Depending on their training, experience and practice, educators can land anywhere on the ed tech integration spectrum. Some would place themselves on the “just getting-started” end of the continuum, while others are more seasoned and reside on the “expert” end.
No matter where you land, instructional technology expert Boni Hamilton assures there are exciting and engaging ways to integrate technology into your classroom. Hamilton, a teacher pursuing her second doctoral degree in education and author of Integrating Technology in the Classroom: Tools to Meet the Needs of Every Student, says it’s just a matter of finding a plug-in space and moving forward from there.
“I just want to move teachers ahead, because I think they beat themselves up sometimes,” Hamilton explains. “They see someone using tech in an interesting way and they think, ‘I can’t do that.’ I want them to say, ‘I can do something,’ and that something will be better for your students than just staying where you are.”
In addition to meeting educators where they are, Hamilton meets them, and their students, in the how they learn space. Here are her tech integration suggestions for visual, auditory, kinesthetic and multilingual learners:
Just about everyone knows how to use a digital camera. But having 30 kids use cameras, track the equipment, deal with broken devices and incorporate a standards-based lesson — that’s a whole different beast.
Those just getting started can create a project where students work in groups and develop a theme by using photos. Assign any topic, from mathematics vocabulary or geometric shapes to the meaning of the word peace, and ask the groups to come up with pictures to illustrate the topic.
More advanced digital camera and mobile device users can have student groups use images to document change over time or to create learning artifacts from a science experiment, for example. These projects would take more documentation, more brain power and more coordination.
Finally, the super-tech-savvy can ask students to plan, write and produce an original digital story with drawings or digital images.
Elementary teachers working with students on listening skills can bring up audio stories on classroom devices and ask them to listen to the story, talk about it and then write about.
Another idea: Have middle and high school students listen to two speeches from U.S. presidents in different eras to identify how the rhetoric changed or what the key messages were.
Those more comfortable with tech integration can have students record a passage from their reading to an audio file. Students can then play the audio file as they follow along with the text to find errors.
For kinesthetic learners, the lessons can begin with putting students in charge of tech equipment. Have them manage devices, edit digital stories or update audio files for other students to listen to.
“Give them a purpose to get out of their seats and move. Help these kids take active roles in whatever you are doing,” Hamilton advises.
Give more advanced learners who need to move the chance to create virtual field trips, multimedia simulations or even robotics projects, which give kinesthetic learners a sense of being active.
Multimedia or multilingual ed tech integration captures all learning styles at once. Engage students in multimedia digital storytelling using iMovie or Photo Story 3. Or have students collaborate on a small video project, such as a book trailer or a public service announcement.
As your and your students’ skills advance, have students create more advanced PSAs and enter them in film contests, or use web-based tools to teach basic programming.
“Teaching with the integration of technology is not an intuitive leap for all teachers,” Hamilton notes. “Start with things you are familiar with and connect the dots to bring it to the classroom. If you have a tool you know, kids can use that tool. And, guess what, kids will teach you another tool.”