing tool that has yet to come close to reaching its potential in the classroom.
Adding this to your lesson planning routine helps the kids to see how their place in the world relates to all the other places in the world. The more they see glimpses of this, the more they will understand how humanity works in tandem.
Breaking up your lesson with a related video short that you produced in advance can shift your students' thinking. And it does a great job of getting them engaged again.
Sometimes we get so into what we are teaching that we stop thinking about how our "droning on" can cause even the most attentive students to zone out. While we teach, we don't sound to ourselves like we are "droning on." Inserting a short video can give us a chance to emphasize points we are planning to test on. Plus you will find them wanting to dialog much more as the class focus changes just enough to make them sit up and pay attention.
The dialog could include eye-rolling over too-cool kids watching cheesy jokes or bad costumes. Or it could illustrate an optical illusion that they couldn't quite wrap their mind around. Of course, it could demonstrate just about anything that gets a response from them.
The key is the response, not the need to wow them every time. The more you get them to engage, the more they will remember what was being discussed at that moment.
The video shorts don't always have to be produced by you either. Just because you are saving time on lesson planning, you don't need to suck that up in trying to plan a bunch of other things.
Youtube houses almost limitless videos for you to draw from. Some great ones are the National Geographic ones. Just make sure you view all videos before you show them. That way you will ensure that no unpleasant surprises happen.
Back in the day Freddy Fish and Where in the World is Carmen San Deigo? stood at the top of the great video games pedestal. I have to admit, I miss both of those games and sometimes wish I could pull them out for my current students. I think that if I did I would be sorely disappointed upon seeing how much more advanced our technology is today.
Today, tons of options abound for any level and any time frame. And that makes this idea one of the most fun ways to integrate technology into your lesson plans. But they all have great educational bones under the fun game part. It's kinda like hiding veggies in your kids' food and they have no idea. They think they are playing games, but they are really learning some cool stuff.
Some Great Starting Points
I have used both of these and they are excellent, mostly for younger kids. For elementary through junior high kids, I would recommend Classcraft. You use this amazing game to turn your curriculum into game quests. The kids love it and are totally into it! Learning becomes easy because they are having fun and you aren't pulling teeth to get them to progress. Warning: your school days will fly by quickly when you integrate this program into them! Time flies when you're having fun!
Classcraft gives you a choice between a free version and a paid version. The free version contains more than enough material for your class to do well with. You won't really feel like you are missing anything by not paying for it. Unless you want to have all the things. Then you can always upgrade.
One final thought regarding Classcraft, one of their taglines (they have tons of amazing taglines) reads: "Games aren't at the heart of Classcraft. Learning is."
Unlimited Online Resources
In today's technology world, information online is nearly limitless. For this reason, this idea remains one of the easiest ways to integrate technology into lesson plans. You can quickly google anything at all to update whatever lesson plan you are working on. And then you can implement it into your lesson just as easily.
Gone are the days of having to go to the library. Once you get there, you had to research encyclopedias (which may or may not have been the latest edition), card catalogs, and microfiche to hopefully find something (anything) that you could use to beef up your lesson.
Now all of that is done already and nearly instantly online. You can search online and have your information in seconds. If you have to wait longer than 5 seconds, you can move on to the next website which is probably even faster. (We have definitely developed a patience problem in modern society!)
Because so little time is involved in researching, our lesson plans bear the potential to become amazing lessons with our students.
Even more so, many times our students have already learned about some aspects of what we are teaching based on their own experiences with technology. And when they can bring what they have learned to the classroom to share with what you are teaching, it becomes such a rewarding experience for the whole class.
This ties in closely with the video ideas. But the big difference is that it is a great addition for those students whose learning strength is reading. It adds a whole new dimension for them to retain the information they are taking in. It adds a super helpful element for those students that may not have heard everything. And they can easily see what is being said.
Finally, it makes a great option for keeping kids engaged that may have been having issues with their mind wandering. A lot of people will almost subconsciously read along with the video. This allows them to get double exposure to the material being presented.
So there you have it: seven creative ways to integrate technology into lesson planning. This list is not a complete list by any means. And generally speaking, more technological people are going to think of so many more great ways to integrate tech into their classrooms.
And when that happens, the internet will be there to document it for us so that we can implement it into our classrooms!
For more on technology in the classroom, check out these two articles: