English Lessons Tech Tips What Works for English Language Learners

Getting Children Involved with Edtech

The Problem

Although I have taught English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for several years, I only began to teach very young children two years ago. You may have read in one of my earlier posts how my initial experience was quite unsuccessful with children climbing  on the wall, literally! However, I am not one who gives up so easily! I have learned quite a bit since then and have employed various methodologies and instructional methods, such as cooperative learning. However, this year my goal was to integrate technology effectively in the classroom. With children as young as four years-old this can be quite  a challenge!

Why?

The children are less of a challenge as the barriers teachers face daily when pursuing such a hefty ambition. These barriers include providing answers to the following questions:

  • Which is the right technology to support learning goals?
  • How do I get this technology?
  • How do I create an effective lesson plan using technology?
  • How do I get my administration on board?
  • How do I get parents on board?

PLN at Work!

My philosophy, as you may know from reading this blog, is that Twitter leads to great collaboration! One of my favorite collaborative projects came in the form of a VoiceThread with like minded teachers Ozge Karaoglu and Marama Stewart. These two educators have accomplished amazing feats with their very young students, which you can view when looking at their class wikis and blogs. Originally, the idea was proposed by Marama who teaches in New Zealand. We met through the Classroom 2.0 Ning I joined soon after hearing about the site from Twitter!

The idea was to find a way to encourage my German students to use the English they learned. I had the children do drawings of their favorite animals. The parents were assigned the task of having the children practice the English at home. Although only two parents allowed their children to participate, in September more will allow their children to participate after viewing the VoiceThread below. Ozge, who I met through Twitter, joined the project with her kindergartners’ Elephant story. Already, the story has inspired Marama and I to add more to the project.

Why I Love the VoiceThread Project!

This collaborative effort has been very successful for several reasons, including:

  • The children’s identities are hidden!
  • The children’s work and use of English is the focus!
  • The children are encouraged to share stories globally!
  • The children learn about other cultures and see how technology works to create these connections!
  • The parents get to see the amazing advantages of using technology in the classroom!
  • The project continues to grow and add momentum.
  • Other students across the world can connect with our students.
  • The technology is easy to use, especially for very young students!

All our collaboration was performed through e-mail, Twitter, ning, and VoiceThread! If you want to learn more about our work with very young students, please visit the following links:

Challenge:

Ask yourself, “Who from your PLN can you collaborate with for meaningful projects?” Set a goal to collaborate with this teacher to promote change in your school community.

Would you like to share your collaboration anecdote? Please contact me for an interview or to connect your students to our VoiceThread project!


17 Comments

  • August 1, 2009 - 12:21 | Permalink

    This is some seriously cool stuff you’ve got going on here, Shelly. I think a lot of people would write off the chance of successfully integrating tech into such young classes, and personally I usually warn against it (mainly because the desire to integrate the tech comes ahead of what is actually needed to teach these young classes well – edtech for the sake of it, so to speak). However, you’ve shown what can be achieved in terms of using tech to present and connect. Your kids must have been over the moon with this, and their parents too!

    Well done!

    ~ Jason

    • August 1, 2009 - 18:47 | Permalink

      Jason,
      I was only able to see one student and parents reaction before we left for the break. However, I will be showing this to new parents when we start in September. I will be using this in my edtech workshop for parents to show them how we use technology in the classroom and to encourage them to use these tools in their homes!

  • August 1, 2009 - 14:44 | Permalink

    Holy smoley – I am speechless and finger typelessssss. Congratulations Ozge, Marama and Shelly.

    WOW.

    Karennne

    • August 1, 2009 - 18:45 | Permalink

      Karenne,
      Thank you for the encouragement! I am hoping the parents have an equal reaction!

  • August 1, 2009 - 16:46 | Permalink

    [riffly_audio]6B98E93C7EDB11DEA132E33E17436622[/riffly_audio]

    • August 1, 2009 - 18:45 | Permalink

      Marisa,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments for the children! This is another wonderful part of VoiceThread, the ability for people to praise the children’s projects. Also, there are several ways to comment- by video, audio, or text!

  • August 1, 2009 - 18:33 | Permalink

    This is inspirational stuff, Shelly – what a brilliant project!

    Really enjoyed reading this post & Ozge & Marama’s Wikis.

    Well done, all of you!

    • August 1, 2009 - 18:40 | Permalink

      Sue,

      Glad you enjoyed this! I was very fortunate to meet Ozge and Marama whose educational technology work with their young students is quite inspirational!

  • August 1, 2009 - 20:29 | Permalink

    What lovely project! So inspiring, as always. The children are precious!

    I look forward to hearing how the parents feel about the project :)

    Keep up the amazing work!

  • August 3, 2009 - 05:05 | Permalink

    Shelly,
    This is such a great post!! No one could have written it better!! And the project is awesome, it was such a wonderful idea of YOU!!
    I can’t wait to return to school and share it with the parents, colleagues and new children =)
    It is so enjoyable, inspiring to know you, Shelly! I am looking forward to learning new things from you each single day!! Lucky to know you =)

  • August 4, 2009 - 05:01 | Permalink

    That is fantastic! It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a group of kids talking together. If the problem is about kids, the solution is always a beautiful one.

  • August 4, 2009 - 20:36 | Permalink

    Shelly,

    The sign of a good teacher is not giving up! How wonderful that you turned a frustrating situation into an inspiring experience!

    I’m sure that you found that when kids are challenged, behavior and engagement problems shrink considerably. What a great project!

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

    Mary Beth (aka mbteach) ;)

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