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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Technology for ESL

| Ban Technology From the Classroom - Stay in the Dark Ages
By:Kimberly Wagner

Technology has no place in the English classroom. We are teaching students to read and write, and all that techno crap is just a distraction and time waster. Instead of getting down to the important basics of language, teachers are giving creative technology-based assignments that take a great deal more time than studying language construction and conventions using a pencil and paper.

Okay, so that's not really my opinion, but it is a conglomerate of opinions that I have heard purported by educators - actually really excellent teachers who are concerned about the effect that technology is having on students' ability to effectively communicate in the formal written form.

Although I agree that it takes more time, I do believe that technology has become a pervasive element of our society. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a non-profit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues facing the U.S., children are regular users of social media:

Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time 'media multitasking' (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours. ( Source )

The use of technology as a regular, natural part of a young person's life cannot be ignored as an important factor as to whether technology should be incorporated into the language classroom.

It's obvious that as a group they must love technology, so isn't it also a logical conclusion that using technology in the classroom would produce greater engagement in the learning?

Lauren Grossberg describes a lesson in which elementary students who are just beginning to learn about the solar system can ask questions of BrainPOP characters using Twitter. The characters from this popular educational website answer their questions in the tweet format ( Learning Today ).

Social media like Facebook and Twitter could be used to communicate with persons related to the course content. Authors often have accounts in one or both of these platforms. Send them a message asking questions. Visit websites. Read articles. Make comments. In the process of using this social media, students will be practicing skills.

I have a discussion board assignment where students must discuss a weekly posted question on the novel they are required to read at home during the course. Students feel quite conscientious about what they write as they know that others in the class will be reading and judging their work. They were quite concerned with their language conventions.

There are ways to meaningfully include technology in the English classroom.

What ideas have you used in your classroom to incorporate technology in meaningful ways that do not compromise good language teaching?

Kimberly Wagner teaches English Literature and Language in Ontario, Canada. She is qualified to teach with an Ontario Bachelor of Education at the Junior, Intermediate and Senior levels; she also has her Specialist in English as well as Intermediate History qualifications. Over the last 14 years, she has taught all high school grades and levels of English in the Ontario public school system. She would like to give her 21st century perspective on the teaching of English/Language Arts! She has a blog about English teaching and resources at http://cheekylit.com

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