I often joke with my class that there must be technology goblins that exist in my classroom. All systems seem to be working fine and then out of nowhere, nothing will work the way it should. These sudden episodes in the middle of a lesson can completely destroy all learning and create a chaotic atmosphere. In order to be better prepared for when the technology goblins come for your computer or whatever technology mishap might come your way, here are some tips for any teacher:
Always have a plan B
B is for back-up plan, but this doesn’t mean a basic plan or a generic plan. When planning lessons, ask yourself, “What will I do if my technology lesson does not succeed?” Another website may be the answer you need, but I advise always having something that will work without technology. You need to have something that will teach the same standards you originally planned for, so a minimal amount of learning time is lost. An activity or worksheet over the same subject or teaching the same skill should be written into the lesson plan as a safety net.
I usually have a plan C too, this is a more generic lesson that focuses on a recurring standard. A cache of dry erase boards and strategic use of graphic organizers can always come in handy here.
Keep a list of a few websites that serve a general function instead of a specific purpose-
When your original website goes down, use a website that can serve a basic purpose so you can quickly adjust your lesson and the learning can continue. Here is a short list:
- http://www.voki.com/– Inspire kids to write those reports by letting them design their own character to give the report when they are done.
- https://www.smore.com/app/dashboard– Make virtual posters that can be as simple or complex as you want.
- https://padlet.com/– A virtual corkboard where everyone can post their messages for everyone else to see.
- https://popplet.com/– Graphic organizers your students create and share.
- https://www.thinglink.com/– A picture is worth a thousand words- use this site to have students create visually interesting reports.
- http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/– This site makes short comic strips.
- Google Docs- Like Microsoft Word, but SO much better.
- Google Slides- Like Microsoft Power Point, but SO much better.
- Google Draw- Import pictures, label them, draw, and write.
- Google Maps- Not just for geography, if it happens on Earth you can use this website.
Ask students how they would like to represent their learning
When the technology goblins visit you in the middle of a lesson, you may be left with few resources at your disposal. It is at times like this that you can try something truly original: ask your students to decide for themselves how they would like to represent their learning. They may surprise you with a skit, informational trading cards or a new creation all their own.
Ask students what they can learn from the technology problem that is happening
When you take the technology problem happening in your class and relate it to the outside world, students can easily see why it is important to learn how to correctly handle these situations. What if all the traffic lights went out at the same time? What if your plane was about to leave, but you were stuck behind all the traffic lights? Resourcefulness, patience, perseverance, and ingenuity can all be taught with hypothetical situations like these during this time.
Ask students if they know how to fix the technology problem
More students teach me how to fix my tech problems, than I have ever solved by myself. Do not discount their knowledge, instead, challenge them to be the first one to figure out the solution!
The main point is, technology integration is not a science. It is a daring art. You must dare to try new programs and new situations with students who may be new to technology or as a teacher who may be uncomfortable with technology. Random events will happen that you cannot explain, control, or fix. Students are amazingly adaptable to every situation. If they see that the teacher takes setbacks with a grain of salt, they too, will learn to breath easy when technology does not go right. One of the most valuable lessons you can teach is to be calm in a stressful situation. Teaching students perseverance in the face of adversity is worth a few visits by the technology goblins.