Thursday, June 9, 2016

Incorporating Digital Resources in the Classroom

Although I'm so glad summer is finally here, I must say that this year was a great one!  This year I definitely had some challenging students, many of which struggled a great deal.  I had been forewarned that this was the case, so I immediately began looking for strategies that would keep these kids engaged and on task. This is where digital resources came into play...

What kid, teenager, etc. doesn't like technology???  I don't think there is one.  From elementary through...I don't think it ever ends (even my grandmother is on Facebook) you can't go anywhere w/o seeing people's noses in their phones or iPad.  With that in mind, I thought to myself, "That's how I'm going to keep these kids interested in what we're doing."  Fortunately, my school district uses Google Apps for Education.  But if your district doesn't use this, do not fear!  Google Drive can be used by anyone, and it's FREE!  Also, there are other programs out there that serve a similar purpose, like Edmodo.


At the beginning of the year, my district hadn't began using Google Apps yet, so I started off by using programs, such as Edpuzzle.  Edpuzzle is a website that allows users to customize videos from YouTube, Learnzillion, TedEd, National Geographic, Vimeo, and many more (for ALL subject areas).  You can even upload your own videos and then have the ability to crop, record audio, add comments, and my personal favorite, add questions for the kids to answer.  You can also set it up so that your students' work can be graded.  The best part of all--it's completely FREE!!!  To read an in-depth blog about Edpuzzle, click here to see a previous post I wrote on this.

Once our district  began using Google Apps, this is when I started really digging into how to implement technology on a daily basis and became 95% paperless.  This is when blended learning really began to take place.  Instead of using the traditional version of task cards, why not use digital task cards?  Instead of taking the time to make copies of the always dreaded worksheets, why not post online, but make it more interactive w/ movable pieces?  Your options are endless!


The most amazing aspect of all of this...my students were completely engaged and were mastering the material that I soooo needed them to grasp. Before long, they were showing me tips and tricks using Google Slides and Google Docs.

One of their favorite digital activities that we did was the end of the year review task cards that they did in groups.  With Google Classroom, there isn't a way to assign particular students a specific assignment without everyone seeing it in their 'stream.' This meant that I couldn't assign each group a different assignment, without it coming up as an assignment that was due for each student in the class.  The way I worked around this was to assign each student to a specific group, and on the assignment title line, I would say the group #, as well as the members' names that were in this particular group.  That way, students knew that if their name wasn't listed, they didn't have to turn this assignment in.  That also allowed them to see who their other group members were.  Once they got into groups, they chose a group leader, who then got all of their group members' emails and added them as collaborators for the group assignment.  This allowed them to work on the activity at the same time, and they could see what each other was writing.  If they didn't agree on the answer of one of the members, they can post a comment directly onto the page, in order for them to discuss this.  This also is helpful if you want to prevent students from getting loud or sharing answers that other students can hear.


The review covered several topics that I felt were important to go back over prior to end of grade testing.  The topics were:  main idea, text structure, point of view, and figurative language.  Here are some pictures of the students working on these group activities.




I can't say how proud I am of these kids and the growth they made.  I'm thrilled to be a part of this wonderful digital world, mainly because I see how much it can help our kids succeed.  To see more of my digital products, click here. 

I'd love to hear about your experiences w/ digital resources.  Tell us all about it in the comments below.  To check out more of my digital products, click here.





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