The work we do at Kids Code Jeunesse has always been rooted in the world of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM). But that doesn’t mean coding is purely reserved for classes that focus on science or mathematics.
Part of our mission has been to show that computer programming and computational thinking can be integrated into a range of K-12 classes (yes English and History, we’re looking at you). And this technological take doesn’t only apply to coding.
Here are five surprising ways technology can be incorporated into any classroom:
Nearpod is an award-winning instructional software used by tens of thousands of teachers, schools, and districts, which permits students to learn through interactive experiences.
With the use of Nearpod, teachers can easily merge their existing materials — whether they be PDFs, Google Slides or PowerPoints — into a single, interactive Nearpod lesson for any school subject. Some of its features include quizzes, video polls, drawing tools, fill in the blank questions, and more. The lessons effortlessly sync up with any tool the student may have (Chromebook, iPad, iPhone, Android device), and can be launched as student-paced lessons, giving the student the flexibility they need to learn at a pace that is convenient for them. The platform additionally permits teachers to receive immediate feedback, which lets them efficiently assess their student’s progress.
Nearpod also released a virtual reality tool that lets students easily learn about faraway places. With or without a headset, students can use Nearpod VR to explore destinations such as the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China without ever leaving the classroom.
In a similar vein, Learn Around the World also lets students experience places that they can’t exactly reach with a classic field trip.
The non-profit organization, headed by globetrotter Brandon Hall and his wife, favours virtual field trips instead. Calling them “virtual expeditions,” Hall and his partner travel around the world and create learning materials based on student questions. They then send their findings straight to the classroom, which include photographs, videos, written content, live broadcasting, and of course, virtual field trips. For example, a virtual field trip to Mexico would let students choose between exploring four “Natural Wonders:” the monarch butterfly migration, cenotes (natural pools), Arbol Del Tule (a significant tree in Oaxaca) or Hierve El Agua (a set of natural rock formations in Oaxaca). Then, Hall takes the students through their chosen experience during a live feed.
In this way, students get to see, hear, experience and learn about the world through the eyes of someone on the ground. According to Hall, Learn Around the World breaks down the barriers of “money, access, time and distance” and promotes "global awareness and digital citizenship for K-12 students."
Sticking with the video theme, FlipGrid is a tool teachers can use to facilitate communication between them and their students, as well as between the students themselves.
FlipGrid allows discussions to go beyond class time, and most importantly, it lets everybody express their thoughts and opinions without the pressure that comes with raising your hand and speaking to a room full of people. A social learning tool, FlipGrid allows teachers to start a discussion by posting a given topic to their classroom, school, learning community, or to the general public. Students can then record their response, upload their short video to the space reserved for that topic, view other responses, and interact with one another!
As a result, sustaining a discussion through technology lets students formulate their responses in the comfort of a pre-recorded setting, not to mention that the app eliminates the risks of being ignored or quieted by dominating voices.
Buncee is where learning and creative expression meet. A kind of livelier version of PowerPoint, Buncee is a web-based tool that permits teachers and students to create interactive multimedia presentations.
Whether a math teacher wants to present their lesson in an engaging way, or if an English teacher wants their students to create an interactive story as an assignment, Buncee can provide an imaginative solution. Called “buncees,” these presentations can include animations, stickers, images, backgrounds, videos and more — not to mention that its own bank of visuals houses over 8,000 graphics. Students can even narrate their creations and give voice to their characters by using microphone recordings.
According to Buncee, this approach to lessons and assignments not only bolsters creativity, but "empowers students as content producers." The simple interface, the ease of use, and the wealth of materials allow students to explore, create, and express their ideas in an innovative way.
A game-based learning platform, Kahoot! permits teachers to create fun and inclusive games that turn the learning process an exciting experience.
Called "kahoots," the games take the shape of multiple-choice quizzes that can be played collectively, and can be used to assess the knowledge students have in a particular subject. For example, an English teacher can create or use a kahoots to review their students’ vocabulary skills. Or a geography teacher can play a game to ensure that their students learn various capitals. The platform can be adapted to any topic, it can be used in any language, and it can function on any device, giving teachers ample flexibility.
Due to its engaging nature, the people behind Kahoot! believe that the platform is best suited for a group setting — such as a classroom. While each student plays on their own device, a shared screen shows the progress and results of the game, creating a "campfire moment" and bringing together the entire class.
So even if STEAM subjects are not part of your everyday life as a teacher, technological tools surely can be!