As part of my quest to encourage students to learn broadly as well as encouraging them to engage with Italian deeply (J. Biggs, 2003), I have experimented with using the Chromebooks, which have been recently purchased by ISLI (International Study and Language Institute), in the classroom. Chromebooks are a great tool: they are quick to set up, instinctive to use and create an immediate buzz in the class. If you don’t have Chromebooks available, these activities can also be done by asking students to bring their own laptops.
I have been using them with my IWLP Italian stage 3 class (students transitioning from A2 to B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and my stage 1 (complete beginner class).
I found that through this work students were pushed to explore language away from their comfort zone and to apply language to practical purposes. More generally though, students worked collaboratively and reflected on own and fellow students’ work.
Read on for 5 suggestions on in-class activities with Chrome books. They are specific for language learning but could be adapted easily. Most are quick to prepare as it is the students that do the work, others require more preparation: for example the creation of a class google account.
Really good learning came out of these activities and students found them interesting and engaging. I’d be interested to hear from you if you decide to try/adapt some of these activities in your classes firstname.lastname@example.org
Activity 1: Working together / Peer learning
Topic: Preparing a set of common questions for an interview
Procedure: Students develop a common set of questions to interview native speakers individually. Students share the results of interviews and draw conclusions. In pairs, working from the class google account, students work on a different aspect of the interview. Students then read through the questions written by the other pairs and give each other feedback on accuracy and content. A final set of question is agreed.
Learning outcomes: Formulating questions, proof reading, giving and receiving peer feedback.
Activity 2: Using Tutor Feedback to improve writing skills
Topic: Replying to a question on an on-line forum
Procedure: Decide on the question you want to ask. Students work individually. Using Chrome books and the class google account. Students start working on their answer, the teacher also logs into the account from the main computer. The teacher can access each student’s piece of work and using the ‘suggesting tool’ can make suggestions onto the student document in real time. Work can be flashed on the smartboard to highlight common errors or share good work. Students continue working on their piece from home and demonstrate how they have used the feedback to improve it. Students have access to each other’s documents and can also learn from looking at each other’s work.
Learning outcomes: Writing (replying to a forum), improving work following feedback
Activity 3: Using software in a foreign language
Topic: Advertising an event
Procedure: Decide on the type of event. Students work in groups to gather information and make decisions. Using Chrome books and the class google account, which had been set up to be in Italian students create a poster using ‘google slides’ student create a poster. All the commands within google are in Italian and students have to navigate the software in the target language. While working on the poster, students compile a glossary of the various commands and create a Quizlet set. As the students are creating the posters, the teacher also logs into the google account and can flash the posters on the Smart board suggesting corrections and showing good examples of work. Students present their poster to the class.
Learning outcomes: Developing vocabulary relating to operating software, agreeing and disagreeing, expressing a point of view, IT literacy and employability
Activity 4: Fact finding
Procedure: Before working on a song give the Chrome books to the students, and ask them to work in pairs to find some specific information about the song and the singer. Suggest a couple of websites but leave them free to choose other sources so long as they are in the target language. Students share with the class the information they have found.
Learning outcomes: Reading to find specific information, summarise, speaking, peer learning
Activity 5: Fact finding
Topic: Applying for a volunteering position.
Procedure: Find a website with volunteering opportunities. Give the Chromebooks out and ask the students to find an opportunity they would like to apply for. Students discuss why they have chosen that opportunity; complete an application form; and role play interviewing for the role.
Learning outcomes: Reading skimming and finding specific information, talking about interests and their own abilities, completing forms, development of pragmatic skills, employability
Presented at the ISLI Technology Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group 14th March 2017