Friday, April 3, 2015

Balancing the Task with the Tool:

I don't know about you, but with the glut of edtech tools, it's always a toss-up as to what is useful, and what adds to the stress of my students actually learning. With beginner ESL students, the additional challenge lies in explaining how to use the tech tool, along with incorporating their learning task(s), language expectations, and some relevance to keep them motivated. At the same time, it provides an authentic vehicle for them to learn English, as they follow instructions and ask questions during each step. (I must give a shout-out to my colleague, Sarah Troester's unwitting inspiration, who created her own SpanTech class years ago, to teach Spanish through technology!)

 ThingLink is one tool my students enjoy learning, and I wanted to share one way we assessed their knowledge and understanding through a deceptively simple student-centered, tech-integrated task. To review their knowledge of rooms in the house, items of furniture found in specific rooms, and imagining what "could be", then putting it all into words and sentences, students uploaded photos of their Dream Homes into ThingLink. From there, they found images of rooms and furniture, and as you can see, their interests certainly drove the creation of their product. It was exciting for me to watch them work and find "just the right" image to align with the vision in their mind.

 When I wonder about the applicability of tech tools and whether the effort to use them will transform their learning, I refer to the SAMR model. Kathy Schrock has a bevy of charts and tools here to help guide those of you who are in a similar questioning boat. One of my favorite images on the webpage was designed by @jenroberts1, and is entitled "Tech". I've included it at the end of this post, but please check Kathy's website for TONS of other SAMR links and images.


How do you balance the task with the tech tool in your classes, especially with new language learners?

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