by Leong Siew Lee @ Iris
Nowadays and more than ever, teachers are expected to integrate digital technology in their classroom practices to help students learn better, faster, and more effectively. Fortunately, I was introduced to some Web 2.0 tools during a series of trainings organised by the Going Digital community. Through these trainings, I learned how to adopt these technology practices in my English language lessons. Using Web 2.0 tools to prepare my Form 6 students for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) has produced encouraging results. Through this experience, I also learned that in order for my teaching to remain relevant in this age and time, it is necessary for me to understand the students’ needs and to keep myself updated with the latest technology tools and its application in language education. In this article, I aim to share a few useful Web 2.0 tools which I have utilised in my MUET classroom.
This video has inspired me greatly.
As an educator, I believe it is crucial for me to bridge the generation gap between myself and my students. Throughout the years, I have been using materials which were mostly static and text-based such as reference books, lecture notes and handouts. Personally, I am willing to move out of my comfort zone in order for teaching and learning to take place successfully in my MUET lessons. I believe using Web 2.0 tools in my language lessons can increase motivation, decrease anxiety, foster more student-centred activities, and provide some fun in improving my students’ performances in MUET.
My first step was to determine which appropriate Web 2.0 tools to use in order to create a more engaging, interactive and motivating learning environment for my lessons. I found that the use of the following Web 2.0 tools can add interactivity to my language teaching and enhance the learning environment in my classroom.
Why these tools?
Malaysian University English Test (MUET) was introduced to enhance the students’ command of English in a holistic approach. The Web 2.0 tools that I have chosen for my MUET lessons offer the opportunities for students to interact, to collaborate with one another, to enhance creative and critical thinking, and to experience learning in fun and engaging ways.
During the initial stages, the students were introduced to a few of the digital tools that I used in the MUET lessons. Preparing these activities using the tools took time as I was a ‘newbie’ as far as digital technology is concerned. It could be an age factor, too (I’m 50-ish).
I know that many people would say that age is just a number. However, I believe it is important for me to be honest about how much I struggled with this.
All I am trying to say is this: with determination, nothing is impossible!
To conduct the lesson activities, I let my students use the Chromebooks available in our school’s computer lab. As all instructions were already included in each and every tool, all I had to do during the class was monitor and facilitate as the students go about completing all the tasks I gave them. This strategy truly enhanced the student-centredness of the learning activities.
See below for some examples of lesson activities and the tools I used for each one:
Set Induction (Warm-Up)
My students accessed the tool called AnswerGarden to brainstorm ideas about the topic learned for that day. The tool auto-generate a word cloud based on the students’ responses to the questions. See an example here.
Listening and Writing
Padlet is another awesome tool for brainstorming and for eliciting responses from students. In this example, I embedded an audio clip that the students would have to listen to and comment on.
To check the students’ understanding of a topic, I like to use the Kahoot! quiz. See some examples of Kahoot! quizzes here.
Since I gave a lot of group assignments, I introduced Google Drive as a platform for my students to upload documents and share them with their group members. My students also learned how Google docs can make it easier for them to do collaborative writing, since editing can be done online and changes can be saved in ‘real-time.’
After attending the Going Digital trainings, I could not wait to experiment with all the digital technology tools and integrate them into my teaching. My friends in the Going Digital community were able to convert me into a somewhat ‘tech-savvy’ teacher. As a result of all the sharing, I have a firm belief that all these digital tools, if used appropriately, can have tremendous impacts on my students’ performances.
I am deeply grateful that the MUET lessons which I conducted using the Web 2.0 tools had been successful in creating fun and engaging learning experiences for my students. On top of that, my students’ MUET results showed encouraging improvements as the number of students who scored Band 4 and Band 5 had increased dramatically.
(Note: During the writing of this article, Iris’ school recorded a 50% increase in the number of students who scored Band 5, and a 33% increase in the number of students who scored Band 4 compared to the previous year).
What's Next? Creating Ripples
As I love to tell the other members of the Going Digital community, by dropping just a single pebble, countless ripples can form in an otherwise still water. Whenever I experimented with one thing, it opened the doors to other things. It just went on and on.
A few years have lapsed since I last attended the Going Digital trainings. Since then, a lot of newer, more exciting, more sophisticated, and more efficient tools have appeared. The tools that I shared in this article, though might be a bit outdated to some, still serve quite useful purposes if utilised in the right manner.
Furthermore, the main focus of Going Digital is not on the tools per se, but rather on the thinking that goes behind the selection of tools, and how the tools are integrated with the right pedagogy and lesson content.
My aim now is to spread the word about the affordances of digital technology in language teaching to as many teachers as possible. May this “quest into the unknown world of digital technology” inspire other teachers (especially those in my cohort, i.e. the ‘golden 50-ish’) to start exploring the potentials that digital technology can offer – if they have not already.
References / Useful Links
To see more examples of how Iris integrate Web 2.0 tools in her language lessons, go here.
To learn more about Malaysian University English Test (MUET), go here.
Published on: 8 November 2020
Leong Siew Lee, or more fondly known as Iris among her friends, has 30 years of teaching experience under her belt. She started as a primary school teacher in 1990. In 2002, she moved to teaching English in secondary schools. Iris now teaches Form 6 (Pre-University) English at SM All Saints, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. She believes that it is important for teachers to never stop learning new things, regardless of how experienced they are, or how long they have been in this profession.
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