Hopefully last week's digital learning day brought more awareness to how technology can transform teaching and learning. In our network, we had dozens of new and veteran teachers realizing how they could harness the power of tech to create new opportunities for their students. However, no matter your level of buy-in or awareness, if you don't have devices it doesn't matter since you can't "go digital", right? Not necessarily! Here are seven ideas for how you can go digital - even without devices. All of the examples below can be done with a single computer and a projector, either as a whole-class activity or in small groups!
YouTube is more than just cat videos and music video parodies! In fact, there are a ton of inspirational videos and awesome illustrations that you can use to kick off great learning. For example here is a powerful (albeit dated) video illustrating the powers of ten. And here is a video that helps you spark discussions with students regarding geography and culture. If that's not enough, here is a list of 100 videos to choose from and a YouTube channel dedicated to instrucational math videos.
True learning comes from authentic curiousity. Too often we spend time having our kids answer questions and not enough enticing them to ask their own. Dan Meyer's 101 Questions helps us alleviate this issue. He offers an array of enticing images that ignite inquiring minds. The simple interface presents a photo, prompts students to ask a question and then allows them to share these with one another. Authentic problems can be presented in this way and students can dig into real life inquiry. Imagine having your class discuss a single photo and then sharing the question in small groups or as a team. After coming up with a question, challenge them to figure out if they can answer or solve it. Ta-da! Authentic inquiry-based learning!
Speaking of inquiry, imagine pairing two classes from different sides of the city or different sides of the world and having them ask questions to determine where their mystery partner class is calling from. This is called Mystery Skype! For an example of how this works, check out this video trailer.
If you think it's cool to bring other kids from around the world into your room, imagine using video conferencing tools to send your kids all over the world! Connected Classrooms from Google+ does just that. It offers a calendar of super cool virtual field trips to places like the White House to outerspace! Want to see some examples? Head over to this video and take a look.
Class Voice Blog
What if you could share your class voice each day? Your students could share their learning, questions and ideas. By using a free, kid-friendly blog like Kidblog, your kids can take turns being the "class voice" and share a post about their day. You can have all of your students write daily journals, but have them take turns publishing their work on your computer! Tweet out your blog with the hashtag #comments4kids to get other students and educators to respond and increase your students' audience.
Speaking of sharing voices, create a class Twitter handle so you can tweet the learning and ideas your kids have throughout the day. Our school does Twitter Tuesday every week to amplify their kids' voices. You can have them answer a daily prompt or simply reflect on their learning. Share out their retweets and responses the following day!
If you're still looking for more and really want to emulate the feeling of having 1:1 devices (one device for every kid), give them a piece of paper! Really. There is a great FREE resource called Plickers that allows teachers to create printed codes for each kid. The codes are printed with A, B, C, D on each edge of the page, aligned in a different direction. Present your class with a multiple choice question and have them hold up their paper code with the letter they want to answer aligned on top. Then open the free Plickers app on your phone and hold the camera up to the room. It will instantly scan all of your kids' codes and input their answers into a spradsheet! Don't believe me? Check out this quick classroom demo!
Hopefully these ideas help you see that you don't need thousands of dollars of devices to "go digital". You can take the first steps now while you wait for that grant to come through or your district to move forward with that big tech purchase they hopefully will soon make. Until then, you can use one computer, one projector and your phone to create great opportunites for you kids!