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Tech tools have been among teachers' greatest resources as they engage students during remote and hybrid learning

5 tech tools and strategies for the final end-of-school push

Tech tools have been among teachers' greatest resources as they engage students during remote and hybrid learning

Now that we are heading into spring, there is about one-fourth of the school year remaining. Many schools are opening or converting to hybrid, so in a push for a strong finish, it’s important for educators to keep students motivated during the final stretch.

What are some technologies and strategies to help facilitate this? I recently participated in virtual events through my local library for the Big Read celebration. There was a typical book discussion via Zoom, but then there were also several virtual participatory art projects. I noticed in all three events the facilitator used a document camera in the instruction. My husband and I have been teaching virtually this year, and even his top remote instructional tool is a doc cam. He has found it to be very useful in keeping his students engaged and in helping them “see” the information and to process it better.

Along with the doc cam, here are some of my favorite strategies and tech tools to make learning more multi-dimensional in the virtual world:

Document camera
My husband uses his in science classes to demonstrate, draw, and highlight chemicals in the periodic table and to write and record what a student is explaining. But this useful technology, which works with popular platforms like Google Meets and Zoom, can be used in any class where students benefit from seeing a teacher’s notes or drawings, or to encourage and engage students who are more visual learners. With math classes, for example, I started to use the document camera to show manipulatives so my students can follow along.

12 in x 12 in whiteboards
One way to enhance high-tech learning with low-tech tools is to utilize the typical whiteboards that students would use in school. I have my students use them to show their work in gallery view in Zoom, because the dry erase writing looks much bigger and bolder than paper. All students took theirs home to use virtually, but if they do not have one at home, Anita Archer has great tips for items that can be used in her recent webinar.

Jamboard Google Extension
This is a great tool for student collaboration when they cannot have in-person group work. Students can be assigned an individual sheet to do their work on, or the students could collaborate on one sheet. The teacher can flip through the sheets and facilitate the conversation around different pieces of student work.

The sheets can also be divided in half and assigned with structured partners, which is another great tip from Anita Archer.

Chat function
Seems simple, but the chat function in any virtual platform can be a great tool for collaboration. For example, you can provide sentence stems and questions that students respond to in the chat and keep a record of responses. And, you can create your own system to indicate if students answered and how they answered. Not only will it help create small groups of students who might need additional support in a concept, but it will also help you be equitable in who you are calling on so that all voices in your classroom are heard.

“Explore It” Google Extension
This tool is terrific for older students who are writing papers or doing a research report. They can open a document in Google and then open “Explore It.” When they type words into the search they can find additional information, links to sites, and citations. It can even turn the citations into APA form.

This year has taught us a lot, including new ways tech tools can be used to engage students. As educators continue to innovate, hopefully tips and strategies such as these will help keep the motivation and engagement going as we finish the school year strong and resilient!

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