It’s no secret that the face of education has changed dramatically over the past years; Teachers across the country are working hard to equip children with the skills needed for success. In addition to instilling in students the flexibility to readily adapt to changing technologies, teachers must foster learning environments that encourage critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, global awareness, and social responsibility.
Integrated Technology for Education
Today’s youngsters were born in the age of the Internet. Many are more technologically savvy than the adults. To connect with these kids, teachers must learn to speak their language and become conversant with the technology that comes so naturally to the young. Integrating technology means tapping into students’ interests and strengthening their technical skills, all while providing enriching learning opportunities. In addition, the increased connectivity that accompanies this technology makes it vital that teachers stress the importance of Internet safety.
NetSmartzKids, an interactive website of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, teaches kids to use the Internet responsibly.
Trending Tools for Teacher
1. Interactive Websites
There are a TON of engaging websites for early learners that reinforce key academic concepts. Starfall is a phonics-based website for children pre-K through first grade that aims to develop and strengthen reading skills. ABC Ya, Cookie and Fuel the Brain feature age-appropriate educational games and activities spanning all subject areas. Math Magician and XtraMath help children improve their math fluency with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These self-directed sites require little or no teacher assistance and will keep children actively engaged both at school and at home.
2. Digital Storytelling
Several websites encourage children to tap into their creative imaginations to produce digital stories online. Story Bird supports children in creating visual stories with artwork; Little Bird Tales provides a medium for students to design and narrate their personal work; and Zimmer Twins carries it further by helping kids produce their own animated tales. And digital storytelling not only keeps children engaged, it also encourages higher-level thinking.
3. Educational Video Sites
Teachers no longer need to search their school library’s archaic VHS or DVD collections when current educational videos are available via the click of a mouse. BrainPOP Jr. and Discovery Education feature academic videos tailored to learning objectives and specific age groups. TeacherTube, a media site similar to YouTube, enables teachers to share instructional materials such as videos, audio recordings, and photographs. TV is a student-friendly filter that removes the offensive elements sometimes surrounding YouTube clips.
As teachers, we must embrace the technology that shapes our world. To develop life-long learners in our classrooms, we must be life-long learners ourselves.