Here’s my article for the latest Modern English Teacher, April 2018. I did a bit of action research on using Quizlet in class, which I mentioned before in this post. Sorry about the graphs, Scribd makes them look a bit funny. The research was part of a Masters module in tech-assisted language learning through NILE ELT.
This got me thinking about my practice and my reliance on certain forms of evaluation. Looking back at most of my reflections on this blog, it’s clear that I judge the success of new approaches or activities on two things – either self-reflection or student feedback. At best I use both.
I’ve done enough training courses that have drummed that ‘plan-do-review’ cycle into me…
A nice diagram from Youth Work Essentials
Plus, as I’ve become a more experienced practitioner I’ve improved my ability to reflect critically and (somewhat) objectively on my approach and how it works for my students. I’ve involved students far more in this reflection/evaluation process as time has gone on. Looking back, it makes me cringe a bit when I realise how little I appreciated student feedback in my early teaching days…
However, I can see there are weakness in the way I evaluate the impact of an approach or a particular resource. I don’t think I use enough tools to help guide my reflections – I could make far more use of pedagogical frameworks as a guide when evaluating my practice.
This is particularly true of my approach to edtech at times. Although I’m looking for ways to integrate technology, more often than not it seems that I trial a piece of edtech in an unprincipled or isolated way. This normally results in me using a tech tool merely as an alternative to my established approach rather than as an enhancement. (more…)
I’ve come across loads of edtech sites/tools recently. I’ll forget them all if I don’t start writing them down. Here’s a random mix of stuff I’ve come across or have been using.
Things I tried in class last term…
I had to do a fairly long piece of action research into edtech for my MA. I chose to focus on Quizlet, you can read about my initial thoughts here. Overall, despite plenty of encouragement, I found that Quizlet lacked longevity. The wow factor died down after a while and the students rarely used the app for self-study towards the end of term. Verdict: Meh…(more…)
I came across this great site after they linked to an old blog post of mine. What a stroke of luck!
According to the site, Global Digital Citizen Foundation is a ‘non-profit organisation dedicated to cultivating responsible, ethical, global citizens for a digital world’. They work with educators around the world to help develop modern learning environments, with a focus on helping learners develop autonomy and skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. You can read more here.
The site had loads of really good downloadable resources, most of which are free (you do need to log in though). I’ve downloaded a critical thinking workbook and ideas for project-based learning, both of which are really useful. Selected resources available include ‘Medial Tools for Teachers’ (full of tips for great free media sites), classroom motivational posters, guides to using social media in class and much more. They also have a blog and post frequently.
Now that’s out of my system, here’s a review of ELSA Speak. It’s an app that teaches you to ‘pronounce English like an American through real-world conversations’. It’s a great use of AI in language learning – it really is amazing what some of these apps can do now!
With ELSA Speak you can work through a wide range of activities which mainly focus on the individual sounds of English. Most activities involve recording yourself saying a word or phrase. The phrases are topic related (introductions, family, business, food and drink, etc) so not only can you improve your pronunciation, you can also learn phrases that are relevant to your own context.
You can choose the skill (sounds) you’re interested in. A bulk of the activities involve recording phrases like the one above. (more…)
I’ve been using Quizlet in class for a while. This term I’m getting to grips with it a bit more as part of a project for my MA.
Quizlet is a site which allows you to create your own online flashcards and games all for free. It’s really easy to pick up for both teachers and learners. Here’s what learners can do with it:
Flashcards – Learners can revise words from a lesson using digital flashcards made by the teacher. Flashcards can be words + meanings or words + images. You could also make question and answer cards. Students could also make their own flashcards if they want.
Learn – Read the meaning/look at the image and type the correct word
Spell – Type the target word you hear
Test – An auto-generated mix of written, multiple choice, and true and false questions based on the vocabulary set
Match/Gravity – a couple of games using the vocab set. Match works well on an interactive whiteboard
Live – play a live game with multiple participants
Sometimes I think I’m far too serious to teach young learners. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I just don’t ‘get’ them. Perhaps I’m getting too old. Maybe I’m just not learning how to teach them properly. I don’t know. I feel at my least confident when I’m teaching groups of kids aged 8-10. I’ve never taught anyone younger. But strangely, people keep telling me that they think I’d be good at it, and I had some good feedback on the CELTA YL. Comments that I’m ‘a natural’ felt a bit far-fetched. I reckon that once I have children of my own the penny might drop. Until then, meh… (more…)