Taking some time off this summer? Take a week or two to relax and get recoup some of your energy, be sure to reflect and then adopt. Not a child (but if that’s what you plan to do IT Babble wishes you the best of luck), but adopt a little technology to bring into your classroom for the fall. The summer is a perfect time to check out some of those cool programs we’ve been writing about and it gives you a chance to try it out. Read past the break to check out the game plan for the next school year.
Let’s get started
First things first, have some ideas of where you would like to add a little tech into a current curriculum. This gives you some parameters to work with and some direction of what you want your tech to do for you. Then scour the Internet for programs that may work for your class (www.freetechforteachers.com is always a good place for ideas). Hopefully you will find more than one option, or ask your neighborhood tech junkies (peeps like Omar and Patrick at IT Babble). You will find that more often than not these people are happy to help. The catch, getting them to shut up. For example, don’t ask Omar about green screens.
Study for that test
By now that you’ve found a couple of programs and it is high time to see what you’re getting into. Set up and account and test it out . . . a lot! Remember, you can watch that rerun of House nearly anytime. Test out the program, app, or tech and look for problems that may occur and how easy or difficult it may be to use. Take note of these and be sure to compare. Try to test out every feature they have to offer. Try to push the program until you find a problem. The more problems you find and know how to deal with, the better this integration will be.
If there’s a student account, sign up with that as well and try the two out at the same time. This is easy to do and you will need at least two browsers (Internet Explore, Safari, Chrome, Firefox). In one browser sign in as the teacher and sign in as the student in the other. This will allow you to experience both at the same time. Also, if you are using an app that allows for multiple editors in real time, this will let you experience it is as well. This dual experience will give you an idea of the two accounts will work together.
Giving students a visual guide of how to use a particular piece of tech will cut down on their questions and give them a reference when you’re not there. Also, it will force you to think about how to present it to them and prepare yourself for some of those potential questions that will inevitably show up. Handouts don’t necessarily need to be printed out either. They can posted on a blog, emailed to students, or shared through a number of different services. There are a lot of free screen capture programs out there. Heck if you are using Windows Vista, Windows 7, or a Mac. This feature is already built in. Then all you need to do is paste those pictures on a word document and type up some explanations.
You’re on trial!
Last but not least, be sure to ask some of your teacher friends what they think of this idea. Often times, they will be a good audience and a willing guinea pig. Having a trial run with another educator will help you get some valuable feedback of potential benefits and possible problems. While you can’t foresee or plan for everything, the more prepared you are, the better chance for success. Also, you are sharing something that maybe she/her could use in the upcoming year as well.
Go for it!
After all that prep time, it would be a shame not to follow through. Even if it blows up in your face, you will be a better educator for it. You’ll be able to look at what exactly did not work and how you could make it work. Also, this experience will only better you for the next time you dive into the techie realm for your class. Change is never an easy thing as I’ve written about here, but sometimes a little (or a lot) of pain can make you grow and become a better teacher.
If you have any ideas of what you’d like to do for the upcoming fall, share them here for other educators to take a look at.