I have a “sister” post to this one, going out on In Practice.
A recent post in dy/dan» This girl is dangerous talks about the hard questions that need to be answered when you are talking about using technology in the classroom, and refers to another blog post (which I hope to discuss in the sister post on In Practice) about how we don’t make a good case for technology in the classroom.
Something keeps coming up in many recent discussions about avoiding teaching technology for technology sake, that is disturbing to me. First off, on that argument I usually come out on the side of teach the standard using technology (but being a Gemini, I’ve been known to take other sides of that argument too, I don’t like pinning myself down too much). I think there is a lot of ignorance about certain aspects of the standards that technology of various sorts can be really helpful in addressing.
At this session of the Classroom2.0 LIVE there was some discussion of not doing “podcasts” for podcasts sake. I pointed out that in the California English Language Development Standards , oral language development is a explicitly stated standard for all English Language Learners, which seemed like news to some of the participants. Oral language is also part of the state’s Language Arts standards for ALL students. I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say that Podcasts, in and of themselves, meet this standard whatever the content. Frankly, just asking for oral response to your lectures unless you really structure it, will not suffice. That is not acceptable pedagogy in any classroom, digital or not. Podcasts, whether of “spontaneous” discussions, or scripted are oral language development, and students need both experiences. THINK BACK TO the language courses you took (I know anyone who got a California credential in the last 10 or so years, like Dan, had to take these classes). You recited dialogs where you were provided with a script, you devised your own dialog scripts and read them to the class, and as the course advanced you the teacher stopped using or letting you use English, so you had to respond in the language being taught. Podcasts are in that realm. They also provide an archive, that is otherwise very hard to obtain. In addition, if students are being evaluated using CELDT or another diagnostic tool for English Language Development, they will be tested on listening and speaking skills, so these need to be developed.
Web 2.0 tools and podcasting will help you meet these standards quickly, easily, and provide you with realia to assess students progress. Your other alternatives are class discussions, oral response to lectures, oral exercises, and oral reports, or use older tools that frankly are no longer supported and not worth the time to use, especially given the crude output quality (I can’t believe that those old Calfone cassette recorders are still being sold, but I guess there is a market someplace). You can do all of the former venues, but by adding recording (pretty easily done), you increase engagement and have a record of what a student has done.
BubbleShare – Earth – By A. Mercer: Here is a multimedia project created with students in my fifth grade ELD class last year. Students created pictures to talk about a natural space they enjoyed, then added audio narration to their pictures. It was based on a project outlined by Cristina Igoa in her work, “Inner World of the Immigrant Child“. This post from Rick Scheibner has a discussion with, Dr. Igoa, where she outlines the project she did to have beginning level ELLs tell their stories using photos that become filmstrip images, and then their stories are recorded on cassette tape.
The filmstrip concept is more complex. Let me tell you what all is involved and see if today you can find new technology.
1.The filmstrip stories were exactly as you see them in the book, the children hide themselves behind images of wolves, tigers, lonely bears etc.
2. The children tell their stories on tape.This is done after they have learned to read in English. They have built up vocabulary, they write, they learn to spell, and grammar is included.
3. Their voices are heard, but they are not seen.
4. The children select their own music and ask peers to do the sound effects. They learn collaboration
4.When the strip stories are done and they are satisfied with their artwork, they get the Dukane projector ready for viewing. This projector looks like a television. Filmstrip is inside, the tape cut with music and story in place and the drama of their lives unfolds.
She seems to unconvinced that new technologies would be better than this method in a later comment, which may be more a testament to my poor skills of persuasion. I would hope that anyone with some smattering of knowledge about PowerPoint can see how much EASIER this sort of project is with newer technologies. I can think of four ways to do this on a computer off the top of my head.
Have the kids do a drawing with paper, pencils, markers, crayons and scan in the results; OR have them create a drawing online with a paint package. BOTH have merit, I did it with crayon because it’s more tactile. Scan and upload the images.
- Use PowerPoint for the images, and create sound files to add in using Audacity. Audacity has higher quality audio than PP’s built in narration tool, and with multiple tracks lets you add music background, and edit the narration.
- Use Movie Maker for the images, add narration and a soundtrack. I still prefer doing the sound in Audacity because of the better control and quality. If you wanted, you could then upload to YouTube or TeacherTube.
- Use Bubbleshare and have the kids narrate with background music playing.
- Use VoiceThread, same as in #3
I may not have convinced Dr. Igoa to give up her filmstrips and cassette tape (really, what would most teachers prefer to learn, Audacity or how to cut and splice audio cassette tape?), but I hope this makes a case for standards based instruction using today’s technologies for people like Dan who already have some tech skills. If you don’t believe me, noted ELL/EFL instructor and tech skeptic, Larry Ferlazzo, uses these and even cruder viral marketing tools with his students. He got an award for his work from the International Reading Association. Dan can argue with the aesthetics of some of these tools (heck I do all the time), so use the higher end tools (Audacity, iMovie, etc. not the PowerPoint narration tool), and teach kids about visual literacy, but for goodness sake make sure you are developing students oral language skills, and documenting what they are actually saying, not just doing a rough estimate of what they’ve learned!
Dr. Igoa may not see the need to give up her older technology, BUT she does see that creating presentations that involve art, narration, and music so that students can tell their stories, helps them adjust to and learn English. For those of us more familiar with newer technologies, I think we can all begin to appreciate how they will make that easier, and more effective. It’s what led me to podcasting and blogging with students, things I was already doing in my personal life.