Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Adopting and Adapting ICT for Your Own Road Map

Hi, I have to begin by saying how happy I am to be back in the blogosphere after a long rest from the rigors of weekly posting. It is an extremely cathartic practice to get frustrations off one's chest, and that will never change. However, I want to make my rejuvenated blog space as a positive outlet for myself and my colleague, Brentson Ramsey, to share what we are doing in our Hazirlik class. Each post will highlight a specific area of our program or practices and methodologies. We have much to share, so without further ado, I will begin by sharing reasons behind why I made the leap from traditional ELT teacher to ICT-ELT practitioner, tech-enthusiast and now a blogger-with-a-huge message: Adopt and Adapt.
My decision in 2010 to adapt ICT for ELT was part of a pilot scheme at my school. The administration wanted to find a new direction for Hazirlik (Turkish word for Preparatory school). For years, schools around Turkey have wanted to raise the level of English for high school students. The Hazirlik program is meant to cater to this demand for better English. It is a year group that has students enter with zero understanding of English, and has them exiting as a comfortable B2 level student in consideration of the CEFR.
However, the year group has become the dumping ground for empathetic students, students with learning or skills deficiencies and teachers who really don't care what happens. I am generalizing here, of course, and I do so only to give some sense of context and perspective. If you go to any school and ask language teachers if they would like to teach a prep. or Hazırlık English class, I am sure the response would be in the negative for almost everyone. That is why I had turned down the offer two years previously to work in Hazirlik. So, what changed my mind? The answer to that is because the school was going to inject money into the program so that we would have netbooks for the students to use in class at all times and a projector with IWB. I felt excited, rejuvenated in fact, because I had grown tired of literature classes with the seniors. I had grown too comfortable with students who were proficient in English.
I needed a change of direction. I wanted to teach language in an ELT context, and along came ICT-ELT, and I have not looked back once (well apart from negative reflections of what used to be.
TEETHING PROBLEMS: It was strange for me two years ago having all this technology at my disposal. The students were also taken aback and couldn't believe it. I remember one morning hearing some tenth graders walking past the class and commenting on how my class looked like an internet café. I smiled, but I couldn't help but think that the class, after a month, had been reduced to that perception. I reflected and realised they were right. I wasn't directing and leading it properly. I hadn't set up the ICT-experience for the students adequately. They had the impression that the netbooks were their opportunity to skip class activities, to flaunt the system, to get by without doing anything from 8-3.30 every day. I needed to change direction again. So, I announced that the netbooks would be removed and locked away until the students grasped the concept that the netbooks and ICT were being provided as support tools for their learning; not as some escape route for doing no lessons. I, therefore, brought out the netbooks for short intervals of twenty minutes maximum to cover writing, on-line grammar activities, posting on Edmodo and pppt instruction. This restricted environment led all the students to believe I was serious. They had this treatment for three weeks, so that the cycle of "only fun, no learning" could be turned around. They responded because they were being told that Learning CAN BE fun. They could now see that by using the netbooks as a tool for supporting their learning of English and for learning new skills, it was beneficial for them to conform. It worked.
The next seven months proved to me that my first year in ICT-ELT was completely different to what I had been used to as a language teacher. I now believed in IWB instruction, e-Learning, 24/support and students willingness to engage and participate in a Hazirlik program. However, I knew I had to make major changes to the ICT-syllabus if it was going to continue to grow with the advances in technology. I looked at ways to approach this huge task, and it was UbD (Understanding by Design) that would show me the light. This was the system of critical thinking for the syllabus that would now help me to ADAPT the newly ADOPTED ICT-ELT paradigm of which I was now a strong advocate. Bring it on 2011-2012 academic year!! My next post will describe how UbD worked for improvements to my 2010-2011 Hazirlik syllabus...

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