As an educator, I know there are teachers who are excited about technology, teachers who think it's an annoyance and teachers who fear it. But no matter where you are on the tech integration spectrum, the Common Core Standards affect you because they require you to use technology more pervasively.
If you're a fan of technology, you'll welcome the changes. If you’re not, you’ll need to become proficient. Here are seven tips to get you started on meeting Common Core technology standards:
1. Take one tech tool at a time.
As you transition to Common Core Standards, the role of technology becomes more fully integrated into learning and teaching. It takes time to make this change. Don’t try to learn everything all at once.
For example, if you're interested in learning about digital tools that spark creativity, start there. Explore what's available and best for your grade level. For grades K-2 try Puppet Pals, Comic Life,Wixie, Sock Puppets or GarageBand. For grades 3-5, add in iMovie or Keynote. If you teach grades 6-12, add in Microsoft Office. In a short time, you'll be able to effectively integrate technology into your curriculum to prepare students for careers and college.
2. Don’t reinvent the content wheel.
While your teaching standards may have changed, the good news is that there are a myriad of materials available for helping you teach these new standards. Textbook publishers have been working toward Common Core for several years, and educational resource providers like Khan Academy offer a wealth of materials and lesson plan ideas that meet math standards.
Technology can play an important role in helping teachers easily share and reuse rich materials and lessons plans. Share these resources with other teachers using Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers and BetterLesson.
3. Start with blogs or wikis.
Blogs and wikis can be easily updated and are highly interactive, thus students are able to send their ideas and work to teachers, other classrooms or even an audience that goes beyond the classroom. Since students are encouraged to show what they know and understand within the Common Core framework, blogs and wikis are a way for them to meet those expectations.
4. Consider podcasts.
There are three kinds of podcasts: audio, visual and video. Audio podcasts are similar to radio broadcasts, visual podcasts include graphics and images, and video podcasts are sometimes called vodcasts or v-casts. These technology tools can help you address Common Core Standards because they offer structures to represent what students know and understand through various digital genres.
5. Keep parents informed with communication tools.
Parents are an important part of the Common Core process, and districts must communicate regularly with parents and other members of the community who will see changes in how children are learning. Online and mobile tools are a great way to keep stakeholders informed. Websites, social media, texts and emails are essential for keeping in touch with parents, and communication management tools ease the logistics.
6. Flip your classroom.
Use videos to introduce a strategy in math, a skill in reading or a concept for social studies or science. As a retired classroom teacher and coach, I recommend sharing multimedia clips to help students make meaning of information. They can view these videos at home, prior to your instruction or you can show them in class before you begin your lesson. Then, hold students accountable for the content presented. Using graphic organizers to synthesize information presented in a BrainPOP video is one strategy. As a matter of fact, BrainPOP provides the quizzes for you! YouTube and SchoolTube also offer educational videos to assign to your students.
7. Empower students as writers
A variety of kid-friendly publishing tools allow teachers to support Common Core instruction with technology. Book Creator and Wixie are two powerful publishing apps for tablets that teachers can tailor to narrative, opinion and explanatory writing. And because text is now a mix of digital and print resources, educators should teach students to read text across different kinds of devices (a Common Core standard). For fifth grade students, connect a variety of informational text to QR codes for them to scan and access on their iPads. High school students can use Notability to incorporate media into their writing. Other great digital text resources for students at all grade levels include Scholastic News and Time For Kids.
If we truly want students to be college- and career-ready, the thoughtful integration of technology into daily instruction is non-negotiable.
Stephanie Novak is a retired teacher and coach with 35 years of experience. She is coauthor of the book series Meeting Common Core Technology Standard with Valerie Morrison and Tim Vanderwerf.