As I prepare to start my ninth year of teaching, I find myself reflecting on the tools and resources I value most. What new techniques will I try this semester, which ones served me best in years prior? At the Maury County School District in Columbia, Tennessee, I teach fourth-graders, a group who are always excited to learn and anxious to interact with the lesson at hand.
My passion is creating innovative lessons that engage students’ attention. I enjoy learning, searching, collaborating, and sharing ideas that prepare kids for their future. Sometimes that means bringing in new technology. Tech tools are essential to today’s classrooms. They allow kids to create, communicate, and think for themselves.
Here are a few tech tools that I prefer to use with my students, to help empower their learning and get them thinking outside the box.
A Fourth-Grade Teacher’s Tech Essentials
1) Seesaw: Seesaw has been a game-changer for me. My students use Seesaw to create, reflect, collaborate, and share their learning. They do this by posting videos, pictures, documents, links, and other digital pieces of work that they produce to our very own class feed. Students can view each other’s work, as well as comment on it.
I love watching my students take ownership of their learning and reflect on their learning throughout the school year. My favorite reason for using Seesaw is that it encourages students to do their absolute best by giving them an audience for their work.
(Next page: 2 more fourth-grade tech essentials)
2) myON News: I wouldn’t want to teach without myON. myON is a digital library with thousands of books that students access online anytime, anywhere. myON also has a news portion that gives the students current news articles on a daily basis. The writers do an amazing job of writing articles that are not only current and cutting-edge, but they completely capture the attention of all readers.
I love being able to talk to my students about what’s currently going on in our world! After reading the articles, they are linked to books that are related to the same topic. As students read myON News, they are presented with facts, maps, and interactive videos. I use the books in myON’s library as well as myON news articles to help teach and reinforce science and social studies topics. I take the standards I’m teaching and immediately search myON’s library for titles before I plan. I can use these books in so many different ways. It is so assuring to know that everyone has a copy.
3) Google Tools for Education: Students can produce amazing things for me through Google docs and Google drawings. One of my favorite things to do is have my students create booksnaps. This concept was created by Tara Martin, an amazing educator who I came across via Twitter. You can find her by looking up #Booksnaps or @TaraMartinEDU.
Basically, a booksnap is a digital, visual representation to annotate and share an excerpt of a book using Snapchat, Google Drawings, or many other apps. Students take a picture or screenshot of the text they are reading. They then take a quote that resonated within them and add emojis, bitmojis, drawings, stickers, etc. to share what they were thinking. This is an excellent way to motivate students to think about text as they read and build their schema.
When teaching elementary-schoolers, it’s important to make your lessons engaging and relevant for them. But it’s also important that the tech you use for this purpose feels essential to you and your goals.
Don’t settle for what’s available. Think outside the box and go try something new!
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