Monday, 02 February 2015 12:28

Using Technology in the Classroom

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This blog will focus on some useful sites and technology I am currently using in class along with my colleague Eveline Masco as we teach an Upper Intermediate class without a textbook.

Our class is somewhat experimental and we are investigating Flipping the Classroom, Dogme and Demand High Teaching. Somewhat in contradiction to dogme’s unplugged purity, we are looking to harness technology as we teach the class.

E-Boards have been installed in many classrooms at Phoenix Academy and they are proving to be very useful. The E Boards allow the teacher to mirror from their devices using Apple TV – this means teachers can prepare video content or visuals … and seamlessly integrate them into their lessons. You can also use the browser to go directly to websites and a USB with prepared worksheets. With the E Board you are able to use writing tools to highlight features of texts making it a very useful tool for writing and correction. In terms of dogme, this is excellent because it gives a very immediate way of dealing with emerging language. Eveline was confronted with the question ‘what is an elevator pitch?’ from one of the readings the students did. She used the E Board to find some examples, they analysed the structure and language and produced their own. Phoenix Academy will be offering a Pd on use of the E Board to the public later in the year.

Students all have their own devices and I am happy for them to use them. I have actively encouraged them to get dictionary apps on the phones or tablets. I have the MerriamWebster but there are many to choose from. In a recent class I handed out different research topics on the life of Edvard Munch and the students used their devices (and mine!) to take notes and then report back to class. This task mirrored what they would do in their own lives when they want to find something out. Technology isn’t special, it’s part of the everyday life of our students and the classroom should reflect this.

The first site to describe is Quizlet. This site enables students to practice new vocabulary in engaging and easy to use ways. The students simply create an account and then create word lists by adding words and their meanings. Quizlet then turns the words into flashcards, games and tests. Students can access Quizlet on their devices while commuting – very good use of time. In our class we appoint a person each day to create a specific list from the words created. We have created a class, which is a conglomeration of the lists of the students. However, a great feature of Quizlet is that all lists are searchable.

TED Talks are proving to be an excellent resource. The talks cover a wide range of topics, are manageable in time and tend to have great visual support. The TED website has the transcript of each talk so they can be brought up on the screen for analysis. Students can be directed to view the transcripts for homework. We are currently preparing the students to do presentations and TED provides an excellent model for analysis of what makes a good presentation. TED also has a guide on its website on how to structure a TED Talk – very useful material for the class.

Word Press is a useful site to give students the chance to set up their own blogs, this is an interesting alternative to journal writing as, from the teacher’s point of view, it will encourage us to first look at content and intent in reviewing our students’ work rather than correction.

This is a brief summary of some of the technology we have been using in class. I think we have reached the point where we should be regarding technology as a natural extension of what we do in class. Life now, is screen oriented whether we like it or not and what we are trying to create in the classroom is an environment in which our students feel comfortable and are able to operate. The items mentioned above are all user friendly and easy to integrate into lessons. I still have a whiteboard and it is always covered in words and language examples at the end of each session. These days I take a quick photo of it and use it to inform the next day of teaching.

What about you? How is technology part of your teaching?




Read 25098 times Last modified on Monday, 02 February 2015 12:32

1 comment

  • Comment Link Rebecca Friday, 06 February 2015 18:16 posted by Rebecca

    Hi Everyone,
    As we all get more accustomed to using more technology in the classroom, it is great to see and hear what other people have been using. We have all had experiences that have gone well and other that haven't been so effective. This is all part of the learning process, isn't it?

    Antony touched on the idea of allowing our student to use their devices in the classroom. I support this wholeheartedly. At the moment I am teaching one of the Cambridge Exam courses and my students are allowed to have their phones on the tables next to them. There are limits to them using their devices (if I see that they are on facebook or chatting to someone, they have to put their phones away). However, the reason that I have decided to allow this is QUIZLET. The students have created accounts on quizlet and as we go through exercises, vocabulary, dependent prepositions, collocations, etc. they add the new words and phrases as they come up. So, now, rather than writing the words down and then having to try to remember to add them to the list when they get home, they have the words in their flashcard lists almost automatically and they can then test themselves or each other on the way home (two people can even have competitions to see who can remember the most words while sitting in different buses going to different parts of Perth!). I believe that giving them the opportunity to build their own resources and study materials is essential to preparing them for the exams and, maybe even more important, the rest of their English-learning careers. This is the first class that I have had set up quizlet accounts at the beginning of the course, and I am really pleased with how it is working.

    Another thing that I find really useful for Exam classes (and I am sure non-exam classes could use it somehow) is using BBC Day in Pictures to promote students' speaking. As many of you know, in FCE and CAE Speaking Pt. 2, students have to compare and contrast pictures. Being able to use the E-Boards to display the pictures and then use the pencil tool to gather useful vocabulary on the screen is invaluable. The students get a lot out of is and having the pictures in full color on the screen beats the black and white photocopies. It is fantastic to bring the world outside of Phoenix into the classroom and technology help exponentially.

    The things that I have written about are not earth-shattering, but they are practical and useful. I hope this might help someone else in their exploration of using technology in the classroom.

    How have the rest of you been able to bring the real world into the classroom?


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