Technology in your classes – Christina Markoulaki

New Technologies and Traditional Values

Please view these slides before reading the article.

Computers will never fully replace teachers in the classroom, but teachers who know how to use computers and other forms of new technology will replace those who don’t.

I had frequently heard words to this effect said in university courses and the various seminars I attended, but I never quite believed it to be true. That was until I actually got centrally involved in education and got to experience for myself how quickly the profession is evolving. Now I do believe it to be true. Teachers who are unwilling to follow and adopt at least some of the novel practices made possible by advances in technology – the practices most suitable for their students at least – are going to be left far behind.

In the slides I’ve provided, I have tried to go beyond what is commonly said about EdTech by illustrating the ways I have employed it to encourage a traditional value: the reading of books in the foreign language. Yes, a technological innovation can and should be used to support a traditional value, such as the reading classical or modern English and American literature. Let me explain:

Why read books?

Because reading enables the learner to pay attention not only to each word individually, but also to the combination of words in a phrase and subsequently in a sentence. Learners do so at their own pace, which allows them to absorb new grammatical and lexical phenomena as well as consolidate the ones already seen. Through constant reading, not only do students practice the language, but they also sharpen their critical thinking skills.

Why teach reading by means of technology?

Because students, especially the younger ones, may not find reading English books to be the best pastime in the whole world! But what if this book is read on an electronic reader? Even better, it may be one of the new interactive kind of e-books which allow the reader to tap on the characters and listen to something or find out the meaning of an unknown word online. Then, book reading stops being a chore or dull homework and turns into an exciting game! An educational game, nonetheless.

How it all works.

The slides I’ve provided contain pictures and links to posts describing how the book reading experience can be enhanced by the use of social media and other Web 2.0 applications together with a mobile device — such as the iPad, in my case.

After choosing a suitable story or book for a particular reading stage and age group, teachers can urge students to:

Conduct online research before reading and try to predict what the story will be about

Exchange ideas through emails or blog/ wiki posts about which books to read next.

Post comments on the class blog while reading a story.

Narrate the story they have read on the class blog using as much of the new words as possible.

Participate in reading competitions (which could, for example, be organized together with their e-pals as we have done with our French friends and their resourceful teacher, Aniella Lebeau)

Record their voices when acting the story.

Collect links and thoughts in a wiki dedicated to that purpose.

Create projects which combine texts and images concerning the book (depiction and description of their favourite scene is one of my students’ top preferences).

Prepare activities on the story as if they were the teachers so as to test their classmates. These will be finally published on a wiki or Issuu, turning the document into a beautiful online magazine.

Fill in handouts describing cause and effect relationships, the course of the story and its climax, character qualities and so on which can and will be published on the class blog for further discussion

You can find most of the book activities I have implemented here.

I hope you will feel free to add your own ideas by leaving a comment. Use your imagination. Given your imagination combined with what’s possible with technology, there are no limits to how creative we can be in ELT.

 

About Christina

Christina Markoulaki is an Athens university graduate and an EFL teacher in Maria Markaki Language School in Heraklion (Greece), where she was also born. She is fortunate enough to have been trusted with students of all ages and levels within her working years, their ages ranging from 5 to 50 years old! Using all types of modern technology along with traditional books to create new learning experiences is what fascinates her. In her free time, she relishes in blogging and cycling, while she never fails to attend her favourite book club sessions. All links concerning the school she works in can be found on this colourful glog!