Playgrounds, exhibit halls, presentations, oh my! ‘Tis the season for summer conferences, and coming home with what seems like 3 suitcases full of new material to bring into the classroom. When you pick up all the information booklets and freebies that you got at ISTE and other conferences, you feel so inspired and empowered to change your classroom! However, something changes once you get back home and stare at the stack. What do you do to keep yourself from avoiding that giant stack of information, and find that perfect EdTech tool to help your students bring their A-game? Here are a few steps that you can take to make that process a little easier.
Keep your goals in Focus.
Whether your school is rolling out a computer science program or you’re trying to bring some 21st century learning to a more traditional class, the goals for your program must be established and communicated early on. Having a clear picture of what success looks like for the program you’re trying to implement is key. Consider the following questions to help shape the overall structure of the program and how it should be implemented.
- How long will I use this tool? One lesson? One quarter? One semester?
- What are the outcomes for success?
- What metrics can be used to evaluate the program?
- Is there a final deliverable or culminating event for the program?
Organizing a semester-end or year-end showcase, like a mobile app competition, can be a great way to not only plan a great goal, bring the school community together to see the first fruits of the computer science program. MAD-learn’s shark tanks are a great example of how to plan your lessons around focused goals.
Begin sorting through your pile and pick your absolute favorite EdTech tools that you discovered that really stand out to you—the ones you can’t imagine going through another semester without. Sometimes picking the tools that fit best with what you already include in your curriculum are a great place to start so that you can make sure you stay on track with your goals.
Ask for Help.
You aren’t on your own! More than likely, there were plenty of other educators who also got inspired by the same tool and plan on using it in the Fall. Look online for any forums or blogs where teachers are talking about their experiences, and learn from there. If you’re starting a new idea at your school, recruit 1-2 other teachers who can join you on the journey so you can learn and experiment together.
Another way to make sure you’re successful when you’re choosing the right tool is making sure that you’re able to use it effectively in your classroom. Many companies will have customer success teams available to help you use their programs to their fullest potential. It’s also always a good idea to check their website for some helpful blogs with useful tips with best practices.
Divide and Conquer.
Sometimes the best inspiration for new programs comes from the people right next to you. Close colleagues that you trust can be your best vetting system for EdTech tools. Talk to your colleagues, try to find the commonalities on your favorites list, and go from there. That way, you’re able to get some trusted reviews without taking the time to try out everything under the sun, all by yourself.
Educational Technology programs are a great way to equip your students with the tools to be successful in developing technology skills and scientific-based creativity to land jobs in the future. With programs like MAD-learn, teachers can seamlessly introduce app development into any classroom with students as young as third grade. If your school has successfully implemented EdTech tools in the past, we’d love to hear how it was done and lessons that you learned. Comment on the blog below to share your thoughts.