In December I made my lists of The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education and The Best Web 2.0 Applications for ESL/EFL Learners.
I’m now preparing for a second semester Government class with a special curriculum I’ve designed for English Language Learners. The key difference between this class and the one I taught last year, though, is that I’ll be experimenting a lot with technology now. We’ll be in the computer lab three or four days each week. This is a sort of warm-up for more technologically-engaged English and Social Studies classes I’ll be teaching next year.
So last week and this week Evelyn Ramos, my new student teacher, and I have been refining which key sites we’re going to start-off using during the first month or two. Of course, it’s likely that all our well-laid plans will go awry.
I thought readers might find it interesting/useful to see which applications from my lists we plan to begin with:
* All our students will open their own Gmail accounts to be used only for classwork. Several of the other sites we’ll be using require emailing created products in order to get their url address (Email addresses are also required to register to use some of the services). Since many of the students have personal Yahoo addresses, having them create Gmail accounts will remove their temptations to check personal email in class.
(I just received another great tip from Pierre Renaud — who has a great website for English Language Learners. He suggested instead of having students sign-up for the regular Gmail account, I should sign-up for a Google Docs Education Edition. Teachers are able to view all student work this way. I’m going to check it out)
* Fleck lets you create virtual post-it notes on webpages. Students will use Fleck when they’re reading specific pages on the web, specifically from the great site EL Civics For ESL Students. They’ll then email the url of those pages to themselves and post them on the next site on my list.
* Students will have a repository of sorts for all their online work. It’ll be a “link library.” Tumblr is ideal for this job. Unfortunately, our District’s content filter is having a problem with Tumblr — it’s not blocked, but most of its images are. The District wants to make it accessible, and hopes to fix it by next week. If that’s the case, we’ll be using Tumblr.
However, if it’s not functioning, we’ll have students use Jottit instead. It’s not pretty, but it works, and is super-easy.
* I had planned to use Vi.sualize.us for students to collect and categorize photos. However, they seem to be having problems keeping inappropriate images off their site right now (they’re working on the problem). So, instead, we’ll be using oSkope, another site to search and collect photos. It doesn’t have all the features of Vis.ualize.us, but they say they’ll be adding them, and many more, this spring.
* The Daft Doggy Voice Recorder is great for students to record what they’ve written and post both versions together.
* VoiceThread is obviously the best audio/visual presentation tool out there. However, this, too, is blocked in our District for now. With luck, it will be unblocked next week. If not, we’ll be using Show Beyond for creating slideshows with audio.
I’ve got a few additional ones planned for use in April and May, but I’ll hold off on those for a later post.
In addition, I’ve been in discussion with Intermediate secondary ESL teachers from Brazil, Argentina, Hungary, and Kuwait about some “sister class” projects this semester. This, too, is for a future post.
I’ll periodically be sharing my experiences with this whole adventure — both in this blog and in a group blog called In Practice.