Classrooms are starting to look a little different than they did when we were kids. Straight rows of desks are disappearing in favor of flexible classroom arrangements and technology is creeping into everyday classroom use. Does this scare you? Don’t let it. Technology can be put to use for you to help accomplish your teaching and learning goals.
Intelligent teachers are creating “Intelligent classrooms,” which essentially put technology to work for you to improve teaching and learning. *
Each Intelligent Classroom can and should look different, based on the needs of the class and the resources available to work with. Intelligent Classrooms usually feature:
- Smart Phones
- Smart Boards
- Internet access
- Flexible seating
Some essentials you will need to begin creating an Intelligent Classroom:
- Create a flexible classroom environment that can be easily changed. Move around the room during the day to get students in different groupings: pairs, small groups, whole groups, circles, rows, standing and moving, you name it. Break out of the box of lecturing and get the students actively involved in their learning.
- Have students use the devices they are comfortable with (“bring your own device”) This one can be scary, but is being adopted by many schools and districts, even as low as K-5. A school that implements this well is Shiloh Point Elementary School in Forsyth County. Visit this site to review an excellent list of ways to implement BYOT into your classroom setting and across the curriculum.
- Don’t focus on using tech to teach, put the tech in the hands of the students to help them learn. Technology can’t just be in the hands of teachers to use as a demonstration tool. Let the kids use the tech for learning. With a little encouragement and guidance your classroom will begin to have different discussions and outcomes.
- Encourage students to use the tech in their problem solving throughout the school day, and if possible at home. Your students will amaze you with their knowledge of how to use tech to solve their problems. Let them implement technology in project creation, group discussions, and assignments and you will be amazed what they come up with.
- Create an environment with technological variety. Try to get as many tools into your students’ hands as possible. Also, don’t be afraid of using new kinds of tech. Assign students to learn and teach new technology…you don’t have to be proficient in all of them.
- Offer opportunity for students to display their work and share resources and have many inputs that accommodate a number of devices. Our favorite is the Clear Touch interactive board, which is essentially like a large tablet on the wall with multiple inputs, touch screen and a built in PC. Find out more here.
- Learn to communicate using the media and methods your students and parents use. If it’s more efficient to text, text. If your families use social media, become familiar with it. Most importantly, ask what they are using and meet them where they are. Professional communication, following the guidelines of your administration, is always appreciated.
- Create a task force that seeks out new tech: There are many free apps, and programs for use in education. Get out there! A small group of parents, teachers or students can spend just a few minutes a day to research and download new tech and programs. Believe me, it pays to take the time to stay current and on the pulse of what other schools, businesses and industries use!
- Gradually upgrade. Enlist parents and community members to help you acquire newer versions of tech that is useful to you. It doesn’t have to be the latest model, as long as it’s newer than what you have you will constantly be improving your collection. If money is tight, look for parents or businesses who may be able to donate items to you as they upgrade.
- Connect with other technology-rich communities Todd LaVogue of Duncan Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, is a great source of information and has a wonderful teaching model. Many companies reach out to him to do beta testing for their programs. He also communicates regularly with a sister school in another country, and has his students involved daily creating apps, creating a website for kids to share teaching videos they have created, and more! Find out more about Mr. LaVogue and his innovative teaching and learning environment.
The main idea of creating an Intelligent Classroom is to make use of the resources you have to accommodate the community you have. This is not a one size fits all: You should customize your space to meet your group’s needs. Don’t be afraid to get a community of support together and get going…technology moves fast, but we can move faster!
*“The ‘Intelligent Classroom’: changing teaching and learning with an evolving technological environment,” Laura R. Winer .
These starting points were compiled from visits to some excellent schools. Katz Computer Service is a reseller for really fantastic educational tech, like zSpace, Clear Touch Interactive, MakerBot and Stratasys. In these visits to schools we are able to spy on what the brightest and best are doing and accomplishing in their classrooms. This infographic helps you put all of these ideas together to get started in creating your own Intelligent Classroom. Little by little, just get started.
This article and infographic were prepared by Nicole Aitken, Katz Computer Service Account Executive. Nicole Aitken has a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Instructional Technology. She is a graduate of the ProTeach Program at the University of Florida. Her passion is integrating technology effectively into curriculum and allowing kids to use tech as tools, not strictly teacher presentation devices.