I teach at a wonderfully diverse, Title I school in Atlanta. Most of our students receive free or reduced price lunch. Although we are a large school in an urban area, our school has a true sense of community. Visitors always notice our caring, welcoming atmosphere. In my sheltered ESOL classroom students are entering, emerging or developing English learners.
My students are incredibly eager to learn and communicate.They come from a variety of backgrounds which makes for a rich learning experience for all of us.
They love to share about themselves, including what and how they are learning. We build on our similarities, but learn the most through our differences. While some students need my encouragement and patience to take risks as they learn English, others teach me to put aside my own fears and take greater risks.
In fact, my experience last year with my fourth grade newcomer class using iPads borrowed from our media center has inspired me to be a risk-taker and seek donations for a set of three iPads for my classes.
Technology is a tremendous tool, an especially powerful in the ESL classroom. In addition to presenting information to students in a visual format, it allows students to "show what they know" beyond current language proficiency limits. Currently I use my camera and iPhone to record videos of my students' progress and take pictures of their current writing for them to narrate through programs on our three desktop computers. This process allows students the opportunity to practice building fluency in oral language and literacy.
We create a safe environment so when they view themselves, they are open to evaluate their progress and share feedback with peers.
With limited resources too much time is spent on the process. The greatest growth comes from the evaluation and goal-setting when sharing, so my goal is to increase the number of projects students share.
We need three iPads with a case for each which will allow students to take ownership of their presentations and reduce the time needed to create projects so more time can be dedicated to evaluation, feedback and setting goals. When doing research, the additional technology will double the number of students with access to digital resources. The flexibility of the iPads will give the students more opportunities to choose the work they would like to highlight and the program they would like to use to present their work. They will have the freedom to take their own videos and pictures. With the increase in the number of devices, we will also have more opportunities for students to provide feedback to each other while they are still in the process. Finally, having a greater number of projects, will allow the students to see their own progress more frequently and provide more opportunities for them to share their learning to a variety of audiences.
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