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

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

CHALLENGE, CONNECT, CHATINAR: An authentic way to engage students

Finding activities that can genuinely engage students out of school has always been difficult.  However, with the emergence of fabulous ICT-ELT platforms, and available to all of us for free,  this is all about to change in every student-teacher working relationship.  The activity, what I have coined, as a CHATINAR, uses video, Edmodo our class PLN, and an hour of scheduled time at home.

A CHATINAR is an activity I thought of doing in December, 2011. The reason it emerged at that time was because we had been having difficulty convincing all of the students in our preparatory group to use our class PLN, Edmodo, described below in Brentson's post, for more than just the mandatory homework check. So, having found this amazing video of a whale being rescued by a small boat of marine biologists in the Mexican gulf, only eight minutes in length, the idea to transfer the discussion moved from the classroom to Edmodo. Please watch the video and read afterwards about the amazing thing that happened on our PLN.

The video is amazing, right? So, here is what I thought might work.  After we watched the video, and saw how emotive the kids felt, we knew that we could get the students to respond enthusiastically.  We told them that instead of doing a feedback brainstorm on the IWB; for a change, we the teachers, would be on the Edmodo PLN platform from 9pm-10pm that evening for the purposes of building a chat discussion based on the video. AND, what happened next really suprised us.

It is important to remind the students about the activity over and over again.  Teenagers genuinely forget school things, so rather than castigate, continued messages via the PLN and even better via active peers.  They will listen to their mates before the teacher d;-)

You can see here also that there are boys active in the process.  This really surprised us last year, since traditionally boys tend to leave after school activities to their female counterparts.

Finally, the PLN really shows how beneficial it is for students confidence and awareness by offering a real-time platform for guidance and support either from teachers or peers.  

This image highlights two really important aspects of getting your CHATINAR to work successfully.  You, the teacher, needs to be very active in order to keep the thread alive.  Failure to do so, will mean that the students drift off topic or lose interest.  However, as in all chats, this is a very authentic environment for students to feel that what they are doing is normal.

Secondly, the quality of syntax and grammar is also not to be considered or commented on by teachers.  It does not matter in this context, since you want participation first and content second.  Form doesn't even come into it.

This activity deserves to go viral in our opinion. Not only did we get many of our students engaged out of the class in a totally authentic, yet new communicative environment, but for one hour we had 644 posts done totally in English.  This  activity continued once every three weeks after that until the end of April, which meant we did a total of five.  Each subsequent CHATINAR completed saw the chat posts increase from the more peripheral type of students, thus allowing a across-the-class participation.
Engaging your students with ICT-ELT is something so exciting.  Now with this type of authentic communicative platform, you can find a great deal of participation and perseverance in your students to get their opinions over to their friends.  Not only that, but it also gives you the teacher a further opportunity to connect with your students in a fun and exciting way.

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