edtech

Edtech exploration

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…

Quizlet

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…)

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Global Digital Citizen Foundation

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.

According to the ‘Who we are’ section of the site, one of the driving forces behind the project is Andrew Churches. He has a blog that is also worth looking at – especially for the useful downloads related to Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

Let me know what you think of the sites!

Images copyright Global Digital Citizen Foundation

App review: ELSA Speak

Let it gooooo, let it gooooo!

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…)

Quizlet Teacher account – worth it?

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.

Huh, Quizlet?

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

(more…)

ClassDojo – not a no go

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…)

Digital Breaks – James Styring

I attended a useful webinar by James Styring the other week, entitled ‘Easy and motivating ways to use digital technology in the classroom. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

Overall, it was a very good presentation. There were lots of useful and straightforward tips for utilising the tech that students have at their disposal. I liked the fact that James made use of classic ELT activities (like ‘Find someone who’) and tweaked them to make use of tech in some way:

  • Find someone who has 7 of the same apps on their phone’s homepage
  • Find someone who has 2 of the same games as you
  • Find someone who has taken a picture on their phone in the same location as you
  • Etc

This is just one example, but it highlighted that things don’t have to be complicated. You can use existing activities, just personalise them using a tech element that’s ‘Generation Z’ friendly.

On a side note, that’s what I liked about Text Chat Activities by Mark Oliver (which I reviewed here). Familiar activities give the teacher more confidence to make minor changes…

Anyway. James’ best tip was to use ‘Digital Breaks’. He said the tip was from a British Council teacher from another webinar so, whoever you are, good suggestion!

According to James, ‘Generation Z’ get the urge to check social media apps on their phone every 7 minutes. Don’t fight against it – you want their attention, so schedule some digital breaks. I’ve started doing it. I allow students a timed break (2 minutes) every half an hour or so. Honestly, I’ve noticed that my teen classes focus more during activities. I was surprised, but they really do! Give it a go, let me know what you think.

Feature image from marketcloud.com

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.