Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

… Developing Instructionally Sound Ways to Use the Devices

The tools of today’s classrooms are changing! Many students cannot imagine life without their mobile devices. They use them to find answers to questions, to connect with friends and family, to play and to express themselves. However, for some classrooms, having these tools readily available for student use is something new! In this video, Sir Ken Robinson makes a great argument for why schools need to change to fit the needs of students.

So now that you have the most powerful tools for learning available, you need to learn how to fit them into your instructional program. How can you use these new tools to help your kids learn the objective(s) you set forth? Here are some ideas!

Match the activity with the objective!

1. It all begins with the curriculum! 
Know the desired learning outcome. What is it you expect your students to learn? How will the Web 2.0 tool help students meet the expectation? check to make sure your activity is congruent with your objective!

2. Offer choice!
Can you provide choice in how your students demonstrate their understanding? How the students get there... there are many ways to skin that cat! We’ve already seen a number of Web 2.0 tools that we use in a variety of ways. Allow students to choose between several tools. Let them take responsibility for their learning.

3. Have a backup plan!
What will your students do if the technology fails? Be flexible. Have a similar activity (maybe the “old” way) waiting in the background just in case.

4. Have technician(s) of the week (or similar job)! Use your tech-saavy students to your advantage!
Who can students turn to for help? Chances are you’ll be facilitating another small group or busy having a one-on-one conference. Designate a student(s) each week who can be the first contact when someone has a problem with the technology. Use the “Ask 3, then me!” strategy.

5. Hold the students accountable!
For small groups/centers/stations where students are developing a product or contributing to a discussion, accountability is built-in. Students either create the product or contribute to the discussion. In those cases, it is good practice to begin with a rubric. How will you know the student has demonstrated mastery of the objective? How will you assess the product or contribution? Here are some key points for developing rubrics for projects that involve technology:

Sometimes your center/station may be having students practice a skill on an interactive website. In that case, students aren’t creating a digital product that you can review later. How can you ensure students are engaged during the station? Here are some ideas:
  • Create an open-ended/close sentences document for students to complete
  • Create a Google Doc with links to websites/list of stations for the week. As students move through the stations, they can bold the station they completed that day and write a brief reflection about it. Students could include screen shots of activities.
  • Use the web camera or voice recorder for students to explain what they did, liked, etc.
  • Have a list of station options and have students sign their name next to what they did
Integrating technology into the classroom doesn't happen magically overnight, it requires planning. Take small steps! Begin by rewriting a lesson plan to include technology. Where are you on the continuum of technology integration? Take a look at this matrix, find yourself and then where you can go!

Ideas for Interactive Stations using netbooks

In addition to the Web 2.0 tools to communicate, collaborate and create that we have already learned about that can make terrific stations, there are tons of interactive websites for students to practice skills and explore! Here are several sites that coupled with a specific objective and an accountability piece can turn into stations:

Teachers create a class account and students compete against students around the world on basic math and spelling
Early Childhood - Intermediate
Interactive games format on all subjects - math, vocabulary, art, science, social studies and more!
Early Childhood - Intermediate
Interactive activities designed for display on a whiteboard but can easily serve as activities for the netbooks as well.
Early Childhood - Intermediate
Students can be activiely engaged in learning math concepts and facts in a gaming environment. Additionally, Mangahigh also has adaptive quizzes for learning that progress from easy to extremely challenging. Students earn badges for completion of assigned work. Teachers can view class and individual analytics. Mapped to state standards.
2nd grade - Geometry (expanding soon)
Create interactive assignments for your students - with hints and video lessons. Mapped to state and common core curriculum standards. Teachers can view student activity and performance at a glance.
2nd grade - high school
Math and Literacy activities and interactive games. Teacher registers for free account and can have up to 30 students for free
Early Childhood - Middle School
Interactive games on all subjects - math, vocabulary, art, science, social studies and more!
Early Childhood - High School
Interactive simulations for the science classroom
Middle School  - High School
A set of free, online courseware for exploration in science and math
Intermediate - High School
Interactive programs that you can manipulate and animations to help grasp the meaning of mathematical ideas
Middle School - High School
Search for more interactive websites that can engage students during small group work.
Early Childhood - High School

Additionally, for K-8 classrooms, there are several district online resources that can be incorporated as stations that will track student progress so the accountability piece is already written in.
Easy Tech

Ideas for Interactive Stations using the iPod touch/iPad
Apps are one of the quickest and easiest tools to engage students on the iPod touch or iPad. Many apps are designed in a gaming format which easily engages students, but they will require that you create an accountability piece.

How do you find quality apps for your students? Educational Technology and content directors with the help of lead teachers have developed a list of approved apps for use in Spring Branch classrooms to save you the time of searching the thousands that are available in the iTunes Store. Click here to search the database for apps!

Don’t see one you know or have read about? Submit your "find" using this form! The app will be reviewed and considered and if approved will be added to the database!

Using curriculum from iTunes U

Tool #9 Assignment, create a new post in which you respond to the following:
  1. Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?
  2. Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?
  3. Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
  4. List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
  5. What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.
Next... Tool #10: Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship


  1. Technology is running our world and if we, as educators, do not implement technology into our daily plans, we are doing our students a diservice.

  2. When we tie technology to the objective it makes the content interesting to the students.
    Students should be held accountable to add value to the learning process and teach responsibility.
    The camera app can be used to video workouts or take pictures and post them.

  3. I completely agree that guiding children to see technology as a learning resource tool is vital. As it is children are surrounded by technology in their every day lives so why not use it to educate, reflect learning and go beyond the basics. Based on my observations, I have noticed that when children are given an opportunity to excel their learning can blow us away. So, it is time educators evolve as well with technology so that we can facilitate experiential learning activities.

  4. Education cannot remain in the "dark ages" in the tools used in learning. The entertainment industry, the retail world, the world of work--- everywhere uses technology and it would be anachronistic of us to use anything less in the classroom.

  5. I love Sir Robinson's video. My students are blown away when I show it to them. It really gets them thinking about how they see themselves, their skills and needs and desires, and how school can be changed to accommodate them instead of the other way around. This is a new idea for most of them.

  6. I posted my information about incorporating devices on my blog.

  7. I posted my information about incorporating devices on my blog.

  8. Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?

    In my opinion, it is obvious that the technology should support the French curriculum and objective for each lesson. There are so many wonderful technology tools available that help me teach my lessons. When I look back to 2-3 years ago, it is amazing to see how much more there is available online to help me help my students in their pursuit of mastering another language.

    Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?

    It will enable students to think about what material they are covering and trying to master. It is important to convey to students to take 100% responsibility with the end object to have life long learners who are self-motivated and require minimum supervision where the teacher is the facilitator and guides them along the way offering support and explanation whenever needed.

    Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

    One website that is not listed here and that I have started using lately is www.studystacks.com (I will create a separate post with embedded code for one of the chapters we are working on). Students can create their own study stacks for vocabulary, conjugations, etc. and this is available to everyone in the class. Each study stack automatically comes with a variety of subtools to master the vocabulary, such as flashcards, study lists, fill in the blank, crossword puzzles, quizzes, hangman, etc. and it makes it more fun to learn.

    Another site that allows students to explore the language on their own is Francais Interactif http://www.laits.utexas.edu/fi/home which I have use in my classroom in the past.

    List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

    There are only two apps listed: Learn French with 7 jours sur la planete and TV5 Monde. Both apps are for higher level French in my opinion.

    What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.

    Other way to use the iPod Touch/iPad would be to download French to English or English to French dictionaries such as Wordreference or Google translate. A lot of students already use this in class on their phones.

  9. Students are technologically savvy and learn best through this platform. These interactive learning programs are a great resource

  10. 1) Connecting technology with the objective is a smart and fun way to keep children motivated. School becomes fun when you incorporate technology in your classroom.

    2)It is always important to hold students accountable for their stations. it proves to them that the teacher trusts them and they are encourage to do a good job.

    3) The links that I loved discovering were Thinkfinity and Learning Games for kids. i can definitely see using them both in my centers. Thinkifinity can also be used as a whole group.

    4) The apps that I found very useful were American Presidents. I can have students research with this app for our Social Studies class. Always holding them accountable for their timing of course.

    The Animation creator. This one can be used in the writing center. This one allow students to create their own comic strip! i can definitely see my stations being fun and educational for my students.

    5)Other ways to use the Ipod in their stations. They could download and watch videos, they could research and they could also create.

  11. 1. I think it is important because that is how our students and young adults receive and internalize information.
    2. It is important to hold students accountable because otherwise the technology will just be used for recreational purposes...and it is very easy to zone out doing something online.
    3. I love PhET...as a science teacher these simulations will be so useful as opposed to flat text/images when explaining concepts!
    4. I look forward to using all of the life science related apps, Discovery, and astronomy, so my students can see the content in a variety of ways.
    5. I think generally, it will be new for students to use the technology to be productive and submit work. This will be very important for them to practice and understand especially considering that many college students use iPads in class to take notes etc.

  12. apps such as animoto will allow the students to become involved in coming up with terminology or there own words to describe mucical terms such as espressive, unison, dynamics, music theory, etc.

  13. We live in a very technologically advanced world and the kids need to learn how to use the technology responsibly.

    Students need to be responsible and held accountable for their role in the learning process.

    I liked Tutpup and Interactivate. Tutpup allows them to compete with kids all around the world and to know that every where kids are learning the same material they are. Interactive provided extra practices.

    I liked educreations interactive whiteboard and virtual manipulatives.

    I can plan to have the kids rotate using different apps or have different movies for them at different stations.

  14. Students need to be held accountable for the stations they go to because the stations should be tied to the learning objectives. These go hand in hand to make the best use of time and motivation in learning. I visited Manga High, Tutpup, and Academic Skill Builders. Manga High has a challenge system in which the students can earn medals which will be motivational for many of the students. It also has the component of keeping track of each student's progress which will hold them accountable. I really liked the counting coins app since it asks money questions in 4 different ways. The flashcard+ app will help build math facts with the students.

  15. Technology can be a great way to assess student learning. As teachers, we need to make sure that what we are using in the classroom (technology) matches the objective we are teaching. Finding ways to hold students accountable are many. If I am not in a small group, I can circulate the room. However, if I am, I want the students to be independently accountable. One way is to enforce the "ask 3 then me" rule and daily review what sound level we should be on (1 or 2). Some ways to hold students accountable for their learning would be: have students write notes in a google doc and post screenshots of their activities, or to post one or two things they have learned onto Wallwisher (after I've set up the topic on the Wall).

    Two of the links I looked at were the Learning Tools for Kids and the Thinkfinity site by Verizon. Both have different types of games and activities and are organized in different ways. For example, Thinkfinity is organized by TEK which I really appreciate. There are lots of lesson ideas as well.

    In terms of iPod touch apps, there seem to be quite a few focused on math. I looked at the Brain Thaw Lite and the Chalkboard Math apps. I also love the Brainpop app, and Sumdog is already being incorporated in my classroom and computer lab. The kids love it!