It’s a New Year, 2017, and time to start fresh. Continuing my Masters in Digital Education Leadership, this quarter we are focusing on how to incorporate ISTE Standards for Students in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. In 2016, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) release new student standards. Module 1 asks us to look closely at Standard 1: The Empowered Learner.
As an ELL teacher, I am frequently reminded that ELL students need intentional opportunities to practice oral language. My quest is to answer three questions.
- How can ELL students (grades 3-5) independently use technology to enhance their oral production and newly acquired vocabulary?
- What tools (programs, apps) are age appropriate?
- How can I support students with monitoring, tracking, and reflecting on their progress?
My initial search led me to an online text published by the British Council. The title alone excited me, “Innovations in learning technologies for English Language Learning”. The first chapter targeted digital technology with primary students. Not only did this allow me to explore countless app searches online, but it also solidified the importance for ELL teachers to intentionally support listening and speaking in the classroom. I connected with examples of creating digital books and was reminded of how powerful Digital Storytelling has become in my classroom. Inspired by case studies in the text, I now want to explore video conferencing. I could possibly begin with pairing up with another school in my district and allowing students to have authentic, meaningful conversations with other students, inspired by the topics that interest them.
My first implementation will be to introduce an app called Recap to my students. While reading my twitter feed, I saw this “Recap gives teachers a fun new way to collect video evidence of their students’ learning”. I see this tool as a timesaver. Students can spend less time writing and waiting for their peers to write, and more time in oral production and reflection. According to the sales pitch, Recap allows teachers to post a question and track students video submissions. These can be shared via email, which is great when you work with students who see various specialists / tutors.
In my search for assessment tools currently being used and discussed, I discovered Matt Renwick’s blog. His latest blogpost titled, Student Goal Setting in the Classroom, reminds me that I need to get know each student in order to help students set their own learning goals. One tool he mentions is FreshGrade. This got my attention, as I’m trying to move away from paper for tracking student progress. FreshGrade is a free app that allows teachers to document student work through documents, photos, and video. But more than that, it allows students to create a digital portfolio of work they’ve selected, and connects to standard 1a and 1c.
This connects with my search for student tracking and reflecting. Rather than having papers that students sort through, they are able to have some autonomy and choose evidence they feel is strong that demonstrates their learning and understanding. In addition to student access, parents can also have access. Like Recap, Freshgrade offers email options. I see this as beneficial for specialists who can bring a digital portfolio to I.E.P. meetings or parent conferences.
One of our readings this week focused on effective feedback. This made me reflect on how can I support my students with their digital portfolio. Grant Wiggins sums up effective feedback with seven key features. Of these seven, I was reminded of how I can be more intentional with my feedback: using peer feedback, keep feedback actionable, and timely. I see digital portfolios as a possible way to improve my time management. For some students whose parents have internet access, tools like Recap and Freshgrade will allow parents to also provide timely feedback to their children.
What challenges do I have as I attempt to shift to digital portfolios and video assessment? Right away, my mind jumps to lack of access. By piecing together devices, I have 3 android tablets, 1 iPad, 1 MacBook, and 5 desktop computers. I have one external mic that syncs with the desktops. I do not have enough devices to have all students record at the same time. In addition to access is the open concept design of my building. Working next to another grade level means their noise level may be appropriate for their activity, but then is picked up on the recording in my room.
I’m excited to try these apps and see what happens. If they prove successful in my classroom, I hope to be able to share them with other staff in my building and district. We need to move beyond teachers being accountable for tracking student progress and allow students to share their own progress using a medium that showcases their level of understanding.
Wiggins, G. (2012, September). 7 keys to effective feedback. Education Leadership. 70 (1).
Innovations in learning technologies for english language teaching. (2013). London, UK: The British Council. Retrieved from http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/attachments/british_council_innovations_in_learning_technologies_for_elt.pdf
Millington, N. T. (2016, June). Speed-chat: A minimal resource activity to get your learners talking. Retrieved January 16, 2017, from http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/neil-t-millington/speed-chat-a-minimal-resource-activity-get-your-learners-talking?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=bc-teachingenglish
Renwick, M. (2017, January 15). Student goal setting in the classroom. Retrieved from https://mattrenwick.com/2017/01/15/student-goal-setting-in-the-classroom/
You Requested…. Recap Delivered. (2017, January 13). Retrieved January 16, 2017, from https://thebnp.org/2017/01/13/you-requested-recap-delivered/