Instructional technology is at the forefront of the 21st Century classroom. From interactive lesson software to school-wide learning management systems, teachers have access to digital tools that supplement instruction like never before. These innovative platforms are ideal for engaging the current generation of learners, but what about on a smaller scale? Think of a small machine or device that does something useful. Think gadget. What are some of the best gadgets for teaching and learning?
When it comes to gadgets in the classroom, there are a variety of low and mid-tech options that assist teacher instruction and enhance student learning. Most of these handy items are also applicable across all grade levels and content areas. Here are some clever and affordable ways to up your gadget game in the classroom.
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- Go-to Gadgets for Classroom Management
- Audio/Visual Aid
- Kinesthetic Connection
- Lighting for Mood and Motivation
- Gadgets for Learning Games
- Gratitude for Gadgets
Go-to Gadgets for Classroom Management
At the heart of every well-managed classroom are clear and consistent procedures. Don’t worry, there are gadgets for that!
Ease in getting students’ attention and smooth transitions are hallmarks of a positive classroom climate, and sound cues are often a popular choice to accomplish this. Consider a wireless doorbell to handle the job. You can choose different tones for different movements or expectations. At the press of a button students will know it’s time for attention.
Wireless Doorbells – Our Recommendation:
The Secrui remote doorbell kit includes over 30 ringtones with adjustable volume. It’s battery operated and there’s no complicated installation process. The handheld remote maintains connectivity up to 1000 feet.
On-task behavior is an integral part of maximizing student progress. A simple way to improve focus and motivation is employing the use of timers. Giving students a time goal can serve as a reminder and a prompt for consistent working. Timers are also a fantastic aid for short brainstorming sessions and small group discussions.
Classroom Timers – Our Recommendation:
The Lavigo Magnetic Analog Timer has large numbers for optimum visibility along with color-coded areas that visually indicate the time decreasing. Varied volume levels and the option to mute the ticking sound make this timer a versatile and useful tool.
There can be a lot going on in a classroom at one time. When collaborative groups are in progress, the need for structure is vital. Push lights can help streamline the process for addressing questions and assessing comprehension of concepts. Add a push light to the center of a group with instructions to press if they have a question or are ready to share.
Push Lights – Our Recommendation:
Biglight LED Push Lights are sold in packs of four and can be changed into a variety of colors. A remote is included along with adhesive disks.
Phone / Tablet Projectors
Never let a teachable moment pass by using a phone or tablet projector. These compact devices can make a big impression. Unlike the large panel or built-in projector that many classrooms contain, a portable phone or tablet projector can be set up quickly and easily at various locations. It’s an ideal set up for small group sessions or a quick peek at a visual or video clip to supplement a lesson. Students can even use their device to present quickly and easily.
Phone / Tablet Projectors – Our Recommendation:
The Xintrepid WiFi Mini Projector with Synchronize Smartphone Screen can be connected in a snap using only your phone’s charging cable or wirelessly! There’s a built-in speaker for applications that need sound.
On the subject of sound, Bluetooth speakers are a non-brainer. Whether you’re setting the mood with some ambient music or using audio as reading support, a speaker comes in handy. With Bluetooth technology any of your smart devices will connect, so you can move from applications on your phone to content on your laptop or tablet seamlessly. You’re not tethered to a device with cords and wires, so you can move the sound to suit your needs. It’s worth the investment if you use any audio content in your presentation of material.
Bluetooth Speakers – Our Recommendation:
The Oontz Angle 3 is a perfect combination of affordability, durability, and sound quality. This little speaker provides plenty of bang for the buck. It has a fun triangular design and will hold connectivity up to 100 feet.
Reusable Writing Tablets
Create some hands-on hype with reusable writing tablets! These writing tablets are just cool. Your students will think so too. A stylus allows them to write on the surface of the tablet and gives them the feel of a different medium than conventional pencil and paper. They’re easily cleared for quick, multiple uses.
Reusable Writing Tablets – Our Recommendation:
The Boogie Board brand has so many options for reusable tablets. You can choose the size, price point, and different levels of durability. Boogie Boards also allow students to forgo the stylus and use even their fingernail to write or create.
3D printers have advanced a long way from their original use of creating prototypes. These machines have transformed production in a variety of fields worldwide. However, they’re not just for high-tech manufacturing companies. You can put this technology into your students’ hands via the 3D pen. The sky’s the limit with this device. Essentially, if a student can dream it, they can create it. 3D pens can increase the engagement of highly creative students as well as those who learn best when given tactile sensory experiences.
3d Pens- Our Recommendation:
3Doodler has an amazing website where you can not only shop their products but learn exactly how the pen technology works. They also showcase work from a variety of creators as inspiration and include lesson plans and learning packs for schools.
Lighting for Mood and Motivation
LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights are hot right now. Teenagers especially love lining their bedrooms with these mood enhancing lights. They can be equally pleasing in the classroom. Place them behind your T.V. panel for an ambient glow. Install them around a bulletin board or whiteboard where you want attention and emphasis. Color schemes can also be used to indicate acceptable noise levels or other instructional cues for students. Strategic lighting can have a calming effect on students when teachers desire a mellow, quiet workspace. Likewise, they can amp up the energy when the task calls for more intensity.
LED Strip Lights – Our Recommendation:
Daybetter LED Strip Lights. You can get over 60 feet of full color, app or remote controlled lighting that can be mounted virtually anywhere using the adhesive backing along the strip.
Lights can also become a motivational factor for reading. Finger lights can be a simple solution to prod a reluctant reader. Asking students to light up a word or phrase in a text adds interest and a hands-on element to the task. They can also aid students who need help with tracking, which is the ability to read across a page and from line to line.
Finger Lights – Our Recommendation:
Nurlean LED Finger Ring Glow Sticks come in four colors included in a pack of 100.
Gadgets for Learning Games
Introducing a little friendly competition to lessons makes learning fun for everyone. Anticipation activities, test and quiz reviews, vocabulary, basically any objective can be supplemented by turning it into a game.
To really create a gaming atmosphere, incorporate the use of buzzers. Students will feel like they’re on a real-life game show and the buzzers will help ensure fairness in their race to answer.
Wireless Buzzers – Our Recommendation:
Educational Insights Eggspert Wireless Buzzers offer different game modes and are completely wireless and don’t require Wifi. The set comes with six student buzzers with the option to buy additional ones separately.
Perhaps one of the most advanced and convenient gadgets available for the classroom is one that many students come equipped with on a daily basis-their smartphone. If your school has a bring your own device policy, you should certainly consider making phones your friend. Of course, they require a clear and consistent set of procedures for their use, but once that is established, they can be game changers-pun intended. Several web-based learning game platforms now have apps for easy mobile use. Students gravitate toward the app versions because of their quick access. Apps appeal to teachers because they can cut down the time it takes navigating to websites and logging in.
Apps – Our Recommendation:
Kahoot! Once you’re accustomed to using the web-based game in your classroom, have students install the app version. It has more features that students can use on their own. They’ve developed different study modes for students to work with the material once they’ve played a live Kahoot in class. They can also create study leagues which allows them to invite friends to study or compete in small groups on their own.
Gratitude for Gadgets
The classroom is an ideal place for embracing technology large and small. By using gadgets, teachers get help with classroom management and with providing a positive classroom climate. Students benefit from enjoying enhanced lessons and experiences that tap into multiple learning styles. Gadgets for teaching and learning assist teachers in creating a well-rounded educational space.