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Technology Integration

Using Technology to Support Young English Language Learners in a Hybrid Classroom

Through videos and interactive online tasks, early elementary students can increase fluency and build vocabulary. 

January 8, 2021
Young girl works on her tablet at home
Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Since late August, I have been teaching hybrid, early elementary students who are learning English. Transitioning into a hybrid environment has been challenging and created a new learning curve for both educators and students.

Within our hybrid setting, students are split into two groups. They attend school for in-person learning two days a week, and teachers and students all have virtual learning one day a week. In the hybrid learning environment, I am able to teach, model, and introduce the new content vocabulary and language skills to my students face-to-face. Then, during remote learning days, my students are asked to complete engaging and interactive virtual tasks to show what they know and demonstrate their understanding of the new content.

Our district’s one-to-one technology program has made a big difference for my students in our Title I school, as my early learners are equipped with iPads to use both in class and at home. Through these devices, I’m able to foster communication skills that support the language domains of reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as well as the academic standards that accompany them within the hybrid setting. Our technology allows me to collect evidence to keep track of my students’ continuous development and growth.

Our iPads not only support students’ creation and engagement within the hybrid learning tasks but also enhance communication between teachers and parents, which contributes to the students’ academic success. Educators and parents are able to come together virtually with the devices and monitor the students’ progress and development. In creating assignments for my students to complete during their remote days, I rely greatly on the gradual release model. With this teaching technique, I’m able to model and introduce new content during our face-to-face learning. Students and I are able to practice the skill together in class, and then during remote days students are asked to use the new skill independently to demonstrate understanding.

One of the advantages of using this technology during hybrid learning is that I’m easily able to differentiate and provide proper supports for my students. For example, I can create teaching videos for students to watch as many times as needed to understand content. I can record videos of myself reading a story, which allows students to watch them as often as needed when completing virtual tasks. Using my Memoji on my iPhone allows me to make engaging and fun videos of myself explaining directions. Recording and adding a simple audio recording of myself speaking enables students to hear vocabulary words read aloud or explanations of their definitions.

I have taught my students how to use the iPad’s dictation accessibility feature to type their answers to questions as well as how to highlight text on the iPad and choose the speak selection accessibility feature to hear words read aloud. This is a great support when students are asked to practice their fluency skills and they are unsure of how to pronounce the words in front of them. I can add pictures, animations, or images to the task to support learning new content vocabulary words or understanding new concepts.

Engaging Lessons and Activities Foster Better Communication

With the Apple Clips app, I created a weekly flipped learning videos series titled “iCan with Clips.” In these videos, parents and students can see and hear me demonstrate and explain new literacy skills. I chose to use the Apple Clips app to create my videos because the live titles feature, similar to closed captions, allows students and families to read Spanish subtitles to support understanding the new concept.

This app also allows me to add fun background music, emojis, filters, and digital posters. The gradual release model is embedded within these videos, so as the students watch me model the lesson, they’re asked to try it with me on the iPad. They are then prompted to complete the task independently pencil-to-paper or create their own learning video to share with me on Seesaw.

I have also enjoyed creating interactive multimodal activity books to support the new content vocabulary units and literacy skills we’re learning. (My free iBook explains how to create one.) Using the book template in the Apple Pages app, students are able to show what they know within the digital books during their weekly remote learning days. Within these books, I can reinforce what we have learned together in class, and then students complete differentiated tasks throughout the activity book using the iPad’s features and tools such as the camera, video, audio, and drawing.

Students are also asked to use manipulatives and resources in their homes in personalized activities. When we return the following week to learn together in class, I am able to collect and assess the students’ activity books to have a better understanding of how their academic skills are developing. Each book is equipped with a teacher rubric to use in assessing the book to allow parents and students to talk and take note of the child’s progress or need for remediation on certain skills.

Other interactive and creative remote tasks I have asked students to complete:

  • Create a scene with your toys, and write about it with pencil and paper. Take a picture of your paper, and share it with me on your device.
  • Record a podcast telling me about your weekend, sequencing the order of events using complete and detailed sentences.
  • Capture a picture of your backyard, and use the markup feature to draw over the picture and design or build the yard of your dreams. Then create an audio recording describing your dream yard.
  • Complete an interactive scavenger hunt to find new vocabulary words around the house, and share them through photos, text labels, and audio recordings.

As I navigate through teaching in a hybrid environment, my little language learners continue to grow, thanks to our district’s one-to-one technology program. With the support of our devices, teachers and students can create, communicate, and engage in meaningful learning.

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Filed Under

  • Technology Integration
  • English Language Learners
  • Online Learning
  • K-2 Primary

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