The Teacher Tip

Teach Students to use Technological Tools during Workshops

November 14, 2017

Adapted from Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke.

The workshop is a predictable instructional model that provides students time in which to interact. Technology in the classroom fits easily into this hands-on approach to learning: our students should be the ones using it. Oftentimes we combine this structure with unstructured experimentation by allowing students some time to play with a new technological tool before the lesson begins. How can teachers introduce a new piece of technology to the class through a workshop?

Try this:

  • Give students a few minutes to login or open the tool and explore. Guide them by asking, “What do you notice? What do you think you can do with it? What other tools does it remind you of?”
  • Explicitly model the skills needed to get started or that are essential. “Today we are going to use this tool to _______. There are many great things to learn about it, but to get you started I want to be sure you understand how to _______.”
  • Coach students in starting to use the tool, employing support methods such as conferences. When students are ready, send them off to work independently. Help them and encourage them to help one another. The goal is to promote independence, not dependence: “Let me show you; then you can be our classroom specialist.” “I’m not sure; let’s figure it out together.” “Check with [classmate’s name]; she knows how to do that well.”
  • Gather students so they can share what they learned. Capture their new knowledge on a chart they can refer to during future working sessions. “What tips or tricks did you learn today?” “What were you successful at and what was challenging?” “What innovations did you come up with today?”

Teaching technological tools in a workshop setting supports a community where children learn particular skills and then teach others what they have learned. This method fosters independence in the classroom.

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