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The Minimalist’s Guide to Tech Integration

The Minimalist’s Guide to Tech Integration

By Jessica Sanders

Minimalist(n): A person who favors a moderate approach to the achievement of a set of goals.

Many educators stray from using technology in their classroom because of the assumed effort and resources it will take. “Most teachers are willing to integrate new technology, but finding the time to learn the tech and then create lessons to go along with it is a real challenge,” says Mike Daugherty, technology integration specialist.

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While not all these teachers are minimalists, per se, there is a way to achieve the goal of making your classroom future ready, without breaking the bank or even bringing computers into the classroom. Here’s how.

Start With You

Start with yourself and your lesson plans. You can make a significant impact with technology, even if you’re the only one interacting with it. Here are a few ways you can use simple websites and apps to improve lessons and engage students.

YouTube Videos

Use fun or interesting videos to tie your lessons into something the students are familiar with. Use viral videos, popular music videos and trendy or memorable commercials, like Find Your Greatness or Like A Girl.

Pandora or Spotify

Use these apps to give your students a dancing brain break during the day. Brain breaks get them moving for a short period, helping them refocus on the lesson. The best part: all you need is a cell phone.

Google Maps

Virtually walk through the streets of various locations during geography lessons. This gives students a real picture of the area in question, in a format that’s more exciting than a textbook picture.

“Crowdsource” Your New Ideas

Instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, take ideas from awesome educators who are already blogging about their experiences with technology. Here are a few great resources for finding simple ideas you can implement in your classroom:ebook_blog content_ad

Take Just One Subject into the 21st Century

Instead of transforming your classroom in one fell swoop, start with just one subject—some lend themselves better to technology integration than others, anyway.

For example, start with reading instruction. There are many ways to make the process of reading and comprehension testing more fun and engaging for students. For example:

  • While reading: Pair YouTube videos with various chapters throughout a book. When students reach Chapter 2, for example, they “unlock” a cool video that ties in with the text.
  • After each reading assignment: After each page- or chapter-based reading assignment, have students log in to their Whooo’s Reading account, where they can log their reading to earn Wisdom Coins. They also earn coins for answering CCSS-aligned questions—these responses are shared with you, making it easy to assess their comprehension of the text.
  • After reading: Instead of having students create a typical book report, allow them to write a blog post. The assignment can be based your current book report rubric, with a few simple modifications to focus on building online writing skills.

Make Manual Tasks More Efficient

If you’re a minimalist, then you don’t like having a stack of papers on your desk, along with notebooks and folders placed haphazardly around the room.

Use Google Docs, Forms, and Slides to minimize the paper in your classroom, while still allowing students to write and express themselves. Here are some ideas for using Google in your classroom:

You don’t need an entire fleet of tablets or an expensive smartboard to bring technology into your classroom. Keep it simple, focus on small changes, and watch your students throw themselves into learning.

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