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Improving the outcomes for English learners through ICT's blogs

  • It is hard to focus on one particular lesson at the moment as all my classes are doing larger project based work.

    A real focus for me over the last term has been integrating a lot of different applications or tool into my lessons. My year twelve EAP class are currently working several assessments at once and hopefully (fingers crossed) finishing them over the next few weeks. I have been using moodle to pull together resources for students who are completing a portfolio of writing. I have created topic questions which have a group of internet or uploaded resources which the students can use to gather information for their writing. There are also templates students can use to plan and links to useful websites for mindmapping etc. This has helped me because students are able to work independently on topics that interest them and it frees up my teaching time so I am able to have more of a one on one tutorial type lesson.

    All students have access to skydrive (MSN google docs) and use it to write their pieces and then share them with me. It has had its limitations in that I have a lot of difficulty with format, and dpwnloading copies to my computer, plus the version of word is too simple. On the otherhand it does give me quick access to the students work and I am able to keep tabs on what students have done. We often sit together and can both view the document and follow changes. Students are still learning and will sometimes come to class and ask if I checked their work, but without an e-mail from them I don't always know to go and check it. So a better system of alerts would help me.

    With this class, we seem to have stepped out of the classroom, in that we are in contact more often through e-mail and facebook. Which is good and bad. The students who are motivated are using the tools well and giving me too much work, those that aren't get lost sometimes and begin to float without the structure of a classroom lesson.

    I see ways that I could build on this for next year and realise striking a balance between classroom teaching and this blended approach is important.

  • I began the unit on writing recounts using comiclife this morning. I created several pages with  pictures of nouns, verbs, time, and place. I also created a table of useful words. The aim is for students to add the words to the pictures to make up simple sentences. I spend the hour showing the students how to get onto their student emails (3 seperate logins), so we never got to doing the activity. I am hoping this will speed up with practice.

    Students seem excited about the process. I am surveying them to get an idea how confident they are on the computer. Some of the new Somalian students have never used the computer before so I have opened the classroom at lunchtimes in the hope they will get more confidence just playing around on their own time.

    The class recorded their radio show last week and it was aired yesterday. A podcast is not yet available but should be soon from this url http://plainsfm.org.nz/on-demand/hagley2apr2012/. A lot of work and worry but worth it in the end.

    Have also discovered that hotmail and outlook account have a similar service to google docs so I am trialing using it with two class. One to write and save CV's and cover letters and another to do their level 2 language research. Should be interesting once all the kinks are ironed out.

  • I have used digital stories as an extension when doing information texts. The students first wrote an information text on their countries culture and then created a digital story using their information text as the script. I find it is a good way to trick students into writing texts and using them for a different purpose. I have done others with recounts and procedures as well. Imovie is simple to learn when just using still images. Below is an example of a students completed work.

  • For my literacy this week I used these devices to show the oral  understanding of a book. After my reading assssments last week I found that  two of my reading groups struggled with the comprehension questions.

    One of these  groups is my Samoan reading group. For the last 3 years, I have grouped my Pasifika children in my class as a reading and writing group and integrate culturally responsive texts and subjects.  I knew that making meaning was an area of concern but now I have great of oral data to back this up. This is now my inquiry baseline.

    I trialled podcasting with my Afghan EAL group and for the first time a new entrant girl spoke!!!! I can only infer the  podcasting  is less threatening than videoing which I have done in the past!!!

    I used  podcasting with my fluent reading group of four year 4s who are reading at 11yr plus. We adapted the story 'There was an old lady' to explain the story of the Lorax (which is our focus for the term). The discussions and final results were great. I definitely recommend this. As an avid iMovie user, I found podcasting with Garageband to be less time consuming and it gave a better result for the intended task!!! 

  • My Year 7/8 class have a buddy year 1/2 class. One ICT activity we have done is to make an alphabet book. Each Year 7/8 had a Year 1/2 buddy and were given one letter of the alphabet. Each pair had to brainstorm things whose name starts with their letter, go and take a photo of at least 6 of these things, download the photos into Picasa, transfer to ComicLife and add text. I didn't allow them to use clipart unless they were really desperate. Fast finishers got another letter so that we were able to cover all letters A-Z.

    Allo children really enjoyed this activity and found it easy to use ComicLife. Although the classes were not straight ESOL ones, each has several ELLs and the activity could be adapted to a wide range of learners. Below are some example pages:  

    Letter G Letter T Letter V


  • This week I have begun using Edmodo with my Year 3/4 class, primarily as a homework tool. Previously we had a class blog, and I made the switch to Edmodo in the hope that children would be more motivated to add their own ideas and comments. It has proved to be very popular with the class, notably with more reluctant writers and EAL students. 

    Here you can see a discussion thread started by one of my Japanese students about her cat. The homework task was to upload a picture to share with the class, and to tell us a little about the picture. Students were also required to ask questions about their classmates photos to earn a 'Questioning Badge'. Emma did a great job responding to the questions.