Times have changed. Gone were the days when teachers deliver the same old lectures day after day. Now, everyone expects teachers to integrate technology in the classroom. Why not, technology has become the best learning tool in the classroom making more students engaged in the lesson, improving collaboration and making learning more fun!
The good thing is that the Internet is loaded with tools that can enable teachers to bring a sense of fun and engagement to their lessons. However, it is important to seamlessly incorporate these activities into the lesson and not force yourself to use them only for the sake of using technology.
Here are some ideas for leveraging technology to kick those lessons up a notch!
Write Illustrated Stories
Let your students create their very own personalized stories using a variety of colorful and vibrant Illustrations that ignite creativity. Story Bird and Story Jumper are two great websites that allow students to bring creative writing into the 21st century with technology.
In these websites (which are especially great for students who are not good at drawing), students write and illustrate a story using the wide assortment of backgrounds by simply dragging and dropping a series of images onto the page.
With a classroom account, teachers can create assignments, and review and comment on submitted stories. They’ll also be able to arrange for printing and purchase of any student created work. Talk about becoming young authors!
Create their Own Quiz
Challenge your students to create their own quiz using Kahoot!
Kahoot is a student-response gamifying tool that lets teachers create multiple-choice quizzes and polls and is a great way to incorporate fun and games in the classroom! It provides quick, real-time results and gives students instant feedback on their devices without anyone being called out individually.
I use this platform mainly to review concepts and vocabulary. My students always ask to play Kahoot again and again so I decided to establish a Kahoot day for quick revision and informal assessments. I also have them write their own test questions and allow them to create their own Kahoot quiz and take lead during the game.
Produce Book Trailers
Book Trailer Project is a digital storytelling activity for middle school or high school students after they finish reading a book. Students need to take the key idea from the book to create a short video that persuades people to check out a book they have read.
Doing the book trailer project requires students to summarize, synthesize and analyze the book and put that analysis in their trailer. Furthermore, having students create book trailers is a great way to incorporate technology in the classroom and encourage reading. Thus, book trailer project is a great alternative to boring book report assignments, and can easily be done individually or in groups.
Check out this post to read the step-by-step guide in doing the Book Trailer Project.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Students are handed a list of things that can be found within school grounds ranging from very easy (ex: a world map) to moderate (ex: a student reading a book) to difficult (ex: a lizard). Vary the amount of points for each level of difficulty.
Then, students are instructed to take photos on their smartphones or tablets and cross off the items they have found. They can form teams or work individually. Each team should decide who’s phone or camera will be used to take scavenger hunt photos. It should be the same phone for all of the team photos.
The winner is the player or team that find the most items on the list.
Optional: I try to combine this activity with the elements of the Treasure Hunt game. For example, I give clues or unlock new challenges when a team has successfully emailed their photo to me.
If you want to take photo scavenger hunt to the next level, you might want to check out Goose Chase!
Webquest is an inquiry-based approach to learning and a perfect way for teachers to begin integrating Internet searches into their curriculum. It provides an authentic, technology-rich environment for problem solving and information processing.
A web quest guides students to search the Internet for specific information. For example, in a webquest called What Is the Most Serious Problem Facing Earth?, student teams vie for funding from the fictional Help Our World (HOW) Foundation. Each team builds a case for a critical environmental concern. Which threat is the most critical? Which team should be awarded the foundation’s $1 million grant? (see more here).
There are tons of already-constructed webquests out there like these ones from Zunal.com or you can create your own based on your lessons. A well-designed webquest lets you turn your students loose on the web for a specific project and get results that both you and your students will love.
Hunt for QR Codes
This game is similar to the classic treasure hunt game except that students have to search the school for QR codes which contain questions or clues to the game.
Playing this fun activity is easy. First, I prepare a list of questions from the topics that I want my students to learn or revise. Then I create and print the QR code for each question and place them across the school.
Students are put into small teams or pairs with one person owning a mobile device. They need to download a QR code reader first which is free on App Store or Google Play. Internet connection is not required once they have the app since the QR codes decode as text files.
Now, students need to search the school for these clues and scan each QR Code to get each question. They must then work together to find the answer to this question. The team that brings the most number of answers wins the game
Try this Pokemon Go-inspired QR Hunting activity that I made!
Generate Word Cloud
A word cloud is a list of words arranged randomly and forms into a shape. It is a great way for students to summarize information, increase vocabulary and make connections between concepts. I love creating word cloud with my students because they are fun and easy to make!
Sing with Lyrics Training
Lyrics Training is an awesome website to learn a language with music! Students will watch and listen to a music video and fill in the missing lyrics of the song. The website has a huge collection of songs in all genres and caters to different proficiency levels such as beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert.
Present Using Infographics
Incorporating infographics in the classrooms is one of the best ways to engage students in the lesson while having fun at the same time.
Allow your students to digest complex information they have learned by creating eye-catching infographics. It can help students learn to interpret data, organize ideas, and make important connections. There are different free web-based applications that students can use to create infographics such as Piktochart and Venngage, but my students find Easel.ly very user-friendly.
Celebrate Diversity via e-Pals
Help students develop real-life writing and learning experiences, learn the format of a friendly letter and the proper etiquette of online communication. By integrating a letter-exchange program in the classroom, they can also learn about other cultures, languages, and geographic areas that align with the curriculum in your school.
There is a website called ePals connects K-12 classrooms in more than 99 countries to share content and ideas and collaborate on projects (including pen pal exchanges). Teachers create a profile with a brief description about who they’re hoping to connect with and why; and can search for partner classrooms by language, age, and keyword, and can also factor in region/country and class size. Once connected, classes can communicate through a private workspace on the site.
Setting up classes is time consuming but once they are in you are good to go. Finding classes to work with can also be time consuming and frustrating due to the lack of responses from my requests but once you are connected it is so worth how excited your classes become.
Or, in the spirit of letter exchanges, you may want to join our yearly Holiday Card Exchange Project.
Scene it with Storyboard!
We are all familiar to this classic learning activity where students write and draw a story in a comic format but did you know that they can do it easily online? Storyboard That is an online storyboard creator that offers hundreds of scenes and characters organized by time period, as well as a variety of styles of text bubbles to fill the storyboard frames. Students can print their saved storyboards or download them in a PowerPoint version.
Be Creative with Social Media
Using the concept of social media is one awesome way to engage students in the lesson, topic or theme. With a little creativity, teachers can bring the visual power of photos into the classroom! I developed Instagram and Facebook templates so that students can have real social media learning experience without actually having the need to log in to their accounts!
Using the Instagram template, students can create their Instagram post directly in a word processing document or hand out the blank templates to have them draw their photos.
With the Facebook template, students will be able to construct a Facebook profile for a person of study – whether a fictional character or a famous historical figure. This is a fun and highly motivating activity that will encourage your students to think deeply about characters, encourage cooperative work and great discussion, and keep students on task.
Publish an e-Newsletter or e-Magazine
Creating a classroom newsletter can be an excellent way for students to develop their language skills and to learn how to work cooperatively. They build vocabulary through writing and through interacting with others in the class.
Let students create a list of topics that they wish to write about in their newsletter. Allow them to work in collaborative groups and assign students roles such as "writer," "editor," "researcher," or "graphic artist."
There are many apps and websites that students can use to create their newsletter. Microsoft Publisher is the oldest one I know that is easy to use and free. It has the emphasis on page layout and design rather than text composition and proofing. Other web-based apps that are worth looking are Adobe Sparks and Canva.
They can print out the newsletter or convert it to PDF and attached to an email to share their newsletter with the school and with family members.