Tech Tip: Using mobile devices to empower introverted students

By Kerry Gallagher on July 28th, 2015

Introverts are students who are bright and capable of communicating, but class discussions feel unnatural or uncomfortable for them. Sharing via technology is more comfortable, and it can benefit all students since everyone is heard. Here are a few ideas for using tech tools to draw out these learners:

Backchannel. There are a few platforms, like TodaysMeet and Backchannel Chat that allow your classes to backchannel, or have an online discussion while watching a video or presentation in the classroom. Participation is as easy as typing and hitting “send” so it feels less threatening and unnatural to an introvert. The transcript of the chat can also be saved as collaborative class notes. Here is an example from a 9th grade class that watched a YouTube video on the Whiskey Rebellion recently.

Games and Formative Tools. I often use Socrative, a student response tool, to pose questions to my classes. With Socrative, they can submit their answers anonymously and then, as a class, vote on the best one. Often the introverts are selected as winners because they’ve put more thought and depth into their answers.

Another fun formative game app is Kahoot!. Either I create activities or students create them for each other. Kahoot gets my classroom energized with music, bright colors and a little healthy competition. Again, participation doesn’t require anyone to speak out loud, although they often do end up cheering for the winner at the end.

Digital Bulletin Board. Students can use an app like Padlet to post text, links, video clips, images, or text for crowdsourcing their ideas. Here is a great example of a bulletin board about women in the Civil War that my tenth-grade students made using a combination of quotes, images found online, and their own drawings and words. Again, introverts won’t have to speak out in front of the whole class to participate in a powerful way.

Strategies like these do more than engage all learners. They also send a message to introverts that their teacher understands they have a lot to contribute when given the right opportunity.

Kerry Gallagher is a technology integration specialist at St. Johns Preparatory School in Danvers, Mass., a one-to-one iPad school serving 1,500 students grades 6-12. She taught middle and high school history in bring-your-own-device environments for 13 years. Gallagher is well known for her paperless collaborative classroom model which thrived on project-based learning. She also helped her students create Rockets Help Desk, a far-reaching student-driven technology integration program in her previous school district. Gallgher received the 2014 Yale-Lynn Hall Teacher Action Research Prize for her submission on the use of mobile devices for a paperless public school classroom and is a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. Gallagher has been a conference presenter on the effective use of technology in the classroom at Harvard Law School, Yale School of Management, and Stanford University. In addition to EdSurge, she writes for Smarter Schools Project and ConnectSafely. She holds a B.A. in Politics from Saint Anselm College and J.D. from Massachusetts School of Law.

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