Use instructional software
I’ll never forget when I first started using MyiMaths, an online maths tutoring and assessment system, to teach mathematics. It was back in 2013, and it totally transformed my work life.
Why? That’s simple. Students would go into the ICT lab, or use their laptops or tablets in class, and literally be taught mathematics by the computer! The program would even assess the work immediately, and differentiation wasn’t a problem because students could work through the tasks at their own individual pace. The benefits were enormous:
- All of the students were focused and engaged
- All of the students were challenged
- The teacher had more time to spend with individuals working on specific problems
- The content was relevant and stimulating
- No behavior management issues as the students were all quietly working
- No time was needed by the teacher for marking and assessment. The program did all that for you. All you had to do was collate the data.
Allow for research opportunities
Gone are the days when ‘chalk and talk’ and ‘sage on a stage’ methodologies permeated every school. ‘Collaboration’ and ‘exploration’ are the buzzwords of education now, and we are able to do this better than ever before.
Don’t be shy about allowing students to use their smartphones in class (but be sensitive to what they’re actually accessing, and also be aware that some students might not own smartphones. Have a stack of iPads or tablets ready, to give students the ‘choice’ of using them).
Students can use the web to find out facts about their subjects, as well as for revision. Great websites to use include these classics:
Also, check out this earlier blog post of mine where I provide great websites split into subject areas.
Making graphs and charts and editing images
Any form of data set can be graphed in various ways by tablets and smart phones. This could happen in a history lesson in which you’re studying the number of new cases of the bubonic plaque over a set period of time; a mathematics lesson where the students have conducted a simple survey; a science lesson where the kids are measuring the light absorbance of different solutions or even an English lesson where you’re studying the frequency of particular adjectives in different texts. Good graphing apps include ‘Numbers’, ‘Viz’, ‘3D Charts’ and ‘Chart Maker’ (Apple™) and ‘Simple Graph Maker’, ‘My Graph (Chart)’, ‘ChartGo’ and ‘Juice Labs’ (Android™).
Portable homework diary
Are you sick of your students forgetting their homework? Does your school still use those
old-fashioned homework diaries where everything needs to be written down? If your school isn’t using a homework database or a VLE to set assignments, then one way to solve this is to get the students to take a photograph of the homework task after you’ve written it on the whiteboard or projected it. This is also a very good option for students with additional learning needs and those who are operating with English as their second language. Additionally, if the homework is complex and involves multiple steps (e.g. navigating through a particular VLE portal), then students should be encouraged to take photographs of each step in the process.
There are a myriad of programs offered within the Apple™ and Windows™ suites can assist students in the creation of their assignments. You can be very open minded, and give your students the task of ‘using ICT to produce this homework’, or you can even train students in the use of a particular platform first, and then set them the task of creating something with it. Furthermore, online interfaces such as Weebly and WordPress allow students the opportunity to create websites quickly and easily. Websites that students create can be used for:
- Recording topic summaries each month or on a regular basis
- Keeping track of coursework (the website itself can be a coursework log)
- Homework assignments
- Collaboration – working with teams at school or between schools