Low-prep doesn’t have to mean less learning. Technology allows us to be more efficient and effective in the classroom in many ways. When we focus on sound teaching and learning, we can do high-quality learning in less time — AND take less time to prepare for it!
Here are several ideas that take little to no prep time that can yield some great critical thinking, collaboration, creation and more.
Try one out in class tomorrow!
1. Instant virtual field trips with Google Maps Street View
Google Maps lets you take students almost anywhere around the world and see it as if you’re standing right there with Street View. Studying a specific location? Reading a book that’s set in an actual place? Looking at biomes or habitats? Show students what it looks like to be there with a panoramic Street View. Just open Google Maps (maps.google.com) and find the little yellow peg man in the bottom right. Drag him on a blue line, blue circle or yellow circle to view it first person! (Mobile device users: There’s an app for that … for iOS and for Android.)
2. Boost critical thinking with “Caption This” in Google Drawings
Step the depth of knowledge level up a little at a time with this fun Google Drawings activity. Start with an image. Add a speech bubble, some captions and a place for students to explain their thinking. It’s visual. It’s creative. It’s FUN! And it takes next to no prep time. Get all the details in the blog post linked below.
3. Get students collaborating with shared Google Slides
I’ve used this one dozens and dozens (maybe hundreds?) of times in the classroom! Shared Slides lets students create in one shared class space. Then, they check out each other’s work and discuss it collaboratively. It’s SO easy to set up … create a slide presentation, make a bunch of blank slides and share it with students. Then they get to work! Watch a step-by-step tutorial video in the post below.
4. Remember more with a brain dump
Cognitive science tells us that it’s more effective to study by retrieving information from our memory. That’s the opposite of the common practice of re-reading notes or chapters to study. An easy, no-prep, high-return activity that takes just a minute to do is the brain dump. Simply have students recall everything they can about a specific topic in a minute. Bringing up previous topics every once in a while is even MORE effective!
5. Practice collaboratively with Quizlet Live
Quizlet Live is a fun, team-based practice game that uses Quizlet digital flashcards. Create a set of Quizlet flashcards yourself in a matter of minutes … OR use one of the millions of pre-created Quizlet flashcard sets. (A simple Google search for your topic and the word “Quizlet” should find something!) Quizlet Live launches students into small groups and they work together to answer questions and win the game. Replay games over and over again for repetitions and exposure to more and more terms in the flashcard deck.
6. Solve problems with the 5 Clue Challenge
Classes all over the world have enjoyed playing Mystery Skype, a fun global guessing game that encourages geography and problem-solving skills. But Mystery Skype requires a live video call, which takes some setting up. Use the 5 Clue Challenge videos to simulate that experience on demand! In 5 Clue Challenge videos, someone reveals clues about their location one at a time. The sooner you can guess the location, the more points you win!
7. Share to an audience with a class podcast
Student motivation can soar when they know they’re creating for an audience bigger than just the teacher. I’ve started using the Anchor app (anchor.fm) to record short podcast episodes. What if your class created a podcast to share what they’re learning with a big audience?
- Set up a podcast on Anchor. It’s easy. (I made my cover image on Google Drawings!)
- Record short clips of students talking about what they’re learning in class. Do it little by little all week.
- Collect all of them into an episode on Friday. (Or Monday. Pick a day to publish!)
- Write a title and description and then publish it!
8. Plan lessons with EduProtocols
An EduProtocol is a way to design lessons where the content changes but the way you teach it (and your students learn it) stay the same. These aren’t stale, dry lesson plans … they’re the kind your students will BEG for and will stay fresh all year. It’s an idea published recently in a book called The EduProtocol Field Guide by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo (Amazon affiliate link). Try one of the ideas below out or get a copy of the book!
9. Help students think with graphic organizers
Graphic organizers have been around forever. Rather than drill-and-kill, only-one-answer worksheets, graphic organizers are a workflow for student thinking. Create a great one, use a concept that’s already been created, or use one of my Google Drawings templates below. It helps students think through ideas on their own — a very student-centered, low-prep way of learning.
10. Utilize Google Slides templates
This goes hand-in-hand with EduProtocols above. These Slides templates were made for repeated use. Take the idea from the template and apply it to the lesson you’re on. Educators have been making them and sharing them all over. Here are some to check out …
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