Sunday, June 8, 2008

5 Easy Ways for Innovative Educators to Engage Students Until The End of The School Year

Looking for some innovative ideas to breathe life into the school day for you and your students even with thoughts of sunshine and summer vacation dancing in their heads? Here are some free, fun, and easy ideas for using 21st Century tools guaranteed to keep students engaged.

Create a Social Network for Your Students

Capitalize on your student's interest in social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and create a social network learning environment for your students. Innovative educators are coming up with all sorts of creative ideas to use social networks to engage students. How about creating a social studies network with historical characters? Students can select a historical character to portray, create their personal page for that character, engage in discussions, and join groups that character would be involved in. Ning is allowing educators to create free educational social networks. For more ideas about using social networks in education visit Ning in Education. If you've never participated in a social network get the experience of participating by joining The Innovative Educator Social Network. This will enable you to have a better idea of how you can incorporate a social network into your teaching and about the value of Social Networking for Innovative Educators.


Make a Voki to breath some life into literacy. Have your students take a piece of writing they have done and create a Voki to record their work. Students can also enter short pieces of writing and pick a Voki voice to read their work. You can have students upload Vokis to any blog, website, or any online location. Click the play arrow on this Voki for an example.

Get a Voki now!

Take Classes

Most school districts have Instructional Technology departments that offer professional development opportunities for teachers throughout the year. Try to find out what your district has to offer. New York City teachers have dozens of classes available to them by simply visiting the online registration site and selecting the “iTeach/iLearn” or “Instructional Technology” department. There, as in other districts, teachers can enroll in classes showing them how to use tools like Google Earth, wikis, blogs, digital documentaries, SmartBoards and more designed to support innovative educators.

A terrific way to come up with engaging ideas for enhancing education is to tap into your personal learning network. The next two posts are ideas from two of my top personal learning network contributors The Techomnivore and The Innovative Parent.
Infuse Life into Your Lessons with Digital Gaming

The Techominivore shares a survey performed by Project Tomorrow that says that educational gaming is one technology that students use most frequently and that gaming is the one emerging technology that students would like to see used in their classrooms. Only one in ten teachers use gaming in the classroom which starkly reveals the disconnect between students and adults about the power of gaming. He poses the question, especially to the classroom teachers, are you incorporating enough gaming in your teaching? Are you? If you are not, read some recommendations from The Techominivore by visiting his entries on the Technology & Learning's Guide to Digital Learning blog.

Have You Heard of Blurb?
The Innovative Parent blog shares a fantastic resource for bringing authentic book publishing to the masses called Blurb. This allows users to download bookmaking software for free and publish these books at professional quality for purchase by real audiences for about $12 each. Amazing! You can read some of the The Innovative Parent’s ideas about using these resources to publish class yearbooks, poems, and more here.

These are just a few ideas innovative educators can implement to engage students. If (or when) you have experience implementing some of these ideas or when you have more ideas to share, please comment on this post.

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