Incorporating Technology Into Your Lessons
Let’s face it, kids today LOVE technology and what better way to grab and keep their attention than to incorporate it into your classrooms. As a teletherapist, technology is a part of my daily routine. I have seen tremendous gains in my students over a shorter period of time with the use of digital media. For this reason, I have created resources specifically designed to encourage interaction and increase motivation to learn. In my experience, I see the most significant gains when students are presented with content that is of interest to them. It’s critical to get to know your students and capitalize on their interests. The best way to do this is to engage them in a dialogue about what excites them, what they like, and what they do for fun!
Once you have an inventory of their interests, now is the time to be creative and add it into your instruction. Whether it’s fidget spinners, Transformers, Cars, or Minions the learning process can become exciting when you draw your students in. Witnessing enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn is incredible as an educator. I see this most often when my students understand that I genuinely desire to, not only know more about them but more importantly, allow them to teach me something about what they are passionate about. It keeps them motivated and gives me an opportunity to assess their spontaneous speech in the process, definitely a win-win. To see exactly how I accomplish collecting this inventory of interests, click the link below for a Digital Interactive All About Me activity that is sure to give you insight into your students in a fun and engaging way.
Incorporating technology into your classrooms and therapy sessions doesn’t mean you should just give your students more screen time without actively participating in the learning process. The expectation is not for them to engage in independent learning. Although independently working on digital resources does have its place in 21st-century classrooms, my focus is more on engaging students with technology and using it as a teaching tool during whole and small group direct instruction. The idea is to use technology as a way to facilitate your content, your students are not in it alone but rather you are instructing them using digital resources for increased progression towards the targeted learning goal. Presenting digital content on Smartboards is a great way to reinforce the material. Get the whole group involved and encourage students to approach the board and fill-in the answers. Discuss with the class what was done correctly and use this as an opportunity to explain and correct any mistakes that may have been made.
The majority of my sessions are small group and in some cases 1:1. With individual instruction, it is much easier to customize my instruction around my student to ensure that they are having fun WHILE learning. I utilize the inventory of their likes to create a session that incorporates their interests, whether as a direct instructional tool or reinforcement to keep them motivated throughout. When working with small groups having a tablet, iPad, or laptop is a great way to present digital lessons while having more focused discussions about the material. Allow your students to take turns by passing the devices around the group and talking about what is being presented. When a student identifies the correct response encourage them to explain their answer to the group. Allow them to be the instructor, this not only gives you insight into their overall comprehension it also is a great way to build confidence in your students. Not to mention, it is an awesome opportunity to informally assess expressive language and pragmatics.
For those of you who are moving towards 1:1 digital classrooms, I say congratulations and you should embrace the technology with open arms. Google Drive™ and Google Classroom™ are revolutionizing digital learning and the instruction process. I have witnessed my students come to life and have a genuine thirst to participate and learn when technology is introduced into instruction. Personally, when working via a teletherapy platform I make sure to encourage active participation throughout the entire session. Utilizing the digital whiteboard features, students are given the opportunity to interact with the content while verbalizing what they are doing and why they selected a given answer. This is truly the direction education is moving towards and even the youngest of scholars are excited to learn in this capacity.