Technology Advice for Student Teachers from Allison Barkman

This post is from Allison Barkman, UTA Graduate and science coach, who believes that technology is a great way to engage students. 

image2However, preparing a lesson involving technology has different aspects to consider than other lessons such as the amount of hardware, ensuring the program is aligned, and other administrative goals such as becoming a Google Campus. Here are 5 things to consider before you deliver that amazing lesson with technology.

Glowing lights with bright colors, games, hands-on applications; it’s no wonder why students love technology. It’s also not a surprise that teachers want to take advantage of this engaging tool to get students involved in the lesson. When you’re a student teacher you may be very excited to get to use technology in your lessons, which is great, but there are things to consider before you start planning your next big tech lesson. See below for my 5 tips to integrating technology while you are student teaching.

  1. See what technology/programs/apps your cooperating teacher is already using.

It may seem obvious to ask your cooperating teacher (CT) regarding what apps, but it has to be stated. Your CT may already be using a program that is similar to one that you want to use. For example, if your school is integrating the Google Platform of apps, you may be better off learning Google Classroom instead of getting students to sign up for Edmodo which performs similar functions. This will not only save you time, but it will be aligned to what the school is already doing.

  1. Keep it aligned to the TEKS.

Even if your best friend told you about this amazing app where students are engaged and having fun, keep in mind your state standards. Even if it is aligned keep in mind the level of rigor the app has and how that relates to your standard. Many math apps, for example, can be glorified flash cards for calculations, which has its place, but it may be an inefficient use of time and energy if the TEKS say to model.

  1. Remember, using technology usually requires front-loading.

Edmodo, Google Classroom, KahootIt!, and even QR codes can be a great tool in the classroom, especially if you start using some of these early on in the school year. Using technology is usually an investment. By that I mean you put some extra time and effort regarding what the program is and how it is used at the beginning of the year, and if you and your CT use it continuously (another reason for Tip #1) then it will make it much easier later in the year when you don’t have to re-explain everything.

Pro Tip: Find something you want to use in the summer, test it, find all the ways you can use it, and THEN try using it all year in the classroom before you judge it.

  1. Technology can make reviewing more engaging.

Whether it’s a test review or just to practice skills, there are MANY  different resources you can use to review.

If you want to see some extreme competition try KahootIt! All you need is to come up with some questions and type them in. Once that is done you can launch the program and students can work in teams if there isn’t a lot of hardware or individually if you have access. Between the music and point system, it the competition creates a lot of engagement. Remember to slow it down if the kids are more focused on winning than reviewing.

For vocabulary, try QR codes. Word on top, definition on the bottom, and a QR code in the middle and CUT! Use multiple words and have students match the top and bottom with a QR scanner. When it scans, that means it’s correct. Use this with a guide for assessment and it can be a useful way to review vocabulary.

  1. Think of ways to blend technology into everyday lessons.

While as beneficial as reviewing can be, using technology doesn’t have to begin and end there.

  • Google Classroom or Edmodo can act as a great way to have an online classroom. Use it for bell ringers, online discussion, and posting notes for absent students.
  • Using centers in your class can be good for engagement and differentiating. Have a tech center where students can listen and follow along to a story, or an online scavenger hut where students are reading different articles to find key points.
  • Try using technology for assessment and differentiation. Whether it is a Google Form or Grade Cam, having a quick way to assess students will make your job easier.

What I have done in the past is I had 3-5 questions to give students at the beginning of class in the middle of a unit. Students fill out their answers on Grade Cam and then they come up to me with their assignment and they can instantly see their score. Depending on their score would determine the activity they did. I’d have students complete an online scavenger hunt for more in depth details on the content to help those who were excelling and the other group would complete a review game, vocabulary exercises, or online simulations to help reinforce material that was taught in class.

Hopefully some of these tools and pieces of advice help you as you are planning your lessons. The last piece of advice I’ll give is to always monitor what students are doing on their computer. Best case scenario they are following your directions, however students who are not on task could be doing anything. Off task behavior, cyber bullying, and inappropriate websites are all things that students could go to if they think you aren’t watching them. If you set your expectations high, make sure all students understand what to do, and monitor you can have a successful lesson with technology.

What pieces of advice do you have to give regarding technology? Are there any programs you like to use in the classroom? Share them in the comments below!

*Alison is a graduate of the UT Arlington mid-level certification program. To learn more about this program, click here.

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