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Using Communication Tools in the Classroom

Instructor: Shannon Orr
These days, teachers have access to a seemingly endless number of resources to help them communicate with students and parents. This lesson discussed some of the most up-to-date communication tools used in classrooms today.

Reaching Every Student

Remember the old days of classroom learning? When desks were arranged in neat rows, and students were expected to sit up straight and be quiet as the teacher stood at the blackboard and lectured about history, science, and the difference between a noun and a verb? Those days are over. Today's classrooms are loud, filled with exciting new technologies, and largely interactive.

Since every student is different, what works for one may not work for another. Just because one student benefits from a particular lesson, there is no guarantee that every student will have the same results. Therefore, teachers must use a variety of resources to ensure that every student, regardless of how they learn, can become academically successful.

Audio and Visual Aids

One of the most popular audio-visual aids found in today's classrooms is the smart board. A smart board is an interactive whiteboard that allows teachers and students to write, draw, play videos and music, and display manipulatives. They are usually mounted to the front of the classroom and are connected to the teacher's computer so that he/she can display information on the board for the whole class to see. Teachers can use smart boards to teach or review a lesson, and can even allow students to complete problems or answer questions right on the smart board.

The smart board has replaced several audio-visual aids teachers previously used in their classrooms. Slide projectors - which were used for displaying maps, pictures, and notes - were less efficient than today's methods because the slides could be tedious to prepare and difficult to keep organized. The television carts that teachers once used to show movies are also a thing of the past. Teachers can now insert DVD's directly into their computers and display films and other information on the classroom's smart board instead.

Text and Digital Resources

Classroom Response Systems (or clickers) are used to assess how well students know the material. Teachers can display several questions on the board and ask students to use their clickers to choose the correct answer. By asking the students to respond to these questions before the lesson begins, the teacher can determine if any students have prior knowledge of a subject, whether a particular topic needs to be reviewed for the entire class, or if only certain students need to be reintroduced to the lesson. Teachers can also use clickers before, during, and after the lesson and use the results to determine how well students are progressing.

There are several group text tools, such as Classpager or Remind101, that allow teachers to communicate with students and parents. Teachers can use them to send out homework and project reminders to their classes, or poll students on who will participate in an upcoming event. The downside of these applications is that the messages are one-way, and the students and parents have no way to respond to the teacher's messages.

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