Flashback to when I was in primary school…we had ONE desktop computer for a class of 30 students to use! 🤯
Back then, it was only used for word processing or to search topics on the Encyclopaedia Britannica CD-ROM. Fast forward to the 21st century, and we have seen a massive push to integrate technology into all aspects of the education process. Teachers have adapted to this change and are now expected to integrate technology into their daily classroom practices flexibly.
Why integrate technology?
There are countless reasons why technology integration plays such a vital role in classrooms today.
💛 It increases student engagement.
💛 It allows for more inquiry-based and project-based learning.
💛 It gives the students the opportunity to display their depth of knowledge and understandings in new and different ways.
💛 It increases independence in learning.
💛 It allows students to work at their own pace and level.
💛 It enables students to become 21st century learners by utilising and mastering the different technologies over time.
💛 Content can be taught and delivered using various multimodal approaches.
💛 It can be used effectively to give feedback and in various levels of the assessment process.
💛 It promotes higher-order thinking and problem solving skills.
What do my students think about using technology in the classroom?
💛 “We can use it to research to find out stuff on our own”.
💛 “It’s fun and we get to use more tools like photos, typing and you can even record your voice”.
💛 “I like using technology because it is fun and you can learn more things”.
💛 “The technology is easy to use and we do fun activities”.
💛 “Using technology (OneNote) makes us use less paper and saves the trees”.
💛 “We learn how to use the apps to show what we know”.
💛 “It’s a great way to show your work. My teacher makes it fun!”
What do I know about integrating technology?
Let me tell you a little bit about me and my school context. I’m a primary school teacher in the Perth metro area. I currently teach Year 4, but I have taught many different grade levels from Pre-Primary to Year 5. This is my 15th year teaching and I am always keen to learn new skills and improve my teaching. I’m fortunate to work in school with a one-to-one iPad program from Years 1-6. As a staff, we are regularly upskilled on the latest technologies, and often learn a lot from each other. We were one of the pilot schools for using the Office365 products, including Teams and OneNote. We have Apple TVs in each classroom and use them in conjunction with the iPads. Primarily, Years 4-6 use OneNote to access and complete lessons and activities. We use Seesaw in all year levels to upload assessments and classwork for the parents to view. With each student having their own iPad, it definitely makes it easier to utilise a range of tools/apps on a daily basis. Using technology in my classroom has become second nature to my students and myself.
How Do I Use Apps in My Classroom?
I am always on the lookout for new and different ways of using the same apps that are already on the students’ iPads. A lot of simple apps can be used for a variety of purposes in several learning areas. In my classroom, the students are directed to use a range of apps to demonstrate their understanding of the content.
Some of the ways I use apps include:
💛 Brainstorming/mind maps
💛 Listing the key points
💛 T-charts, Y-charts, X-charts, PMI charts, KWL charts
💛 Story maps
💛 Flow charts
💛 Summarising the main events
💛 Word trees
💛 Venn diagrams
💛 Cause and effect charts
💛 Information posters
💛 Comic strips
💛 Word processing
💛 Spelling words or sight words
💛 Presenting Maths concepts (eg. symmetry, 3D shapes, angles, number stories, etc)
💛 Presenting different text types (eg. retells, reviews, narratives etc)
Which Apps Do I Use ALL OF THE TIME?
Obviously there are many apps I use with my class on a daily basis. My most used app would be OneNote. However, it is more suited to middle/upper primary. The following apps I currently use regularly with my Year 4s, but I’ve also successfully used them with Year 2s. They can be adapted to any early childhood classroom.
My Top Apps:
PicCollage is by far the most versatile app I use in my classroom. PicCollage is a very easy app for children to use. It can be used to create several graphic/thinking organisers for the students to present their understanding of the content across many different learning areas. PicCollage has the following functions: add photos, add web images, add text, add stickers, add backgrounds and draw. Each PicCollage can be saved as a JPEG.
What my students say about PicCollage:
💛 “I like PicCollage because it is fun and easy to use. You can insert pictures and text”.
💛 “I like it because you can find pictures on it and draw your own pictures”.
💛 “It’s educational and you can do almost every subject on that app”.
💛 “You can add photos, type, have your own background, and you can move the photos very easily”.
💛 “It’s great for all subjects. You can make cards, add photos and draw pictures. I like adding all of the coloured backgrounds and images”.
Some examples of how my students used PicCollage…
Popplet is a fantastic app for brainstorming or mind mapping. It is so simple to use and has a few basic functions (draw, add text, add images etc.) Each Popplet can be saved as a PDF or JPEG.
What my students say about Popplet:
💛 “I like Popplet because it’s fast and easy to use. You can make a brainstorm with a title in the middle”.
💛 “You can insert pictures and type. I find it quick to use”.
💛 “It helps me to organise my ideas on a brainstorm”.
💛 “Popplet is a good way to show what you know about a topic”.
Some examples of how my students used Popplet…
My top tips for using apps in the classroom:
💛 Start by introducing one app at the time. Don’t overload the students with too much, too soon.
💛 Explicitly teach the basics of each app (eg. How to start a new project, how to add pictures, how to save their work etc)
💛 Give the students free time to explore the app on their own. They will often discover for themselves how work certain parts/functions of the app.
💛 Allow them to collaborate and work in small groups or pairs. The students that are more familiar with the apps will naturally teach others.
💛 Use apps you already have in new and different ways. Think about using apps for more than just the key subjects. You are only limited by your imagination.
💛 Give the students the choice of apps when presenting information. Provide them a list of apps they can use, depending on the learning objectives.
💛 Get feedback from your students as to which apps they like using. That’s how I narrowed down my top apps.
💛 Introduce new apps once they have mastered the basics. Make sure they can use all of the functions independently and can save, upload, share or print their work if needed.
💛 You do not need to be an expert at every app. Most of the time, you can learn along with the students. Ask for help from colleagues if you need it.
💛 Have fun! The whole idea is to make learning more engaging and enjoyable.
Thanks so much Mel for sharing so many wonderful insights into how you use technology in your classroom. Make sure you check out her Instagram for more wonderful teaching inspo: @the_teacher_life_of_mrs_rossi