The Interactive Classroom: From a board to Google to Chromebook

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What do you think of when you hear the term “interactive classroom”? Devices are probably the first thing that comes to mind, but which ones?  The devices we use in the classroom have evolved greatly over the years, especially the last few years. Classrooms have gone from chalkboards->marker boards->SMART boards->projectors.  Don’t forget the old overhead projectors, to newer document cameras, and computers connected to the projectors. The classroom is not evolving into devices that are not just within the hands of the teachers and instructors, but are migrating into the hands of the students as well. This has gradually evolved from a few devices to be shared to a concept of 1:1 where each student has a device to use and even display. Is this what defines an “interactive classroom”?

By definition, according to dictionary by Oxford, “interactive” refers to “of two people or things–influencing or having an effect on each other.” This would imply that the existence or implementation of devices do not define the interactive classroom.  The interactive classroom is one that engages the students into the learning process itself. Rather than students being only consumers of content presented by the instructor, creating a learning environment with interaction drives a better learning experience.

The 4 C’s of student engagement lends itself, well, in promoting high level learning through creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The concept of student engagement draws the learning beyond the classroom walls to a more global level. As you are probably well aware of, technology is loaded with great tools to encourage an environment of engagement for your students.

In this post, we will explore 10 interactive tools that are available for equipping the interactive classroom.  The first 5 are more widely known apps that have proven themselves in the classroom. The last 5 are lesser known, but are gradually proving themselves in classroom use.  We will focus on the latter five. Each of these tools are capable of being used in 1:1 chromebook environments or by less equipped classrooms. Be sure to check these out regardless of where you find you and your classroom on the technology ladder.

  1. Explain Everything

  2. Class Flow

  3. Kami

  4. Adobe Spark

  5. FlipGrid

  6. Jamboard

    • Jamboard is an interactive whiteboard app which is great for collaborative planning. The Jamboard app is part of GSuite and was developed in conjunction with Google’s interactive whiteboard of the same name. The Jamboard app, however, can be used on its own. My team and I use this for professional development planning where we can use the “sticky note” tool and move things around digitally.

    • 4 C’s Focus – Collaboration

    • Timeline Example

  7. VideoAnt

    • VideoAnt allows students to annotate and add comments onto videos they view online. Much like we encourage annotating for enforcing reading skills, VideoAnt carries this over to video viewing encouraging those same note taking skills. The annotated videos are known as “Ants.”

    • 4 C’s Focus – Collaboration

    • Example Ant

  8. Anchor

    • Anchor is a free platform that allows for the creation of podcasts and audio recordings. Anchor is a tool for giving students a voice and expressing themselves audibly and not just in written form. Creating an audio podcast is a wonderful way of encouraging learning as well as being a creative way for students to report what they are learning.

    • 4 C’s Focus – Communication/Creativity

    • Example

  9. Slido

    • Slido is a presentation tool allowing the presenter (whether teacher or student) to incorporate polls and activities throughout the presentation. This interactive concept allows for quick formative assessment to get a good idea of student understanding. Students’ presentations can be greatly enhanced using tools like this.

    • 4 C’s Focus – Creativity/Collaboration

    • Example – Click “JOIN” and enter code #5217

  10. Insert Learning

    1. Insert Learning allows you to take any webpage, article, text passage online, etc. and make it an interactive lesson for students to read through and complete various activities. Formative questions can be added as well as text directly from the teacher or even allowing for students to annotate. Another huge feature of Insert Learning is the ability to embed content from over 60 different interactive apps for a richer learning and interactive experience. These lessons are able to be shared via Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams. Students will need access to the extension through your Google Admin to use Insert Learning.

    2. 4 C’s Focus – Critical Thinking/Collaboration

    3. Example

The interactive classroom has definitely evolved over the years in the ways mentioned above. How do we use this evolution to encourage innovation with our students?  Making your classroom interactive and using the tools you have at hand will contribute to high student engagement. High student engagement leads to students better prepared for their futures.  And isn’t that what we are really striving to accomplish?

Happy Interacting!


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