In this resource article, I would like to share with you why technology is largely an advantage in the classroom. Then I will show you several of the smartest technology finds you can implement to make classroom life richer, fuller, and more efficient.
Technology abounds all around us. While technology carries some clear disadvantages, it also comes with some amazing advantages. We live in a time that just about all of the world's information is literally at our fingertips. And that is why technology in the classroom is such a great asset.
Teachers research and plan lessons in a fraction of the time it used to take. They don't have to go to the library to do it. They usually get everything they need outside of the textbook material done online--even the shopping! Students get research projects done in class or at home without being limited by library hours or transportation. Well...when they are doing those assignments (insert cheeky grin here).
But unfortunately, it can also prove treacherous to wade through, especially when younger people are involved. For all of the great resources you can find online, there remain some scary places they can get to as well, often not even intentionally.
So I made this list to help you to implement some of the smartest technology finds in the safest ways for your best classroom results.
So let's begin! And as always, please share what you have found for your classroom as well. The internet (and technology) is a huge place. There is no way I can cover it all in one article!
Table of Contents
Nothing can Ever be Removed from the Internet!
This makes such a perfect first item for smartest technology finds. I realize it isn't technological in itself. But it delivers such a powerful message. And it really needs to be front and center on all of our minds--especially our students! They may not think of the internet in this way. What kid thinks of anything as permanent or consequential?
Actually, a company called Youth Change produced this poster. Their posters tend to have a bit of an edgy vibe to them (not necessarily a disadvantage when you want younger people looking at them). But the messages speak in an amazingly powerful way. You may actually want to get a few of their posters to put in some prominent places in your classroom. And make sure you slip in some conversation about them every once in a while.
Light and Sound Buzzers
These buzzers don't win the prize for the most highly technological item in this list. But they are definitely one of the smartest technology finds for your classroom because of the effect they have on your classroom. They are awesome for classroom participation at any age. The kids have a lot of fun with it and you get them to willingly share in the dialog! And they cost waaay less than higher technology!
Learning Resources markets these buzzers. Most teachers are very familiar with them and have bought other items from them previously. Company recognition and reputation is always a good thing!
These particular buzzers come with lights and each one makes a different sound. So no worries about trying to figure out where the sound came from in the classroom.
They put out a good amount of sound without being too obnoxious or too hard to hear. They require 2 AAA batteries each, but they last a super long time because they really aren't on constantly when you are using them.
You can also get a case to keep them in if you prefer more than the cardboard box they came in.
LED Message Board
This one may not be necessary to survive in your classroom. But then we can survive with most of the things in our classroom--think tiny one-room schoolhouse. They got the job done. But we can get the job done better and with more support! And according to the teachers that have put this in their classrooms, it's a super smart technology find because their students are so much more engaged and willing to actively participate. And the more artistic students will be chomping at the bit to try their hand at it.
LED Message/Multi-Purpose Board
This board will not escape your students' attention. Put homework assignments on it, use it for brainstorming with them, put critical announcements on it, for keeping score of games or games on the board--the uses are endless. You can even allow students to take turns adding their creative touches to it. They will love it!
While it certainly isn't cheaply priced, it really isn't hugely expensive either for what it is. It comes with the board, and external AC adapter power cord, and extension cord, 8 liquid chalk markers, a remote control, a hanging chain, and a soft cleaning cloth. In addition, the remote allows you to play with 16 different colors and 4 different flashing modes.
Several teachers left reviews after putting this in their classroom. The kids absolutely loved it!
Finally, in the couple of reviews where the package didn't come with everything it was supposed to or there was another problem, the company was super quick to respond and make it right. So you can by with confidence, knowing that you will get what you need to in tip top shape.
Tasks Before Apps
Monica Burns wrote this book to put perfect perspective into integrating technology into your classroom. She takes a very practical approach to her methodology. This allows you to keep technology in your classroom where it belongs--in a supporting role, leaving learning in the lead role. In other words, the focus is on how to use technology to learn and create the material rather than on the technology itself.
Technology does indeed have a prominent place in today's classroom, as it does nearly everywhere else in our lives. But to allow it to take over is also a problem. I love the way Monica Burns puts this into perspective and allows the classroom learning process to thrive by implementing technology in the best ways. For example, she uses 3 "C's" (creation, curiosity, and collaboration) throughout the book to drive home the focus on academics. And finally, she encourages you to focus on what works best for you and your class rather than what the newest app craze is.
She has several other books, all of which are just as recommended as this one. Take a look when you get a chance!
Charging Station Organizer
This is surely one of the smartest technology finds you'll love for your classroom. You may end up getting a couple or few of them.
There isn't a whole lot to write about this organizer. It is super straightforward. It's awesome because it works just like it should and takes a minimal amount of space.
It comes with 4 lightning cables, 1 type-c cable, and 1 micro-USB cable. But if you need something different, the short cables are super easy and affordable to buy.
It's a great way to know where your students' electronics are. It's better than using a pocket system to keep your students' electronics in because it is more secure and the batteries won't deplete like they would sitting in a pocket organizer. You can keep them locked up if necessary while they are still charging. And the parents will love you when you send the students home with fully charged phones, so no worries about calling to check on them and getting a dead phone.
Your students will also be grateful for phones that are ready to go when they are ready to leave for the day.
Essential Oil Diffusers
It may seem like an odd item to add to a list of the smartest technology finds for the classroom, but it is actually pretty genius.
These come in a set of 2, which is perfect for a larger classroom area. As teachers, we realize how much the power of smell can affect our students. So why not affect their sense of smell in a positive way? There are tons of websites that can guide you to the best essential oils to use for promoting alertness, memory, and well-being.
Essential oil diffusers can also have the following health benefits:
- Relieves dry skin
- Relieves dry eyes
- Clears up some nose allergies
- Better moods
- Relieves stress
- Promotes calm
- Can eliminate bacteria in the air
For more information on this list, check out this Lifehack link.
This set of diffusers comes with the 2 large capacity diffusers which last for 10-12 hours (perfect for a full school day). It functions as a diffuser, humidifier, and night light. In addition, it has a timer and auto shut-off. Finally, it has an 8-color LED light that allows you to cycle through the colors while it runs, or you can just set it on one particular color light. This is perfect for matching your classroom decor.
LEGO Mindstorms Robot Kit
This is probably the priciest item on my list of smartest technology finds. But first of all it is LEGO. And second, it is one of the best rated STEM items on the market right now. It is certainly well worth the investment. And I know your students will agree!
LEGO Mindstorms EV3 comes with 601 pieces. Also, it includes the intelligent EV3 Brick, 3 servo motors, plus color, touch and infrared sensors. Connect it with your smart device and download the free EV3 programmer app to control the robot!
There are tons of videos on Youtube to help you out, inspire you, or get yourself going with this. And actually, what a great assignment it would make to have your students find one youtube video that speaks to them. Then let them demonstrate it to the class. That assignment contains so many learning and growth concepts!
Creative Coding Book
It is quite ironic that in an article about technology, two of the items are books. I guess if you get the kindle version, then you are still "technological." But the truth is, books are probably one of the best "tech" items of all time. It took a long time to figure out how to mass produce books in a way that the masses could enjoy them. And while they don't have a huge shelf life (less than 100 years unless great pains have been taken) they still have such great impact on present society.
But, I digress. So this coding book is awesome because it gets the students' feet wet with some simple coding concepts. What is so awesome about this is that today's kids are already tech savvy pretty much from birth. So when you add some simple coding concepts into their learning curve, they are so much more comfortable with it as they get older and when it becomes important for them to learn these concepts. They will have so much less fear about learning the tough stuff when they slid into it as younger students.
This book is amazing for teachers because you won't have to try to come up with projects. There are plenty of great ones right in this book! And you can use the book's suggestions to build on what you are already teaching in the classroom!
And with that piece of "old technology," my list of smartest technology finds you'll love for your classroom has come to an end. There are so many more options out there. A google or Amazon search will get you even further. But hopefully this is a good jump in getting to the classroom that you and your students love to hang out at every day!
Oh, and one final note: there are tons more books out there to help you balance technology and academics in and out of the classroom!
For more on technology in the classroom, take a look at this two-part article: