In this day and age, the vast majority of students from elementary school and up are very comfortable with technology. In fact, it is not too unusual for some students to feel more comfortable with using it than their teachers.
So how can this knowledge on the student's part be used in the classroom to enhance learning? Students might create movies on a specific project assignment. If they are studying the American Civil War, they might make a "documentary" where they "interview" soldiers from both sides, runaway slaves, abolitionists, etc. If they are studying English literature, they might develop a "movie trailer" for movie based on the assigned novel. If studying ecology, they might create a presentation packed with facts and documents to deliver a winning sales pitch for a company to buy their "product." If studying mathematics, they could use math to design a new type of shopping mall or energy efficient home in 2050. In any discipline, have students teach a section of a lesson. I have done this in reviewing for tests and found students quite thorough in preparing their fellow classmates for the formal assessment. The list is endless.
Activities such as these have the potential to involve all students. This means that ELLs will be able to become full participants in the learning process and, in doing so, continue to develop their use of English as well as their understanding of the content. Classwork of this nature uses the text as foundation or jump-off point from which imagination and application take over with ease. Once the concepts of the lesson are tied to the real world for students, all students, they will always remember them---every teacher's hope and dream.
COLLABORATIVE LEARNING IN THE TECH CLASSROOM In this classroom video set in Hayward, California, educator Kate Summers has her students teach each other chemistry concepts using Google features such as Google docs (single documents can have multiple contributors at any time of the day or night), Google excel, Google power point, etc. Along with the tech side of the assignment, students had to also create various note-taking worksheets for their peers to use in watching and listening to presentations.
Bring into your class the tech tools your students already know how to use and you will be amazed at what they do to demonstrate their grasp of the lesson:)
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