As the computer teacher in a large middle school, Moody Middle School in Port Moody, BC a lot of my duties extend beyond the classroom. I get a lot of questions about how to use technology to accomplish tasks around the classroom, but often these questions come with fear and trepidation. Some of the reservations teachers have about adopting new technology fall into two categories:
1.) They are concerned that it will take a great deal of time and effort to overcome the learning curve.
2.) They feel that by using technology, they are going to be creating more work for themselves.
I suggest that if technology doesn’t save you time, effort, or money, (or perhaps some magical combination of these three if you are lucky), then don’t adopt it. For a little bit of learning, I find tons of way to save minutes and hours out of each day.
I use my classroom website to save time and effort each day. I feel that my suggested uses of classroom websites would save mainstream teachers time and effort as well, and are not just successful because I am in a computer lab. In fact I have used many of these ideas before I was a computer explorations teacher.
Embedding is a great way to bring the best of the Internet to your website. Rather than having your students look for the one video you want to show them on YouTube, you can paste the embed code from YouTube into your website, and now the kids can go to your site to see the video. This prevents kids from being frustrated by not being able to find exactly the right video, and prevents them from stumbling upon content they should not be exposed to. You know what I am talking about here….like Rick Astley Videos!
When I taught elementary Math, I recorded my lesson on a video camera in front of my whiteboard. But not all teachers wish to appear on camera.
Screencasting is a process where you record what you are doing on your screen and your voice. This is a great resource for students and parents, and since you are teaching it, why not record it? I use Jing, which is free software. I send my video to either Screencast.com or YouTube. Then I use the embed code to plug the lesson into my site.
This enables parents to help their kids. Also, as Jing limits you to about 5 minutes of recording, so you have to be brief and to the point. Remember, you seldom hear kids walking out of a lecture hall saying “Great lesson, but if only he had talked longer…”
Lessons and Attachments:
I put my lessons in my site as separate entries, like separate blog posts. I use a SharePoint website so I can just “close” a lesson and it disappears into the background. I can just open it up later, when it is time to teach that lesson again. I also change my lessons a bit each term based on things I learn from the students and their experiences with the lessons. They generally make good suggestions, and I can update my lessons and marking criteria on the spot. If you took a black felt marker and began crossing out sections of a Science textbook, writing words and thoughts in the column, the teacher would call it vandalism. In my class, where the website is the text book, we call it progress!
I had a student who always forgot her Science homework. It was a lot of effort to print off a new copy of the question sheet, or diagram to be labeled. Then I had to find time to keep this student in to do the work she lost or forgot which ended up costing me time. However SharePoint and most blogging sites support attaching files. Since many of us are already creating our own question sheets, diagrams for labeling, etc. why not attach the files to your online lessons. I found by attaching my sheets to the website, the girl’s parents could print off the sheet she left behind, lost, or made into origami animals!
It’s smart to invest your time as a teacher to learn how to create and use a classroom website. Technology for technology’s sake is pointless. It’s about putting technology to work…for you.