Tools for classroom innovation

Jane Basnett

Jane Basnett is head of MFL at Downe House, a successful Independent Girls School in Berkshire. She has been teaching for almost 20 years and is still learning. She achieved an MA in Digital Technology for Language Teaching at Nottingham University.

Follow @BasnettJ

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I always love using technology in the classroom. Making the most of digital tools allows me to bring another dimension to my teaching, and gives me the opportunity to enhance those pedagogically-sound practices that teachers know, trust and use on a day-to-day basis.

To restrict my suggestions to just a few will be difficult, but I shall give it a go nonetheless.

has played an important part in my classroom of late and is, in my opinion, a vital tool for language teachers. It allows you to create a virtual learning environment (VLE) if you wish, where work can be assigned and quizzes created that can be automatically marked if desired. Longer pieces of work can be uploaded, attached and completed,"Interaction could only take place between pairs of students." and your markbook can be fully integrated. However, as impressive as this is, these benefits are not what originally drew me to the tool. I was more interested in how Edmodo could help my students connect and collaborate with other linguists across the world. Such collaboration is not restricted to students as Edmodo is rich with teachers collaborating and sharing resources and ideas.

Within Edmodo it is very simple to join groups of teachers who can collaborate on specific topics and educational areas. As a linguist, when I first signed up a couple of years ago I was looking for a French-speaking partner school with whom my students could interact, and within days I had found a number of possible avenues to explore. Two years later, I have run a couple of successful projects where English and French students have interacted and learnt about each other's lives.

The most recent project found students explaining to each other in their native language how they cared for their local environment. Not only did my students learn about how their French counterparts deal with issues that are relevant for all, but also, they were able to express themselves in the second language (in this case, French or English), and have their work checked by a native speaker. Those involved loved the opportunity to learn some more idiomatic expressions and the chance to use their language for real communication. Students were set up in mini-groups where interaction could only take place between pairs of students and the two teachers involved in the project. In this day and age where we are concerned about student e-safety, the parameters that can be set in Edmodo make it an attractive tool to use. Furthermore, at a time where global understanding is paramount any project that connects classrooms across the world and promotes such interactions is a must.

My second tool which has featured high up on my list of favoured tools of late is Google Classroom. Once again, the ability to collaborate is key. Students can be set to work in groups and study from their own devices anytime and anywhere. It is important to add that it is not just the teacher who can set up groups so students can collaborate. The students themselves can elect another student (or many other students with whom to share their work). Output is not restricted to documents, but spreadsheets and presentations too.

A key benefit of Google Classroom is the ability to provide focused feedback in a timely manner. The tool allows for students to submit their work on a date set by the teacher. However, I favour a slightly different approach, where students do not submit their work but let me have constant access and thus make suggestions for improvements. Using the comment feature, I am able to pose questions which encourage students to engage in their errors and work out how to improve. This blended learning approach is proving popular with the students and I am seeing greater engagement and progress. It has brought me great satisfaction to see how students tackle their feedback and how they engage with other students in their group, offering advice and suggestions.

Another key for me is that I am using a tool that very much replicates what students might experience as they move on to higher education. Google Classroom provides a working environment that increases productivity, allows for greater access to teacher support and enables the teacher to provide speedier and more focused feedback. It is a must for the modern classroom. Less paper printing.

To make the most of these tools it is vital that SLT buy in and understand the pedagogical benefits of using technology in the classroom. Their job is not necessarily to innovate, but to facilitate. Nonetheless, if there is innovation, perhaps it comes in the first, all important, move to appoint someone - a director of Digital Learning - to spearhead a period of potentially great change. This is a change where embedding a digital strategy is necessary if a school wants to ensure that its pupils are ready for the demands of the future.

If anything, once the appointment is made then SLT have to demonstrate trust in their appointee, and have to support them in what can be a tricky period for schools and their teaching staff. Many decisions have to be made: iPad versus tablet versus BYOD; Google Classroom versus OneNote; Socrative versus Nearpod and many, many more.

SLT have a chance to innovate in creating new roles for students within"The SLT’s job is not necessarily to innovate, but to facilitate." schools. Alongside games captains, school prefects and house captains, there will be digital leaders among the students throughout the school who will have opportunities to guide their peers and help their teachers. Not to be outdone by the students, SLT will appoint, among staff, digital champions who will ably support the director of Digital Learning to ensure that the technological tools that can so readily enhance what happens in the classroom are not ignored and neglected.

Innovation at SLT level is all about ensuring that the first move - appointing a director of Digital Learning, is an innovative one. Once these good foundations are laid then successful implementation will follow and opportunities to explore and make the most of new tools in an educationally sound manner will abound. The possibilities are very exciting and I know that I am excited to see what new tools come on to the market and how my favourite tools develop over the coming months and years. Who knows what tool I will be writing about in six months time?

Which tools do you use in your classroom day-to-day? Let us know below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"