How to Use Edtech to Get Your Learners Active and Moving

column | Blended Learning

How to Use Edtech to Get Your Learners Active and Moving

By Kerry Gallagher (Columnist)     Jan 24, 2017

How to Use Edtech to Get Your Learners Active and Moving

Winter weather sometimes means nasty rain and snowstorms, indoor recess, and less physical activity for our students. But instead of dusting off the DVDs buried in your desk drawer, consider using these edtech-powered ideas to get your learners’ bodies moving and brains working.

Open Class With “Activators”

Teachers do not have to wait until the bell rings or until they have formally addressed the class to get their students’ learning started. They can have an enticing challenge waiting for students as they enter the room. I like to call these challenges “activators” because they activate curiosity, thinking, and problem-solving in students’ brains. Certain edtech tools allow the teacher to use a dashboard to track student progress in real time, including:

  • Socrative from MasteryConnect: This has been a go-to for teachers for years because of its simple interface that allows teachers to create assessments in advance or on-the-fly. Socrative’s free version does not require students to create accounts.
  • Formative: This tool and its varied question types fit more content areas (even advanced math and science) than most other platforms. It also boasts Google Classroom integration.
  • Pear Deck: This platform has a new dashboard in beta that users can activate in the add-ons section, meaning it is easier for students to engage in self-paced activities.

These three platforms offer great options for providing students with engaging and challenging activities to look forward to immediately upon entering your classroom. Just project the necessary codes onto a screen at the front of the room, and watch students dive in.

A Little Healthy Competition and Movement

Review games often inject energy into a classroom before a test, and right when students need a jolt of energy to get that over that summative assessment hump at the end of a unit. Activities that push students to work in teams and use their combined knowledge and skills to achieve the best results will add noise and movement to your classroom, as well. Here are a few tools to consider using in the process.

  • Kahoot! is a go-to because the music alone gets students moving. From upper elementary to 12th grade, students are unable to resist standing up, moving around the room, and even cheering at the results.
  • A common tool seen in the world language and social studies classrooms at my school is Quizlet Live. Students are up and moving, talking, and cooperating to compete with their classmates to answer the quiz-like questions.

It is worth noting that both of these tools offer modes for self-paced studying and learning. Engaging students in modes that include bright colors, music, and even competition is only appropriate when they are already relatively confident with the material. Try those other modes when students are first learning content and need to practice at a pace that’s right for them.

Explore the Hallways

After notifying administrators–just to ensure there isn’t some other school event that would interfere–use edtech tools and students’ mobile devices to move the lesson beyond your classroom walls and spill into the hallways. Depending on your students’ skill level and the time you can dedicate to the adventure, here are three approaches.

  • Teachers can create scavenger hunts with Klikaklu. Even before Pokemon Go, teachers were creating indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts for their students with this tool. Just scan in images of objects and places you want your students to visit; they will find that object based on learning clues you set up to be revealed in the app as they go.
  • Students can work together as a class to create their own scavenger hunt with QR codes. I recommend i-nigma as a free QR code scanner due to it’s speed and ease of use. Students can do their own research, and then make it accessible to their classmates via a jaunt through the hallways using the steps detailed here. (Not a fan of i-nigma? Just Google “QR code creator” to find a wide array of free generator tools.)
  • Augmented reality is another option. Students or teachers can trigger videos, articles, or other content to appear when scanning preselected images. Try this kind of scavenger hunt at your school’s next art show. Aurasma is a great go-to tool for creating your own augmented reality experiences. You can find even more ideas in Monica Burns’s recent book Deeper Learning with QR Codes and Augmented Reality.

Brain Breaks

Brain breaks help learners to re-energize when they are in an energy slump or refocus when they have become distracted. Whether it is with silly songs and dancing or classroom yoga, edtech products can help.

  • Students can refocus their brains and bodies with breathing and stretching thanks to amaZEN U. There are sample videos to try out with you class right on the homepage, as well as a monthlong free trial available to all teachers.
  • A favorite in my own home with my second grader and preschooler is GoNoodle. When young learners have the post-lunch slump or deserve a reward for nailing that tough Common Core math activity, a song and dance–mixed with a little dose of empowerment–is just what they need.

Teaching mindfulness and self-control is such an important part of encouraging young learners to self-advocate and push themselves through frustrating moments. These services can provide the content and motivation to help your students when they need a mental and/or physical boost.

Do not let winter’s cold temperatures and wet storms keep your students from learning with activity and movement. Rather, facilitate a more physical and focused learning experience—particularly when the winter blues have settled in.

Kerry Gallagher (@KerryHawk02) is a Digital Learning Specialist at a 1:1 iPad school serving 1500 students grades 6-12. She is also the Director of K-12 Education for, and an EdSurge columnist.

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