The ELL Program at LPS continues to invest in innovative instruction that is relevant to the 21st Century Learners coming to our classrooms. This year we piloted mobile technologies to find out how and if they could provide more and unique learning opportunities for ELLs.
ELL Coaches, the ELL teachers at Lincoln High, the ELL teachers at Holmes Elementary and Everett Elementary stepped up to the challenge of learning and teaching our curriculum with iPads and iPods.
We learned a lot through trial and error — planning, reflecting, adjusting and trying again. We also often put down the devices to asked ourselves; how is this learning “really” improving what we would be able to do with paper and pencil or traditional methods we already know work? How is this an innovative, more relevant way to learn for our students? We allowed ourselves and our students to experiment, observe and gather data. We are currently in the process of condensing what we learned into recommendations based on our experiences. In the mean time…here are some of the general observations we can share…
Individualized listening and speaking opportunities within the curriculum grew exponentially. Students were able to rehearse their oral language, had access to language models and had opportunities to give and receive feedback from peers and from apps.
Engagement with the content increased. This did not depend only on the interactive nature of the devices, but on the careful and strategic planning of teachers who used the devices as tools to engage students in the content, language acquisition and learning process.
The devices are an excellent source of content; text, audio, video and simply as a tool that allows students to be connected. Being connected and interacting with others on the Web provides students with opportunities to learn and practice digital citizenship skills and 21st century skills.
Not all apps are created equal. We do not need 200 of them. We need a core set of apps that can help students meet their learning objectives. Many of the these “core apps” are not practice apps, but creation and social networking apps, that allow students to apply, show and reflect on their learning, as well a provide teachers with formative assessment opportunities.
When the devices were fully accessible to the teachers, it enabled them to plan and fully embed the technology applications to the curriculum. For students, working with the apps and navigating the devices was seamless. After all, they are digital natives.
We are excited to see how these devices can be implemented into the ELL curriculum.