Incorporating more technology into my ELL classroom has allowed for students to express their understanding in a variety of ways. Students have been able to show their reading comprehension through writing, summarizing and synthesizing information in blog posts but have also done this through videos. Using multimedia methods has drawn out different strengths in students that may not have been visible using some other methods.
It has also led to increased engagement. Although student success at reaching learning targets is different, and even if students are more engaged with the features rather than fully focused on the content, they are still learning tools that can help their voice be heard. I just need to find ways to draw out their voice in meaningful tasks.
It can often be difficult for ELL student voices to be heard, but by incorporating different media tools students have different ways to express themselves. This expression goes beyond simply the words they type or the content of their videos but how they design their web pages, the books they chose, the video themes they enjoy, all of these things tell us something about our students that we can’t get from simple pen and paper writing.
Students seemed to understand privacy and pick it up much faster than I thought. We had discussions on digital citizenship and it made sense to them. We will have to continue these conversations when we start commenting. I also like the idea of adding a student pledge that they sign about committing to being a good digital citizen.
Access to these programs can also be limiting. I tried to pick programs students can access at home via the Internet or school based sites, but in addition to limitations at home there are also limitations at school. Some of these tools take a while to get these processes in place. I had to work through other groups of people, meet based on their schedule, got miss information, may have had to contact outside parties and then found something that worked. Once we got started the process has been much faster. In my ELL class I am lucky enough to have a set of computers that only we use. However, we get to use them because they are an older version of computers that the district won’t fix. We basically have them until they break and many of them are in really bad condition, don’t get consistent updates and thus sometimes we still don’t have quality access. With wevideos we were able to start right away but the creation process has been slower.
Here are some of my students videos:
Many students were self led, 3 students needed little guidance once given the sites and project criteria. One of these students has already asked if she can continue using the blog on her own over the summer. I was thrilled to know that this tool is something the student sees as valuable to her own experience and not just with the purpose of being for a teacher or only for school.
The other students needed help in different aspects; particularly two students needed just help using and navigating the tools smoothly but needed less scaffolding with the content goals. The last 2 students in class needed help with both. It is time consuming to use the tools, buttons and features, some of my less motivated students get more distracted by the features instead of actually creating the actual content. However, they already do limited work already. I would like to improve, in the future, my scaffolding techniques to utilize the skills of the students who needed little guidance and best support the students who were struggling.
An unanticipated result of this has been students feeling confident to explore more tools on their own. One of my students shared with me a site she found called pic monkey where you can digitally edit pictures. She said she found it playing around at home and thought to share it with me. Again, this was encouraging to see students doing positive things with tech, exploring cool sites to create original work. It would be interesting next year to have students teach each other about different sites and how they can be useful in their classrooms (kinda like a student version of speed geeking). This could be especially helpful in an ELL classroom because they students can then use and apply the strategies that they connect with.
Overall I look forward to continuing my work with technology in my classrooms and am excited about how I will be intertwining it into my curriculum and teaching. I’ve already been using wevideo to make “sub day” directions for students when I’m gone and hope to also think more deeply about how I can use technology to increase student creativity and access to scientific and engineering thinking.