TC Quick Tip: 4 Websites for Tech-Savvy Teachers
by Tara Arntsen
Audience: All levels
Teachers should develop their technological skills regardless of the subject they teach. By using online resources, teachers can increase the amount of time they spend teaching students, because language learning can take place outside the classroom as well as in it. This is an especially important topic for ESL teachers who want to maximize the amount of time learners spend speaking English in class and minimize the amount of time spent lecturing.
This site can be used to create engaging mini lessons. Integrating a variety of media is simple and, unlike a PowerPoint, the material exists online and is accessible to anyone with the link. The introduction video on the site explains quite simply how to create a good Allthink lesson and you can view some of the available lessons to get even more ideas. If there is a lesson already made that will suit your purposes, you can just use it as is. This site can be used to deliver instructional content outside of class. Having students view short lectures at home frees up class time for more engaging learning activities.
Kidblog is perfect if you want to start a blog for your classes without having to worry about advertisements and privacy issues or if you want to give written assignments and encourage peer editing. Kidblog is completely free but you have to register to start creating classes. Since you can add up to 200 students to one blog, you might decide to make just one and let all your students communicate with one another, or you could simply create a new blog for each class. All the blogs you create will be easily accessible from the control panel on your account and you can customize student account settings, too. Kidblog makes writing assignments fun—and you will never have to worry about illegible handwriting again.
Glogster is a platform to create online multimedia posters. It offers many different account options, but if your school is not willing to pay for multiple accounts, there are free education accounts, too, which give you access to everything you need to make your own glogs. Creating glogs is very intuitive: The visuals are easy to customize to appeal to students of all ages, and you can even embed your own videos, images, and sounds. The site has a tutorial that you can watch and plenty of great sample glogs that you could use as is or as inspiration for your own creations. Glogs can be used to structure homework assignments or even for in-class activities if there is a computer lab available.
A VoiceThread is a “collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos” and on which users can leave comments in writing or orally. To create a VoiceThread, upload a series of images or videos. Students can listen to comments peers have left and respond to them. The site offers free basic accounts for educators, but you and your students will all need to create accounts. Once students are familiar with the site, you could encourage students to create their own VoiceThreads to tell stories about their lives, introduce themselves, or give short presentations about topics they are interested in.
With these four sites teachers can create engaging materials that students can access outside the classroom to learn English and even, with VoiceThread, practice speaking English.
This material has been adapted, with permission, from articles written by the author for busyteacher.org.
Tara Arntsen is pursuing a master's degree in TESOL at the University of Southern California. She teaches EFL at Guangdong Peizheng College in China and has taught in Japan and Cambodia.
Like this article? Author Tara Arntsen will be writing a regular blog for TESOL about incorporating technology into your English language teaching.
Read her intro blog and check back regularly for more posts.