Tech for Teaching: 5 Awesome Electronic Tools for Educators Reply

Learning is often an unpleasant experience for kids, from elementary school right up through high school graduation. Traditional classroom instruction is tedious. Ironically, this is even truer for gifted students. But today’s generation of students identifies more than any previous generation with technology. Odds are that half your class by junior high school will have their own smartphone and selection of apps. You can make classes more interesting for students by introducing useful tools for educators. At the same time, you’ll make the teaching experience easier on yourself.

Project Management

You can start treating homework or class assignments as formalized projects. Depending on the age of your students, productivity software like spreadsheets, desktop publishing, graphics programs, video editing, file sharing, and more can help them become more engaged. Some of these programs are available via the cloud, or offered as special student editions at low cost or for free. The hands-on nature of using apps is an immersive experience that encourages participation and so makes classroom management easier.

Printing 3D Objects

A 3D printer is now available as affordable desktop devices. While the high temperatures involved make them inappropriate for young children, they are endlessly fascinating for older kids. The printers utilize various 3D design programs to create digital files that the printer software translates into 3D objects, usually by fusing together layers of plastic filament. You can create anything from historical landmarks to molecules at scale. It gives kids a chance to explore such concepts as computer-aided drawing, design and review processes, and real-life STEM applications, not to mention history, art, biology, and anything else you can prepare models for. The fun and fascination of creating solid objects enables them to better understand and retain what you’re trying to teach.

Website Portals

You might also consider setting up a classroom page of your own. This can be done as cheaply as a few dollars a month. Students can access it to stay informed and become more engaged. For example, you could post test results, upcoming exams, lessons, current study assignments, and other topics related to your curriculum or the school in general. Making important information available online will free you from answering a lot of questions and repeating notices and instructions. Kids and parents can login from home to check homework assignments, prepare for the next day’s lesson, get feedback, and more.

Teach Typing

Handwriting may be dead, but keyboards aren’t. Children who are expert at texting will find that actual typing is important to good communication skills in an adult world of emails, reports, proposals, and other demands for the written word. Learning to type at an early age will become a life-long habit. With software and the internet, typing can be a part of learning English. There are a number of applications for teaching typing to children by making it fun. When they learn to type, you can start asking for digital files via email rather than paperwork. This will save you from the clutter and filing chores of hard copies.

eLearning

There are any number of online training courses on many subjects for children of every age. E-learning modules can incorporate gamification or technologies like VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality) to make lessons interactive. Kids can learn at their own pace, save their progress, and log in again the next day to continue from the same point. Automated testing can also enable you to evaluate their learning progress in real time and tabulate individual or classroom scores on a variety of subjects. With each student immersed in their own online lessons, you’ll have more time on your hands and a lot more peace and quiet.

Any technology that illustrates or demonstrates classroom lessons is an invaluable teaching aid. It also allows children to gain real-life experiences and skills. Best of all, project and productivity tools can help to document and streamline your own management efforts.


Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Class Participation in the American Classroom Reply

You might think that perfect scores on tests, homework and projects might be all you need to do well in a university class in the USA, but you’d be wrong and the reason will probably surprise you: you have to participate in class.

Having to participate in class is something that always surprises new international students when they come to the USA.

“The biggest surprise is U.S. education. It’s very strict and you have to ask instructors questions if you don’t understand. You have to participate in class,” said Pirakorn Iamcharernying, from Thailand, who studied in the Intensive English Program at the University of San Francisco in California.

Your first day of class, you will be give a syllabus. Reading through the pages that outline the grading criteria and student expectations the professor has of you, you will see a word that will become very familiar to you while studying in the U.S.: participation.

What exactly is “class participation?” Each professor will have their own definition of student participation and they may even describe it in great detail in the syllabus for their class. Professors will grade on the frequency and quality of your participation in class. Generally, class participation is contributing to class lectures, either with comment or questions, volunteering answers to questions directed at the class and being attentive.

Why is class participation important? The first, most obvious answer is to make sure you’re actually there! You can’t participate in class if you’re not present. Another reason is to make sure you’re listening and absorbing the material discussed in the lecture. Having to answer questions about what is being discussed keeps you attentive. And finally, participation challenges you to understand the concepts and think through them critically.

This is a foundational concept in the U.S. classroom and it is part of the style of teaching here in the states. In the United States, the education system is designed to go beyond memorization. Obviously, you must know the material, but the application of concepts is much more important. There is a reason individuality is an integral part of American culture: it encourages ingenuity. Professors want you to not only hear what they’re saying, but they want you to understand what they’re teaching. You may even be asked to debate with your professor! The idea of arguing with your professor can be very uncomfortable and your first instinct may be that it’s disrespectful. After all, it may be extremely disrespectful in your home country. But rest assured, if you speak respectfully, you probably would not offend your professor.

“I was very surprised when students and the professor argued about some issues in the class. I think this is very good for students to improve critical thinking ability,“ explains Yujeong Moon from South Korea who studied English and business at Angelo State University.

Since an American style classroom and the education system will be all new to you, I suggest observing how American students participate in class and how their contributions are received. Some professors might have a more casual style and allow for open commentary in the class. Other professors may require that you raise your hand and wait to be called upon. Remember, you can always ask your professor for clarification too.

Speaking up in class or taking a chance and answering a question—in front of people, no less—can be really intimidating, especially for an international student and if English is not your first language. But you must try if you’re going to be successful in your studies and the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Jennifer Privette is the Editor and Assistant Publish of Study in the USA magazines and StudyUSA.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Seattle University.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.