Number one for English language teachers

IATEFL scholarship 2016: Winning entry: Michelle McDonnell-de Graaf

Congratulations to Michelle McDonnell-de Graaf, winner of our IATEFL 2016 scholarship! Based in Holland, Michelle has been teaching English and training teachers for over 10 years. Read her inspiring entry below.

ose iatefl scholarship 2016 620x200

I have to admit I used to struggle with the use of technology in the classroom. I had two major problems, firstly I used to feel like I was competing with the laptop or smart phone for the attention of my students. When I used the technology during the lesson, the atmosphere changed; there was very little interaction between my students and me, and even less interaction between the students themselves. My other problem was designing my lesson plans; I was doing things just because it was possible; it was possible to use a game based digital platform to test students’ knowledge, to create a virtual wall, to use devices for the whole lesson. I was in awe of these possibilities and I often found the choice of tools and devices overwhelming.

I wanted to use technology to improve my lessons but I felt like the technology was beginning to control the learning outcomes of my students. In order to combat this I needed to develop criteria to support me in assessing which devices and tools I was going to use. I devised this based on my current teaching principles and the needs of my students. I have developed the following criteria: the technology needs to stimulate interaction between students, it must offer variation in skills and content, it needs to allow access to authentic language, it must stimulate autonomy in the students, and finally it needs to stimulate creativity and depth in the students’ tasks and activities.

So what have been the consequences for my lessons? “Virtual walls”(Padlet) are used for warming up activities; everyone’s opinion is on the wall for everyone to read and comment on. I get students to create their own “game based digital platforms” (Kahoot) to show what they know and test each other. They use cloud documents to create their tasks, allowing for clear and effective peer feedback. The student’s written or spoken work is put in the cloud, and three other students are invited to assess this work. They make notes about the content, the grammar, and the spelling, they give compliments and constructive criticism. The advantage of working in the cloud and sharing the document is that the students are able to see who has written what. These documents are then used during a final assessment with me, we have a short chat about the students’ work, they comment on their peer feedback and I give my opinion, finally we use this moment to reflect on their progress and formulate new learning goals.

Ironically enough although my classroom has changed enormously my main teaching principle has stayed the same “the one who does the talking does the learning’ (Vygotsky). What has changed is how I assess the technology: I determine if a device or tool is being used, and also when and why. Technology is enabling the most important factor in the classroom still to be the relationships between me and my students, even in our 21st century classroom.

Rate this resource (5 average user rating)

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

You must be signed in to rate.

  • Share

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup