I cannot blame them: (fun) learning can happen without technology but, to be honest, I have never asked myself why I have to integrate some technology in my classes or if I will be competent enough to handle behavior, as I had already had my own personal experience back in 2001, when I had a Mac desktop computer in the classroom, a notebook provided by the district to exchange teachers, and my students had access to laptops either in the library or in a cart to take to our classroom.
Writing is something that people ‘evade’ because it is least needed for survival. Given its importance today, it is paradoxical that writing is sometimes referred to as a less ‘necessary skill’ not needed in day to day life. I couldn’t agree more to Tribble that the ’authority and permanence’ a written piece conveys in comparison to a spoken text or discourse only contrasts the aforesaid view.
This was in the days before Edtech when we frequently used photocopiers and made worksheets by cutting up and sticking bits of paper together, and often our hands. Then when I got my first job, my heavy schedule and a 70% coursebook rule meant my creative worksheet hobby made way for extra coursebook resources like workbooks and test books. Once I’d used the same coursebooks a few times and got to grips with the content, I rediscovered my interest in making worksheets to not just complement the coursebooks but to sometimes replace them and even enhance the content.
I have worked in many different schools. Some of them were very well-organised having a computer room or even computers in every classroom. Some others though lacked these kind of facilities. What really surprised me was the fact that in the schools where technology was assisting the teaching procedure much more learning and understanding took place. The students were more eager to work and had much more fun. In the other schools where a traditional teaching procedure took place discipline problems were commoner and the students did not have the same amount of enthusiasm.
Walking along a street I overheard the following dialogue.
Two young men shared their observations at a café excitedly:
“Did you notice that dude in the corner? No smart phone, no laptop, not even a cell, no earphones… He was just drinking coffee! Must be insane!”
Still, for teachers who have had no contact with visual impairment, some of these tips or pieces of information may be useful. This article focuses on students with little or no sight as I have most experience in this area.
It calls for prowess along with ‘sense sensitive training’. In this post I would like to share my experience of teaching a bright and ambitious visually impaired teenage girl, in the mainstream classroom.
I vividly remember the first day when I was in for a surprise. I marched into my classroom armed with usual handouts and power points oblivious of my class profile. At the door stood a woman who apprised me of her daughter’s small amount of residual sight not enough to read and study.
More than 400 EL teachers from the region gathered together to listen to Mike Riley, teacher, teacher trainer and methodologist who spoke mostly about EL resources and the challenges of today. Mike started his career in Manchester, then spent fifteen years in Milan, Italy, progressing from EL teaching at all levels and ages to manager, director of International House, and is now a Macmillan specialist. His main report was titled “More than Words”. He demonstrated three types of resources, images, videos and graphs, and gave three major reasons for their usage:
I have been experimenting with using mobile devices in my university communication classes over the last couple of years. I have had some success and in other cases it hasn’t worked as well. These days, all of my learners have smartphones and they use them a lot. I have teacher friends who have tried banning their use in class but with not a great deal of success. I guess they are part and parcel of a student’s life and I wanted to find ways to best utilize them in class. As I mentioned, I tried various ways of using them and here are three activities that worked well with my learners.
Well, that is not entirely true because sometimes I used text books as a loose guide to help and shape my own short and long term plans, ideas and activities.
Now I am a teacher trainer, but previously to that, I taught subjects such as English, Art and Science (preschool and primary stages) in bilingual schools. My last few years in a classroom also focused on preparation for English external exams, which my students were expected to take at the end of each year.