Redefining Instruction and Support with Technology Integration in an EAL Classroom

Redefining Instruction and Support with Technology Integration in an EAL Classroom

by: Katerina Nakutnyy and Genna Rodriguez

This school year I became a connected educator, as part of Regina Catholic Schools’ initiative to transform teaching and learning with technology integration. This means that I not only got a classroom set of laptops, but the support of a community of connected educators, an amazing technology coach, Genna Rodriguez, and an equally amazing mentor. In wanting to become a connected educator, I saw the potential for technology use in the EAL classroom. I teach EAL at the high school level and, at first, my thinking in using computers in the classroom was to give my students technological literacy skills and some other supports in their language learning, including the following:

* basic computer skills

* using online dictionaries, thesauruses and translators

* providing students with easy access to L1 (first language) supports

* having the internet at our disposal for various assignments

* providing the students with links to useful grammar and vocabulary sites and videos

* showing students how to use tools like Microsoft Word properly for editing and revising their writing and Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations.

HOWEVER, I quickly discovered that technology offers a lot more supports to EAL students than what I first thought. Throughout my journey as a connected educator, my inspiration for pushing my professional growth has been ignited by the vast potential I now see in regards to technology integration in an EAL environment. Technology integration has enhanced my teaching practice, and enriched my students’ learning experience. I couldn’t have done any of this without the amazing ideas and support of my tech coach Genna Rodriguez, so Genna and I are writing this together to share with you our top eight picks: The

Benefits of Using Flipgrid with EAL Students

For Those Who are Scared or Nervous to Speak

* The platform advocates for amplifying student voice and allows students who may be shy, scared to speak, or still in the listening phase of their English language acquisition, an opportunity to record themselves speaking instead of speaking in front of the class.

* Flipgrid eliminates the pressure of having to “get it right” on the first try. This means that a student can record their video until they are satisfied with it and ready to post it. Note: if students do not want themselves shown on the video, they can hold up a toy or the teacher can provide fun hats or sunglasses.

* In addition, there is also a little “sticky note” right next to the recording screen where students can jot down their ideas and what they want to say. This supports the student in remembering what they want to say, and also helps them feel more prepared and comfortable doing their recording. Furthermore, students are looking at the screen and not down at a piece of paper.

Oral Language Skills

* Not only can students practice their fluency, pronunciation, volume, tone and comprehensibility, but they can hear themselves back as to how they sound in English.

* Some students who may be better at speaking, but struggle with writing, can share their knowledge on a topic. Maybe the student did understand the outcome, but just can’t put his/her understanding into writing. Also, this way we’re looking at student assets, instead of deficits.

Listening Skills

* Students can listen to oral feedback (as well as written) from the teacher, who can also create a Flipgrid video in response to a student’s entry.

* Students can listen to the videos of their peers.

Student Interaction

* Teachers can design effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicit evidence of learning. Students can then make comments on their peers’ videos, possibly making some connections and building relationships, activating students as learning resources for one another.

* When students post things that their peers will be seeing, they tend to try harder than when the teacher is the only audience.

* The platform has a possibility for world connections and making videos public if desired. There is limitless potential for connecting your students to experts, resources and experiences beyond the four walls of the classroom. For instance, if you are examining local community workers, you could have your students record questions they have, then you as the teacher could reach out to local community workers to respond to their questions.

Assessment

* As mentioned earlier, teachers can provide both written and oral feedback to student videos to move their students’ learning forward. In addition, peers can give each other feedback or comments.

* Teachers can download and save Flipgrid videos for assessment purposes.

* Flipgrid is an excellent tool for both formative and summative assessment. The platform allows you to go beyond multiple choice, and delve into your students’ depth of knowledge.

The Benefits of Using Seesaw with EAL Students

All the Strands: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing

* This platform works as a digital portfolio and allows students to write posts, audio and video record posts, listen to or read classmates posts, and make comments. Students can also take pictures of work they’ve done or add links or files.

* Teachers can invite parents/guardians to connect to the student’s Seesaw journal to get push notifications when the student posts an artifact of learning. This is a great way to engage the parents/guardians, as it gives a window into the classroom, and may encourage discussion at home on what the student is learning at school

Student Interaction

* Students can comment on each other’s posts and (what’s even better) the teacher has the option to moderate so he/she needs to approve every post and comment.

* Like Flipgrid, Seesaw also activates students as learning resources for one another. The teacher can teach the students how to provide good quality comments and feedback. This allows EAL students a chance to interact with peers on the site and learn how to properly form questions, write comments, learn language for feedback, and so forth.

o One such framework for commenting is TAG. T (Tell me something you like), A (Ask me a question), and G (Give me a connection or a suggestion).

* In addition, just like with Flipgrid, students are more likely to produce better quality work when the audience is their peers, not just the teacher.

* Also like Flipgrid, there is the opportunity to connect beyond the four walls of the classroom by activating the class blog and then connecting to another Seesaw class.

Assessment

* Seesaw empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school and capture their learning process—not just the end result.

* At the end of the term or semester, the teacher can download student portfolios into a PDF document. Parents can also download a zip file of all their child’s artifacts of learning, categorized into folders by month. Both the PDF and the zip file will show the student’s growth throughout the semester/year.

EAL Friendly

* Teachers can make their lessons EAL friendly by providing instructions in Seesaw. Make them simple and use symbols for writing and recording, instead of just words. Written instructions are good, but teachers can also audio record instructions or create a video.

The Benefits of Using WeVideo with EAL Students

All the strands: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing

* Digital storytelling is a great way for students to practice all of the strands of language acquisition, plus viewing and representing.

* Students can practice writing skills when writing a script for their videos or adding text to the videos themselves.

* They can practice speaking skills when recording their videos – either audio only or video, including using the green screen!

* Students can listen to other students’ videos.

* Students can read and do research for their videos or work on reading and editing each other’s scripts.

All the Learning Styles: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic

* Students are using all of the learning styles when using WeVideo. They create visuals, record audio, and can get up and move or act in the videos.

Student Interaction

* WeVideo allows for students work together in groups and gives EAL students a chance to interact with others. Plus, it’s tons of fun! Students love WeVideo!

The Benefits of Using Quizizz with EAL Students

Assessment

* This is an excellent self-paced formative assessment tool.

* Teachers can get real-time data/evidence on how well the students are understanding the content and outcomes. Similarly, students can get instant feedback on whether or not they answered the question correctly.

* Teachers are able to offer pictorial options for responses, not just text. This is especially helpful for students who are very new to the English language.

* The app (on students’ devices) allows a read aloud option so that they can hear the question read to them as well.

* Can assign quizizz for homework or extra practice (not limited to being in the same location).

* There is a large database of millions of pre-made assessments that you can use as is, or edit as needed. Furthermore, you can teleport individual questions into your quiz from your previous quizzes or other public quizzes.

The Benefits of Using Quizlet with EAL Students

Vocabulary Building

* This is an excellent site for vocabulary building. Teachers can put a number of words into a “set”, adding pictures or definitions to go with them. They can then practice those words in a variety of ways: flashcards, spelling, matching, and games.

* There is also an option for students to play a live game in groups, which is always a lot of fun.

The Benefits of Using GoFormative with EAL Students

Assessment

* This site is great for formative assessment. From multiple choice to matching to adding text or pictures. You can even import a worksheet and add answers to it.

* It marks it for you!

* GoFormative is particularly beneficial for working with EAL students since it allows teachers to put a number of tasks and assessments on one page for the students, as well as add pictures and students can type what they are.

* The teacher can set it so students can get immediate feedback. They don’t have to wait for the teacher to mark it and the teacher doesn’t have to.

* The site offers excellent charts and data that allows the teacher to easily see which questions students had difficulty with.

The Benefits of Using EdPuzzle with EAL Students

Listening Practice

* This site is great for EAL students to practice their listening skills. The site allows teachers to take videos from YouTube or TED Talks, even National Geographic and create questions to go along with it. The students begin watching the video, it stops and students need to answer a question.

Assessment

* Teachers can easily look at each students’ answer and assess right on the site.

* Teachers can also see how many times a student listened to a particular section before answering. If one particular section was listened to repeatedly by a number of students, it might helpful if the teacher went over it with them.

More Possibilities

* Instead of questions, teachers can pose a task for students to complete with a partner or give them a tip to remember.

* Also, there are a number of EAL/ESL videos that others have created on the site for anyone to use.

The Benefits of Using Padlet with EAL Students

Non-Verbal Communication

* We all know that our EAL students go through a listening phase when they first come to Canada that can last anywhere from 6 months to a year where (regardless their language level or how much English language education they had in their home country) students need time to get used to hearing English all around them and start understanding and making sense of what they’re hearing. This may also mean that they don’t speak a lot in English yet or participate during class. Sites such as Padlet, Mentimeter or Poll Everywhere can help with this.

* Instead of having students put up their hands, stand up or put their thumbs up or down, teachers can get deeper feedback from students through Padlet. The teacher poses a question for students to contribute a response to. Teachers project the “Padlet” onto the whiteboard to see everyone’s responses. This works well for KWL charts, questions or brainstorming.

o Padlet allows students to contribute text, links, photos, videos and file uploads.

* If EAL students are shy or nervous for others to see what they answer in class, worried that they might be wrong, the site allows anonymity. The students don’t know who posted what, allowing EAL students to freely share their thoughts.

* In addition, EAL students can see how their peers answered and feel more a part of the class discussion.

* Padlet allows teacher moderation if they fell this feature is necessary.

Final Thoughts

Technology offers a lot of amazing possibilities for working with EAL students. Of course, it is still important to get students to communicate with actual people whenever possible, move around the classroom, play games and write on paper. However, the technological tools mentioned above offer a lot of other possibilities to compliment what we are already doing in the classroom, make things easier on the teacher and even augment, enhance or redefine learning. Furthermore, technology is another literacy that our EAL students need to be familiar with in today’s world in order to be successful.

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