Intro to Tech for Teachers: 5 User-Friendly Recommendations from ExamTime
"Get with it or get left behind" — that’s the usual message surrounding technology in the classroom. But Philip Ellis of ExamTime, a platform that helps teachers create “digital backpacks”, is hoping to make things more user friendly.
“We want our users to be co-authors of knowledge and that means sharing content is something we have focused heavily on in developing these tools,” he says of the company, which helps teachers create flashcards, quizzes, mind maps and notes online.
If that sounds daunting and you’re new to using tech in the classroom, don’t fear! Ellis has some great ideas on how to get started with five tech recommendations for teachers that are truly “…a joy to work with and something your class will really embrace.”
- Tablet Tuesdays (or Thursdays)
Simply Put: Set aside time every week to conduct activities on tablets.
Most kids these days have their own tablet or at least have access to one. I’m ashamed to admit it but my 5-year-old cousin in London can master an iPad better than I can. If your school has access to tablets (iPad, Kindle, Nexus, etc.) or if your students can bring in their own, there is an endless list of activities you can do with them. Ask your class to perform a search in a certain timeframe on a historical or geographical incident. See who can uncover the most bizarre piece of information on any U.S. president. Find out what the highest mountain range is in your state. If tablets are limited, adopt a rotation policy. Have one student each day read a news article of their choice to the class. Each one of these ideas will help you create the ultimate 21st century classroom.
- Create a Class Blog
Simply put: Blogging is so easy a monkey could do it. (We have nothing against monkeys.)
Weebly is a great way to communicate with your students. Having your own class blog removes much of the formalities of asking your students to access work outside the classroom. Use Weebly to show your students that you are more than just a teacher. Teachers across the United States are encouraged to create their own personal webpages/ blog to talk about anything from the family dog to next week’s assignment. Depending on what grade you are teaching, creating student blogs may be an idea to get students more familiar with the online landscape. Why not create a class blog and make each student a contributor. Topics can include anything from the week’s lesson to news stories in your district. Make mini reporters out of them.
- Online Learning
Simply put: Tools to make learning fun.
Take your table or interactive whiteboard, add ExamTime.com to it, and prepare to have your mind blown. ExamTime’s main purpose is to make learning easier, more accessible and more enjoyable. Boasting four main tools, Flashcards, Mind Maps, Notes and a Quiz Maker, each of these tools not only looks great in the classroom but can also be used on your IW via PC, laptop, tablet or even smartphone. There is a private groups section where teachers can share resources that they have created on class topics and this also serves as a communication tool outside of school hours. ExamTime will make your classroom and class notes accessible 24/7.
- Flipped Classroom
Simply put: Deliver your class notes online via YouTube or Vimeo then discuss the notes in class the next day.
Similar to ExamTime, flipping the classroom turns passive learning into active learning. Allow your students to access class content individually prior to class time and then, when they come to class, explore that content through the process of active learning and engagement. This method of learning not only engages students in a way never seen before, but it also means that as a teacher, you can now work on an almost individual basis with a student depending on his/her ability to understand that subject. While one student may wish to skip ahead, the next student may need more time on a particular topic and thus the flipped classroom facilitates both.
Simply put: When used in the right way, Twitter can be a goldmine for creative thinking and writing.
Twitter, a platform that allows users to communicate and share information in 140 characters is fast becoming a tool of choice in the classroom. One of the more interesting teaching methods I saw on Twitter came from K-12 IT teacher Samuel Landete. He asked students to imagine what historical figures would have tweeted the night before a major event. For example: “What would Camilo Jose Cela have tweeted the night before he received the Nobel Prize in 1989?” These kinds of exercises bring an element of fun into the classroom and can really assist with memorizing dates and events.
Philip Ellis is a digital specialist with ExamTime.com. Outside of work, he is a self-confessed health and well-being fanatic. ExamTime recently published their Ultimate Student Guide that is free to download for students everywhere.