10 ways in which the best teachers use technology in the classroom

Teachers are constantly pushed towards new pedagogies in order to improve student performance. For most teachers, who are already overburdened and overworked, maneuvering the jungle of new buzzwords and learning theories can be an exhausting task.


Integrating technology into your teaching, however, isn’t so hard. In fact, research shows that teachers who use ICT to deliver lessons in the classroom work up to 4.6 hours fewer than those who don’t. If used efficiently, a film can save teachers several hours in lesson planning, while simultaneously relieving students of cognitive overload.


Here are 10 ways in which the best teachers use tech in the classroom:


1. Innovate or Compliment

Educational videos can be used to complement traditional teaching in the classroom or assigned as homework to reinforce classroom lessons. Twig videos (for example) are tailored to school curriculums across the world; you can find the topic you want to teach in a matter of seconds.


2. Flip the classroom

If you’re nervous about teaching a class or just plain tired, try flipping the classroom. Assign an educational video as homework for the students to view at home. Teachers can then use this assignment to open up a discussion in the classroom, facilitating student interaction. Flipping the classroom encourages students to understand and process knowledge independently, while allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace by pausing, rewinding, forwarding and replaying the video as many times as they like.


3. Experiment

Science teachers know only too well the complications of conducting science experiments. Not only is it a task to gather a large group of students in a lab to demonstrate a precipitate reaction or the dissection of a cow’s lung, but there is also the concern that a student might break a test tube or pass out at the smell of blood.

Video allows teachers to circumvent these problems by choosing to view videos of experiments that are too complicated or even impossible to conduct in a lab. Students benefit from watching the experiments being conducted without missing out on any of the practical knowledge.


4. Distance learning

Teachers can use video conferencing to teach distance learning programs. Or they can really go the distance, and contact other teachers around the globe to do a collaborative classroom project.


5. Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling combines traditional storytelling techniques with digital multimedia such as images, audio and video. Teachers can also use ready-made digital films or stories by companies like Twig as anticipatory sets to engage students at the beginning of the class. Research proves that the use of anticipatory sets at the beginning of a lesson helps engage students in the learning process, while also linking existing knowledge and new material.


6. Class trip!

School budget cuts giving the class trip the axe again? You can still take your students on a virtual class trip. Video allows educators to bring the real world into the four walls of their classroom. Teachers can take their class on impossible class trips through videos, whether to the Sahara desert to learn adaptation of the cactus, or to deepest outer space to see a nebula.


7. Skype call an expert

Teachers can use video conferencing to request programs from “content experts”.

This way, students get to learn something from an expert in the field; this also breaks up the routine of normal classroom hours. For example, New Market Elementary teachers participated in a video conference with Adora Svitak called “Personal Narrative Writing: Acing Your State Writing Assessment & Beyond” in order to help their students with their writing skills.


8. Game time

The myths around video games are now changing. More and more research shows how games, when implemented properly, are effective in helping children develop problem solving, spatial awareness and reasoning skills, along with good reflexes and lateral thinking. A lot of game developers are now developing educational games like the Angry Birds games to help young children think creatively. So go on – be everyone’s favourite teacher and assign a videogame as class activity or homework. They’ll love you for it.


9. Group activity

Let’s face it: some days, school is just hard for both teachers and students. These are the days when teachers can play a video and get the class to discuss what they saw afterwards. This sort of exercise is great for developing reasoning and thinking skills. It also helps students interact with each other, discuss and share ideas, and have fun doing it.


10. Fun

Video is an easy way to incorporate some fun into the learning process. It allows teachers to facilitate student participation in a particularly difficult or unresponsive class. Watching an educational video can also be a good icebreaker at the start of term, or even just to break the traditional teaching routine every so often. It makes learning fun and enjoyable for the students and, by extension, makes teaching fun and simpler for teachers.


CLIL and why it matters

If you’re raising your eyebrow in arched confusion right now, wondering what on earth CLIL is, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.


CLIL stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning. What that means in real life is learning another (content) subject such as physics or geography through the medium of a foreign language as well as learning a foreign language by studying a content-based subject. In short, content subjects are taught and learned in a language which is not the mother tongue of the learners.


So why is CLIL important?

In CLIL lessons, the foreign language becomes the means of learning content. Students feel more motivated to learn the language because they are actually doing something with it, rather than dealing in some of the rather tired phrases and topics that old-fashioned language lessons tend to turn up. The focus is on language acquisition rather than enforced learning, i.e. building up language competency through using it to explore and discuss curriculum topics, leading to more natural and sophisticated communicative skills over time.


CLIL helps with:

  • Improving overall and specific language competence.
  • Preparing for future studies and/or working life.
  • Developing multilingual interests and attitudes.
  • Diversifying methods & forms of classroom teaching and learning.
  • Increasing learner motivation.
  • Integrating language into the broader curriculum.
  • Long-term learning: students become academically proficient in a language after 5-7 years in a good bilingual program. This is because CLIL focuses on fluency rather than accuracy, treating errors as a natural part of language learning.
  • Introducing a wider cultural context to content lessons
  • Accessing International Certification and enhancing the school profile.


There are other advantages too, which extend outside the classroom, making CLIL relevant within a global context.


The rise of the global economy means different countries interact with each other on a daily basis. Even with English as the main language, there is often a need for communicative skills in a second or third language. Besides, some countries have very strict policies regarding the use of regional languages within their borders.


Learning and knowing other languages often promotes feelings of trust and helps in better communication. It’s one of the reasons why the European Commission has been looking into the state of bilingualism and language education since the 1990s, and has a clear vision of a multilingual Europe in which people can function in two or three languages.


Interested in knowing more about CLIL? We are happy to help. We just won the BETT award for our CLIL digital resources and we’re feeling even more inspired than usual to promote all things Content and Language Integrated Learning.


Email clil@twig-world.com to let us know your thoughts on CLIL.