The challenge for teachers when they get back in the classroom will be assessing where every pupil is with progress so that they can get them back up to speed quickly. Andrew Clark, Deputy Head and Apple Teacher from Chorley St James C.E. Primary School, says that EdTech definitely has a crucial role to play, both in the classroom and if remote learning is needed in the future.
As pupils head back to the classroom, teachers have the daunting task of assessing where pupils are. To deliver a recover curriculum, you need to know where every pupil is. Every child will have had a different level of education while schools were closed, but with a class of 30 pupils and many subjects, how can teachers do this quickly and accurately? With handwriting, for example, as a teacher, how can I assess how every child forms a letter without standing over every child? It would need a significant number of hours adding to my teaching day and possibly add unnecessary stress to pupils, who are already fragile post-Covid.
We’ve all seen how technology has supported us through Covid-19, as our pupils and we took to home learning like ducks to water. But now as we head back to the classroom, edTech can help teachers gain something that will be desperately needed, more time.
In our school, we wouldn’t use edTech for everything, and I’m not saying you should, but some apps can give us back time. For example, with handwriting, we’ve used Kaligo in school and during the lockdown, and we’ve seen a vast improvement in handwriting. But how it will help as we head back into the classroom is that it will tell us in a few minutes exactly where every child is with handwriting, any issues with letter formation etc. This will allow us to fill the gaps in the recovery curriculum for every child. This would take hours without using the app, yet children can sit independently and write, and the teacher gets the feedback. Apps for other subjects such, NumBots and TT Rockstars also offer the same, which frees up teachers to focus on other areas where children may need additional support such as reading or wellbeing.
Which EdTech is right for us?
You need to know your why and always keep that at the forefront of your decision making. What will this technology allow me to do that I couldn’t do before? Will it give me more time, will it provide whole class assessment quickly and easily, will it provide interventions which will help pupils improve? The goal is to provide an improved learning experience which is personalised to each pupil. If you achieve this, then the edTech will add value. It’s also important to say no to any edTech products which aren’t working for you or your class. When looking at new edTech products, it’s crucial to think about:
- Accessibility: Can every pupil use it? What considerations have they made for Dyslexia or EAL? Is there Cloud access from home?
- Efficiency: Can I pick up and run with it? Will it help my pupils? How will it save me time? Will it save our school money? Will it reduce routine tasks?
- Buy-in: Will the pupils engage with it? Can you get the buy-in of other teachers? Can you share best practice with others in the school?
Gently does it
If like me, the lockdown was not always easy, imagine how that felt for a child. As pupils come back into the classroom, we need to take time to settle children back in and find gentler ways of assessment, making sure that children’s wellbeing is to be at the centre.
For many children, they have spent lots of time on screens using edTech as part of their home learning and to snatch that away would be foolish. Using edTech for assessment is a fun, familiar format for pupils. It’s great to continue using screens some of the time where it provides a benefit to pupils and teachers, helping them time to adjust to life back in the classroom.
Using edTech together with some fun activities will help pupils become part of their class again. Perhaps working together on an EveryoneCanCreate project, or an online blogging challenge can be great ice breakers and to get children used to working together again.
One positive outcome of the lockdown is that it has shown the potential of edTech both in the classroom and for home learning. Now is an excellent time to get these ducks in a row now should the need for home learning happen again.