As the leaves on the trees start to turn and the amount of daylight we have left in the day after we get home shortens we begin to quickly realize that Autumn is here, Winter is coming, and we are quickly heading into the second marking period. At this point in the school year, you are already into the swing of things and planning your curricular activities are now a routine part of your weekend activities.
For many, this is the part in the year where we start taking risks with our lessons. It’s quite natural to want to add some creativity to your classrooms to spice things up a bit. The downside to this is that we only have so many days in the year and if we lose track of our pacing calendars only a quarter of the way into a long school year, we might get pinched once final exam season hits.
One of the ways that we can best differentiate our lessons without taking time away from curricular activities to focus on “tech teaching” is to re-imagine the common apps we know and use every day in our classrooms and re-purpose them in ways perhaps that the app developers never intended.
When is a Presentation …. Not a Presentation?
One of my favorite lessons in differentiated instruction is through Google Slides. What many think of as a simple presentation tool is actually a powerful learning tool that when put in the right hands can be a very creative means of adding educational value to your classrooms.
One educator, Eric Curts from Ohio demonstrated Google Slides as a way of creating digital comic books to teach vocabulary. Google Slides can also be thought of as a “flip book” tool to allow students to create pretty detailed stop-motion movies that can be based on any curricular topic. Recently, I took this topic and created a pretty neat animation project that involved the Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park doing battle with our friends from the Star Wars Universe.
Have you ever looked at a slide deck and wondered how you can completely re-purpose it into something it was never intended for? In this example, we took a 5th grade lesson and turned Google Slides into a fully functional web site creation tool.
It’s OK to Think Outside the Box
Lets face it, we all live in a world where we want to be dynamic in our classrooms and create memorable authentic projects with our students. However, sometimes we are faced with due dates, deadlines, holiday breaks, and curricular maps that just don’t allow for out of the box thinking. Finding ways to add a project or two to your lesson plans are sometimes the little things that can bring a class together to really get the creativity flowing.
I would love to learn about creative ways you are using technology that might be slightly outside the norm. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your passions for diversified classroom learning.
Jeffrey Bradbury, author of Kidblog: An Introduction to Blogging With Your Students, is the creator of TeacherCast.net, TeacherCast University, and Educational Podcasting Today. He is an ASCD Emerging Leader, Google Certified Teacher, Google Education Trainer, PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator, Microsoft Innovative Educator, Microsoft Surface Expert, Evernote Community Leader, speaker, writer, podcaster, broadcaster, consultant, and educational media specialist. He is currently the Coordinator for Technology Integration for the Westwood Regional School District in New Jersey.