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Ed Tech Tip: Plan a Program Play Day

Allen L. from

Ed Tech TipsPlay time isn't just for kindergarteners any more. It is a must for any teacher integrating tech in the classroom.

One of the biggest errors I’ve made as a tech-savvy teacher was not allowing students sufficient time to "play" with technology. Students need time to make mistakes and take responsible risks in order to become proficient at something, especially technology.

My Ed Tech Teacher Fail

During my first year teaching, I planned an assignment using Microsoft Publisher and wanted everything to be just right. I had a great presentation for my science classes on how to create a flyer using Microsoft Publisher and for the most part I thought students were “getting it’. After all, when I finished showing them step by step, click by click, what they had to do I asked, “Does anyone have any questions before you log onto your computer and begin creating your flyer with Publisher?” No one raised a hand. I turned off the projector and instructed them to begin. Mission accomplished. I taught them how to use Publisher and create a flyer. That’s what I thought.

After a stroll around the classroom, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my students had no idea how to begin using Publisher, let alone create something with it.

I was angry and frustrated. How could this be? Surely it was their fault for not being attentive during my presentation. Wrong. It was my fault. What I neglected to do was something that teachers overlook all the time. After introducing the new piece of technology I didn’t give my students enough time to “play” with it.

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Program Play Day: Why It Is Worth the Time

Since that experience I have made some changes. Now, every time I introduce a new type of technology to students I start by showing them just the basic keys, this usually takes no longer than 10 minutes. Allow them the rest of the period to practice using the technology.

Don’t assign the actual assignment yet. Instead, give them an alternate one that requires them to focus on the technology rather than content. For example, if your assignment asks them to create a PowerPoint presentation about animal and plant cells you could first have them create a quick PowerPoint about their family pet or favorite sport. It should not be an assessed assignment. Encourage them to make mistakes and responsible risks. Remind them throughout the period that they should master the basic keys and then build off of those keys by trying others. In doing so they will learn much more than you would be able to teach them. They are learning by doing.

Encourage them to have a mistake-filled day. The quality of work that they complete and the confidence they develop will again remind you why you wanted to become a teacher.

How do you ensure success when using tech in the classroom? Share in the comments section!


Guest post by Allen L. @