Have you considered adopting a more learner-centred technological approach to teaching but aren’t sure where to start? Introducing more technology into the classroom including various forms of social media can feel like a daunting task considering school policies surrounding student privacy, parent concerns about their child’s online safety, and the responsible use of technology.The following start-up ideas are sure to clear up any hesitations you may have about getting started.
Identify What Makes a Good Digital Citizen
Before any K-3 educator sets foot on the road to social media and internet use in the classroom, it’s imperative to educate students on appropriate and responsible online behaviour. As this is likely their first school-based experience with technology, many young students in early elementary classrooms may not be familiar with the importance of being a good digital citizen. To create awareness and initiate class discussions on this topic, use the website Digizen. On this site, students can create their own Digizen (a cartoon avatar) to express their online values and wishes which can be posted to any social networking site. This same site also has many fun role-playing scenarios that students could act out and discuss to provide advice for someone else. Using the website KidSMART, teachers can introduce online safety topics to their students using an array of formats such as; the Smartie the Penguin video. Smartie gets a new computer for his birthday and learns how to be a safe online user. Childnet has a video series called the Adventures of Kara and Winston and the SMART Crew which is a cartoon that illustrates the characters on a quest to make safe online decisions.
Create a Family and Child Agreement
To get parents onboard with technology use in your class, it’s a good idea to have your families sign an agreement to ensure they have a shared understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate online behaviour. Safekids has an example of a contract that could be used as a starting point for teachers to help guide the creation of an oath that students and parents could sign before their child is allowed to use technology (especially social media) in the classroom.
Set Clear Expectations
It’s important to establish a set of rules for digital technologies in the classroom. Clear expectations will ensure that students are accountable for their online behaviour and will help you to manage and maintain the organization and upkeep of the devices used. The tech usage policies for the class should be developed by the students with coaching from the teacher and posted somewhere in the class to refer to all year long. Jessica Sanders has a great list of these to get you started in her blog post 10 Classroom Rules for Using Technology.
Show What You Know
Once students have an understanding of how to be responsible online users, it would be a great idea to get them to share their knowledge with their classmates. Beth Holland recommends asking your students to write and edit a script to film a public service announcement for others. To do this, they could use YouTube, or a program like Educreations or Tellegami.
Tech 10 Time
Implementing technology can be overwhelming at first. It’s important to start off small and reserve increments of time each day to teach tech-specific topics. In her article Back to School with iPads: 5 Steps for the First 5 Days, Beth Holland recommends implementing Tech 10 time (ten minutes set aside daily to focus on technology). This time could be used to demonstrate how to use a device effectively to support learning, or as a discussion time for various tech-related topics. Students may also find the time useful for sharing something they’ve discovered, to provide tips or problem-solving strategies for others and as a time to celebrate their technology successes.
Create a Class Blog
It is important to be a role model for positive social media usage in the classroom. Start a classroom blog or website for student and parent use. Include information about technology usage in the classroom and model blog entries about student activities in the class. Kayla Delzer has an impressive class blog entitled Top Dog Teaching that inspired her students to want to create their own entries. She started having each of her students featured on her blog as Bloggers of the Week which later led to student controlled Twitter and Instagram accounts. Once you’ve hooked your students onto your blog, they will be begging to create their own (take advantage of this opportunity to develop literacy skills through a real-life and personalized way). Using a class website or blog also allows you to organize popular links your class uses to restrict their internet search access for individual assignments or activities.
Follow these 6 simple steps, and in no time, you will have your 21st-century skills based, student-centred classroom up and running.
Delzer, K. (2015). Blogger of the week. Top Dog Teaching.
Holland, B. (2013). Back to school with iPads: Back to school for the first 5 days. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://blog.whooosreading.org/10-classroom-rules-for-using-technology/
Sanders, J. (2015). 10 classroom rules for using technology. Whoosreading. Retrieved from http://blog.whooosreading.org/10-classroom-rules-for-using-technology/