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Using Technology to Build Relationships

Posted on 09/04/2019

Hand reaching through laptop and shaking another hand

We are often so eager to jump into the content when we start our classes that we forget that we have a community of learners in the classroom who are interested in their new teacher and the other students around them. We sometimes add icebreakers to do some initial introductions to get to know names and other demographic tidbits, but we could be using this time to gather important information about our students, their goals, and their personalities that will help us over the length of the class to provide personalized instruction and build deeper relationships between the students and ourselves. When we take an interest in our students, we also tell them that they are important – more important than the content, in fact – and that we care about their learning and success.

Technology can help us with these get-to-know-you activities. In her blog post Starting Off the School Year: It’s About the Learners External link opens in new window or tab , Jackie Gerstein provides some activities using technology that help her get to know her students (and the students each other) and provide data that she can use to inform her instruction as the class goes on. Here are some of her tools and activities that you might want to try in your classroom (and use these tools as the weeks go on):

  • Video introduction – Use Flipgrid to provide a text or video prompt for students and have them create a short video introduction that you and the other students can view and respond to. (Read our October 2017 article External link opens in new window or tab about Flipgrid to learn how to get started.)
  • Student interest survey – Use a Google Form to create a survey that asks questions about the students, their goals, their personalities, and how you can help them achieve.
  • Content curation – Use a tool like Wakelet – similar to Padlet or Pinterest – to have students curate items that express who they are, their backgrounds, their current interests, and other items about themselves. Students can edit and add to their Wakelets as the term proceeds, depending on what is happening in the classroom.
  • Other tools for students to express themselves include video tools like Adobe Spark (read our November 2018 article External link opens in new window or tab to get started) and infographic tools like Canva, Venngage, or Piktochart that are a modern take on poster boards.

As the school year gets started, or even if you are a few weeks in already, take the time to cultivate the relationships with others in your class. There are powerful tech tools you can use that will help you learn about your students and give you more insight into who they are and what they hope to achieve. If you need help getting started with any of these tools, please contact OTAN at support@otan.us or call us at 916-228-2580. We would love to help you and your students!

Article: Starting Off the School Year: It’s About the Learners External link opens in new window or tab by Jackie Gerstein at User Generated Education