Friday, 4 June 2010

Week 9

The tools we came into contact this week almost sum up the entire course and I find them all to be of great use for our teaching activities since they can motivate our students and teach them to be responsible for their own learning and independent as well. I learned a lot while trying them out, except those I already knew how to: Blogs, Google sites and hot potatoes, of course, which I’ve already been using in class.

We in this course are the living proof that Nicenet, can promote students independence and autonomy by participating in forums and interacting with other students at our own pace and rhythm, learning by ourselves and at the same time cooperatively with our peers, while interacting. Just like our students will, if we use this tool in our classes!

Blogs and websites are two other tools that I know from experience can promote independence and autonomy: While participating students feel more important and feel like the others are also learning with what they are saying or writing, so they commit themselves more to these types of tasks. If co-authorship is given to them, then students will get even more involved and make a bigger effort to improve their language skills and to be careful with what they write or publish!

Of course there are constraints that can make it difficult to use these tools, we always need Internet access, and this may not be available at all times or the students may not have access to it a t home. To overcome these constrains I would try to use these tools inside the classroom, at school, to give everybody the same chance to access to them, this in case any of my students don`t have access to the Internet outside school! We must always try to bridge the digital divide, we know still exists! Giving extra credit or extra activities for this type of online work to those who have the possibility of using these tools at home is also a good possibility. Together with these three tools come those websites mentioned that make exercises online to use online, in this case the constraints will be the same, but I still find them very valuable, for example to, insert in our websites or blogs.

From my point of view the ideal would be to use tools like Hotpotatoes or Xword generator that allow you to use the exercises you create online and offline and even print them, this way we can hand them out to our students, install them on a intranet or insert them on our blog or webpage to use! Each of these possibilities promote the students` autonomy, of course the first possibility, handing the exercises out, would be the less interactive, but still effective because students, specially young learners, love games and puzzles, no matter the form. Using these on the computer would make students independent, let them learn at their own pace, repeat as much as they want, in many cases receive immediate feedback, and correct their own mistakes!

In fact, I think that we, English teachers, should also act out as technology teachers, since many of our students may not have the necessary knowledge to be able to use the tools we give them! It is therefore necessary for us not to be detained by our students` lack of technological knowledge, we should teach them the basics so they can be able to use the tools we want them too. Is this so bad? Being a technology teacher as well? I guess for us English teachers it shouldn`t be because we are lucky to be teaching the most common language on the Internet! English! And even when our students are learning how to work with these tools they are learning English! So we`re doubly teaching them and preparing them for life!

As for how I will continue to learn about technology after the course is over, well I guess I’ll continue to do as I have been doing up until now, participate in seminars and congresses about it, read articles and books, search the internet for new information and new tools, try them out and pass on the information to my fellow teachers when I’m giving my teacher courses, and at my school to the colleagues who work with me. I also expect to continue to talk to our group of teachers here from the course with whom I have learned so much!

3 comments:

  1. Dear Susana,

    I fell in love with the website you created. As it contains your students' work, it's simply wonderful and lively. You had a great idea to make it and share it with us.

    I also hope we will keep in touch when the course is over. We can share experience and best practices, learn from each other...

    Good luck,
    Nadina

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  2. Dear Susana,

    I couldn't agree with you more, the technological tools we were introduced to during this course will definitely promote students' independent learning and, at the same time, it will prompt teachers' autonomy. We can use any of these tools to decide how to teach a certain material without being hooked to the textbook.
    I also agree that we can be technology teachers for those students who have minimum knowledge of technology. I think I'm already practicing it with my students. I usually give a demonstration before asking the students to do anything, whether in the lab or on Blackboard. I go through what's required step by step so I don't have a student saying " I didn't know how to do it". I believe the more we offer our students, the better we get out of them

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  3. Dear Susana,

    You are so right - we are indeed lucky to be teaching the most common language of the internet. It gives us a bit of job security at least! :) So it's true, we should not feel bad if we are teachers of technology as well as English. As we teach our students to use the tools on the internet, and do it in English, we are "killing two birds with one stone." They become prepared to face the "real" world with some practical life skills - English and IT literacy. What else could make us feel so special?! What a wonderful thing to empowering our students to be life-long learners! I admire you for all that you've done towards this goal.

    Yours,
    Ellen

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