Sunday, June 14, 2015

TESOL Designing Interactive Activities for the Web Course Week 2

My Posts
I wrote an article on ThingLink for OTAN  back in February, and I think it has several exellent potential uses in ESL - both for F2F classes (student projects) and for online (teaching students vocabulary, for example). Thess are sample scenes I created for the article and in order to experiment with it:
I think I would use it for a "All about Me" student project in which students provide links to Web sites and videos about the following:  Where I'm From, My Career/Education Goal, My Hobbies/Interests, etc.
In a way, it could be used for any sort of presentation that is put online.  Kind of like Prezi, viewers would have a choice of the order for viewing the content rather than the linear / sequential viewing that one does on PowerPoint or Google Slides.

I love Google slides for collaborative work for students.  A few weeks ago I planned this "2 truths, one lie" class icebreaker / introduction presentation for my class that starts next week.  I read about it in the book Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies by Michelle Pacansky-Brock (recommend, by the way).  
Honestly I have not used Google docs much for my teaching, more for collaborative work with colleagues.  I think the biggest advantage is there is no losing one's work and that the work is saved online and thus easily shared without concern for software needs / compatible versions.  I don't know of too many limitations except perhaps design.  
I want to use Google docs more, but having mutliple passwords and many different online tools can get confusing, and my college has a big noncredit to credit push, so the institution really wants us to use the LMS.  If I were teaching a lower-level class in which the LMS was not so important, I would definitely use all things Google (classroom, for example).

Flipped Learning
To me, given that 90% of my students have cell phones and probably close to 100% have some sort of internet access, it makes perfect sense to flip the classroom.  I learned a lot more about flipping through the TESOL Electronic Village Online session in January and February (joining these are free, by the way, and you don't necessarily have to be a TESOL member - I highly recommend the TESOL EVO offerings to all participants in this course if you haven't taken advantage before of this free professional development for ESL teachers who are tech-enthusiasts).
Flipped learning is much more than making videos.  Heck, why do all that work?  You can curate online content to use for online work that students do at their own pace, on their own time, and then spend class time on the fun, interactive student-centered stuff like productive skills practice, questions/clarifications, group work, pair work, etc.  Why have students sit in the classroom and listen to us talk when we can have them take responsibility for some of their learning outside of class and maximize the F2F classtime?
I have done some flipping but this summer (next week, actually), the big experiment comes with my hybrid advanced class. I'm very nervous, having taught evening classes before and knowing that homework assignments in these classes often go undone, not for lack of motivation or even technology access or know-how but for lack of time and energy on students' part. Students will be attending three evenings with Thursday - Sunday to complete online work.  Please wish me luck!
21st Century Skills
I really like the 21st Century Skills as a guide to my teaching and present them (on my VESL syllabus) as a buy-in for the computer activities, group work, and topics included in my class.
For me, the 21st Century Skills are just a more global and technology-integrated framework of SCANS.  It's funny because I think with the rapid pace of technological development, there will have to eventually be a 21.1 version.  
Definitely I have noticed in the 18+ years of working in adult ed in California that the skill levels and the jobs of our students have changed tremendously.  I used to have mostly field workers, then they were factory workers (whose jobs were sent to the countries from which they came originally), and now the newcomers tend to have higher levels of education and/or technology/computer know-how.  For the most part, many have kept up with the changes in society.  
The part of 21st Century Skills (besides English/foundation skills, of course) that a lot of the students (but fewer and fewer in my opinion) I have need to work on is the Life/Career Skills.  For example, some students come from homogenous countries where there is one way to do things, and in preparing for work and further academic pursuits, they need to be able to communicate, negotiate, compromise, get along with others, and be open to sharing and considering others' ideas. The great thing is that in ESL we do so much pair and group work that we discreetly -- or overtly, in my case (I always explain WHY they need to work in groups) -- are giving them experiences and building skills that will help them in the future.
See a teacher crib sheet on docs at
80+ Google Forms already designed that you can use.
Tutorial on using Goggle Docs in the classroom
21st Century Skills: 
Flipped learning at 

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