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5 Ways NOT to Teach Like a Dinosaur

by Kelly Walsh on October 23, 2014


Are Your Lessons Interesting, Engaging, and Maybe Even a Little Fun?

The days of overly long, bored-to-tears lectures are drawing to an overdue end. There are so many tools and techniques at our disposal to make learning more active and encourage more student participation and ownership of learning.

Get students thinking, moving, and creating … involve them in their own learning. Make your classroom a place they like to be. Here’s a handful of techniques that can be applied to just about any academic subject. Some involve technology, and some don’t.

“I will talk and you will listen … for a long time!”

1. Change up that l..o..n..g lecture

Would YOU really want to sit in a seat for 60 to 90 minute or longer listening to a lecture and taking notes? Really? Well, maybe if it was you giving the lecture …right? But seriously, while the lecture is a vital and essential part of teaching many classes, try to break it up a little! See if you can find some other expert content to bring a fresh voice and different perspective to your voice. There is an abundance of good instructional videos and web content out there, for free, just a Google Search away.

2. Change up your face!

Well, not exactly. What I mean is … bring in a guest speaker, or any other relevant guest. They can come in person, or you can bring them in virtually! There are plenty of good tools that allow for this – Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and other options can bring that far away guest speaker, expert, or collaborator into your classroom for free.

3. Research and Share – Find a topic and let students dig into it and share their findings

I have assignment focused on Email Etiquette in which students, working in class, are to find two good online sources that provide tips about good professional email etiquette, and then write a simple one page assignment based on them. They are to summarize each article’s primary point in short paragraphs, and create a Bibliography using the MS Word wizard. So in addition to getting introduced to the topic, they are working on their writing skills.

This assignment precedes a WSQ assignment in which I give them a video and a web page offering an extensive set of Email Etiquette “Dos and Don’ts”. In the class that follows we will go over each of these email etiquette tips. They will have been exposed to them three times, in different ways, helping to let the ideas take hold, while not being too repetitive in how the content is delivered.

4. Get Active

Any time you can get students to actively apply something they learn, the more likely they are to engage with what they are learning and retain more of it. How you choose to get active will vary depending on the type of class you offer, but here’s a few ideas:

  • Use an Interactive Collaboration tool, like one of the 2o suggested in this article
  • Have a Debate!
  • Use a “Quick Question” poll tool like Socrative a few times during class (students will need a smartphone or other computer device to participate)
  • Try a Problem Based Learning project (here’s a resource:
  • Have students self-select to demonstrate various concepts to the class themselves!

5. Let’s Students Create

There are so many ways to let students create as a part of the learning process. Rarely is a student more engaged in their learning than when they are creating something. Whether it’s digital or physical, making something can be a fun, illustrative way to bring meaning to learning. Make a 3D model of a mathematical concept, create a picture to illustrate a story or concept, make a word cloud to while studying vocabulary words, recreate a classic artwork or historical architecture with toothpicks and buttons  … the possibilities are endless!


For those who wants to take a deeper dive into using technology as part of engaged learning, check out this recent article: 8 Engaging Ways to use Technology in the Classroom to Create Lessons That Aren’t Boring.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools)
Student Created Content is an Exciting and Inspiring Learning Tool that Teaches Many Skills
Getting to Know the Makerspace Movement in Education

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Creating a Modified Flipped Classroom with Short Recordings

Kelly Del Gatto received her B.S. in Elementary Education in 2010 and just completed her Masters of Education in Educational Technology in March 2014. She will be presenting the session, “How to teach in 5 places at once using an iPad, Educreation, and Edmodo” at the Teaching and Learning with the iPad Conference this November in Raleigh, NC.

Have you struggled finding time to work with small groups in your classroom? This was a struggle I was faced with. I knew that I had to get away from whole class teaching and work with small groups. Year after year I was reading science and social studies texts to a whole class because most of my fifth grade students were not reading on grade level. No matter what I did, the advanced students were bored and the pace was still leaving the EC kids behind.


This challenge led me to create simple recordings that would allow leveled groups to listen to me reading the same material I was reading whole class, providing the same added information I would provide, and asking the same questions I would ask of the whole class. The students also view a digital copy of the material that they have in hand and I am able to annotate on the material they are viewing. They can see me modeling how to pick out important details or making notes on the document and the expectation is that if I write it, they write it. The only difference is each group can move at their own pace, pausing and rewinding to replay if needed. Students are still held accountable by being asked to pause and discuss a question posed by me during the recordings, and being required to write their answers down.

So Many Benefits

There are many benefits to recording information for small groups. The obvious is that while I work with a small group face to face I can also be virtually working with any number of other small groups or individuals simultaneously. I record all subject areas, not just science and social studies.

Another really great time saver is recording directions for projects – that way I only have to give them once but they can be replayed as many times as they are needed. I can record a picture of what the end project should look like and even walk them through it step by step. I have five different spelling word lists and giving five spelling tests is very time consuming, so I record them. I have seven students who receive a read aloud testing modification and instead of reading the test out loud (interrupting the whole class) I record it.

There are many different methods for recording but I have selected a method that is extremely simple and effective. Any student can access these recordings as long as they can press play. Teachers in lower grades could have the technology ready so students just have to press the play button while older students are able to access the recordings on their own. I also have the recordings saved in a way that students and parents can access them anywhere they have internet.

This is also a wonderful benefit for parents especially when it comes time to help with math homework. This helps to eliminate that age old battle of “that’s not how my teacher does it.” Parents will appreciate the help at home and be able to gain a better understanding of how to help their child and what they are learning at school.

My modified flipped classroom model benefits me, my student, and parents by creating a connection between school and home. My administration is completely on board and has encouraged me from my initial proposal throughout. There are many methods to create recording and deliver them to students, I have just kept it very simple. I am currently using a free App and my IPad which takes minimal time and keeps it easy for students to access and utilize through any computer, laptop, smartphone, or even gaming systems.

Making a difference for individual students is every teacher’s goal. How we get there is the difference. I am determined to make a difference – are you?

To dive deeper into planning or improving your use of the iPad in the classroom, come and and join Kelly and hundreds of other practitioners at the original iPad focused education conference – Teaching and Learning with the iPad, November 20 – 22, in Raliegh, NC. We hope to see you there!

ipad education conference

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Tips for Using Google Apps on an iPad
The Flipped Classroom is Everywhere!
Technology for the Core – Apps and Tools for the Literacy Curriculum Reading Strand

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3 Minute Teaching With Tech Tutorial – Socrative (Student Response System)

October 19, 2014

Check out how Easy This Popular Free Tool is for Gathering Student Feedback During Class or Giving ‘Live’ Quizzes Socrative is a powerful yet simple Student Response System that lets students respond to ‘quick questions’ or full quizzes using smart phones, tablets, or computers. Teachers love it – its very popular. Check out the newest […]

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Digital Learning and Instructional Tech Tweet Wrap for the Week of 10-13-14

October 18, 2014

This week’s collection of inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets about education and instructional technology articles, resources, etc. (Originally posted on Twitter by @EmergingEdTech over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers). A lot of content this week making the case for transforming the “same old, same old” […]

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How can Higher Education Continue to Find This Acceptable Teaching Practice?

October 16, 2014

Why is it Okay to Populate Undergraduate Classes With Instructors who Really Aren’t There to Teach Well? Okay, so I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers here, but this is really just so frustrating. I wonder how other educators feel about this? My son attends a widely respected, highly ranked public New York State […]

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October APP ED REVIEW Roundup – Apps for Teaching Art and Art History

October 14, 2014

Go Ahead and Get Artsy With These Fun iPad Apps! Do you want to bring more technology into your art classroom? App Ed Review has made the process easier for you by vetting art apps and brainstorming ways to incorporate them into your instruction. Your students will be able to experience and create art in […]

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The Engaging Power of Using Social Constructs in Your Online Courses

October 12, 2014

If You’re not Incorporating Social Elements in Your Online Courses, You’re Missing A Fundamental Engagement and Learning Opportunity While Online Learning has created opportunity for many students who would otherwise find it highly impractical to pursue their education further, one of the down sides of this type of learning is limited social interaction. Social networking […]

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Instructional and Education Technology Tweet Wrap for the Week of 10-06-14

October 11, 2014

This week’s collection of inspiring, informative, useful, or just plain fun tweets about education and instructional technology articles, resources, etc. (Originally posted on Twitter by @EmergingEdTech over this past week … collected here to share with our blog readers). Highlights from this week’s Tweet Wrap … a few Jeopardy-style review games, a deeper dive in […]

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ExamTime Proactively Engages Students in Active Learning

October 9, 2014

Build Mind Maps, Flashcards, Quizzes & Notes With This Popular Free Platform Effective learning is not the outcome of encouraging students to passively consume and regurgitate reams of information verbatim. Rather than allow learners to simply become recipients of study notes and material, teachers need to encourage students to both physically and mentally engage in […]

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Top 5 Reasons to Attend the 2014 Teaching & Learning with the iPad Conference

October 7, 2014

Come Join us in November for the Premier iPad Education Conference! The 2014 TLIPAD Conference is next month. The TLIPAD conference was the first all-iPad educators conference, started back in 2012, and it remain the best! This year’s conference is the first to include pre-conference workshops. It looks like we’re going to have record participation […]

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