A#3 Part 1.a
The powerful writing tools used to aid organization, collaboration, and process illustrated in chapter #5 of "Meaningful Learning with Technology" are welcomed approaches in my book. I believe that by teaching students to use tools like Microsoft Powerpoint and www.writely.com we can help them better understand and visualize different aspects of the writing process. Some may argue that students (especially 3rd-12th graders) must master essay writing using paper and pencil first before they use wordprocessing programs, but I disagree. I believe that using Microsoft word relieves the tedium of copying over during revision, attends to multiple intelligences, and helps students monitor their spelling and grammar. Additionally, "sloppy copies" can be easily shared, reviewed and commented upon. This type of peer review is said to be more beneficial for students at times then having the teacher look over mistakes and critique the content.
Using technology in the classroom has many authentic applications in the real world. For many people around the world today, programs like Microsoft Word are used for many different types of applications, from writing to-do lists to research papers. Proficiency in using technology to support writing has become increasingly necessary. As educators we not only have to deconstruct abstract concepts, but we must also help our students navigate the many demands of economic success. And learning how to brainstorm a narrative with Inspiration or create a 20 slide presentation on frogs is part and parcel of this type of real world preparation.
A#3 Part 1.b
As an ESL educator I am constantly trying to find new and exciting ways to present materials across the content areas in a meaningful and comprehensible way to my students. The applications outlined in Chapter 14 of "Podcasting for Teachers" are a great introduction to how pocasting can be used effectively to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing. As a teacher created product, a podcast can be used as a study guide, to build prior knowledge, to aid explicit instructions or supplement text books. Students may review the material as often as necessary until they comprehend what is being conveyed or asked. Students may also be asked to take notes or record their own responses to prompts. This powerful tool can transform a class as students are held accountable for the information they learn at home or must perform tasks accordingly. The video podcast mentioned on pg. 222, All About Math is especially useful for ESL students as it incorporates animations and a digital blackboard. The profile of the various applications in the Arts is also suitable for ESL instruction. Step by step instructions on a range of activities could be recorded orally and/or visually for students to play back at any given point. This repetition is highly effective for building listening comprehension. Furthermore, academic language can be fostered by incorporating polysemous words across the content areas. For example: In an elementary level classroom the words table, power, radical, real and rational can be used in context across social studies, math, science and ELA. The varying definitions of each word conveyed orally and visually will help students understand the trickiness of the English language.
A#3 Part 1.c
The blog posted by Tony Erben is a nice introduction to the tips and tricks (instructional strategies) for teaching English Language Learners. This site serves as a nice gateway into second language acquisition for mainstream teachers as well as new ESL teachers. Podcast #3 and #4 outline the first two principles of teaching ESL students. As stated in the principles for creating effective second language learning environments we must create meaningful and varied experiences in listening, reading, writing and speaking for students. More often then not, newcomer and beginner students in a mainstream classroom are thought to be incapable of understanding content or directions. And even intermediate students that are verbally sophisticated are left to the wayside during content area instruction. Many mainstream teachers that are in fact experts in their field simply do not know the language requirements that ESL students demand in order to comprehend what is being taught. Podcasts can be used to bridge the gap between student and content in a variety of ways.
For newcomer and beginner students content can be presented in a podcast in the form of a chant or song. Vocabulary words of the week can be repeated in different intonations so that students can learn the distinctions between stating a question, an imperative and an emphatic interjection. Students can be asked to record their own pronunciations and play them back in comparison to the teacher's recording. Students can also record narratives in their native language that may be translated by peers from the same background thereby validating their own experiences. They can then listen to the two products and look for language patterns. In an intermediate classroom, reading and writing conferences can be maintained via podcasts. That way students can review the strategies at any time. A whole archive of strategies and mini-lessons can be kept for at home review. The steps of writing tasks can be conveyed and examples of the proper usage of the sentence structures being practiced that week can be used for dictation exercises. For advanced students that are more autonomous and can work in collaborative groups without explicit instruction there is an endless range of applications. An on-going literature circle can be held via podcast. Students can work in small groups to present an report or reciprocal teach a new strategy or concept. Their definitions and explanations can be used by lower language level students to aid listening comprehension. Students can also record interviews and narratives that can be critiqued via blog.
As you can see the possibilities are endless. With careful planning, management and a dose of creativity, podcasts can be used effectively to raise the skills of all students.