“I’m a strong believer that collaboration when done correctly is very powerful,” Crawford-Meyer says, noting that along with building their skills, collaborative activities can support students’ social and emotional learning.
Other critical tools she’s used include a webcam that taps into artificial intelligence as it films teachers giving lessons in classrooms. It’s a tool that could continue to come in handy if classes or parts of classes are sent home because of COVID-19.
Teachers at Crawford-Meyer’s school meet regularly to discuss their best tech ideas, and Crawford-Meyer has also filmed lessons of teachers weaving tech into their teachings to share on her private YouTube channel.
This year, she’s looking forward to incorporating more virtual reality and augmented reality into lessons using VR goggles and a MERGE cube, a device that lets students touch and interact with 3D content. For example, a student could stand inside a cell to identify its parts rather than examining a diagram on a flat sheet of paper.
Streamlining classroom management
Along with storytelling tech tools, Capitão-Tavares, in Toronto, used learning innovation platform D2L Brightspace during distance learning to make classroom management easier. The ability to put daily agendas, weekly activities, and links to resources online reduced the number of parent emails she received and gave her more time to focus on instruction. Capitão-Tavares also created a class Twitter account to showcase student projects and accomplishments.
When school shut down last fall because of COVID-19, “we didn’t miss a beat,” Capitão-Tavares says. “That’s the power of technology.”
As part of an entrepreneurial project called Business Day, students used cloud-based slideshows to design animal playing cards, which they sold and then donated proceeds to charity. They also built a website that featured all student Business Day projects.
Capitão-Tavares says teachers at her school have opportunities to learn about new technology through their district’s drop-in lunch learnings, after-school webinars, and virtual drop-in office hours.
With any tool, she says, ask, “Is it accessible and easy to use? Does it build community, enhance engagement, and amplify students’ voices? If it hits all five marks, it’s probably a good one to try.”