The ETpedia series is all about sharing tips from teachers around the world, and proves it is never too late to get new ideas. Here, series editor John Hughes shares some of the ideas he has collected from using ETpedia Technology.
In Unit 2 of ETpedia Technology, author Nicky Hockly describes how teachers are sometimes reluctant to use technology in class because they feel they don’t understand much about it or that their students know more than they do. However, Nicky doesn’t believe this is really the case and she suggests that one way to realise how much you know is to list all the things you do with technology every day. Then think about how you might integrate these things into your lessons.
I’ve often used this activity with teachers in training sessions on using technology and it’s very effective. By asking teachers to list what they do with technology, they quickly realise how easy and logical it is to build technology into a lesson. Here are ten ideas that have come from teachers when I’ve used this simple brainstorming activity.
1 Take a photo
Most of us take photos with our phones so make use of this in your lessons. For example, if you are using a course book, give students the title of the next unit in the book (e.g. sport, lifestyle, travel etc) and ask them to take a photo related to the topic. Then, when you start the unit, ask each student to show the class their photo and talk about it for one minute. It’s a great lead-in to a new topic.
2 Make a video
As with taking a photo, it’s easy to make a video with your phone. One homework activity is for students to video themselves presenting something; so if the lesson topic is rooms in your house, students could give a video tour of their house or show their favourite room and describe it.
3 Record an interview
The recording app on a phone will make a good recording of speech so students could interview someone in English and practice using question forms. Or if students are working pairs in class and practising a role play, they could record themselves and listen back to check for any errors.
Lots of course books ask students to do pair work conversations such as arranging to meet. You can adapt these tasks by having students text each other and carry out similar conversations using text messaging apps such as Whatsapp or Facebook messenger. It’s another way of practising the language they’ll need for real communication.
5 Email correspondence
We often teach students phrases for writing correspondence. In many classes students still do this kind of writing exercise with pen and paper but it’s more logical to have them write an actual email. In one Business English class that I taught, I introduced the formal language for apologizing so that if students had to miss a lesson, they had to write an email of apology to me using the correct formal language. With email, students can also simulate writing situations by writing to each other and cc-ing you into the correspondence so you can give feedback.
If all your students use Facebook or similar social media, you could set up a closed group so that the class can share ideas, post and thoughts with each other outside of the class.
7 Online projects
These days we are all familiar with searching for information online, so a straight-forward online task to set students is a research project where they look for information and write a report. In ETpedia Technology on page 180 you can find a ready-made example of what Nicky Hockly calls a webquest; students have to research visiting South Africa and then give a presentation about the country.
8 Multimedia presentations
As teachers we often use presentation tools such as powerpoint so we should feel confident about asking students to use this technology. Your students could give presentations with slides to the class or they could also use powerpoint to record their voice and save the presentation as a video for homework.
9 Online forms
Many of us are familiar with filling in online survey forms and it’s also easy to create your own using tools such as Google Forms and SurveyMonkey. You can either do surveys which students answer or your students can make their own surveys for each other – it’s a great way to practise writing questions. In addition, these survey tools instantly collate the results which students can present as graphs and charts.
And finally…in the past when we wanted students to practice the language of telephoning and role-playing phone calls, we would ask students to sit back-to-back to simulate making a call. Nowadays, there’s no point – perhaps the easiest way to use technology in the classroom is for students to make phone calls using their mobiles!
You can find out more about ETpedia Technology here.