My students need one classroom iPad, a protective case and an AV adaptor in order to increase their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in English.
Have you ever gone fishing? It is great fun, especially when you have the good fortune of actually catching a fish. But if you have ever cast out your line, time and again, without a single nibble or tug on your hook--then you know how it feels to try to motivate the reluctant English Language Learner.
It is funny how teaching and fishing have so much in common.
As a teacher of brand new ELLs, it is my job to help my brand new students learn beginning English language skills. For those of you who have read and/or supported my previous projects, you already know a bit about the population I work with. I teach in an underperforming school, and my kids live in neighborhoods beset with poverty, drugs, violence and a host of other social challenges. They are smart kids, but their motivation and willingness to learn is often affected by the real life issues they face every day. To get a teenage kid who does not necessarily like reading to want to read can be hard. To educate a class or a school full of students who can barely concentrate or remember what they ate for breakfast is a monumental task. In order to hook these kids, I have to use a tackle box that includes new and different lures. And public schools do not always have the capital to acquire the tools that meet our students' needs.
Having an additional student iPad with case and AV adapter in my ELL classroom will have a huge impact on my abilities to deliver effective content instruction. Because the iPad is such a current cultural icon, kids gravitate to it automatically. Because it is on the cutting edge, they use this technology without perceiving the feelings that can typically go along with beginning language learning. The iPad offers such incredible language learning apps, many of which are free or low cost. These apps allow students to do everything from simple translation to vocabulary study using audio/visual flashcards that they create themselves. At the same time, the iPad increases student autonomy, helping kids feel safe to take risks in their own learning process. They can create their own book trailer using iMovie software, or play a sight word game with a partner, making the language learning process faster and less threatening. The kids I work with already know too much about trauma - so this safety in learning is vital.
Without seeing my classroom or knowing my students, I can see why it might be hard to prioritize my classroom over any other.
But as my students' teacher and biggest cheerleader, I will try to persuade others to recognize why we matter. The world seems to look straight through my students. They express their challenges of living in a new country, being poor and not knowing the language. Even one iPad can be the hook that catches these kids' attention and turns them toward a path of success.
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