When you hear the world “digital,” the first thing you probably think of is distance learning. When you think of distance learning, you might want to run for the hills. While the pandemic has changed the way we teach, it doesn’t mean the work we have done for distance learning will not be beneficial to us once we all get to come back to the classroom. Using digital centers in school can be just as effective as using them online.
What is a Digital Center?
A digital center is just like a regular center that you have in your classroom, but it’s all virtual! Therefore, you can get the same benefits of centers, like test prep, review, and differentiation without some of the hassle.
Save the Environment!
One of the many benefits of using digital centers in the classroom is the amount of paper you will save. Centers take pieces and pieces are created typically with paper. When you are using a digital center, you can have your students do all the work on a tablet, Chromebook, or laptop.
If not all of your students have access to a computer via the school, you have a few things you can do so your digital centers don’t go to waste. If possible, you can have your students bring their own devices. Another option would be to try your hand at grant writing and see what you can come up with.
Since the pandemic started, more people have been willing to lend a hand, especially to education at least when it comes to resources which is why started a Donors Choose Project might get a great place to start! If you can get a grant or find an awesome Donor, the iPad Gen 7 with 32 GB of storage space is perfect for students! Finally, if it’s needed right now, you can always have students share a device or do a hybrid of traditional and digital centers.
Digital Centers in the Classroom Saves You Time
Oddly enough, we are all human. Because we are human, we sometimes forget to make a copy of this or that. Then, you might have to run to the office while your kindergarten students are arriving. If you are using digital centers, you have no need to run to the copy machine! This not only avoids you having to wait in line, but it ensures you will never be the one who jams the copy machine.
To help save more time, you might want to make sure your students are equipped with a few handy tools. If you have iPads, you’ll want to have an iPad case that is easy for students to carry that helps keep the iPad safe as well. Having the case will ensure you don’t have so many bumps and bruises on the equipment you recently acquired.
Another great tool is the Logitech Crayon. This pen-like tool makes it easier for students to write on their iPads and encourages writing as an important skill we still need to have.
You Have Eyes Everywhere!
When students are in physical centers, you can only see so much. However, with the correct software, you can watch what your third graders are doing during their center time. This ensures everyone is on task all the time which makes your digital centers all that more effective. The only time this may be an issue is if there’s not a great connection.
If there’s not a great connection, try to talk with your technology coordinator about possible options as well as what “power” you have in your classroom to connect. Knowing is often half the battle. So if you know only so many students can be on a certain platform, you can plan for that in your centers. If you have a connection problem in your room, hopefully, it can be remedied.
Digital Centers in the Classroom plus Engagement? You’ve Got It!
One thing is certain, students love technology! Their world has been filled with it since day one! There are first graders who know how to do some things better than their parents in terms of technology. By using digital centers, you are going with the flow instead of fighting the current. Technology is something students know and enjoy which makes the “sell” for center time that much easier for you.
Where Should I Put My Digital Centers?
The internet is huge world with all sorts of different places to put this and there. However, there are some platforms that are great for paperless centers.
Seesaw is a great tool to use with students. Not only do they learn, but they can exercise their creative side. You can have your fourth grade students record videos, take pictures of science projects, and draw plot maps all on Seesaw!
Google Classroom is also a great place to put your online centers. The great part about Google Classroom is it gives you access to the entire Google Suite. With Google Forms, you can create choose your own adventure stories for your students. Plus, anything that is put on a Google Doc is automatically updated!
All you need is a link and you can have interactive literacy notebooks at your fingertips. Because everything is shared, you can give your second graders pointers on what they need to do to improve as well as share what they are doing well.
Another great place for a digital center is Boom Learning. On Boom Learning, you can find Boom Decks for students to practice various skills for review or for building skill. You can differentiate your Boom Decks to help students who need it and push students who are ready to go to the next level.
The Sky is the Limit
When you change from the traditional set up of math and literacy centers to using digital centers in the classroom, you can use as many online platforms as you see fit! Because students are online, they can bounce from one center to another without having to leave their space which can make things safer if sanitation requirements have increased in your school.
Centers are a great tool to use in the classroom whether you are online or in person. Having digital centers makes your job a little easier and it saves some valuable classroom storage space as well. So, before you decide it’s time to go back to normal, take the good out of the pandemic and bring digital centers into your physical classroom.
Unit Next Time…
Keep Being Educational Rock Stars!