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Technology in the Classroom

by 2019 AE&L Conference Presenters Ericka Mbachu and Charita Eley

Engaging learners with the use of technology in the classroom can be overwhelming when you are not sure of the resources that are available to you. At the recent Adult Education and Literacy conference, we introduced instructors to resources that can be used to engage classes and meet the needs of individual learners. We would like to share a few technology resources that will aide in classroom instruction.

Why is it important?

The use of technology in the classroom allows instructors to use resources that engage different learning styles. Learners who are struggling are able to participate in different learning activities that are designed specifically for their learning needs while working at their own pace. Integrating technology into the adult classroom encourages collaboration among learners. They can connect with each other outside of class or even with learners who live in other areas. It also allows learners to prepare to face technology in the workplace, increase soft skills, and engage in learning tasks in a new way. Instructors can use grading software, communication platforms, and activities to save time on planning. The time saved on planning can allow instructors more time to work with students.

There are many free and subscription-based resources available to instructors. Here are a few that we use.

General Classroom Platform

Edmodo is a classroom platform that instructors can use to communicate with learners and share learning activities and materials. Learners can also post their assignments and access materials on-the-go. Edmodo is available for free and allows instructors to invite students to the class. This platform may be used in place of Google Classroom. Instructors can post videos, quizzes, and announcements. Learners can then message the instructors and view their grades.

Reading Resources

CommonLit provides instructors with a library of free reading passages to support literacy development. The passages are geared towards learners who are reading at levels equivalent to grades 3 to 12. Instructors can create a few accounts and browse reading material by book, genre, theme, or grade level. Guiding questions can be assigned and tracked to assess student comprehension. To support struggling readers, students can use a read-aloud function. CommonLit also offers Google Classroom Integration. We have used reading passages on CommonLit to provide students with discussion points on issues presented in class or to help build background knowledge when reading novels. A search of the book or novel that our students are reading will reveal several related reading passages.

Newsela offers free and paid subscriptions to reading passages. Each passage is published at five different reading levels, allowing instructors to personalize to their specific classes. Newsela specializes in publishing reading passages that cover current events, primary resources, and different subject areas. We typically use Newsela articles when presenting current events. We have used this to introduce learners to topics we would like to discuss in class. For example, a search on 9/11 will provide instructors with many related articles. We then assign those articles based on our students’ reading levels. Newsela offers great integration between different subject areas!

Other Resources

Kahoot! is an excellent resource to engage learners in competitive game play while learning. Kahoot! is a free resource that offers a question bank covering all subject areas. Learners will compete against each other to answer multiple-choice questions. Instructors can also input their own questions. Instructors may choose to have their students work in groups or individually. Kahoot! may also be assigned as homework to reinforce new concepts and can be used to test student knowledge on an array of different categories.

FlipGrid is a video app. Students and instructors can create short videos. Instructors can allow students to respond to other students’ videos or keep videos private. Instructors may use this resource to facilitate discussions, book talks, and introductions. Grades can also be posted online.

There are many resources instructors may use to enhance learning in the classroom. Many websites offer free resources and paid subscriptions. A Google search of instructional technology resources will aid instructors with integrating technology.

Ericka Mbachu is an educational innovator who enjoys sharing her love of learning with anyone she meets. Ericka joined Piedmont Regional Adult & Career Education Programs in 2017 and currently works as a GED® instructor and Educational Coordinator.

Charita Eley is an educator who is making the difference in the lives of learners. Charita has been teaching for over 12 years in the public-school system and has been a GED® instructor for over 6 years. Currently, Charita is a Reading Resource teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools and a GED® instructor for Piedmont Regional Adult & Career Education Programs.