Saturday, February 23, 2013

Technology in a not Smart classroom

Browsing other teaching blogs, I get so envious of everyone who has any technology they could want at their fingertips. I don't have a Smart board in my classroom, and we don't have laptops for every kid. Those things will hopefully appear down the line, but in the meantime, how do you incorporate some technology into lesson plans?

I try to use it whenever possible and have so many different things I try, but below are some of my favorites and most common uses.

For one, I have my College English student use a Wikispace page. 
It's basically like a class blog or message board, similar to Blackboard that many colleges use. I will post announcements, assignments, and hand outs on there, as well as host different discussion threads they have to respond to.

For instance, they may post a paper proposal and have their peers comment on it. I have also started doing online peer reviews with them where they post their rough draft to a thread and their peer reviewers write them a peer review memo and post it as a reply. It's easy for me to grade then because I can open up the post and see the original paper with both memos right below it. They enjoy doing things electronically as well.

This is the first year we have taken the school newspaper online (VERY new in fact, as we just transitioned last week), and after browsing online for hosting options, we settled on School Newspapers Online. This site is run by two high school newspaper advisers and is extremely user-friendly, which I wanted since this is an English class, and most of us don't have graphic design background. I have a very limited knowledge of HTML from a Grad school course I took and have no interest in revisiting that! Yikes.

It is $600/year for the first year and then $300/year for subsequent years, which is about $1000 cheaper than getting our paper printed in hard copy through the local city newspaper. This way we can also update content daily and run more up-to-date news stories instead of putting out an actual paper monthly.

For my sophomores, I wanted to try taking an assignment online that I did before. In the past, I would type up a handout that resembled a Facebook profile and have the kids make a FB profile for a literary character from a book we were studying or an author we read. It was fun, but I wanted something more interactive and more FB-like, without actually being on Facebook.

Enter Fakebook!
It looks almost like a real Facebook page and is interactive. If you type in a famous person's name, like Shakespeare, their picture will even pop up from Fakebook's database. You can add other famous friends, like statuses, post statuses, post pictures, videos, etc. and comment on others' statuses. I had my sophomores do this for Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea last fall and they had a blast with it! So much better than doing it on paper.

These are just a few ways I try to incorporate technology into my classroom, though there are many others. I will try to have one post each week where I highlight technology or online resources I bring into my class.

Does anyone have other ideas for a non-technology/non-Smart classroom?

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