As the summer holidays draw near in many parts of the world, parents shouldn’t be surprised if kids choose to fill their days with technology. After all, teens and tweens are now spending more hours on their devices – iPads, phones and computers – than they are asleep.
In the same way that some food is healthy and some has no nutritional benefits, some apps are low in mental fibre. Based on my own research into how students learn with technology, here’s a guide to getting rid of “junk” apps and ensuring your tweens and teens develop healthy tech habits both in term time and during the school holidays.
From passive to active
The key lies in shifting kids from using apps that make them passive content consumers to those where they are active content producers. Encouraging the use of activating apps can help children to develop a wide range of 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Before I look at apps that will actively engage kids during school holidays, here are the “apps” you should immediately delete from their lives.
Once these “apps” are deleted, here’s a selection of apps that will not only engage your kids, but help them develop important skills. I’ve selected a few iOS, Android, and Web-based apps (accessible through a browser on any device). The full list is available here. I’ve grouped these according to the skills they will develop.
Curation: Curation apps help kids to develop key skills such as reading, categorising and organising.
Conversation: There’s a shift from learning through content consumption to learning through conversation around content in online spaces. Conversation-based apps provide opportunities to debate, discuss and enrich relationships.
Correction: Research shows that one of the most effective ways to learn is through mistakes. Technology allows us to easily experiment, make mistakes and learn through correction.
Creation: Creating content develops key skills such as logic, creative thinking and problem solving.
Chaos: Learning to make sense of too much information, missing information, and conflicting information is a skill children increasingly need to develop in our content-excessive world.
No matter which apps your kids choose, it’s important to keep track of their use. Research suggests that screen time should be limited, whether young users are consuming “junk” apps or learning while they swipe. OurPact is a great tool to automate this process. It allows parents to set usage schedules or turn off a device at any time.
What strategy can you use that will double your student learning gains? The answer, according to 250 studies is formative assessment. Unlike summative assessment which typically takes place at the end of a section and evaluates learning according to a benchmark, formative assessment is intended to check understanding during learning.
One of the layers of the @citvated classroom model is Correction. It is this layer that not only encourages the use of tools that enable students to learn through mistakes, but it is also the layer that encourages the use of formative assessment tools.
The exciting thing is that there are a wide range of amazing tools that can be used not only for formative assessment, but for fun formative assessment.
Tools like Socrative and Kahoot provide ideal places to quickly setup assessments and get students enthusiastically engaged in the learning process.
Kahoot makes use of a gamification element where the students compete against each other in a race to top the leaderboard. In addition to being easy to use Kahoot allows teachers to both prepare questions before a lesson or to have pop-quizzes where questions are created on the fly.
The Most Dangerous Writing App
Or how about something totally different, something that combines creation, correction and conversation all into one. One of the most powerful ways of doing formative assessment is to get students to summarize what they have learned during the lesson. They could quite simply turn to their neighbour and chat about this - but then in all likelihood they will talk about sport or fashion, and not the lesson.
Well, here's a unique way to use technology to get them to think quickly about what they've just learned...because if they don't think quickly, there's a price to pay!
Get them to all visit "The Most Dangerous Writing App" website. It's free - uncluttered, and simply asks one question. "Session length?"
The students can be given anything from 5 mins to 60 mins to write down what they have learned. However there is a catch...if they stop writing for just 5 seconds, they lose everything and have to start again. In the words of the site:
"Because 'tis better to have written and lost, than never to have written at all."
This is a great way to force students to write, and think while they write. No time for looking at their friend or daydreaming about what they've missed on Snapchat, or when the lesson will end. It's write or start again.
Yet another exciting and active way to get students to share their thinking and for teachers to use formative assessment as a tool to improve learning, because after all, @activists do!
I recently came across an article entitled “5 apps educators should use”, but in my enthusiasm I misread it as “5 apps educators shouldn’t use”. I must admit that I did a double-take for a moment. How could someone tell educators what apps not to use? It would really be bad to be an app on such a list… which of course got me thinking. Are there any apps that educators shouldn’t ever use? I think there are, but maybe not the ones you would expect. Here are 5 “apps” educators should never use plus 5 “apps” every educator must use.
5 “Apps” Educators Should Never Use
5 “Apps” Educators Should Always Use
Hey, but surely we need some apps installed in our iTeacher life if we are going to be successful, right? Sure we do. So after removing the previous 5 apps from iTeacher, here are the 5 apps every iTeacher must use!
Originally publisher here
Dr. Craig Blewett is the author and founder of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach. He helps schools and universities around the world towards the effective use of educational technology.
Get Free Magazine