vendredi 2 avril 2010

Using videos in the classroom - My first article

Teaching English as a second language , nowadays , is facing a lot of changes which are imposed, either directly or indirectly by the current needs of the digital era .It’s more than true that we are living in an age that is controlled in all its aspects digitally. No matter how proficient is the teacher in this domain , everyone of us feels the urgent need to accommodate oneself to one’s learners’ needs and adapt one’s teaching to the prevailing scene .Rarely do we see a learner at whatever age not carrying or using one of the technical facilities ( i-pod , mobile phone , CD player , PC , …)
It is inescapable to all of us as teachers or as learners. So why don’t we take advantage from the learners’ changing needs in order to make them more engaged , more motivated ?
In this article , I would like to share with you one of the wonderful experiences that boosted my teaching impetus .I know that this is not a new experience to many of us ,but it is sharing experiences with each other , and at least for those who are afraid of using technology inside their classrooms , I want to tell them not to feel so .To be clear , I downloaded some useful videos for our learners and which go hand in hand with the official program , and I used one of the videos ( about family matters , with first forms ) as a tool to set the stage for the lesson , to brainstorm ideas and to discuss the matter (a teenager who was invited by her friend to go out and what was the reaction of her parents and the three possible alternatives to the teenager’s behavior ). What astonished me is that I did not expect such an important rate of engagement from approximately all learners and what added extreme pleasure to the lesson were their instant, spontaneous responses. I was amazed at the quick, positive responses of my learners even those who were never engaged in whatsoever lesson or activity. First , all were interested to sit conveniently to watch the video clip ( though it was in black and white ) but the presence of this visual aid( using the laptop to show video clips ) inside the classroom was to a large extent motivating to the learners .Then they were totally engaged in the listening / watching . I have never seen such an engagement from the most uninterested pupil, who was usually sitting at the corner of the classroom. After watching the video clip once, most of them, unconsciously and naturally speaking, rushed in with comments. For those who found linguistic difficulties, asked to replay the video again, then a fruitful discussion started. It was a lovely experience and I’m convinced that teaching from now on , should be based on visual aids ( slides / video clips / short films / comics / cartoons ,…) brought to the learners in order to enhance learning the language .I felt a great joy myself and not to hide anything from you , I was as engaged as them . And towards the end of the lesson, many of the pupils suggested to re-view the video. Their eyes were the mirror of their joy and utter engagement. After this lovely experience with my learners, I knew how far is it in our hands as teachers, as facilitators of the learning process to engage our learners in the lessons and to take advantage of this technological era in favor of our career of teaching. That was a touching experience and I really felt very touched because my learners taught me a good lesson and all their positive reactions were as if they were telling me: “As much as you engage us, we will be as active as you want us to be!” Even after some sessions, the vocabulary learnt in that lesson was never forgotten and they made proof of strong memory, they remembered the structure used only by pointing to them the instance in the video clip.
After living this wonderful experience, I am more convinced that the present era is offering to us many facilities to make not only learning easier for our learners but also paving the way for a smooth teaching. We, in fact, are facing new challenges, it is not the scarcity of the materials that we are complaining about, it is rather the fact that we are submerged by the vast amount of information and useful resources to our teaching. What is crucial for all of us is managing our time to better choose the appropriate teaching tools.
In the end of this article, I’d like to express my deepest regards and gratitude to all the staff of this e-magazine for their great effort and untiring pursuit to better inform and engage teachers in the teaching/learning process. In fact , we are better engaged in our concerns as teachers thanks to their constant efforts to engage us .Please let me express my deepest regards to Mr. Mohamed Salah Abidi for his great efforts to help us , and continuous encouragement . Last but not least ,Many thanks for our respectful I.C.T. trainer : Hadji Abdelmalek ,for his unremitting help to find proper ways to explore the audio-visual materials inside the classroom .Furthermore , he did not save any effort to help us concretize ideas into the classroom .Well , I hope I convinced some of the reluctant teachers to use technology inside their classrooms . The first step is the most difficult one but if one tries, one shall get used to it and even not satisfied to teach otherwise.
Mrs.Romdhani Faten
Teacher of English in Nabel area (Hammam Ghezaz )
I have been teaching for 10 years now, I taught 4 years in Sidi Bouzid and I always feel nostalgic to the friendly people, colleagues, and learners there.

samedi 9 janvier 2010

What should we konw about Smart Boards ? This is an interesting article which clarifies this device for us ; its description , its uses ( check link for more information in the same field


Interactive Whiteboards are phenomenal tools. Don't know what an interactive whiteboard is? Perhaps you've heard of some of their brand names - SMART Board, ActivBoard, eBeam, Mimio, and Webster are some of the most widely used at this time.
"Interactive whiteboards are used in many schools as replacements for traditional whiteboards or flipcharts. They provide ways to show students any thing which can be presented on a computer's desktop (educational software, web sites, and others). In addition, interactive whiteboards allow teachers to record their instruction and post the material for review by students at a later time. This can be a very effective instructional strategy for students who benefit from repetition, who need to see the material presented again, for students who are absent from school, for struggling learners, and for review for examinations. Brief instructional blocks can be recorded for review by students—they will see the exact presentation that occurred in the classroom with the teacher's audio input. This can help transform learning and instruction." (Wikipedia 8/07)
These are some resources for interactive whiteboards. Some are specific to a certain brand, but the ideas can still be used on most of them. We aren't specifically recommending a certain brand. Some teachers of the deaf like the SMART Board because they don't have to use a digital pen to write on the board, hindering their signing. Some of the more portable systems like the Mimio and the eBeam are good for more transient classrooms. The ActivBoard has a lot of built-in templates and resources; but there are probably more online resources for the SMART Board (at this time).
Ways to use Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom (from the Instructional Technology Department of the Wichita Public Schools):

  • Save lessons to present to students who were absent
  • Create video files to teach a software application, a lesson, or as a review to be posted to the server or web. Example- How to create a graph in Excel or hoe to burn a projects to cds
  • Use the built in maps to teach continents, oceans, countries, or states and capitals.
  • Present presentations created by student or teacher
  • Have students create e-folios including samples of their work and narration
  • Digital storytelling
  • Teach whole group computer or keyboarding skills
  • Brainstorming
  • Take notes directly into PowerPoint presentations
  • Reinforce skills by using on-line interactive web sites
  • Creating a project calendar
  • Teach editing skills using editing marks
  • Use in the 6 trait writing process
  • Use highlighter tool to highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.
  • Use it with Kidspiration or Inspiration
  • Teaching students how to navigate the Internet
  • Illustrate and write a book as a class. Use the record feature to narrate the text.
  • Use the Interwrite software to create lessons in advance at home or at school. Then save them for future use or to be shared with other teachers
  • Diagramming activities
  • Teaching steps to a math problem.
  • Have students share projects during Parent/Teacher/Student conferences
  • Graphics and charts with ESL learners and special ed students.
  • Teaching vocabulary
  • Electronic Word Wall
  • End each day by having students write one thing that they learned

vendredi 25 décembre 2009

Technology's impact on teaching

Technology's Impact on Effective Teaching Strategies

The United States Department of Education published a report over the summer titled, "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning; A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies" (Center for Technology in Learning, 2009). What's interesting about this report is that it confirms what those of us who teach or have taught either distance or online courses already know and moves us beyond what is often commonly believed: that there is no significant difference between online learning and the face-to-face experience.

The report abstract reads as follow:

A systematic search of the research literature from 1996 through July 2008 identified more than a thousand empirical studies of online learning. Analysts screened these studies to find those that (a) contrasted an online to a face-to-face condition, (b) measured student learning outcomes, (c) used a rigorous research design, and (d) provided adequate information to calculate an effect size.
As a result of this screening, 51 independent effects were identified that could be subjected to meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes--measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation--was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. Analysts noted that these blended conditions often included additional learning time and instructional elements not received by students in control conditions. This finding suggests that the positive effects associated with blended learning should not be attributed to the media, per se. An unexpected finding was the small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning conditions for K–12 students. In light of this small corpus, caution is required in generalizing to the K–12 population because the results are derived for the most part from studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education). (p.ix)

The report clarifies that it does not address all student populations, as the analysis found most of the significant studies within higher education. Consequently, the report data are only relevant in the specific contexts of the studies analyzed. In general, however, the report supports the notion that there seems to be evidence that it is the learning process that matters more than the technology tools used. Additionally, the overall challenge remains that more studies must be done with a variety of student populations and also that we must continue to explore ways to evaluate learning within technology-rich learning environments.

Where are we from all of this ?

5 K-12 Technology Trends for 2010

A look at the top technology tools and trends to keep an eye on in the coming year
By Bridget McCrea12/10/09

With technology evolving at the speed of light, and everyone looking to benefit from the latest, greatest hardware and software, keeping up can be challenging for educators, administrators, and school districts themselves. To help, THE Journal spoke with a handful of technology experts and came up with a short list of top tech trends you'll want to watch in the new year. Here they are:

1. eBooks Will Continue to Proliferate
eBook readers aren't going to replace traditional math and English textbooks anytime soon, but J. Gerry Purdy, chief analyst, mobile and wireless, for business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan in Atlanta, said the devices will gain traction in the K-12 arena this year.

"The eBook phenomenon is gaining ground in the consumer space, where people are using them to read both fiction and non-fiction," said Purdy. "The way the stars are aligned, it won't be long before someone adapts eBooks out of the consumer space and makes textbooks available on these portable devices."

While eBooks would literally lessen the load that students have to carry around with them in backpacks all day, Purdy said, the devices aren't "quite there yet" when it comes to color, graphics, and symbols. "The eBook readers are mostly black-and-white right now," he added, "but when the technology advances to the point where color and animation can be integrated, it will become much more viable for the textbook market."

2. Netbook Functionality Will Grow
One-to-one computer initiatives are proliferating throughout United States schools and are expected to become even more popular in 2010 as netbooks become even more affordable. Priced at $200 to $300, these small, inexpensive computers are helping to bridge the technology divide that exists at those schools where individual students don't have access to their own laptops.

Netbooks, Purdy said, are opening the door for students to tap the Web as a learning tool, along with general computing--which will eliminate the need for multiple devices (one for computing, another for Web browsing, and so forth) by students, said Purdy, and will help streamline technology initiatives at the district level. "I know that if were administration, I wouldn't want to issue two to three devices to each student," he said. "I'd want one device that would fulfill multiple needs."

3. More Teachers Will Use Interactive Whiteboards
Large, interactive display systems that allow teachers and students to work together in ways that traditional blackboards could not are gaining ground in the K-12 environment. Expect the trend to continue this year, said Sheryl Abshire, chief technology officer for Calcasieu Parish Public Schools in Lake Charles, LA.

"These tools have been around for a while, but the educational landscape wasn't ready to use them 10 years ago," said Abshire.

Abshire said she credits federal economic stimulus funds for helping to advance the use of whiteboards, many of which are just now being installed and used in the nation's K-12 schools. "We're seeing a big resurgence in their use, and I expect that to continue in 2010," she said. "The buzzword for the 21st century is 'engaged learning,' and the whiteboards will serve as a catalyst for getting students out of their seats and up to the board to learn."

Do learners keep on task while in a digital environment

Smart Classroom
Keeping on Task in a Digital Environment

One of Washington's largest school districts is using technology to get classroom management under control
By Bridget McCrea12/03/09

It doesn't take much to disrupt an entire high school classroom and get a student off task, particularly when that student is using a desktop or laptop computer to finish a lesson. An incoming e-mail, an instant message, or a link to a really cool video on YouTube can all stop the lesson in its tracks until the student refocuses and gets back to work.

One of Washington State's largest school districts thinks it has found a way to minimize classroom disruption and keep everyone focused and working toward the same goal. Through a new classroom management system that's currently being implemented, Lake Washington School District in Redmond is tapping into technology as a way to keep students productive.

Chip Kimball, superintendent for the 24,000-student district, which is ranked sixth-largest statewide, said Lake Washington schools previously used "various products" to manage its classrooms, with most of the responsibility handled by the teachers themselves.

"There's debate about whether classroom management is a technical issue, a teacher supervision issue, or both," said Kimball. "Of course there needs to be teacher supervision and appropriate policies in place for when kids are doing what they shouldn't be doing. However, teachers also need software to help keep kids focused on the task at hand."

After looking more closely at the viability of a tech-based classroom management solution, Kimball and his team garnered feedback from instructors on the idea. Teachers whose students spent most of their classroom time in front of a computer were particularly enthused, he said, knowing that more effective computer monitoring would allow them to better track student activities and progress.

"Our decision to purchase the system was driver primarily by teacher requests and the realization that those instructors would be able to better manage students and make sure they are on task," said Kimball.

Armed with its educators' blessings, the district then shopped around and investigated the various classroom management solutions available on the market. After reviewing products from a few different vendors, Kimball said his team selected LanSchool v7.4, a product whose features include the display of the teacher's screen on student monitors; shutdown, logoff, or restart of student computers; lockouts of the students' keyboards and mice; co-browsing (with teacher and student) of the Internet; thumbnail monitoring; and the "blanking" of student screens by the instructor.

Developed by LanSchool Technologies, the classroom management system is currently being implemented across the entire Lake Washington School District. Kimball said the application was chosen for its features and benefits, as well as its ability to function in a wireless environment.

"We needed an application that had low bandwidth and that worked well in a wireless environment, which is what we're moving towards," Kimball explained. "LanSchool had a bit of an edge on its competition because its developers have already perfected their application's footprint."