Technology makes reading better

readingTeachThought always comes up with good posts and this one about technology aiding reading is really worth the read. Terry Heick has analysed and articulated the benefits of reading with technology and how it actually works. There is also a list of apps for close reading. E-readers certainly aid reading development because there is quick and easy access to an e-dictionary as you read. When you are trying to learn a language then the dictionary facility is vital to ensure you do not skip over words you don’t understand. As a teacher of French I can isolate expressions, words and really focus on language development, improvement and linguistic competence because I have a whole range of tools to break down sentence structure, paragraphing and vocabulary. I can so easily shine the light on what needs to be learned . Technology offers tools to create linguistic diversity and depth.

A view from the top

Or on high. Not all students speak English as a first language and so I have tried to use two common expressions which mean the same. I made this video to be part of our flipped classroom discovery learning this year. As I explained before, there are plenty of things for French, which is my current subject area and so I thought to put my English teacher hat on and see how I would approach that from a digital perspective. A view from the top/on high was a homework exercise which I used to set as an Englsih teacher and the students always loved it. I would have to use class time to explain what I meant and what I was looking for. It has to be very descriptive so the reader can easily imagine what the person is looking down upon. Students would walk up to favourite place where they had a good view, or sit on top of a ladder (safely) or a chest of drawers. They loved the challenge of finding the vantage point. Now, with technology, I can show them the sorts of things they could view and they could use their own images or images from the internet to inspire their writing. Depending on the class, I could ask for more than 250 words. We’d look at how they had described their views and how we could make them even better. With laptops they could work in little groups and show each other the views, read the description and then get feedback. I’d take it further and get them to make a video presentation to show the difference between written and visual literacy. Having made this I realised it is so handy as a teacher to have banks of eletronic resources. It helps fill gaps if teachers are away. It takes the strain off your voice. It means you can use class time to explore and expand ideas and skills. I enjoyed making this. It made me focus on what I was trying to do and I was learning more about Pinnacle Studio as I went but I was also working across devices which made it more interesting and challenging for me. Technology forces you to problem solve and create at the same time. It forces you to work in a multidisciplinary way and it makes you far more particular about thinking content out.

WordSmyth

WordSmyth is a very comprehensive online dictionary for English (with Spanish support) which runs at 3 levels and has a WordSmythpicture dictionary for those who need visual support in their vocabulary learning. You can add a widget so you can look up any word on any web page and there are parental controls if you need them. There is also educational support and opportunities to create word quizzes and vocabulary tests. The site has a very comprehensive free version then there is a paid subscriber version which might interest you.The school support is free. Their own clarification of this is the best thing to consult. The site is being developed to create sound educational underpinning for vocabulary learning and online dictionary use. All the words are pronounced and the contextual examples of meaning are really helpful.

All about English

Everything you could possibly want to know about the  English language with maps, a video and then wider information.With technology you can get a far better picture of what a language actually is than ever before.  Just go to this link on Vox. English has more non native speakers than native speakers, a myriad of accents and dialects, and literature from numerous cultures and yet our impression is often that English is some static language which has one source. The maps explain its origin and then its global usage. I got the link from the We Are Teachers Facebook page .It ‘s a great resource for the classroom so that students can see and understand how and where English is being used and exactly how the language came about. The video gives you some idea of the numerous British accents. If you are interested to know the most widely spoken languages, the top 10 are on Daily News Dig.

More practical help

online resourcesSometimes you need to fill in a learning gap. Sometimes you need to help a particular student with a particular skill. Online services can meet these needs if you know where to look. Online services are available 24/7 and can be accessed from any web enabled device. No one has to wait for knowledge to come to them and no teacher has to be out of resources for ever complex classes. I have picked some more sites which will help, in particular with English, but the first two cover other subject areas as well.

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