Reflective Teaching Day 2: New Technology

So far so good, two days in a row! Today’s prompt is:

Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

This is particularly timely one for me, as many things are changing in my district technology-wise right now. Through a grant program, I was able to obtain a classroom set of iPads, and keyboards to accompany them. So far, we haven’t used them much because I was waiting for the keyboards to arrive and for our district’s IT people to get my requested apps (apparently it’s much easier for them to do it all at once than it would be for me, so they suggested I wait). As of today, that’s all done, so I’m very excited to dive further into them this week. There are so many potential uses for the iPads, and I’m definitely going to be making hefty use out of this awesome new opportunity, but there’s one particular thing that I’m most interested in.

In addition to my new iPads, our district has also moved onto Google’s servers for email and, of course, Google Drive. All the personnel and students have Google accounts set up through the school. So, along with many changes to the way I teach and the types of assignments I give, I’m trying to go paper-lite this year. I doubt I’ll ever truly be paper free, but with Google Drive, students can now turn in writing assignments online. During tests, they don’t have to go one-at-a-time into the hall and speak into my voice recorder. I don’t have to carry them home every night and the kids don’t have to use notebook after notebook for my class. I can share documents with them electronically. I’m very excited about Google Drive.

Between these two awesome new things, students can make presentations, videos, radio commercials, or any number of other things, and there’s no worrying about whether or not their DVD will play in my player or whether their file will be corrupted or tainted with a virus. They can share everything directly from the iPads (for in-class assignments) or their iPhone or their tablet or computer directly to my Google Drive. I can grade anything from anywhere.

The kids have already been pretty excited about the iPads, even though we’ve hardly used them, and certainly not for anything fun yet. I’m really hoping that this will help motivate them a little, by allowing them to interact with me in the way that they frequently interact with each other.

And the last awesome thing about the iPads? As a language teacher, they are a huge resource. It’s always a struggle to get real, authentic things that are accessible to kids. Well now, if I ask them to watch a video and five of them don’t understand it the first time, they can just watch it again on their own. As many times as they need. While the rest of the class moves on with the assignment. I don’t have to worry about leaving some kids behind while others get bored watching the same thing two more times than they need. Talk about differentiation!

I’ll let you know which apps we end up loving and which ones we would rather just avoid as we log more hours on these wonderful new devices.

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