The Instructional Gourmet

September 12, 2017

If cooking is your passion, you know it helps to add the right stuff to make the dish taste better.  That’s why my husband, a gourmet chef, has a list of four different balsamic vinegars on his birthday gift list.

On the other hand, if a standard knife will do the job of slicing cucumbers for salad, why pull out the fancy mandoline to do the same task?  It might actually take longer to find, use, and clean the fancy device – and the flavor is just the same.

Going digital in the classroom is all about the right tool for the right job at the right time.  If pencil and paper work best for a particular lesson, use them.

So when is it appropriate to plug in?  Whenever you want to reach outside the four walls of your classroom or delve deeper into a topic.  Whenever you want to give students more voice and choice in their learning.  Whenever there is a task that students should and could be doing, but the conventional tools don’t get them there. Here are a few examples.

-You’ve read a chapter on ancient river civilizations, and students are mostly asleep because they haven’t been asked to do anything.  Use Discovery Education to find a video on each civilization, and ask students to watch one of their choosing while completing a mind map or graphic organizer.  Have each of them create a Kahoot quiz that a small group could try out.

-Teach students the etiquette of email and have each of them write to an expert for information.  Make this part of a mini-research assignment.  Then teach how to cite an email using EasyBib.com.

-Several students and parents complain that the online textbook is complicated to use, and they keep forgetting the access codes.  Create an instructional video and post it in Google classroom where they can watch it from home.

Our students have more technology walking into our classrooms than Buzz Aldrin had when he walked on the moon.  So put it to good use.  At the same time, not everything you do has to be digital – nor should it be.  Start small.  Pick the right tool for the right job at the right time.  Before long, you’ll be like my husband, adding ingredients no one has ever heard of, but the salt and pepper will still be on the table.

 

This article will also appear in the Mountain Ridge MTSS Newsletter

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