I often get asked by teacher candidates and teachers how I got interested in ELL and Technology especially in terms of research and practice. When answering my mind always goes back to a “little red sweater.” There is a “little red sweater” that sits on my bookshelf as a reminder of a class I taught early in my teaching career. It was gift from a young grade 6 boy who I taught in probably the most influential year of my teaching career. At the time I was teaching in an inner city school that was made up of mostly immigrant students. It was during this time of teaching I learned the most about teaching, about meeting the needs of my various ELL students and about using technology to aid in this process. I had language abilities all over the map and often I commented on the “school-house” nature of this teaching context. Basically it was an interesting yet difficult teaching context. During this year, I used technology including learning management systems (Desire 2 Learn), SMART boards, and a variety of other educational technologies to teach my kids. It was not just about technology however. I used a variety of methods in hopes of helping my students to be successful. This work was the beginning of my fascination of ELL students, technologies and best practices.
This “little red sweater” has become symbolic of this experience and a reminder that there is still lots more work to be done in terms of research and practice.
My writing breaks lately have consisted of taking mid-afternoon walks. I have really enjoyed connecting with nature and taking in the sights and sounds of my neighbourhood. What I have really loved is capturing what I see with my iphone camera. As you can see from my various photos posted here, an iphone camera is pretty incredible. If you have an ipad, ipod etc. and you are not using it, you may want to consider using it with your kids when you are teaching. Some examples of what you can do in your classroom:
- Nature walk
- Math Curricular Connections (i.e. capture the various patterns in the playground)
- Capturing Art in our World
- Starting an Inquiry
- Stories told through Pictures
Of course this list is rather limited and there are so many others ideas I could list. However, if you aren’t using digital cameras or devices in your classroom, you may want to give it a try. I find it especially helpful in an elementary classroom where often kids struggle with their fine motor skills and it provides an alternative for these children to show what they know. One other benefit of using a digital camera is that students can revisit their learning later. Perhaps they can reflect in their journals or blogs about a particular picture at a later date. It also a great way to engage in formative assessment for teachers. These pictures can be part of a pedagogical documentation panel or something you show during a parent/teacher interview.
This will be a VERY random blog post!
First, I get asked often what I am listening to. For those of you that don’t know me, my most productive writing sessions occur when I am blasting my “itunes” loudly. Lately it has been a mix of music from Christian Worship (Hillsong, Kari Jobe, etc.) tunes to Top 40 tunes (Zedd, Arianna Grande etc.). My favourite variety is LOUD music past midnight (ha, as I recall I had Usher blasting a few nights back). So for those graduate student peers that wonder why I NEVER go to a library to study its because my music is way too loud. I went to a library awhile back, just to switch it up, and I got a really ANNOYED neighbour telling me to shut off my music (opps! Yes, I did have headphones on).
Second, there are so many benefits to living in Vancouver but one of my least favourite parts about being here is the RAIN! I don’t know how people do it. As soon as the clouds roll in, my eyes automatically start closing. No wonder my caffeine intake has increased 200 percent since moving here. It’s not because of the lack of sleep (well, maybe partly) but more the cloud cover. Today was one of those days. It started off raining (or I should say pouring). Thankfully the sun came later (see photo above).
Third, I always get asked for technology teaching tips. Here are two for all the teachers that read this blog. Consider using podcasting software (i.e. Garageband (MAC) or Audacity (MAC/PC) (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ ) as an assessment tool. If you are doing Alberta ESL benchmarks or just wanting to do some formative assessment (i.e. informal reading assessments, etc.), podcasting is your answer. I just love using podcasting software to record kids’ talking (i.e. at centres or even during whole group discussions). You can capture quotes from the kids and use them for report card comments or (better yet) Pedagogical Documentation panels. For those of you not familiar with this, check out my website. I have posted online tutorials (http://melaniewong.ca/Teacher%202/index2.html ).
Another technology teaching tip is consider using Skype or Blackboard Collaborate (if your school district has it) to invite guest speakers into your classroom. It is such a great opportunity for your kids to connect with experts from all over the world (i.e. a university professor etc.). You can even consider doing a virtual field trip. There are a lot of websites online that offer options for you to consider. Please see below: