Tech Tools for ESL Students

Alex' post 1My name is Alex Rivera. I am a high school science/biology teacher and often get confused for a student anywhere I go in Austin ISD related events.

This year I have definitely incorporated more new technology than all other years combined. The most technology I have used in any former year has been limited to Brainpop and Kahoot and those are usually student participation as a whole. However, this year I have rarely used these programs and explored other, more student-centered alternatives, such as the features in Quizlet, Quizizz, EdPuzzle, and recently released Actively Learn.

As with anything that is new, at first it takes a while to set up and get used to. This goes for both the teachers and the students. Actively Learn involved a lot of highlighting, using the cursor and accessing all the tools available to make the paragraph more comprehensible. What is difficult about this program is that you can embed or link media as notes to the reading; however, as we all know, the video may be restricted when the students access it. As  a result, some scaffolds were futile as some of the questions incorporated within the program had to do with information from the video which students were not able to access. However, this semester I became aware that our Technology Design Coaches now have been granted the power to authorize videos, which makes it much more convenient as our Technology Design Coach works directly with our campus.

Edpuzzle is another tool I have used this semester, and the students have pretty much adapted to it by this time. However, the video playback process was similar to that in Actively Learn, where the selected videos that were scaffolded were in restricted mode. For one class, I had to quickly create a document with the same questions I asked in Edpuzzle, play the video for the entire class on the innovation station, and stop at the points where the video should have stopped on Edpuzzle. This method is what I used to use to integrate technology into the field, specially with ESL students. With Edpuzzle, I find it a more approachable method for these kinds of students, because it allows them to repeat the video at their own pace and also allows them to have the option of captions to read along with the videos.  Although Actively Learn and Edpuzzle are not the only tech tools for ESL students, they have become the first step in my classroom for a more student-centered approach.

Here is a picture of two of my students using their newly issued Chromebooks as part of the Austin Independent School District EVERYONE:1 initiative for high schools.

Alex' post 2


1 Comment

  1. Alex, I really appreciate your sharing what has worked and not worked with video. Video is such an incredibly powerful tool for all students, but especially for our language learners. It does take some tweaking to get over some of the technology hurdles, though!

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