ELT Traveller box

about teaching English to young learners, web tools and iPad teaching


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One iPad in the classroom: essential toolkit

If you have only one iPad connected to an Apple TV in the classroom (like me), here is a list of 5 apps I use everyday and I found essential for teaching.

Planning

Evernote

It is a great app that helps keep all your notes organised. I have made specific notebooks for each class I teach, or lessons I am working on (grammar, reading, listening etc.). You can then organise them into Notebook Stacks. You can also create shared notebooks to share with students or colleagues, but remember you need the PRO version if you want them to modify the files.

I have Evernote on all my devices, it is easy to use, and it is really versatile. It allows you to attach images, video files, web links, pdf etc to all your notes.

> I often use Skitch connected to Evernote to quickly annotate pictures or notes (e.g. to focus on vocabulary)

> The Evernote Web Clipper app is an extension for your browser, it allows you to “clip” any content from a webpage you are visiting and attach it to your note.

> The latest iOS 7 version has introduced the presentation function, it means you can present content to your class directly from Evernote.

Storage

Google Drive

It is a safe place to store all your files. You can get access to it everywhere, it gives you 15 GB for free, and it also allows you to share and collaborate easily on files. You need a Google account to sign up.

Presenting

Explain everything

It works as an interactive whiteboard, it records drawing and annotations on the screen, you can also record your voice via the iPad microphone. You can create a lesson by uploading all sorts of files (pdf, keynote, powerpoint, word, photos, MP4 video files) from your Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, iPad photo roll, iTunes. You can record and insert a new video while presenting, or simply take a picture that helps you explain something. At the end you can export your project as pdf to share with your class.

Keynote 

I think it is the best app to create presentations. It offers a lot of different layouts. iCloud helps to keep all presentations synchronised on all my devices.

 

 

Classroom management

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TeacherKit

It is the best classroom management app I have used so far. The essential layout helps to have a quick look to the class. TeacherKit allows teachers to keep record of students’ behaviour, attendance and performance. All in one place, all with only a few ‘taps’ on your screen. You can also email students or parents directly from the app, and connect it to your Dropbox account.

 


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Technology: what am I expecting from learners?

This is a short post about what we are expecting students to do with technology. I have been thinking about it quite often in the last few weeks. Starting the school year with the iPad, forgetting blackboard and chalk had an impact on me as a teacher, but it was also a significant change for learners. What are they expecting to learn with technology? Why am I using the latest tech tools and apps for? I found some interesting answers a couple of days ago on this picture shared by EdTechReview (@etr_in) on Twitter.

fotoblog

I think sometimes technology can make teachers and learners confused about objectives, outcomes, tools and aims. It would be worth making a clear list before starting to use tech tools  and apps in the classroom.


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iPad teaching: the day I should get started

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Generally I feel quite comfortable writing about technology in the classroom. Generally, but not today. Today is the day when the iPad comes into my teaching.

The day I come to class, and the blackboard and the chalk are gone. I got an email that says: “Dear teacher you are kindly requested to go to the school information office and collect your iPad”. 

All of a sudden I’m a mobile learning teacher. “Cool!” It is the first thing I think. 

Then I come home with my new iPad, I feel relaxed, I know how to use it, I’ve got mine, I do it everyday. I turn it on and … stop. 

Suddenly, I do not know what to do, a thousand questions in my mind: what is truly mobile learning? In how many ways can a school use tablets? Apple TV in the classroom? Where do I start?

“Ok” I think, “let’s google some key words”. It ‘s the time to read posts like The 10 most useful apps in education, Top 20 apps for schools, Mobile learning in ELT etc. On twitter #mlearning becomes my favourite hashtag. 

My head is full of information, I begin to feel safe, I go to the app store – “Ok, I got Evernote, Youtube, iThoughts, Skitch, TeacherKit etc. I should be ready now” I think. But ready for what? Is it that simple?

I look at my iPad, I find it hard to admit that I do not know where to start, I’m no longer on my safe side, I’m moving forward, on a new path. I find myself thinking about failure, is this going to be the case when I do not give my students what they’re expecting from me?

It ‘s fascinating how the power and speed of technology could affect our self confidence, I should tell my students.

 Then I stop thinking about iPad teaching, it’s not the iPad, it’s me. It’s always about the teacher, no matter the iPad or the chalk. Let’s say I’m an empowered teacher now.

I start planning, I can make it.


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Using Wordle to teach phrasal verbs (my guest post on itslearning)

I recently had the pleasure to write a guest post for the itslearning website. I shared a few ideas about why teaching phrasal verbs is crucial also for elementary learners and how this can be fun and motivating by using Wordle.

You can read the complete post here.

Phrasals2_question

 


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Learning Styles and Young Learners

I’ve finally discovered my own learning styles.

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It seems like I’m a linguistic-interpersonal learner. I knew that, no surprise! I’ve always been one of those learners interested and focused on speaking and writing. I love reading aloud activities, love communicating through language. I’m sure I would have loved having role-plays in my English classes, but unfortunately I’ve never done one in my high-school. Now I feel I can understand what and why was happening in my classes. We mainly worked alone, no group works, always focused on self-study and individual tasks. My teacher was probably a solitary (interpersonal) learner. That is good, but is it correct to plan and teach according to our learning styles?

The 7Styles of Learning Source: Edudemic

Over the last few years the terms learning styles have been used many times in any classroom management course. The message should be: the more you know your students’ learning styles the better your activity planning will be. Not as simple as it looks, but crucial. Knowing the learning styles we like and which we tend to avoid can increase the effectiveness of our learning, and if we want our students to learn more effectively we should look for different activities which might suit different learning styles.

Let’s find out how they learn

I teach teens and pre-teens, here are a few steps I would follow with any new class:

  • Step 1: ask your students to complete a learning styles questionnaire. Here is a link from the Birmingham Grid for Learning.
  • Step 2 : check with students by proposing a series of activities good for each different learning style. Observe your students, take notes of how they react to each activity and see if they match with your questionnaire.

For a list of sample activities for the most common learning styles look at this infographic:

Source: studentaffairsenews.com

ACTIVITIES

I’ve also found these Five Multiple Intelligences Activities by Puchta and Rinvolucri very useful.

  • Step 3: the school year is quite long, so try to remember the most successful activities for each class and get them to know they all have similar and different learning styles. You can group students according to them, or better let them work with classmates with different learning styles.

Use your results as a precious resource, but do not over trust them, in my experience, teenagers easily change their mood. Always consider that they can still act as different learners.

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