My colleague and I have been using ICT in ELT full-time for the past two academic years. One thing we have realized over that time is that when you think you are up-to-date with what's going in the world of ICT, you're not anymore. Day by day, there are new programs, apps and other materials coming out on the web. It can be a frightening thing if you are just getting into ICT. You have probably been bombarded with tons information already, and you might be feeling confused on where to get started. If so, this post is going to show you a simple, yet effective way to welcome ICT into your classroom.
|Why spend your time at the photocopier?|
As English teachers, we have all become incredibly efficient in making worksheets, whether it be for grammar, reading, writing, or vocabulary. You probably have a pile of them sitting on your hard drive from over the years, just like us. We particularly make a lot of worksheets for the readers and novels in our course, some of which are nearly 20 pages in length. Year after year, we printed all of the reading worksheets out, and took them down to the photocopy assistant to have them made into booklets to hand out to the students. You know the routine well, I am sure.
Then, one day, while I am in the midst of getting the booklets copied, I asked myself, why am I doing this? Why am I using all of this paper when I don't need to? If I make these worksheets on our computers, then why couldn't our students fill them out on their netbooks? From there, the idea for the interactive worksheets was born.
Sounds easy enough, right? However, just to give these worksheets an extra ICT kick, we decided to add hyperlinks throughout the Word document, essentially making it a central location for all of the worksheets, PowerPoint presentations, vocabulary lists, Youtube videos and any other relevant information already prepared for that particular unit.
One of the major units of our curriculum is the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne, as pictured just above. As you can see, on the very first page, even before the students begin reading, we have placed three links into the worksheet.
The first link leads our students to the Essential Questions we expect them to answer by the end of the unit. Even though they have not read the book, nor are aware about the themes of it, we believe it is still highly beneficial for them to read the questions, as it gives them insight as to what the entire unit is about.
The second link leads the students to the opening PowerPoint presentation that we use to begin the unit. It gives the historical background to the novel.
The last link, as pictured above, is the first set of vocabulary items the students must learn before reading, as it will assist them in understanding the novel.
To view the full-length interactive worksheet for this unit, click HERE.
|For Dropbox, upload and copy the public link.|
|In Google Docs, your settings should be set as such.|
To prepare such a Word document, you first need to gather all of the vocabulary worksheets, PowerPoint presentations and links to any other media that you might use during the given unit.
Next, you should upload these documents to the cloud, be it through Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive.
Once uploaded, you should first make sure that the settings are set to public, so that anyone with the link can access the documents. Then, copy the links and insert them into your main Word document. Finally, to make the links stand out differently, we place them in a text box with a thick width.
Reasons Behind The Effort
Despite being a cool and innovative way to present the worksheets to your students, there are several reasons for preparing such worksheets. To begin with, it is all about TRANSPARENCY. As soon as the students receive the worksheets, they can see what they are expected to complete throughout the entire unit. It doesn't matter to us if they go ahead and click on the links ahead of schedule. They will make them even more prepared when the times comes to complete that particular activity.
Secondly, by including all of the links into the worksheets, your unit will now be that much more ORGANIZED. For example, let's say at the end of chapter two, you want to show a short clip on Youtube. When the day comes, you might forget. Now that it is in included in your worksheet, you can easily see it and just click it when the appropriate time comes.
Finally, it is all about NO EXCUSES. Since the students have downloaded the worksheets onto their computers, there can no longer be any excuses about how they lost their paper worksheets, or how they forgot them at school or at home. They might try the excuse that they forgot their computers at school, but this doesn't fly either. The worksheet is always available on our PLN, Edmodo, plus they should always save a copy onto their flashdisk or in the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive.
A Great Way to Introduce ICT in the Classroom
Again, if you are looking for an easy way to get started using ICT in the classroom, interactive worksheets are a simple, yet effective way to begin. Your students will complete the worksheets on their netbooks or tablets, thus saving you from constantly making photocopies. Furthermore, with the added links, it allows true transparency for students and better organization for your given unit. Finally, students can no longer make excuses about not having the worksheets with them. Give it a try, and we are sure it will be a positive step for you in terms of ICT in the classroom.