Posts Tagged classroom
Since arriving at my current school 5 years ago, I have been pushing for a stronger, and more relevant ICT environment for both students and teachers. As an introvert, I find myself having difficulty in explaining to colleagues what it is I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and why I’m doing it, mostly in regards to tablet use in the classroom. And so, my most viable option in promoting tech in the classroom has been through the notion of leading by example.
With iPads for the last few years, I have transformed a video listening class from a teacher-centered cinema format, to a student-centered format. In doing so, students are divided into groups from 2 to 4 students sharing 1 iPad with the necessary videos uploaded. This allows students to work with each other in completing the required work, with the teacher engaging with small groups, rather than an entire class.
The situation has always been that this was my style of teaching and that others were fine teaching the other way. Today however, a second teacher decided to try my format. His response was that he had never seen students work as diligently on their assignments as they had today. As a cinema format class, the teacher controls the video, and is responsible for keeping all students on task. This raises concerns because students learn at different paces and learn through different styles. When they are in the small groups, students can focus on their learning strengths and help each other, and it seems that my colleague took notice of this.
On a plus side, these same students had taken my class the year prior and had no issue changing into the group format, expressing their preference over the cinema format to my colleague.
Not all classrooms are designed to maximize the benefits of an electronic display, especially when the classroom itself was either not designed by a tech-savvy architect, or the it was modified to somehow accommodate electronic display functionality at the request of administration. In the case of one classroom, a little bit of both.
We have two flatscreen monitors on either end of a classroom, with a mobile rack (held down by the length of the cords connecting to the wall jacks) in the corner. For someone wanting to use video or a slideshow via computer, the task of using a computer while trying to engage with the students is a daunting task, unless you’re willing to walk through a floor of wires in what is already a tight space.
It’s a perfect storm to showcase the usefulness of a wireless connection; more specifically, the Apple TV. Using the Apple TV has allowed the teacher to remain in the ‘teaching zone’ of the classroom, rather than disappearing into the corner, or jump roping through wires during a lesson. The iPad is easy to hold, and the Apple TV gives the teacher full access to the wall displays.
In short, the Apple TV allows the classroom to used as it’s intended purpose without the distraction of its potential assets.
In the late morning classes, one senior teacher was using an iPad as he wirelessly connected to a projector via AppleTV in order to demonstrate to students how to understand UNHCR country profiles as part of their Model United Nations training. As he gave a tour of the profiles, students used their smart phones to view the web pages being shown. On the other side of the room, an exchange student who does not have a smart phone was issued a school iPad connected to the room’s WiFi system for the activity.
This past weekend, two of our students participated in a Model United Nations in Tokyo, with their coach accompanying them while using one of our UNESCO iPads to document their achievements, and uploading media to our office DropBox account.
This week and next, students are once again using iPads as video players to learn about the challenges developing countries like India face when denying the right to an education to women. In small groups, tasks are performed and discussions are being held in a peer-to-peer setting to challenge their understanding of the situation.
Continuing to record the use of tech in the classroom, I had the privilege today to assist two teachers in tech use, aside from my own use.
- Teacher A being given an iPad to be used as a debate timer using the app Presentation Timer, as well as a video player. This was his first use of an iPad in the classroom.
- Another teacher was given our electronic blackboard projector to show and demonstrate how to fill in forms for the students’ preparation for an abroad school trip coming up in February.
- Myself, placing a number of audio speeches on 3 iPads for students in small groups to listen to while practicing the preparation of a debate summary speech.
I started off my 2015 listening workshop class using the traditional approach of a class watching a video on the big screen and completing appropriate work. Last week, I broke them into small groups to watch videos on a group iPad while completing appropriate work.
I then asked in an informal manner which setting they prefer, and all who replied voted for the small groups. I would agree. I find the larger class to be very passive when everyone is sharing a big screen. As is the manner, students face forward, mouths shut, while their teacher lectures. However, when they are broken into smaller groups, interaction occurs, and the work seems to become more enjoyable.
It also allows more teaching moments for individual students as I can walk around and answer questions.
Japan for the part is conservative. They value their traditions, and they value their customs. Teachers especially, develop a keen sense of being the lecturer. She speaks, you listen. She writes notes on the board, you copy. No questions asked, literally. And so it with that, trying to introduce different means of interaction, different teaching methods, or different ideologies can be quite a hassle. While much of the world is searching for new, innovated, cost-cutting ways of educating our children, most educators in Japan will reply, “the chalk and black works perfectly fine.” So, it is fascinating and exciting when a Japanese teacher agrees to give something new a shot.
Last week, one of our social studies teachers wanted to show a powerpoint slideshow, so I had asked if he would be willing to give the iPad a try. He agreed, and we spent a few minutes making sure he was familiar with using a touch screen, something, up until then, had never used. We connected the iPad to an Apple TV, and he gave his brief lecture. The most fascinating aspect was not of my colleague using the iPad, but the students’ reaction to him using it. After getting over the shock of him using an iPad, they began encouraging him, and even assisting in swiping to the next slide and annotating.
The students were amused, but more importantly, they remained intrigued at the presentation. My colleague at the end joked about it being his first time, but commented that the experience was good.
Every educator is familiar with TED and the vast amount of videos available online. Every educator is familiar with the iPad and the vast amount of apps available via iTunes.
In second language teaching, my institute are finding TED videos to be a valuable tool in both listening and discussion practice for two reasons.
- 1) Students can relate to presented topics, and there are many topics from science to social media that both students and teachers can choose.
- 2) Many presentations (not all) have a clear enough use of English that L2 students can follow, and even if that is not the case, transcripts are available at ted.com for students to follow, as well as closed captioning in a variety of languages.
I have always found the iPad (or any portable device) extremely useful in the classroom for its most simplest function, video and audio playback. I have used iPods in the past to allow students to watch videos of themselves and provide self-assessment of their progress over a school year.
At my current institute, I am responsible for a course titled English Workshop: Listening. Traditionally, students would gather in a room and watch a video on a big screen and answer questions from a workbook. This worked fine as there was plenty of teacher-student interaction before and after the video, but at the teacher’s pace. With 4 iPads at my disposal now, I am able to divide students into small groups to watch the same videos. There is still student-teacher interaction, but with two noticeable differences, one which was assumed to happen, and the other was not.
- 1) Students were watching the videos at their own pace. This allows lower level students to be able to re-watch any number of times they feel necessary. For L2 learning, repetition is key, and watching videos on topics students are interested in makes the repletion a less daunting task.
- 2) Students discuss what they are watching with each other. When students were watching together on a big screen, seldom did any of them talk to each other, but in the smaller, more intimate group setting, discussing what they were watching became easier. Even though much of the discussion is in their L1, the addition of this opportunity allows them to get a fuller grasp of the ideas presented, which can present further opportunities for L2 interaction with the teacher. There were also opportunities of more intimate teacher-student interactions that were 1-to-1, rather than teacher-to-class.
TED has been a great way to engage students in topics in which they are interested while still working through L2 activities, and iPads have given the students an opportunity to participate in a smaller, more intimate setting. As TED videos are available online, BYOD schools can take full advantage of the ease of availability.