ED Tech, Teaching Articles

Ed Tech Baby Steps #1

Part of a teacher’s job is making sure that you provide updated content and deliver them in an interesting manner. To be interesting, you need to know what sparks your student’s interest and what keeps them motivated. One of way is to use technology in the classroom. While you no longer have to be the sole expert inside the classroom, knowing how tech works and making it work for you is essential to teaching in the 21st century.

Students relate more and dare I say, take you seriously when they know that you are knowledgeable. This includes your online presence and use of social media, gadgets and whatnot.  So what should a teacher do to keep up? Here are a few baby steps I learned along the way.

Learn to use Google Drive and Apps

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First things, first~ backup your files. I can’t express this enough. You need to backup your files. Can you imagine losing all that data? You’ll never know when something will go wrong. So make sure that you back up your grade sheets, worksheets, test questions via the cloud.

Then… start exploring Google Apps. The first time I used Google Docs with my MA classmates, I thought it was hilarious. We were working on one document and there were five different cursors blinking and working on different sections of the word document.  I recommend you try Google Apps like Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Google Docs… Google Classroom! All these apps are integrated with collaboration functions that make working online a breeze. You can even make self-correcting quizzes online! The possibilities are literally endless!

Utilize Social Media

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I personally use Instagram to curate my student’s best works. I also use it to recognize my student’s achievements in real time. I post short announcements over Twitter and I use Pinterest when I’m tapped out of ideas and in need of inspiration!

Check your online presence

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Believe me when I say that your students will check you online. They will look for your social media profiles: Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter… so do yourself a favor, Google yourself and check if there are any posts that you might not want your students to see. If you intend to add students to your Facebook account, set appropriate filters.

Own a blog

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I know, it sounds like another task to add to that already long list of things that teachers have to do. Who has the time? But to be honest, maintaining a blog has saved me tons of time! I use my blog to upload presentations, videos, and handouts. I also post announcements, school schedules, and project deadlines so that students don’t need to ask me every time. It’s a win-win solution. They practice and learn personal accountability because the information is just a click away. You may also add it to your teacher portfolio as a visual representation of your teaching experience.  Another tip, make a separate email for school. I maintain a separate email for online submissions and organize them with filters. Students also email me specific questions that they wouldn’t usually ask in front of their peers so It’s a great way to bridge the communication gap with your students.

Use tech to your advantage

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Aside from the obvious use of your laptop and projector for audio-visual lectures, you can explore other applications to make your lessons more interactive. You can also use your iPad apps for grade sheets and bubble tests. I personally love Zipgrade and Additio App. These apps have transformed the way I manage my time. I am still on the look out for other applications or software that will make my teaching life easier.  You can read out my Zipgrade experience here.

On a side note, you can even use gadgets to reward good behavior. Give the student a “Reward Coupon” to listen to music while working on a seat work. I’ve noticed that my hyperactive students tend to mellow down when they listen to their choice of music. So that can be a win-win situation right there. Of course, don’t forget to collect the gadget after your class so that they don’t abuse the privilege. Which reminds me, I’ll  have to post another article about using coupons to encourage good behavior in the classroom.

Understand how students cheat with gadgets and plagiarize content online.

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Almost every teacher has had this problem: Plagiarism. They like to copy+paste contents (complete with hyperlinks!)! Some of them are lazy but most of them just don’t know that they are committing this mistake, so teach them the basics of plagiarism and citation early on. There are numerous websites that can help you check for plagiarism.

But cheating during exams is another problem altogether. Some students like to use black markers on their calculator’s cover. It’s not very visible but with the right angle and lighting, it’s easy enough to spot.

Some students also cheat with a smart watch and phones. Yep, those smart watches can receive text messages too. Needless to say, you should know what to watch out for. We were kids once too, so you know how creative they can get. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading about them and that you think about exploring some of the tips I’ve shared. Welcome to the 21st Century! Carpe Diem!

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