Considering that we are now nearly a decade into the 21st Century, its surprising that many teachers still come up with lesson plans that are identical to any given lesson plan from the 19th Century. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration – perhaps a lesson plan from the 1950s would be a kinder description. For many teachers, new technologies are something of a challenge and can feel risky.
It is important that all teachers learn how to use new technologies into their unit and lesson plans. New technologies, such as blogs, YouTube and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook can all be used in the classroom by a teacher who has learned how to fit their use into a lesson plan. Even not-so-new technologies such as video can be built into a lesson plan.
All too often, however, the typical video lesson plan involves just plugging in the machine and pressing play. This sort of “lesson” might be all right for a relief teacher or for someone who is filling in a slot at the end of the term (and the teacher is snowed under with papers to grade, so he/she takes advantage of the quiet produced by a video playing for a lesson to do a little marking. Don’t do this!
But this is not the best way to build a lesson plan around a video to maximise the learning potential of video, let alone newer technology. Video, as you probably know, can be fitted into any of the classic slots in a typical lesson – as a way of piquing interest, as a way of delivering the main content of the lesson, as material for analysis or to which the key learning points can be applied, or as a way of summing up the lesson.
Now, if you’ve managed to master these late 20th Century techniques and fit video into your lesson plan, you can apply them to newer technologies. But how?
Well, the most obvious online tool for adding new technologies into your classroom is YouTube. YouTube clips come in nice bite-sized pieces that make them perfect for classroom application. No fooling around with fast-forward or rewind buttons to find exactly the clip you need – it’s all there ready to go, complete with the controls for pausing and rewinding, should you need them. And if you have used a YouTube clip in your lesson plan, don’t forget to give the URL to your students so they can view it again… and again.
The biggest step to overcome when trying to incorporate new technologies and tools into a lesson plan is learning how to use the tools. Many teachers feel at a real disadvantage if their pupils are more at home with applications such as Facebook but the teacher is not. Teachers should take the time to upskill regularly in the area of new technology, just as much as they should take the time to familiarise themselves with topical issues and ideas in the world of education.
Often, taking the first step is the hardest part. It’s especially hard if you feel like you’re the only teacher in your school to try fitting new technologies into your planning and classroom delivery.