Which Digital Tools have you been regularly using for teaching?

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carlaarena's picture
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Catherine mentioned in her welcome post to our LT SIG area that she'd like to hear more how educators are incorporating technology into their teaching practice. Thus, we'd like to hear from you.
Which tools have you been using regularly in your teaching? How have they helped you achieve your teaching/learning goals? Can you show us any online examples using those tools?

chris_fry_barcelona's picture
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I use the IWB every day in class and feel that it has become as normal as using the whiteboard, the cassette player and photocopies became in their day.

The other LT tools we use every day are these:

Edmodo
mobile phones
posterous

I use Edmodo in a very conventional way to set homework tasks and provide feedback on them. I would love to get user-generated content going, but have never managed to do it satisfactorily.

My students record themselves on their mobile phones numerous times every day. Here are some examples of some of the things they will record themselves doing this week:

- after doing a traditional grammar exercise, reading the answers from the IWB preferably 'reading, looking away, speaking'
- answering questions in an interview format (back to the IWB, where the interviewer has the questions)
- retelling the story of a text read aloud by me or a 'listening' (to people who were not in the room)
- pronouncing the words in a pronunciation exercise
- pronouncing new words in a list of vocabulary (e.g. animals)
- speaking for 2 minutes on a subject they haven't chosen

My students send their recordings from their mobile phones to post@posterous.com to build up an ePortfolio of their spoken English. They also send the final version of their written work to their posterous space although this doesn't happen every day.

I am amazed by how many students have responded well to recording themselves and the number of recordings some people have posted (50+!), but I don't feel I have satisfactorily solved the problem of how students should get the maximum benefit from their recordings.

I provide feedback on one or two of their recordings every term, but the students are going to have to be the ones who work on the vast majority of their recordings. The only thoughts about this I have had are these:

Feedback and assessment from a teacher may help, but reflection and self-awareness will make much more of a difference.
How can this reflection and self-awareness be encouraged?
- Maybe introducing tasks that involve reflection little by little, like Jenny Bedwell’s idea of getting students to select their best recording for teacher assessment.
- Giving students a task like noticing and reporting on three ‘silly mistakes you made’ in speaking
- Using one idea from the list below at a time with individual students:
One of the many advantages of recording your voice and listening to yourself again afterwards is that then you can think about your English.
1 Evaluate yourself
2 Repeat any bits you particularly like - say them again and again (record them and post the recordings here, if you like)

One of the many advantages of recording your voice and listening to yourself again afterwards is that then you can think about your English.
1 Evaluate yourself
2 Improve the bits you don't like - say them again a few times (record them and post the recordings here, if you like)

One of the many advantages of recording your voice and listening to yourself again afterwards is that then you can think about your English.
1 Evaluate yourself
2 Correct the bits that you know are wrong - say the right version a few times (record them and post the recordings here, if you like)

One of the many advantages of recording your voice and listening to yourself again afterwards is that then you can think about your English.
1 Evaluate yourself
2 Find out about the things that you think might be wrong - say them a few times (record them and post the recordings here, if you like)

One of the many advantages of recording your voice and listening to yourself again afterwards is that then you can think about your English.
1 Evaluate yourself
2 Make a transcript of the first minute of your recording. With this data you can make interesting calculations about how fast you speak, how much vocabulary you use, etc.

At a later stage, maybe students can be asked to do more than one of these tasks.

The problem is that this can never be done in lockstep: different students will move through stages in reflection and self-awareness at different times and helping this happen is personalised, time-consuming and labour intensive.

Has anyone else faced this problem? Is anyone else facing this problem?

nicroseper's picture
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Chris,

Thank you for this. I really like that you've explained what you use and why it is beneficial. Too often in this field we just get to hear about some great new app or gizmo with no underlying purpose or methodology given for using it. So this is really useful.

I agree that it is worthwhile getting students to listen to themselves and this sounds like a great way to do it. (I need to check how to record myself on my phone now!) and the e-portfolio presumably is used in lots of other ways too so they have a complete record of their learning and progress?

With regard to your last comment, I can see what you're saying but I was wondering what kind of support you're giving them. Is it that they all want your help and advice to know how to improve / confirmation that they are doing well? Or is there more to it than that?

chris_fry_barcelona's picture
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I've just counted: 63 recordings were posted last week. Most of them recorded directly in class.
I've only listened to a few of them, but I have just listened to a couple of dozen from previous weeks. I limited myself to giving students a grade and comments like: "Your pronunciation is excellent and you are very fluent. You don't use the past tense, which would make it better. You can tell a story in the present simple, but then you have to make quite sure you use the -s ending more.
Your English is not as good as your fluency and pronunciation suggests.
If I have time later, I'll try to give you some feedback about your grammar or your pronunciation. Which is more important for you?
4 out of 5
A recording you made on Feb 21st, 23rd or 28th"
The reason is that I have to get end of term assessments completed today!

mcneilmahon's picture
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Hi Chris,
I completely agree with Nicola that it's really refreshing to hear someone talking about methodological ways of using an application, rather than just recommending the latest fad they've picked up from a '50 best ways to' webpage.

Your ideas and detail have triggered a couple of questions though - how do you arrive to the 4 out of 5? Are the students aware of the criteria you use? And how easily do the students take to your requests for them to record themselves and send it to you?

Whenever I try and initiate something similar, everyone starts cringing at the thought of hearing their own voices - do you have a trick or info to lower this particular affective filter?

Cheers,

chris_fry_barcelona's picture
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Hi Neil,

When grading my students' speaking and writing I use 'gut reaction' only tempered by occasional cross-marking/standardisation sessions, which sadly are usually for written work. The students only know the grade level (5 very good, 4 good, 3 OK, 2 weak) and unless I add comments like"your pronunciation is excellent, but you make quite a lot of grammar mistakes. You are more fluent now than you were last term." the students don't really have anything formative to go on.

Trying to get students to do things like re-telling a story to someone who wasn't there to hear it and recording themselves doing it is something I try to introduce on the very first day of term so I have had very little chance to lower this important affective filter, but it worked really well this year, which was the first time I had tried to do this so dramatically.

I first demonstrate recording my own voice and playing it back, and I get the students to do it simply by showing supreme confidence that they will do it. I ask them to listen to themselves at home although many can't resist and listen to a bit in class immediately. I then get them to send their recording to post@posterous.com It takes quite a while to get everyone on board with this, but mostly because of the difficulty or cost of sending voice recordings.

I think it is vital to get students to be reflective about their speaking and they can only do that if they listen to themselves. I don't get them to listen to each other's recordings, but I engineer it so that they work with as many different people in the class as possible, so they do listen to each other. Maybe I should encourage some reflection there about how well their partner speaks.

At the end of the course I will set them a task to compare one of their early recordings with one of the most recent ones.

I can't help feeling rather reluctant to retire at the end of this year when there is still so much to experiment with in this area and I still feel I have so much to learn.

Chris

nicroseper's picture
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Thanks to Neil for his questions and thanks to you for taking the time to reply. Your comment about 'supreme confidence' made me smile. It's amazing how well it works. There should be INSETT sessions on it regularly!

I'm just starting some action research on WTC and I'm hoping to use your ideas as part of it.

I hope you decide to put off retiring for a bit longer. It sound as if you enjoy this too much to give it up.

I hope Neil found your comments useful too.

Valentina360's picture
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Ho all,

From the Learning Technologies PCE we got an extensive overview of the Apps that are available. Paul Sweeney took us on a whirlwind tour of both ELT and non-ELT apps ( you can see the pdf of his slides here http://www.eduworlds.co.uk/iateflpce.pdf )

It would be nice to hear from teachers who've used these Apps either in or outside the classroom and to discuss some of the benefits and tasks that worked. Are these the apps you use?

Most my business students use their cell phones willingly and they like dictionaries and word apps to help them check stuff fast (although they don't usually do this in class). We tend to use their cells to video part of their presentation or sales pitch or whatever it is they are preparing otherwise most my classrooms are quite tech-free. (With business students who have been in front of a screen all day they prefer the focus to be on speaking or interacting together in small groups.)

Another question that fascinates me relates to the disjointed nature of some of these apps. Has anyone got any experience of using more than one or two? How do the students feel?
Looking forward to your comments.
A bug thanks everyone for all the app contributions!

Valentina

carlaarena's picture
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Dear Vale,

Thanks for reporting back the Learning Technologies PCE with lots to explore from Paul's presentation.

From my initial experience as we're just implementing the use of iPads in the EFL classroom, I've been trying to show teachers how they can use the tablets to create language, to help learners explore new ways of playing around with the language structures they are learning. So, for example, our very basic students have been studying a unit on food. They've practiced the vocabulary and language constructions related to it, then made a wall with the food they wanted to talk about (available in the photo stream) in Educreations, then recorded a dialogue that was then uploaded to the class wiki. This is just one tiny example on how mobile devices can really enhance student-centered classes that encourage student practice & engaged production.

Any other examples? It would be great if we could keep this thread going with good examples of what we could do with mobile devices in the classroom.

Any volunteers for more examples?

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I'm afraid I'm not going to give you any examples of using Language learning technologies in my classrooms but I am very much interested to use them. I believe they are especially important for teaching English in my country where the language is used as a medium of instruction but is not around outside the classroom. Students have started accessing interenet, mobile phones and few of them ipads too. Nevertheless, we teachers do not seem to have the necessary skills and knowledge of using them for learning/teaching. Though this might be out of the threads, any ideas on how we can go about it?

nada.purtic's picture
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Hello everyone.

I spend quite a lot of time thinking and trying how to enhance my teaching by incorporating technology into it. Taking into account that my students are YLEs, most of it comes down to engaging them into activities that are meaningful and authentic as well as interesting and motivating for them.

I've recently decided to give digital online games a try and the results have been good so far. Inspired by Digital Play blog and book, I set up a web site with monthly tasks where students have to do and send me a piece of writing upon completing the game. This is the web place: http://zzeng.webnode.com/

Another example of how I use technology with even younger ones is recording and showcasing what they do as well as posting some interesting activities for them to use their English and enjoy themselves. Here is what it looks like: http://e-garden.webnode.com/.

Podcasting is one of my favourite media again due to the age of my students. Since they are much better at speaking and listening when starting to learn English (in state schools in Serbia they are not to start writing English till third grade), recording their oral activities seems the most plausible solution. Here are some of my students' podcasts - with more yet to come :) http://podcast68383.podomatic.com/

There are some other technologies I have tried and am about to exploit more (like digital storytelling) but I'll write more about it some other time.

Nada

pccozens's picture
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Chris mentioned he uses an IWB, I do not have access to one, but after the Asia TEFL in Bangkok a few years ago purchased a mimio bar which allows me to transform my normal whiteboard into an interactive tool. Like Nada, I have had my students creating podcasts, bur they are uploaded to our University Moodle, which I find invaluable. Along with Nada again, I have created quited a lot of online games. I also make great use of Quizlet for helping students with vocabulary and have different groups take part in both brainstorming and problem solving activities using Piratepad and/or Titanpad.

Phil

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