Launching a New Digital Solution in Your Classroom

Taking intentional steps to launch new digital solutions in your classroom will lead to effective implementation for student success
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About This Strategy

Digital solutions such as software, tools, and applications play a critical part in establishing a blended classroom environment that is conducive to high levels of student learning. However, introducing digital products into the classroom without adequate preparation can lead to wasted class time and student frustration or failure. Therefore, before launching digital solutions in the classroom, it is important to take steps to test the product and provide support that will ensure seamless integration and implementation.

Implementation Steps

  1. Verify that the digital solution is approved and appropriate for use in the school, for your grade level, and on district devices. Consider:

    • Do my students have access to any necessary device(s) for this solution?

    • How will students gain access? Are usernames and passwords needed? What student information is collected?

    • Does this solution provide parent/guardian access?

  2. Test the new digital solution in a safe space with a coach or thought partner before introducing it to your students. Determine:

    • How will this solution help meet learning goals, and/or build independent learning skills? How will this solution lead to mastery of the Technology Literacy Skills or ISTE Standards for Students in the resources below?

    • What data is provided? How can students access and track their own data?

    • What will I need to set up in advance for students to be successful?

  3. Create a student demo account and access it from another device so you can see what students will see when they experience the tool for the first time.

  4. Create or obtain a tutorial or guide with screenshots that shows what students will see to help them become familiar with the tool. To see an example, view the SeeSaw Student Student Guide in the resource section.

  5. Design and facilitate an activity that allows for low-stakes student practice with the digital solution. 

    • A scavenger hunt where students locate or use parts of the tool or product. Consult the Scavenger Hunt strategy in the BetterLesson Lab, the Canvas Digital Tool Scavenger Hunt resource or the Google Slide Scavenger Hunt resource in the resource section below to learn more about how to implement a Scavenger Hunt in your classroom.

    • A classwide activity where students walk through the video tutorial or guide, producing a product on a topic they already know, such as an "about me" product.

  6. Set clear expectations for what it should look like to work well with the tool. Consider posting the expectations online or in your classroom. The SeeSaw Classroom Expectations in the resources is an excellent example of expectations for use of a digital tool

  7. Try to have someone with you to support with tech and to reflect on the first day of implementation. If you do not have support on the first day of implementation, consider utilizing a station rotation so that you can assist smaller groups of students. Learn more about station rotation by consulting the Designing Group Stations in the Station Rotation Model strategy in the resources section below.

Technology in the Classroom Support for English Learners

Kathleen Rockefeller
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Technology tools can help English language learners to engage in intentional linguistic practices that promote language acquisition along with collaboration among peers.  Technology tools that incorporate meaningful learning activities can spark interest and engagement for English language learner students.  

Implementation steps:

  • Evaluate a technology tool before introducing it to English language learners.  See pages 9-11 of the resource linked below, WIDA: Focus on Technology in the Classroom, for a tool to use when evaluating a new technology tool for English language learners.  It is important to consider how the tool will support language development and what level of language is needed to engage with the tool. Also, consider the level of language abilities and individual language learning goals of students to determine if a technology tool would be appropriate for them.  Consider the following questions when using a new technology tool with English language learners: 

    • How does this tool engage users?

    • Does this tool provide targeted support in a necessary skill?

    • Does this tool address listening, reading, reasoning, creating, or writing in English?

    • What degree of language proficiency does this tool support?

    • Is there a way to assess skills mastery?

    • Can the teacher personalize and customize the curriculum?

    • Does the technology tool promote collaborative group work?

    • Does the technology tool help support English language learners with on-task behaviors?

  • Determine if any additional language supports would be required for students as they engage with the technology tool. 

  • Monitor as students engage with the technology tool and take note of which language development skills students are utilizing as they are engaging with the technology tool.

  • Determine how to extend this learning even further with additional activities and collaborative learning activities. 

EL Modification for Videos

If the student guide to the digital solution is provided in the form of a video, consider adding subtitles or closed captions in the primary language of EL students. Subtitles and closed captions support EL students on multiple levels of language processing. Consult the resource below to see how to add subtitles and closed captions to YouTube videos.

Special Education Modification

Students with special needs often have difficulty understanding several instructions at once. For children with learning disabilities, it is best to use clear, concrete sentences and steps. 

Students who might struggle with following multiple steps would benefit from instructional guides or tutorials that are broken small steps. When creating printable guides, consider placing only one screenshot and set of instructions per page. Consider limiting tutorial videos to one step at a time and then linking the steps in order to a checklist document. Provide repeated practice opportunities until students are performing skills independently and with ease.

Questions to Consider

  • What norms, routines, or procedures will you need to set with students to create an accountable, independent learning culture?

  • How will the digital solution integrate into the learning to help students develop independent learning skills?

  • How will students gain access? Are usernames and passwords needed? What student information is collected?

Coach Tips

Tracie Cain
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Implementing a new digital solution can be either exciting or overwhelming. Walking through the implementation steps is time consuming, but well worth the effort. 

As you think about creating a student guide, search the web to see what is already out there. While students respond better to tutorials in their own teacher's voice, you may find that the product or other teachers who use the solution may have already created a guide that will give you a head start in creating your own. 

Don't skip the "setting expectations" step above. If the solution is a creation tool, I find it especially helpful to create an example product so that students can see what is expected.

Tech Tools

Some possible digital solutions to consider implementing in your classroom include: 

Plickers

  • Plickers is a tech tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices. Students are handed cards with a different symbol on each side. Each side represents one out of 4 possible answers. The teachers scans the group with a smartphone or a tablet and instantly get data on a specific question.

  • Plickers is a simple digital solution that meets the need of performing a quick check for understanding without the need of student devices. It is an awesome entry-level, easy to launch digital solution.

 

Padlet

  • Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students’ Padlet with a shared link. 

  • Padlet offers a great first step into the world of digital solutions as students are not required to log in to access the tool. Teachers create or copy the digital board, share the link, and students can add text, images, audio, video or links.
     

Seesaw

  • Seesaw allows for the documentation of artifacts, audio, video, and writing that can easily be shared with an entire class or with parents as students build their seesaw portfolio. Seesaw can also be used as a class discussion tool via its blog feature.

  • Seesaw is an easy to use digital tool that works in any grade level or subject area. It is a solution for many classroom challenges including:

    • Empowering students to own the learning by uploading and reflecting on their own products

    • Simplifying the process of differentiation

    • Fostering home-school relationships

Related Lessons

  • Explore the "QR Code Breakers Game" lesson by BetterLesson Master Teacher Daniel Utset-Guerrero included in the resources below to see how to use the digital solution of QR codes for a simple but effective collaborative learning activity.
     

  • Explore the "Tech-Enabled Graphic Organizer" lesson by BetterLesson Master Teacher Tanesha Dixon included in the resources below to see how to power-up the traditional graphic organizer.

  • Explore the "Self-Paced Lab Documentation" lesson by BetterLesson Master Teacher Jeff Astor included in the resources below to see how one teacher ensures that he can follow students through every step of the lab process even when groups are completing different segments within varying timeframes.