Sometimes we think that we can only schedule to use the iPads when we feel confident enough, have practiced many times how to open, close, use the features in certain apps. We practice so much that we give up as insecurity increases exponentially when we give a thought about the students we have, the little time we have in our schedules, added to the responsibility of those devices in nervous hands.
Ruben Puentedura´s model for tech incorporation can be a relief for teachers in the sense that it is OK to start with substitution practices that enhance the learning experience towards a more informed and bold move towards transformative uses of tech in the classroom.
So, instead of the distress of considering tech possibilities and never having the fearlessness to try it, start with a fun and very simple activity and then move on to more challenging activities.
Did you know that in our CTJ iPads we have fantastic dictionaries you can use with your groups?
Here are some:
The first one on the list (LDOCE 5) is an expensive paid app which is worth every penny for the quality of its digital version - Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 5th Edition.
You can´t imagine how much fun my teen students have had with this app. We searched for some words they were studying, I asked them to check the pronunciation of American x British English and to see if there was any relevant difference. They could see the words in use, including collocations and idiomatic expressions.
The activity was nothing new, but the teens spent some minutes having fun with the language and exploring the possibilities of use. We then played a game in which I´d say the word, they needed to check the meaning and come up with an example different from the dictionary´s.
Later in the semester, when they had to write paragraphs, they asked me if they could look up for synonyms in the dictionary!
Now, if it worked with a rambunctious group of teens, imagine exploring the wonders of the dictionary use with our adult groups! You could explore high frequency words (identified in red in the app); you could have a treasure hunt, pronunciation work, definition game. The world of possibilities using digital dictionaries in class is simply limitless...In addition to making your lessons more engaging, your students will start noticing the possibilities of the devices they use in their daily lives to learn English.
So, the first part of your tech integration ladder is done: substitution activities using a dictionary app.
Ready for the challenge?
What kinds of activities with dictionaries do you envision with your groups?
Let us know when you plan a lesson using the dictionary apps and what the outcomes were.
Tip: Dictionary.com is a very good free app that your students can download to their smartphones and tablets.