ELLevation: A Tool for Educators of ELLs

So, you need to conduct an analysis of ELP assessments for English Language Learners. Or maybe you’d like to restructure your ELL data collection and monitoring process. For many educators, entering and retrieving this information from a student information system can be a daunting and complex process.

ELLevation is a web-based software platform that supports the unique needs of ESL students by providing unique online tools to increase effective instruction, productivity, and collaboration among educators.

ELLevation is the first of its kind to integrate a comprehensive platform just for English Language Learners. It allows educators of ELLs to align instruction to data, monitor student growth, and facilitate collaboration between ESL and classroom teachers.  Imagine the possibilities when ESL and classroom teachers can set goals and create action plans that include instructional methods in the classroom.

Check out the innovative features of this program at http://ellevationeducation.com/

 

 

Mastery Learning and Content Creation on the iPad

By Heather Parris-Fitzpatrick

In this era of testing , it’s a good time to reflect on the elements of  Mastery Learning as an instructional model and see how it may benefit the 21st century English Language Learner. ESL students of every proficiency level can benefit from this approach.

ELLs routinely participate in standardized assessments that are designed for native language speakers.  Oftentimes these students cannot accurately demonstrate their mastery of a topic without yet having mastery of the English language.

With the iPad and a mastery learning approach students can create dynamic and entertaining multimedia presentations that can be used as alternative assessments that inform instruction.

Most mastery learning concepts come from Benjamin Bloom who coined the term. Mastery learning is based on individualized instruction that is targeted and informed by data. Teachers use frequent formative assessment to monitor student progress and provide high quality, corrective instruction to improve student achievement.

Bloom introduced the concept based on the premise that even though students have various learning rates and modalities, if teachers provide the necessary time and appropriate learning conditions, nearly all students can reach a high level of achievement. Research has consistently linked the elements of mastery learning to highly effective instruction and student learning success (Guskey 2010).

This approach is a natural choice for ESL students who are often faced with rigorous content demands while struggling at the same time to acquire English proficiency. As ELL advocates, we know that our ELLs need alternative strategies to access content and they are not always able to demonstrate their content knowledge through traditional means of assessment.

The iPad provides the multimedia support for content that ELLs need and also allows ELLs to demonstrate mastery of a topic, regardless of their English proficiency.

The simplest way for students to demonstrate mastery is to use the built in video camera and have students create short direct instruction videos on a topic they have mastered. Another option is to use traditional tools like PowerPoint or Keynote on the iPad to create multimedia presentations.

Finally, there are many useful apps that incorporate images, video, audio, writing and drawing to create interactive multimedia presentations and videos. I’ve listed some of them in the table below.

Guskey, T. R. (October 2010) Lessons of mastery learning. Educational Leadership,68 (2),52-57. Retrieved from  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct10/vol68/num02/Lessons-of-Mastery-Learning.aspx

Educreations is a recordable interactive whiteboard that captures your voice and handwriting to produce video lessons that you can share online. Students and colleagues can replay lessons in any web browser, or from within the app on theiriPads. There is also a community showcase on the homepage or the “Featured” tab in the iPad app to view lessons that other teachers have created withEducreations.

Audioboo is an application for recording and sharing your voice with the world. This free version allows you to create audio up to 3 minutes in length and post that to your own account on the web. You can add titles, tags, geolocation info and a photo to the recording before you upload it and it will save all that with the file. The audio can then be shared with your followers or via Facebook, Twitter & other social networks by managing your account at http://audioboo.fm.

Story Kit is an iPhone app created by the International Children’s Library Foundation. This app allows users to create their own digital book that includes video and voice recordings, images, drawings and text. The book is stored on the apps bookshelf to be edited or read at any time.  

Videolicious allows users to create videos without having significant editing expertise. Users choose from videos and photos stored on their iPad, place them in order and then stitch together that media. It enables them to use transitions, visual effects, and logos. Once users have picked the media they want to use, all they have to do is tap the videos while narrating over them, and they can later add soundtracks.

Explain Everything lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations andpresentations.Explain Everything records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote fromDropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration.

 

Discovery Education and the iPad: Long Island Day of Discovery

Today we had the opportunity to present at the Discovery Education Day of Discovery Conference.  We explored techniques for building a mobile learning environment and ways to use digital media in creating content on the iPad.  It was exciting to demonstrate how digital media and web 2.0 tools remove boundaries and promote academic achievement for ELLs.  The iPad and other tablet computers can support the use of Discovery Education streaming and allow ELLs to access academic content in a whole new way.

We enjoyed engaging with those educators working hard with ELLs and all struggling learners.  Here are just a few recommended apps that were shared during our session:

  • Roadshow – Collect web videos and play them back anytime
  • Language Builder – A rich environment for improving language development
  • ScreenChomp – Sharing tools used to create a sharable, replay-able video
  • ShowMe – Record voice-over whiteboard tutorials and share them online
  • Videolicious – Create a video combining videos, photos, music, and stories
  • Audioboo – Create audio and post to your own account on the web
  • SlideShark – View and share PowerPoint presentations on the iPad

 

 

 

Creating Educational Experiences: The iSchool Initiative

Recently we had the opportunity to attend a mobile learning expo with guest speaker Travis Allen of iSchool Initiative.  This young man shared an amazing timeline of events that led him to create the iSchool Initiative.

This student-led, non-profit organization is dedicated to raising awareness for technology needs in our schools.  Travis spoke passionately of his interest in helping others create educational experiences like those that have changed and improved his own college career.

Travis stated, educators must find, filter, and apply technology into the classrooms. The impact of technology and mobile learning in schools continues to broaden opportunities for ELLs.

How will you use technology to create these educational experiences for ELLs?

For more information on the iSchool Initiative: http://ischoolinitiative.org/

Flipping the Classroom for ELLs

Why the blended learning model is a good choice

One of the latest trends in the education world is blended learning. So what is blended learning and how can it help English Language Learners? The term blended learning has been used in education for many years. It involves the integration of traditional classroom instruction and educational technologies and can take different forms.  Nowadays, the newest model is the flipped classroom.

In a flipped learning environment, the traditional format of in-class lectures followed by at-home student assignments is turned around or “flipped”.  The student is required to watch an instructional video or lecture at home and then complete associated tasks or projects in the classroom.  While students work through assignments in class, teachers can better identify and target each student’s needs and facilitate differentiated instruction.

Another objective of this individualized approach is to empower students to direct their own learning by coming to class prepared to ask questions and problem solve with their peers after viewing the subject matter on their own.

For English language learners the model has some obvious advantages. While watching a video at home, students can take notes, work at their pace and re-watch the video as many times as necessary.  Watching video naturally lends itself to language learning, since the visual content is more readily accessible to students of all proficiency levels than complex textbook syntax and vocabulary.

The next day, teachers can spend less time lecturing in the front of the room (a la “chalk and talk”) and have more time to spend engaged with students, giving more personalized instruction, while the students use class time to complete tasks alone or collaboratively.

This brings me to the next and perhaps the most important advantage of the flipped classroom for ELLs.  When English language learners are given more opportunities to interact with their peers in class, opportunities to think critically, and use English to connect authentically with others to acquire knowledge increases dramatically.  

To read more about the flipped classroom and blended learning visit the following links:

http://mindshift.kqed.org/2012/02/whats-blended-learning-ask-salman-khan/

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/02/09/a-first-hand-look-inside-a-flipped-classroom/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning#cite_note-Horn.2C_Michael_B._2011-1

The World Beyond Our Classroom Walls: Online Resources

Whether you are a first year teacher or a veteran teacher, we know that the demand to meet the needs of English Language Learners is no easy task.  ELLs face increasing academic challenges along with language learning demands.   

As educators, it is essential that we create windows in our classrooms.  Windows that allow students to see information and to access the world beyond our classroom walls.  Windows that give English Language Learners opportunities to engage with their peers, teachers, and the world.

Here at ESL Techies, we are constantly searching for new and innovative instructional strategies and methodologies that promote discovery and engagement in the classroom.  Here are a few online resources for educators of ELLs:

http://www.everythingesl.net/ - K-12 resources, lesson plans and teaching tips

http://www.colorincolorado.org/ - a bilingual site for families and educators of ELLs

http://www.learner.org/ - educational video resources and professional development 

http://www.bogglesworldesl.com/ - printable worksheets and educational resources 

 http://www.eslhq.com/ - free ESL flashcards, worksheets and teaching resources

http://bigdealbook.com/ - interactive web environments, free materials, and resources

http://www.readwritethink.org/ - free classroom resources, lessons, and interactives

 http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html - published educational material online

 

Long Island Technology Summit 2011

How can technology help engage students to learn content? 

As educators, we know that engaging ESL students is key to academic and linguistic success.  We are faced with the daily task of teaching grade level content in a language that poses many challenges.

Dr. Michael Nagler, Superintendent of Mineola Schools, presented a workshop entitled, What Are 21st-Century Skills Anyway?   Though, the workshop was not limited to the needs of ELLs, there were many points that Dr. Nagler shared that highlighted the challenges for all learners. 

Dr. Nagler stated that, “technology is the tool of engagement and we must stop teaching content and start engaging students in the content.”  During this discussion, he described that the order of Bloom’s Taxonomy was now reversed.  With information being readily available, students must learn metacognition – “think about thinking and how they are learning.” 

Today’s student is growing up in a world much different than ours. Educators continue to use traditional teacher-centered methods of instruction; this is a fundamental contradiction to the way our students learn. For many of these students, even the pace of technological advances will even make digital natives into digital immigrants.  What is certain is that 21st century skills remove boundaries and promote academic success for ELLs  and for all students.

So how do we change the way we teach content and how do we use technology to leverage it?  Give students the ability to become problem solvers and critical thinkers.  Don’t give the content, but start with the end first through methods such as project-based learning.  Technology must be used as the tool that provides a means to the end.

Special Apps for Special Needs

Using Mobile Devices with Limited English Proficient/Special Education Students

More and more school districts are investigating the use of mobile devices such as the iPad to facilitate learning and instruction for LEP/ELLs in Special Education settings. As K -12 teachers continue to adopt 21st century learning models, curiosity is growing over the integration of mobile devices into the classroom and the practical applications of these new tools.

LEP/ELL students with special education needs present a distinct challenge: how are the language needs met while also addressing various required learning accommodations? One of the key reasons why teachers are exploring mobile devices is that they provide ways to differentiate content and accommodate a variety of learning needs and styles.  This is especially true when planning instruction based on the unique needs of a special education student as delineated in his or her IEP. Educators are discovering that mobile devices come with wealth of applications that assist struggling learners and many of these devices have built in accessibility options. 

The number of quality educational applications continues to grow daily.  These apps can be downloaded onto an iPhone, iTouch, iPad as well as any Android device.  Let’s take a look at just a few of the apps that make mobile devices so unique and so useful for LEP/ELL Special Education students.

Here is a list of applications that are designed for use in Special Education settings:

IEP Checklist -Provides a list of items (with description and ed code) to complete for an IEP

Proloquo2Go Full AAC solution with over 7000 symbols, natural sounding voices, automatic conjugation, and more.

DAF Assistant Delayed auditory feedback and frequency shifting to help improve stuttering.

Sign 4 Me With more than 11,500 words in the library, you can learn signed English from a 3D avatar.

Sign Smith ASL With more than 1,200 signs, you can learn American Sign Language from a 3D avatar.

iCommunicate Pre-loaded pictures and storyboards/routines (e.g.,schedule) facilitate language comprehension.

Other Classroom Management Tools:

iReward With this motivation chart, choose the behavior, the reward from your camera or photos, and optional praise.

Dragon Search Voice recognition to speak, see and edit your text, then search on Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, iTunes, & Twitter.

iWriteWords In easy or regular mode, trace numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters using numbered prompts.

MindMeister Create, view, and edit mind maps, then share them to a website to view and edit further.

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: The Advantages of Mobile Technology

Nothing could have prepared Dorothy for the events that were to take place during her journey to see the Wizard of Oz; but, what if Dorothy had GPS to guide her home?  What if her smartphone had allowed her to make a few calls?  If only Dorothy had the capabilities of WiFi or Bluetooth, she would have used her small, portable device and “dreamt” up a quicker way of getting home.

In today’s world, information is ubiquitous and students are accustomed to fast-paced easy access to information – when they want it and wherever they want it.  Mobile technologies maximize communication in environments never before imagined.  Just like Dorothy, our students are in a new world and need to use technology to navigate their journey.

Smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, and laptops allow teaching and learning to take place inside and outside of the classroom.  These technologies strengthen interactions between students and teachers and support differentiation of instruction for English Language Learners.    

English Language Learners bring the world into our classroom.  As Milton Chen explained at the 2011 Celebration of Teaching & Learning Conference, the key to educational innovation is to make School life = Real life.  As educators, we must provide our multicultural English Language Learners with authentic learning experiences that provide “real life” communication and relevance to their own lives. 

Here are a few apps that allow students to access information whether they are inside or outside of the classroom.

Dictionary.com app delivers trusted reference content from Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. No internet connection is needed to search nearly 1,000,000 words and more than 90,000 synonyms and antonyms in the thesaurus. 

SAT Vocabulary Visuals and Audios app includes unique illustrations for thousands of SAT words and explains their meanings using audios from professional narrators. This app translates words in Spanish, French, Chinese and 50 other languages.

iTranslate app translates words and whole words in sentences in 52 languages, and uses text to speech with 43 voices in 16 languages. iTranslate now includes voice recognition and an exclusive conversation and 18 free voices.

Star Walk app allows the user to point the iPad or iPhone at the sky and see what stars, constellations, and satellites you are looking at in real-time.  Star Walk also allows you to find information on stars, planets, and satellites. 

Leafsnap app is the first in a series of electronic field guides being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution. This app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.

Moon Globe app turns your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a precision instrument for viewing Earth’s Moon.  Hold the Moon in your hands. Satellite imagery and topographic laser altimeter data are combined to render the Moon with realistic lighting in realtime 3D.

 

 

 

 

iPad Training for Teachers: It’s all about the Apps

We recently conducted a three-day workshop for teachers who are using iPads with kids in grades K-12. Although all of the teachers worked with ELLs, some of the teachers were ESL teachers, others taught ELA, Math, Social Studies, or Special Education.  You get the picture.  We were all over the map as far as our audience was concerned.

So,  the obvious question is how do we train teachers from such a wide variety of settings to use the iPad effectively in their classroom? This answer lies at the very core of what makes the iPad so unique: differentiation through apps!

Once the initial how-to session about the functions and features of the iPad is completed, the emphasis must switch. Professional developers must model differentiation for the teachers, just as they would do for the students in the classroom, through the use of solid apps.

This begins by exploring applications that are truly educational and useful for each teacher in their subject area or focus. First share the apps that are basic tools for instruction such as reference tables, calculators, readers, and dictionaries.  Introduce apps like iBooks, Stanza, Periodic Table of Elements, Google Earth, and CalcMadeEasy.  

If you are part of a district wide initiative using iPads, there should be one set of student tools for managing notebooks, submitting classwork and studying for all students.  You must decide as a class which tools you will all use.  Index Card is a great app that allows users to customize flash cards and organize them into categories for studying. 

Ideally teachers should create a paperless system. (Can you imagine a world where you do not have to carry home 5 classes worth of assignments on Friday night?) By allowing students to submit their work via the iPad, teachers begin to model one of the true 21st Century learning protocols.

 The buzz at ISTE 2011 was that Evernote works very well for this and is a robust app for creating, storing, and sharing documents.  The native app Notes is a simpler note-taking tool.  Of course, you always have the option to print out assignments when necessary.

As for instruction, remember that oftentimes the best apps cross over into many disciplines. For example, after we distributed our best apps list for ELLs, a teacher shared with us her best apps for Special Ed and we discovered a whole new bunch of apps that can be used with a variety of students. Apps for brainstorming and mindmapping such as iThoughtsHD and Popplet are universal tools for differentiated instruction.

Finally, teachers have to establish a classroom routine that works for them and their teaching style. Whether you have an iPad center a few times a week, or each student uses an iPad every day, the priority must be to set up classroom rules about how and when the iPad is used to achieve the instructional goals the teacher has designed.