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3 Quick Lesson Plan Ideas That Utilize Technology

by Kelly Walsh on January 16, 2011

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Letting students use technology to create presentations, reports, journals, etc., can be an easy way to introduce technology in a lesson plan or project.

Guest Post by Rebecca Garland

If you’ve been teaching longer than a few years, you already know that it can be tricky to be a “perfect” teacher all the time. While we might play the part of perfect when it comes times for evaluations and such, most of the time we tend to fall back on what we know – which usually isn’t the latest and greatest technology.

Unfortunately the lack of planning time and huge amounts of expectations in the classroom create a challenge when it comes time to work in some technology-based lessons. In many cases, there just isn’t time to learn about the sites or figure out how to use them – no matter how great they looked in the thirty minute meeting you had with the technology specialist last week.

Rather than just blowing off improving technology in the classroom, you should look for ways to use it more simply. The key to this is to let the students create with technology – it’s far less time-consuming for the teacher than having to create a lot of content yourself. Here are a few quick lessons that have a great technology tie-in that shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to plan or organize.

GoAnimate.com – It’s an animation website (wait, don’t panic!) that your students can use to create their own short movies. All you have to do is send students to the website on the library or computer lab computers. Have them set up their own free accounts and explain that there are very limited choices for free accounts when it comes to customization of characters, but they are creative enough to work around that.

Once they are signed in, they should create an animation in one of the available “worlds” to perhaps summarize a book or short story, deliver a speech they have written, teach a lesson on a particular topic or introduce themselves or their ideas to the class. It’s a great way to present student work without having to force students to the front of the room.

Voki.com – Another great, simple website that students can jump right into. Voki creates talking, somewhat animated avatars. Have students write poetry or speeches and then create a Voki to actually read the message aloud. Or make a final deliverable for a formal paper a bit more interesting by having a Voki that the student has created read it aloud to you.

Both Voki and GoAnimate are “cutesy”, but often letting students play with a website gets them much more engaged in what you’re asking them to do. Rather than just the typical ‘write a summary of the article’, tell students to create a Voki to describe it instead. It uses the same principle of summarizing and picking out main points, but it also lets students dabble in the sorts of things that make learning ‘fun’ to the digital mind.

Blogger.com – If your students have access to Blogger, have them use the blogs instead of a journal to outline ideas or create products for your assignments. Since the blogs are visible to the world, you might assign pen names (that you would know, of course) if your students are underage – and be sure to get permission ahead of time. Stress to students that having published work means it must be mindful of the audience and cautious at the same time.

Let the students write journal entries, address prompts you’ve set up, or summarize chapters of the text or novel you’re working on in class. One idea that is a bit more involved and “out of the box” is to have students set up the blog as if they are the main character in a novel or perhaps even a scientific element or historical figure. They must stay “in character” throughout the blog posts and post a minimum number of times exploring concepts, ideas and plot points through their posts. You would need only to go to their posts to view the blogs when the assignment is finished to create a grade. You could even have fun leaving comments for your students to have them respond with deeper thoughts on the posts – much like a more traditional reading response journal.

[Click here to open a brief video tutorial showing how easy it is to get started blogging with Blogger.]

 
Have you used these, or similar tools, to create lesson plans that incorporate technology? Do you have any experiences to share that can help others? Please comment and share your insights, ideas, or questions! Thanks - KW

Rebecca Garland is a freelance education writer specializing in creating materials to inform, educate and entertain readers. She represents a Minneapolis technical school online as well as creating materials other secondary teachers might be able to use in the classroom to improve student engagement and foster deeper learning.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
100 Ways to Teach With Twitter
Starting a Blog using Blogger
Survey Results – Professional Development Is Top Education Technology Wish List Item

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer and a faculty member at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

vmarie September 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

My students are always looking for new ways to create and enhance their projects. Iwould like to incorporate a lesson within a lesson on presentations as well as blogging .

voki podcast April 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm

My students made voki podcasts about the spring break plans. It was wonderful. I’ve added their work to my blog page.

Helen Robinson January 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

These are great ideas! I can actually see many students becoming more engaged in their learning while using those resources. I work at a very at risk high school in Chicago IL, within the special education department. I can really see our kids using this resource. The youth of today use and enjoy making avatars, so incorporating it in a lesson could be very beneficial, different, but fun. Thanks for sharing.

Khala Johnson January 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm

All of these ideas are great! No matter what level of education you teach (primary,secondary, post secondary, etc) incorporating the use of technology into any classroom will be beneficial to the student, and will only prepare them for future use of technology, especially in the classroom.

Elissa Clemons January 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm

The ideas presented in the article are innovative ways to engage students in the learning process. Students can work in teams to create an animation and work together to critic the work of each group. Providing the group members witrh roles such as project manager, writer(s), animator, editor who work together each week to prepare a semester project can enhance the materials being taught outside of the classroom. Educators must find ways to reach all students using variou sleaning methods.

Ryan Moulden January 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

I gave used the website http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/ multiple times in the past to get my ESL students writing dialogues between one another and it has worked out great. On this free website students create their very own comic strip. They choose the character, their face expressions, and even the style of the dialogue bubbles that appear. I get them focused on using spelling, correct grammar, turn taking, and punctuation with out them even knowing!

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