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Empowering Students Through Technology

Wow, the beginning of a new school year. This is the start of year 12 for me in education and it has been such an eventful and rewarding ride. A new school year provides an awesome opportunity and chance for new possibilities for both teachers and students. I hope you are as excited as I am for the chance to try something new, build relationships with students, and really make this a great year of learning and growth. Many teachers are inundated with so many beginning of the year tasks and to-do lists. I challenge you to add one more items to your very long to do list: empowering your students this year through technology. Give them a little more control over their learning and become the tour guide of your content.

Lucky for me, empowering students comes easy. I love to take a back seat to students watching them figure things out and being more of a tour guide for my curriculum. For some teachers this is hard. It is hard to give up control. It is hard to squash our ego and not be the master of our classroom domain. But in order to not only improve learning, engage students, and develop soft skills, learning environments must be student centered. The process of moving to a more student centered classroom that empowers all students can be made easier through technology. Technology provides an amazing means to encourage students to share and amplify their voice, personalize their learning, and create. Here are some ideas of ways you can empower students with technology in the classroom this school year:

  1. Use short videos to introduce units: PBS LearningMedia, DiscoveryEd, BrainPOP, and Safari Montage are great resources for short videos that can be integrated into the start of a lesson in order to peak students’ interests. EdPuzzle and Zaption are also tools to combine videos and short formative assessments in a one stop shop for students.
  2. Allow students to make videos: Creating their own videos is a great way to empower students. Allow the videos to be used to demonstrate their understanding of the content or to help teach fellow classmates. Great and easy to use video tools are Powtoon, Animoto, and Movenote.
  3. Allow students to create infographics: Infographics are great tools that can be used to creatively display data, sequence of events, or propose multiple solutions to a problem. Some great tools for infographics include Pikochart, Easel.ly, or Canva.
  4. Allow students to use other digital storytelling tools: Digital storytelling is a powerful means to share your thoughts and ideas. Instead of a standard written paragraph/paper or poster board, allow students to share information digitally. Some great tools for digital storytelling are Flipgram, Adobe Spark, or Storybird.

All of these are great ways to implement technology to empower students. They are easy, engaging, and you will be so pleasantly surprised at what your students produce. Just release and let go of the classroom steering wheel letting your students take over the driving. Your students will appreciate it and you will be glad you help empowered their learning and growth!

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Shana White is a guest blogger for GPB Education. She is the technology coordinator at Creekland Middle School and adjunct teacher for Georgia Virtual School. Shana was recently named 2016 PBS LearningMedia Lead Digital Innovator. Join us on August 25 for our Ignite Your Passion for Innovation event where Shana will lead an Ignite talk, along with other innovative educators. You can also connect with her on Twitter: @ShanaVWhite.