I recently introduced teachers of English language learners to a variety of technology tools that can be integrated into the classroom. These tools are actually beneficial for all classrooms.

It has been said many times that as teachers we are preparing students for THEIR futures, not our past. We need to take a hard look at our classrooms and instruction. Have our practices moved into the 21st century or are they still locked in the past? Does school look and feel like it did when we went to school?

Changing our practices is not an easy process. We need to allow ourselves time and the feeling of some discomfort. Taking baby steps, but always moving is the key. If we sit and rest, we won’t move along the path to preparing students for their futures.

There are three key principles teachers of English language learners should use to help their students succeed in school.

1. Increase Comprehensibility – Use real objects, pictures, manipulatives, experiments to be sure student understands concepts.
2. Increase Interaction – Use group activities such as Think/Pair/Share, Numbered Heads Together to involve all learners in discussions. (All students are involved in all questions/answers instead of calling on students with hands raised.)
3. Increase Thinking Skills – Involve all students in activities to use higher order thinking skills and problem solving to increase comprehension of content and skills. One strategy to do this is Teach the Text Backwards – doing an experiment first to establish vocabulary and generalizations or looking.

These three principles can act as our road map as we integrate technology into our work with ELL students. Each principle contributes to the six C’s depicted in the photo to the left. As 21st century learners we want all of our students to be involved with collaborating, creating, critical thinking, contributing, conversing and connecting.

The following are resources I provided teachers during a face-to-face session. I consider these the top 5 tools teachers should consider integrating into their work with students. There are many more!

TWITTER: Do the points on the slide below hold true for you? If so, and you haven’t discovered Twitter as a professional learning tool for yourself, I encourage you to look into creating an account and finding educators to follow. Twitter can eventually be used with students, but I would suggest learning the power of Twitter for yourself, first. Here is a slide presentation I put together for a session on Twitter. Hopefully you will find resources to get you started.

BLOGGING: Blogging can be very motivating for students! Blogging can provide a sense of competence in both writing and publishing (posting) their work on the Web. It can help students feel connected to broad audience of readers and writers. And students feel a strong sense of autonomy as they blog and share their contributions with the world. Below are a few resources to help you get started.

SKYPE: Classrooms can be connected to the world via Skype.  One suggestion I have received from teachers who have used Skype in their classrooms is to get started by Skyping another classroom in your school. This allows you to work out any technology questions you may encounter. Once you are familiar with how to use Skype – the possibilities are endless!

Here are a few resources to get you started:

WEB 2.0 TOOLS: Web 2.0 Tools provide yet another way for students to collaborate and share on the Web. Again, the possibilities are endless. New tools are being introduced often. Choose a few to get started with and then continue to add to your repertoire. Here are a few places for ideas that will get you started:

APPS: If you are fortunate to have iPads for students to use in your classroom, finding apps to integrate is essential. In our searches it is important to remember that not all apps are created equal. Here is a post about ways to evaluate educational apps that may be useful.

Resource to help you find apps include but are not limited to:

What are your favorite technology tools? How do you integrate them into your classroom? 


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