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4 Strategies for Digital Learning

Communicator
February 2017, Volume 40, Issue 6

Every year, thousands of educators celebrate Digital Learning Day with classrooms, schools, and libraries highlighting great teaching and demonstrating how technology can improve student outcomes. In addition to events held across the country, the Digital Learning Day website hosts a variety of resources and lessons to use. The social media sphere is buzzing as educators on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere share their best practices.

But these innovative ideas aren’t practiced just one day a year. Great leaders incorporate digital learning into fabric of their schools year-round. Here are four strategies from the Principal magazine archives to strengthen digital learning in your school:

1. Stretch your budget
“Some curriculum is truly best found online. Current events are no longer new once they become a book. Newsela rewrites current events on a daily basis and combines them with an assessment that is just right for every student. When students read the article, they can select their Lexile level—on the same page. It’s easy to differentiate the learning with a click of the mouse. Writing prompts and quizzes are provided for most articles. In the pro edition (paid), teachers can monitor student progress, show achievement, and graph performance trends. Newsela Pro automatically adjusts reading level for students as teachers guide them toward mastery. Many articles can now be translated into Spanish.”
From “Fill Up Your Digital Toolbox,” May/June 2016

2. Get students involved
“The resource we needed was in front of us the whole time. Our students are digital natives, and they are an incredible resource ready to be empowered in any 21st century classroom. At the end of our first year, we knew our students were the answer to our technology integration dilemma. The students had advocated for more technology use in the classrooms, they were naturally troubleshooting problems with our teachers, and they had been the ones giving the best just-in-time support.”
From “Build Teach Success With Students’ Help,” May/June 2015

 

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3. Tap in to social media
“We try to view social media as a learning media. It is a relevant tool that can connect classrooms to new opportunities while providing students with access to an authentic audience. Teaching the “YouTube Generation” requires providing safe and scaffolded opportunities for kids to create and contribute to YouTube (and other digital platforms). The Greenwood Elementary team has even created a space on Twitter for families to be part of this new learning. The #GWgreats hashtag helps parents and staff stay connected to new ideas and one another.”
From “Forward-Thinking Minnesota Principal Connects Learners of All Ages,” January/February 2017

4. Prioritize digital citizenship & safety
“Principals should actively partner with parents to foster online safety by hosting informational workshops and sending home digital and print resources in native languages. To reinforce ongoing expectations, schools should post digital citizenship guidelines around the school as public reminders.”
From “Safe Digital Citizenship,” November/December 2013

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