In the midst of the ed-tech revolution, teachers are need to make informed decisions about what brings value to the classroom. As a geography teacher at Monrovia High School in California, I’m interested in finding ways to prepare students for the 21st century while teaching them about the complexities of the world around us.

Teachers at Monrovia value being able to instill students with the skills they need to be successful outside of the classroom, a task that we’ve been able to achieve through an individualized approach to learning—and an acceptance of digital tools.

Breaking the tech barrier
Most educators are familiar with “the battle of the cell phone.” We’re faced with the tough call of whether to ban or embrace technology. Because students will need to be digitally literate to be successful in the workplace, I sought a way to keep things relevant, engaging, and valuable through technology.

My solution was to find digital learning tools that are fun and produce valuable learning opportunities. For my classroom, the best option was to find educational mobile apps that students can use on a smartphone or tablet.

Since parents are often dealing with the same conundrum of phone usage at home, finding apps that bring value to students’ phone time became the mission.

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Individualized learning through music
All students identify with music. Being fascinated by the concept of the Earworm effect, where a song gets stuck in your head long after it’s stopped playing, I wanted to find a music-based educational app that would use this strategy while staying aligned to my lesson plans. The answer came in the form of Studytracks, an app that allows students to explore different subjects through relatable, catchy tracks.

Studytracks has more than 1,300 songs available covering a wide range of subjects, making it the perfect test for teachers at Monrovia. Students are able to work at their own pace through different tracks, using it to retain what they are learning in class.

Most importantly, this resource is customizable, allowing me to use it as a supplement to lesson plans, as a homework assignment, and as a studying tool. Students were struck by their newfound ability to retain knowledge through listening to music rather than reading from a traditional textbook.

About the Author:

Shawn Duff is a geography teacher at Monrovia High School in California.


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