I’m so excited to have Catherine Ross guest blogging today! If you’re looking for some great ways to incorporate technology into your day – these are it!
In my experience, kids learn best when they’re having fun. No matter what subject you’re teaching, if you can find a way to engage the kids, hold their interest and customize the learning experience all the while ensuring that they’re having a good time, you will have excellent results. Sounds like a tall order? It is. As long as teachers continue to use traditional methods of teaching, it will take a tremendous amount of time and effort to make every lesson meet these standards. However, if you are able to look beyond familiar teaching styles and methods, and if you can introduce the internet into your classroom, you will find a whole new world of learning waiting for you and your students.
Due to their nature, most online learning activities provide an engaging and customized user experience. In addition to this, kids take to the internet like a fish takes to water. They are familiar and comfortable with it, and enjoy spending their time online. They play kids’ games online, network with friends online and do their homework online. This is why it makes a lot of sense to use the internet in your classroom, and allow for online learning experiences. Here are five fun online activity ideas to get you started.
Photo by woodleywonderworks
1. Online educational games– This is my particular favorite. Online games are designed to keep players engaged, motivated and having a good time. They are also designed to teach the player the skills needed to play the game, and manage to do so very effectively, making use of techniques like immediate feedback, frequent rewards and providing motivation to keep learning. Online educational games work much the same way, only they teach players educational skills in addition to game-related ones. The end result is an incredible teaching tool. Kids who play educational games learn scholastic skills a lot faster than their peers who don’t, and they have a lot more fun doing so. It’s a win-win situation, and has proven results across age groups and subjects. Some great websites for educational games are Starfall, Math Blaster and FunBrain.
2. Online educational videos – Videos have an incredible advantage when it comes to teaching kids about abstract concepts, or lessons that they cannot observe first-hand otherwise. For example, when teaching about ancient civilizations, the working of a diesel engine, or the flora and fauna of mountainous regions, videos are very effective in bringing the subject to life and providing visual and auditory learning material that kids will enjoy and remember. It is far more effective than merely showing pictures, drawing diagrams or conducting lectures. There are also many educational videos in the form of songs, designed to help kids remember names and ideas through fun lyrics and music. A few great websites for good educational videos are SchoolTube, WatchKnowLearn and BrainPOP Jr.
3. Reading online – Not every kid has a good collection of books at home, nor someone to read to them. Even schools don’t necessarily have much of a collection when it comes to books. This is a shame, because the key to getting kids to read is having books that interest them. Both problems are easily resolved by introducing kids to online reading. There are excellent websites designed solely to encourage kids to read books. Websites like Book Adventure and Raz-Kids have a great collection of e-books, with features that allow books to be read aloud to kids with highlighted words, track reading progress and monitor reading comprehension. Kids can earn prizes and rewards for reading books, which differ on each website. StorylineOnline is a website that has videos of various books being read aloud along with the illustrations, and does a great job of recreating the experience of having books being read to kids.
4. Creating Online Content – The internet has changed the way people share information, and kids have quickly caught on. It is common to find online videos, stories and blogs created by kids, catering to kids. When getting your students to create a research report, work on an assignment or write a book report, you can move from the traditional form of reporting to online reports. Kids can create book trailer videos instead of writing book reports, they can upload their creative writing assignments on children’s publishing websites and they can create blogs to record their research work. By getting your students to create online content of their own, you are allowing them to reach out to a wider audience, which gives them a great sense of accomplishment and allows them to get feedback from other kids their age.
5. Online research – Why insist that your students use dictionaries and encyclopedias when adults no longer use them? Encourage independence and good research skills by letting your kids search for information online instead of answering their questions or asking them to use outdated research techniques.
These are just a few of the ways you can use the internet effectively in your classroom. Do you encourage your students to get online? What other ideas do you have for online learning activities?
Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of different subjects easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding. Find Catherine at http://kidslearninggames.weebly.com/!