Innovation. A buzzword we have heard before, and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. But what does it really mean to be innovative in school?  We are lucky enough to have guest writer Dakota Murphey here again, telling us 4 sure-fire ways to help integrate technology and embrace our ever-growing advances and gadget-obsessed society.  Read on for Dakota’s insightful advice.

Incorporating innovation into teaching practice doesn’t need to break the bank either. Whether you’re a trainee teacher or you’ve been in the industry for years, here are four innovative methods to think about to become an even better teacher than you are already.

Don’t ban smartphones – use them.

While many teachers may think that smartphones are devil devices, disrupting the classroom, distracting students and negatively affecting their mental health, they can actually be incredibly beneficial when used in the right way. Here are some methods you could use to utilise them effectively in the classroom:

  • Photos & Videos.  Smartphones have incredible cameras which can do a lot more than taking selfies. Also, you could train your students to use video editing tools – in today’s technological world, it’s important for their video content to be well scripted, arranged and aesthetically interesting.
  • Audio Recording. If you’ve been to university, you’ll have probably used a Dictaphone to record your lectures. Smartphones can now do the same! In a languages class, for instance, recording the correct pronunciation of a particular word or phrase could help with oral assignments.
  • Response System. Students love to feel like they are being listened to, so why not make the most of their smartphones by using them as a student response system? Use polls, feedback and data apps o keep students engaged and eager to learn. They can also be used to run anonymous polls, gathering feedback and data about any particular issues you want to discuss.

Utilise tablets.

In essence, tablets are simply bigger versions of the smartphone, but their added size can actually be extremely beneficial- they could also save your school a ton of money on textbook and printed material costs.

  • Send materials & information. Teachers can now send materials and information to their students online, replacing the need to print out individual assignments for each student. You can also set tests with predefined deadlines to each pupil, meaning there’ll be no more convoluted excuses as to why homework wasn’t completed.
  • Collect data. Certain programs and software will also congregate all the data for you, making your life easier when it comes to marking your class’s work.
  • Work on the go. Utilising tablets also means you can take your work on the go, allowing you to do it anywhere and everywhere. Plus, since students love a touch screen, being able to complete tests and assignments in this way should excite them a lot more than using a pad and pencil. In fact, it could even improve their grades – a Californian medical school recently found that using tablets in their teaching improved grade scores by approximately 23 per cent.

Teach outside.

Teaching indoors can become bland and repetitive so why not mix it up a little and head to the great outdoors? We all know how miserable it can feel being stuck inside when the weather is so beautiful outside, so don’t stand for it – make the most of your natural surroundings.

  • Focus. Learning outdoors isn’t only great for getting some fresh air – recent research has found that learning outdoors actually helps students better focus once they return to the classroom. It can nurture creativity, enhance communication skills and improve attitudes about the environment. While it’s true that certain topics, like science or geography, better lend themselves to teaching outside, there’s no reason other subjects can’t as well.

Use assistive technology.

  • Support all needs. Many technologies, like talking calculators, variable speed recorders and electronic worksheets are of great benefit to students with learning disabilities, allowing them to capitalise on their strengths while minimising their weaknesses. Using assistive technology, those with difficulties can now have a voice, making it easier for them to learn and for you to teach them. Phonetic spelling software, for example, enables dyslexic students to convert words they’re unsure how to spell into the correct spelling, meaning they get across exactly what they intended to say.

There you have it – four innovative ideas to shape your way of teaching. Students have an abundance of ideas like no other. Talk to them, involve them in your process, and ask them how they want to be taught. Only by working together will you be able to progress effectively.

Dakota Murphey is a mother of two from Brighton. Looking to share her knowledge and experience through her writing. Find out what else she’s been up to over on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey   

Let us know your experience of using technology in the classroom  Editor@teacherhorizons.com

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