Globalization is our current reality. Most successful companies have established themselves internationally. Foreign policy is becoming as much of a concern as domestic policy. The environment, global warming, and lack of resources are international problems requiring international brainstorming and problem-solving. As English language teachers we have an incredible position to prepare our young learners to be global citizens! We are preparing the next generation of bilingual, trilingual, and multilingual speakers who know about various cultures and are able to collaborate with peers worldwide. It is an exciting time to be an English language teacher, isn't it?!
Primarily, I teach 2 to 10 year-olds in Germany and when I see their faces I get so excited because I know one of them will be a diplomat, international leader, company leader, and so forth. They will be the ones out there problem-solving on world decisions. How do I, as their guide, ensure I prepare them for this hefty task?
Tearing Down Classroom Walls
To begin with I think we have to find ways to extend learning outside our classroom walls. We need our children to realize learning takes place around them and that they only have to chase their curiosities! We are surrounded by various technologies that allow us to extend learning beyond the classroom walls. When we begin to integrate these technologies effectively we motivate our students to continue their learning journey well after they leave our classrooms.
Technologies I recommend:
I will briefly cover Skype, Wikis, and some free mobile apps in this post, but for further exploration please visit my wiki, Technology4Kids, with student examples and several more resources added weekly.
One of the easiest tools to integrate is Skype, a free video conferencing tool that allows you to screenshare and chat. Try any of these great Skype ideas:
- Write letters/ emails to another school asking questions and Skype with the answers
- Skype one of the authors your students are reading in class
- Interview each other for a news report
- Debate with another class
- Give short presentations & critique them
- Tour a building or place
- Present and describe cultural items
- Conduct a role play
- Practice telephone English
- Phone a friend for Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
- Interview an expert such as an astronaut
- Investigate a witness of a pretend crime
- Tell a group story
- Share a song and dance that represents your culture
For more resources about classroom management, recording the conversations, and more visit my Skype resources page!
Wikis are a great way to host ongoing class collaboration projects! A wiki is a free website that has many templates and features that make it easy for children to post their work. My favorite wiki site is PBWorks for educators, because it is adfree, allows you to make the wiki private, checks for plagiarism, comes with several embed features, and allows you to give each student an email. Try including any of these tools to make your wiki more interactive:
- Vimeo videos
- Voki speaking avatars
- Online quizzes
- Google Maps
Time Saving Tips!
Ultimately, you want to limit the time you have to keep maintaining the wiki. After creating an initial template and look for the students, then have them each create a page and teach them how to update it! By having parents join your wiki they automatically get updates in their emails when changes have been made to the wiki so everytime a student updates the parents will visit the wiki page. You can also give different permissions to kids. Choose 2 or 3 students a week to be the editors and be in charge of the wiki page. Keep the rest as just writers. Have a list of duties prepared for the students who will be the editors for the week.
For more resources and presentation archives visit my Wiki resources page!
Mobile Learning Apps for Young Learners
Take your learning outside the building or move around the building with these great mobile apps for kids!
- Talking Tom- Kids talk to Tom and he repeats everything said with a funny voice, pet him to make him purr, pour a glass of milk for him, and poke his head, belly or feet, grab his tail. The best part is that within seconds what the students say to Tom is recorded as an avi video which can be uploaded to YouTube and Facebook or sent by email. This app really gets young learners speaking English!
- Story Robe- Create digital stories using images and video from your camera or photo library. Create audio recordings with photos and videos. Then share on Youtube or through e-mail and add to others stories.
- StoryKit- Create an electronic storybook by drawing on the screen, uploading images, recording sound effects and voice, laying out the elements of the story (text boxes, images, and sound clips) freely by dragging them or pinching to resize, reordering pages, and uploading to the StoryKit web server. Email a link to the story. The application includes four public domain children’s books to rewrite and rearrange into a new story.
- Fotobabble- Quickly create and easily share talking photos in 3 steps (Snap or select or a photo, speak into the microphone to record audio, share with friends via email, Facebook or Twitter).
- Mindblowing- Gather audio, video and photos into a colorized mindmap. Enter the main topic, title, or theme in the main node then create branches with images, audio, or video attached. Send the mindmap with the attachments through email. Free version available on the iPhone. This is my recent review of this app which gives several ideas on how to use it with students. Can be used offline.
- Animoto- Upload up to 10 images, choose a soundtrack from the library (many nice holiday tunes to choose from, and click a button to make a 30-second video. Sync your videos with your Animoto.com account, download videos for offline viewing, and make longer ones with an All-Access Pass.
For more resources and presentation archives visit my Mobile Learning resources page!
More About Me
Shelly Sanchez Terrell is the VP of Educator Outreach for Parentella and the Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. She is also the co-organizer and co-creator of the award nominated educational projects, Edchat, ELTChat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the ELTon Award Nominated Virtual Round Table Language & Technology Free Online Conference. The New York Times learning blog has included her on its list of the top 78 educators to follow on Twitter and her blog Teacher Reboot Camp, is rated in the top 5 for Language Teachers. In the fall of 2011 find her book, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators on Amazon. Find her on Twitter, @ShellTerrell. She teaches young learners to adults in Germany.
She offers free professional development opportunities for teachers worldwide! Feel free to join any of these free online projects:
- The 30 Goals Challenge for Educations, Feb.1st- March 5th
- Americal Tesol Presents Free Friday Webinars, Every Friday
- Virtual Round Table Language & Technology Free Online Conference, March 25th-26th
- The Reform Symposium E-Conference, July 29th-31st