There are many good uses for technology in all classrooms. Studies have shown it increases engagement and improves online literacy. In addition to teaching students necessary skills for their future academic, professional, and social lives, technology, when used purposefully and appropriately, can be a powerful tool for differentiation. Here are a few ways I use technology in my ICT ELA classroom:
In my ICT classroom, I have several students with speech and language disabilities who have difficulty keeping up during verbal discussions. When I would conduct Socratic seminars, these students were often unable to participate. This year, my co-teacher and I hosted an online discussion using www.Edmodo.com. We posted leveled question (beginning with recall and moving argument and analysis) and students had 10 minutes to respond using a quotation from the text to support their answers. The responses are in real time, so as soon as a student posts it is immediately available to everyone. This allows students with expressive or receptive language disorders to work through the questions and answers at their own pace. Students who finish the question quickly can post their own question or respond to a classmate.
Before beginning any unit, I ask student to build background knowledge through research projects. In groups of 2-4 students research a specific topic connected to the new material. Students enjoy searching online and learn independent metacognitive strategies (a student who struggles with reading can be trained to search for online videos and images, for example).
Online Writing Portfolio
The hardest thing about being an English teacher is the paperwork. There's homework, student notes, exit slips, attendance, tests, quizzes, and, most of all, essays. One of the dilemmas I've faced is what to do with student's graded essays. I'm a big proponent of getting specific feedback students can read through at their own pace and incorporate into later writing.
Realistically, I know the minute I return student papers they look directly at the grade and it goes into the abyss they call a backpack. To fix this (and save my own back), my co-teacher and I have students upload their completed essays to www.dropbox.com.
Each student has a folder, so it makes organization and tracking assignments easy. It also eliminates so much paperwork. We then download the essay, comment on it, and re-upload it for students to review. For an end of year assignment, the students will be choosing 2 essays to revise based on feedback and write an upload 2 reflections (one about connecting themes throughout texts we've read and one on their growth this year). Using Dropbox allows students to organize their work and review it more easily and when they feel necessary. As they move onto the next grade, they will have a few writing samples for their new teacher to review and diagnose breakdowns, allowing more easier initial assessments and differentiation. Students also get the personal satisfaction of seeing and reflecting on their improvement.
Castle Learning is basically an online database of multiple choice and open-ended questions across all middle and high school subjects. The site allows you to search public, already created assignments (a test for Fahrenheit 451, for example) or search for a specific kind of question on a specific subject (Constructed Response Questions about the Civil War). You can then go through the questions and choose to add as many as you would like to an assignment. This is especially helpful for Regents-based classes, as you can search any question asked on the Regents in the past 10 years. The site works as a great differentiation, too. Built into the system are read-aloud components and the ability for students to choose their language. The teacher can also set it to provide vocabulary support if students get a question incorrect before prompting them to try again. Students can log into the system from anywhere, meaning they can work on assignments at their own pace and with the appropriate accommodations.
Got any technology ideas that have worked for you to share?