- They invest time and resources to develop clear and strong objectives and outcomes for teachers and students. After this is defined, choosing the right devices, infrastructure and software become easy.
- The school leadership supports the decisions made by the teachers and promotes buy-in from the teaching community. Developing agency in students is, in fact, starts with giving the same autonomy to teachers to make their own decision.
- They promote interdepartmental collaboration. Bringing together teachers with a wide range of skill sets and from different backgrounds helps bring out and inspires the best in everyone.
- They listen to the student and parent community and involve them in the decision making process.
- Give up control: When you bring in technology and the internet in the classroom you open the world of new possibilities. This makes it impossible for you to plan every detail of your lesson plan so I recommend carving in ample time for exploration and tinkering.
- Let students decide: It’s time for the end of term project presentations? Encourage students to be creative and let them choose what they want to do – shoot a video, create a website, even enact it or just stick to a slideshow – the choice is entirely up to them! Doing so helps build confidence and bring out students’ hidden interests and skills.
- Engage your students by asking for suggestions and feedback: Ask students to peer review their work by giving each other “three stars and a wish” – three things you liked about your colleagues’ work and one thing you wish they would do next time.
- Solve open ended problems: Ask big questions to solve big problems. Questions like – “how would you decrease traffic congestion in X city?”, “how would you improve the food and water distribute chain so everyone gets equal access to it?”, “how would you incentivise people to pay their taxes?”, etc. Asking such questions opens the doors to a series of follow up questions encourages students to gain a deeper understanding of how complex systems work, which in turn helps them to potentially discover the root cause of the problem.
- Be a coach or facilitator for learning: When it comes to technology, students need a supportive and experienced adult to guide them. They also need an environment where trying, learning-by-doing, and not being afraid to make mistakes is encouraged.
- Adapted from Haverford Ancient Egypt Project
- Adapted from Book of BSD – Timeline Builder (History) Project
- Adapted from Book of BSD – Fact or Opinion Scavenger Hunt Project
- FutureLearn – they have a specific section for teaching, and a sub-section from primary teaching or STEM education so you can easily find something relevant. The courses are often short (2-3 hours per week, for 2-4 weeks) and can be done flexibly and over a longer period of time if needed. We particularly recommend reading the comments – often the instructors ask other students to suggest activities and have gotten lots of ideas there.
- Twinkl – one of the best places to go for inspiration while lesson planning, it will give you ideas for new techniques to try and has all the materials ready to go in an instant. Again, it is really easy to sort by year group and subject so you immediately find something relevant to you. You do need to pay for access to the resources, but we often find it is a good source of inspiration to flip through the ideas in our subject area even if you don’t have a subscription.
- Pinterest and Instagram – while social media is often thought of us a time waster, there are tons of amazing education accounts out there showcasing real teacher activities in the classroom. Some of our favorites on Instagram include @thsfoundry and @steamexplorers.
- Technology providers – have a new technology that you want to use in your classroom but don’t know where to start? A lot of tech companies are more than happy to help you get started, whether it’s Raspberry Pi’s classes on FutureLearn or Google’s Teacher Center there are often a lot of free resources. And of course, if you use (or want to use) BSD’s curriculum we are always happy to help so just contact us here.
- It is on-going. Rather than a one-off workshop, we work with schools to embed regular professional development in teachers’ schedules throughout the term. This allows for spacing, and creates opportunities for application, reflection and improvement.
- It is differentiated. We work with schools that range from private schools in Hong Kong to public schools in Philadelphia so we have a lot of experience working with teachers with different backgrounds, cultures, languages and experiences. We tailor our PD to make it relevant in terms of context, while still emphasising the core skills that span borders.
- It uses innovative technologies. Just like students, teachers want an opportunity to use the latest technologies and tools. We always aim to bring in the latest technologies whether in software or hardware so that teachers can see what is possible, even while we build up their basic underlying technical skills.
- It focuses on the big skills. We know that technology will change, so in addition to the core coding skills, we also focus on the overarching computational and design thinking approaches we want students to learn. This way, even as the underlying technology changes, the objectives and many of the teaching techniques stay relevant. Our goal in every project is for students to use an approach that includes inquiry, planning, teamwork, iteration, empathy and design; and in this context, be able to figure out what technology is required to accomplish their goals.
- It builds a community of practice. We know that we can’t teach everything in one (or even many) professional development sessions so also actively work to build a community and get We work with a small group of interested early adopters, and focus on training and nurturing them to build their confidence. This helps them become internal experts and champions that push each other to try new things and act as informal mentors to new teachers that want to get involved.
1. Learn with your students. Your students will love the opportunity to drive the learning and at times act like the teacher. Frame it as an adventure to explore together: “Let’s explore together, I know that some of you may have had experience with it before, let’s take this opportunity to learn from each other and together.”
2. Use the internet as a tool. A lot of technology experts use YouTube to top up their skills – whether to learn a new code or create a new tool. Can you use YouTube creatively with your students to learn and build something? For some classes with older kids, this can be a great way to change the learning environment. Besides, who would say no to watching YouTube for homework?
3. Work in partnership. Remember the idea to make your students the teacher? You can assign students a role to make them part of the learning – whether it’s the CSS Superhero or HTML expert – this is a great way to build their capacity as experts and confidence teaching their peers a new skill.
4. It’s cool to copy. In technology, it’s not considered cheating if you copy! In fact open-source code is how a lot of programs are built. The role of the programmer or product designer is to bring together existing pieces to make something useful and they only build new things where they need to. Don’t be afraid to look online for inspiration for your design or code, and focus on encouraging students to think of new combinations that make something useful in the real world.Interested in learning more about how to bring technology into the classroom? Email Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org or read more articles here.