Preparing students for the real world is an essential part of our job, so integrating technology into our lesson plans also becomes essential. However, it's not as easy as it seems to manage a classroom full of 3rd grade, 4th, grade, or 5th grade students and the technology we would so like to integrate.
I surveyed over 100 teachers in order to find the most practical and teacher friendly ways to integrate technology in the upper elementary classroom. Below are some of the most useful tools mentioned.
Teacher Approved Ideas For Integrating Technology
Google classroom was the tool that was most often mentioned by teachers taking the survey. Teachers that use it say it saves them time and paper. It allows you to easily post assignments and announcements, share information, and see work in real time.
Seesaw was designed to be a digital portfolio for students, but can be used for so much more! It has tools that students can use to capture and organize their learning. It makes sharing what students are doing in the classroom with their parents easy and fun. It came highly recommended by many of the teachers surveyed.
Terri Brown, a 4th grade teacher says this about using Seesaw in her classroom:
"I love Seesaw! It is a great way to communicate with parents and keep them involved with student learning, activities, and classroom happenings.
I invite all families to join our classroom account at Parent Night at the beginning of the school year. If parents need help connecting, I help them before they leave that night.
I send home a weekly classroom newsletter on Seesaw. I post pictures of daily activities. Parents love getting to see what's happening in real time. If students do a project on the iPads, we send them home for parents to see.
The kids do book talks about their free read books. Students can use Seesaw to make a video, record audio, or type a book review. This is an easy way to assess students and let parents know what their children are reading.
Reminders can be sent home quickly to everyone in the class or just a student or two.
I have even used it to keep parents updated on student behavior. Their child had to send a daily video saying how the day went and why. It made the students more accountable for their choices at school and parents were hearing how the day went from their own child. All posts are approved by the teacher."
While there are paid options with extra tools, the "free forever" version of Seesaw is still very useful.
This looks like an amazing, engaging tool for the classroom. Flipgrid is a video tool that allows students to safely have conversations and answer questions over video. Teachers are easily able to moderate the videos that students post. And best of all, it's free!
Flipgrid offers some amazing opportunities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students not only to colloborate with their own classmates, but with students around the world.
Nearpod is a tool you can use to create interactive lessons for your students. You can create your own interactive presentations (with things like polls, virtual field trips, open ended questions, etc.) or you can customize already created lessons in Nearpod's library of lessons - some free, some paid.
You can monitor students during the lessons to make sure they are on task.
Epic is an online library with thousands of books for elementary aged kids (Kindergarten - 5th grade). While parents have to pay for access, teachers and librarians get free access for their classrooms after their educator status has been verified.
The books are high quality, including many award winning books. Many of the books (although not all of them) have a "Read-to-Me" option, which makes this a great option for a listening center.
Newsela is a website with a huge library of nonfiction articles for all ages. New articles are published daily for grades 2 - 12, making differentiation easier. The articles are timely, relevant, and cover all subject areas (reading, math, science, social studies, etc.).
There is a free version, although the paid version obviously provides more options and customization options for teachers.
Prodigy is a math website that allows upper elementary students to practice standards based skills in a fun way. Students create an avatar and take a diagnostic test so that they can practice skills customized to their individual needs. Teachers can also customize the content so that it aligns with what students are learning in the classroom.
Prodigy has promised that the math games and reports they provide will always be free to educators.
Peardeck is another tool you can use to create interactive presentations for your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Google Slides and Peardeck work very well together, so if you are already using Google Slides in your classroom, take a look at Peardeck's features.
There is a free option, but the premium (paid) option provides more teacher friendly options.
YouTube is probably the easiest and most common way teachers integrate technology in the classroom. There are so many different ways to utilize the free videos out there. You can play songs that will help students memorize multiplication facts. You can watch videos to help build background knowledge of a topic or to grab your students' attention. You can take virtual field trips to show students places around the world. The possibilities are endless.
Kahoot is a website that allows you to create interactive games for your students. It is easy to set up - a student log in is not required for students to be able to play. You can use or adapt games that have already been created by others to save you time. You can use Kahoot for review, for assessment, and more.
Best of all, Kahoot is free for K-12 educators!
Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!
Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!