The TechCHAT series invites teachers, media specialists and other educators from across the country and around the world to share how they’re using technology to enhance instruction and student learning.
Fabiana Casella is a Cambridge English Teacher Advisor in Argentina. Recently, she shared her experience as a cultural exchange educator using technology with Education World. She was very excited to share the technological resources she uses inside and outside of the classroom, and she offered some great insight into the importance of digital literacy.
1. How can teachers use tech to get organized and save time?
I have found the best organizer ever: Evernote, which helps you remember everything across all the computers, phones and tablets you use. You can also save ideas, tasks, projects, files and research; search by keyword or tag; and even find text inside images. Evernote Clipper lets you add, just by clicking, any link, article or URL that interests you.
To my disappointment, however, there is a limit for data storage. Right now, I am looking for a new storage tool like Popplet or Diigo, as both seem promising enough for a multitasking, connected educator like me!
There is also Dropbox, where you can easily store, share and access any kind of data from anywhere with this easy-to-use and free service. I find it really convenient to share material in our ELTeachers Facebook group. It is fast and saves a lot of time.
Google has so many applications. To mention a few: Google Calendar’s customized email and pop-up reminders are essential for me! LiveBinders: This tech tool is like a real-life three ring binder, which allows you to collect and organize resources. It also comes with a virtual whiteboard and tools to connect and collaborate.
2. What open-source Web 2.0 tools are most useful in the classroom? Why?
Edmodo and Padlet are my two number one ways to blend and/or flip my classes. I use Edmodo to post assignments, notes and alerts. My students write and answer most of them on Padlet, where they can upload answers to graphic organizers, write reports and articles, or post photos, videos and more.
To practice vocabulary, grammar and speaking I had students create avatars using Voki or GoAnimate; introducing themselves and meeting new friends are some of the topics. Students have fun and learn without much effort.
There are also fantastic classroom management tools for Smartboards such as ClassDojo and ClassCharts. Mobile phones or Smartphones are extremely useful if you learn how to use applications such as photo sharing for picture description, looking up vocabulary, voice and video recording dialogs, and conversations for exam practice.
3. What are some ways in which schools can address cyber-bullying?
Schools can address this problem by teaching digital citizenship skills together with families on a daily basis. One possibility could be making students sign a pledge to commit themselves to respect and show respect, welcome new members, express ideas appropriately and account for their disagreements with good manners.
Every individual should become aware of the threats and negative aspects of being online at the wrong time. It helps to teach caring, partnership, respect for others, love, peace and safety.
4. What tech stories in the news have provided teachable moments for students?
I have always used updated content in my classes. My instructions: Always come to class ready to share a piece of news you have read; vocabulary you have learned; and facts, events, dates and even people you have never heard of before.
Read articles from any local newspaper or newspaper Web site—for example, Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina has a “world of information in a few words.” Voice of America (VOA) posts news, with audio and video addressing top stories such as Japan’s earthquake, the Boston Marathon bombing, Queen Maxima of Holland, the new pope and more.
5. Which tech skills and literacies are most important for students to have in the 21st century?
Digital literacies include the ability to locate, organize, understand, create and evaluate digital technology. Students as well as teachers must be connected, work collaboratively, work independently in a timely manner, and not be afraid of trying new tech tools and approaches.