Due to the limitation of the age, any theory may go rigid

After Neil Postman (1985) warned that “whether particular technologies teach students their ABCs and how to count is of minor importance compared what they teach students about learning and schooling, technology has experienced a significant change and continues to progress with an astounding pace. Technology is not constrained to the entertainment anymore, it has accelerated our life by reducing the time we spent on those mundane tasks. What Postman concerned that television would stop the social interaction or students could ask nothing of a television screen has been replaced and facilitated by cutting-edge electronic gadgets and their derivatives  -apps.

there is no doubt that the purpose of the audiovisual devices was originally to entertain audiences, but the contents presented by these devices could be harnessed by educators. Responding to the question posted by Alec, “How do personalized devices and tools like YouTube” I suppose that one way of the personalized YOUTUBE is to ask students to subscribe teachers’ well-chosen subscriptions or playlists targeted on class delivery which could narrow down the range in which students could reduce their workload  in searching background knowledge and they will give priority to  meaningful contents instead of being distracted by others irrelevant. 

According to my own teaching and learning experience,  almost all apps relevant to schooling education will fascinate students, particularly to those digital natives, and have the potential to grab and maintain their attention in ways that interacting with teachers, reading a book and brainstorming with peers, such activities can be enhanced. Nowadays, the forms of audio and visual are mainly deemed as the means of effective teaching, which is to say, those selected and reorganized knowledge contents via audiovisual gadgets are conveyed to students and this process helps promote a mentally stimulating and enjoyable classroom.

Whereas Postman claimed that television screen makes impossible the interaction with teachers and peers, things change as time goes by,  everything learned from social networking apps or online videos has formed a large part of digital natives’ daily lifestyles, furthermore, those things around social networking add them more topics in a real world.  As Hanming wrote in her blog post that we cannot be lazy teachers anymore, we should always keep an eye to what is new.  I want to extend this idea to my understanding that besides raising awareness of keeping updating teachers themselves, teachers can use students’ reliances to encourage collaborative learning. By combining technology-assisted learning with traditional methods of learning, this hybrid approach can inspire students as well as enlighten teachers when confronting the pressing problem of how to change their own roles in a digital classroom.

 

 

 

 

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Extensions provide more opportunities for both me and students acquiring authentic English

In order to improve students’ English proficiency and accuracy, I am always seeking those authentic materials to enhance this process.

When it comes to learning English, there will be a notion that learners are supposed to simulate those speaking or using authentic expressions. As I mentioned in my last post, there is less opportunity for students in China to have access to the contexts using English, still less could they immerse themselves in an authentic English environment. Where can I find some videos which could engage my classroom populations, thereby they could glean from those videos and then  we can simulate by organizing relevant classroom activities.

Yep, I know, people here will say, Sure Youtube is. But……

Some basic computer science knowledge equipped me and allows me to cross the block.

It’s an amazing world, so many English learning video clips I can stream on YouTube, like BBC learning English, very informative and well-organized teaching and learning materials are presented in front of me, but the question is how can I grab and put them into my classroom delivery, fortunately, I found this amazing website Clip Converter which enables those YouTube videos clips to be downloaded. This tool did help me a lot like I can re-edit those clips offline which make my teaching practice design more interesting, particularly, those video clips illustrating some basic knowledge in terms of telecommunication chemical engineering and mechanics engaged students majoring in relevant subjects. 

This video talks about the way in which how food waste the leftover processed by chemical means transfer to sources which can generate electricity.

Students found that in this video, this process can be described in some simple but authentic sentences as long as they are familiar with those chemical-related words.

On the following group presentation, students surprised me with their vivid hand-drawn boards and elaborately designed flow charts.  Some groups added some previous chemistry knowledge to enrich their presentation. so constructivism…

Although the English they were using is simple, at least they correlated their old knowledge within newly-acquired authentic English and represented it in real contexts. They have made huge progress.

These add-ons undoubtedly deserve much more explorations, when starting to design a technology-involved classroom.

 

 

 

What types of teaching and learning are best explained by constructivism

After completing my readings, I identify my teaching philosophy as constructivism. Looking back at the beginning of my teaching career, I was striving to integrate constructivism learning philosophy into my classroom. As quote by Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby (cited in Bednar et al., 1991) “An essential concept in the constructive view is that learning always takes place in a context and that the context forms an inexorable link with the knowledge embedded in it” It is my belief that an ESL classroom for communicative purposes should create English situations in meaningful environments, and in a certain cultural atmosphere, using real tasks and some daily activities or practices in the learning field to realize the transfer of knowledge in the classroom to the outside of the classroom.

In a teaching environment with communicative purposes and situational contexts, I am no longer a simple knowledge giver, but a person who facilitates the communication process. I will walk around the classroom, listen to students’ ideas and provide necessary help to guide students to enrich and adjust their understanding of knowledge. At the same time, I will encourage students to participate in the discussion with teachers and peers and prompt them to ask questions with each other.

In my first three years of the teaching career,  students always played a passive role, which greatly reduced the efficiency of English teaching. Given that English is a foreign language in China, students have little chance to use English after class, in-class participation is particularly important, constructivism in my teaching practice proves that establishing a teaching scenario (situation)  is an effective way to fully motivate students’ interest in learning, in such a vivid and effective teaching context, students complete a variety of communicative activities, and peer interaction, became an active participant.

I used to be a dictator, which means that students in my classroom were just people who accept knowledge. They just needed to listen to me carefully in the classroom to explain them each knowledge point and finished the task as I asked them to. On the contrary, when I introduced the constructivist teaching theory into my classroom, students naturally showed their distinct self-consciousness and active participation awareness, and their initiative was enhanced. Learning becomes the process in which students construct their own knowledge and interact with new and old knowledge.

Learners build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions. 

Students are not only the recipients of external information, but more importantly, they will actively choose, process and create that information. In classroom activities, I will encourage students to make some guesses and assumptions, and verify these assumptions through the construction of meaning in the context of language. Such a hypothesis-testing process is a very effective way to internalize grammar rules and acquire authentic expressions such as collocations.

However, at the same time, I have to admit that in the process of integrating constructivist philosophy into my English teaching practice, I also encountered some problems, such as how to establish a teaching scenario that is compatible with students’ existing knowledge structure, because if this scenario or situation is way too far beyond students’ the range of existing knowledge, which may frustrate their enthusiasm for learning.

There is “no best apps” but an innovative idea in Education Technology

When the term “TPACK” had been mentioned in last class, it reminded me of a piece of conversation between me and my wife. It runs as follows:

My wife:  If we would have children some time in the future, do you think it’s necessary to send them to  “after-school” classes. I am an accountant, which means I could be a mom tutoring their math homework and you, as an ESL teacher, are eligible enough to teach them. Sounds plausible, right?! At least, to start with, I was persuaded

At the very moment when I was about to sing praises of her smart opinion, TPACK came to my mind. As TPACK itself shows, every single alphabet in this acronym covers its own field.  TPACK is not the simple collection of three kinds of knowledge (technology,pedagogical and content knowledge),but an interwoven knowledge combination,  which forms a new type of knowledge byond all individual components. What we couple have equipped with is possibly the CK, namly Content Knowledge, furthermore, I do not think I am a qualified ESL teacher for children, because it demands more than teaching college students.

As an educator, I understand teaching is a sophisticated practice that requires many kinds of specialized knowledge. It would be difficult to achieve an effective classroom without pedagogical knowledge with respect to curriculum and instruction,  particularly, in this digital era, we need integrate technology knowledge(TK) into classroom delivery.

I prefer to regard a successful integration of technology in the classroom delivery as a process of taking pictures using a digital camera. There are many  excellent lenses adaptable to your camera, but if you are planning to shoot a splendid photo which could arouse the interest and attention of others, I suppose an idea of creativity and an in-depth perception towards the shooting subject matter more than any pricy lenses.  Simply relying on equipment cannot help you create a great picture, this  applies equally to the teaching practice assisted by  technology.  Numerous teacher assistant apps have emerged as technology progresses, but a technology involved classroom is not a context in which apps are piled up.  Sorting them out and finding those suitable to the teaching practice.  There is no “the best app”, only when an innovative mind brings these apps to a well-organized classroom delivery and flexibly employs them to achieve an effective teaching objective, would it be probably seen as impressive instructional tools.