Teachers everywhere use digital tools to personalize learning for their students. Some manage their learning environment using tools like Google Classroom, Edmodo, and Schoology; others promote student-led inquiry with apps (e.g. Germ Scanner) and classroom simulations; and others help students investigate unchartered territories via the Sally Ride EarthKAM. But what about teachers who don't have ready access to digital resources? Luckily there are a wide variety of environmental resources out there—instructional resources that don't involve technology—that still pack a strong pedagogical punch.
I was recently reminded that even seemingly simple environmental resources enable educators to perform formative assessments, engage learners, activate prior knowledge and build schema, and address multiple intelligences. During recent classroom walkthroughs, I witnessed teachers using:
to highlight main characters
to conduct gallery walks
to promote student-generated questions
as a word study resource (spell it, draw it, use it in a sentence)
to draw a plot diagram
as an angle generator
as a random student selector for informal assessment
as a classifier for grouping words with similar spelling
These examples barely scratch the surface of the continued role that environmental resources play in supporting and promoting learner outcomes. While digital tools and resources will continue to play an increasingly critical role in the classroom, you might be amazed at the creative ways that non-technology resources originating from your kitchen, garage, office, or corner market can still impact student academic progress.