Friday, October 5, 2012

Teaching and Technology, We Meet Again

Hello again!  After a long break, I have returned to the blogging world to continue my technology in the classroom musings.  This week, I watched a webinar that explored the website  The website was designed by a MAC alum as a way to tackle the problem of balancing time spent grading and giving students useful feedback.  I really like his approach to solving common problems English teachers encounter.  I'll list some of my "how cool!" reactions below, and hopefully you English teachers out there will check out this site.

1.  First of all, watching a webinar was pretty gosh darn cool.  I have been invited to numerous webinars but always declined.  I was a little upset with myself after watching the recorded webinar- I could have  been learning interesting things from the comfort of my couch!  I loved that attendees were able to interact with the speaker through virtual hand raising, participating in polls, typing questions and comments into the chat box, and more.  All the benefits of participation but none of the pressure one faces in a large group!

2.  I loved how the speaker took the time to talk about how to integrate webinars with the classroom.  A teacher is always looking for new ways for students to participate, especially the quiet ones!  The teacher can also look back at the log of the webinar and see who was commenting, participating, leaving and signing back on, etc.  The students can't hide!

3.  This site is a major step toward addressing the problem of teaching grammar.  Students never find it interesting.  By integrating topics they are interested in, there is a connection to the task at hand.  Since it is online and gives immediate feedback and help, students aren't left working on grammar worksheets without any immediate feedback.  Much frustration can be avoided by having tools to address where the student is going wrong.

4.  The webinar leader was a genius!  He took the time to write out common grammar mistakes in a handout and assign specific numbers to the mistakes.  He can then write the number next to a mistake on a student's paper, and they will no exactly what they did wrong, and they have an explanation right away.  The most ingenious part is that he had students do corrections for points.  This helps to avoid the problem of students seeing their papers marked up and immediately disposing of them without looking at their mistakes.

I can't wait to use this with my students!  Grammar has always been a drag, but I can't resist clicking buttons online and making a competition out of the work!