This week I had an interesting conversation with a dedicated Japanese teacher. She mentioned casually that she felt “guilty” about purchasing some of our resources. I found this comment to be a real insight into our practice. It is also not a sentiment shared by many other industries or even other subjects. For some reason, as language teachers we are made to feel that not only do we need to know our subject well, our students well and have a good range of pedagogical strategies to draw upon, but that we also need to create every resource from scratch. Can you imagine a plumber rushing off to design his own pipes or a doctor being expected to manufacture his own medicines? Nobody has such expectations for other industries so please shrug off this unnecessary yoke of teaching.
In this month’s newsletter I am writing in more detail about some of the technological applications available to us to support formative assessment. Here are a few ideas we all need to consider when making decisions about ICT in general.
1. Choose the teacher strategy and content first
It is so tempting to jump on a bandwagon and start using technology because other people are doing it. This may have short-term benefits by grabbing the attention of the students due to the novelty factor. You may also become more enthusiastic as a teacher as you are excited about the new direction. These are both legitimate short-term benefits, but you also need to consider the longer term. Eventually the newness will wear off for both you and the students, so you need to ensure that there are other benefits from this technological choice. Is it more efficient? Is it saving you time because you can easily reuse or modify it for future lessons? Does it provide you with insights into the students’ progress and/or perspective/experience of the lesson?
2. Be mindful
Sometimes you may find a great youtube clip that you just want to use to settle the class or as a transition activity, rather than as a main source of content. That is fine, as long as you are mindful of what you are doing. Question each resource and activity before and after each lesson. Are you doing that task because you did it last year or because you feel it will suit this year’s cohort as well? What information is allowing you to make that decision?
3. What is your learning intention?
The term “fit for purpose” is often used when considering types of assessment. It suggests that formative assessment is preferable for certain purposes, and summative for others. Similarly, your technology and use of it, needs to match the purpose of your lesson. If you are promoting a growth mindset, you may want to question why you have grades/marks on your google form, or why the students do not have the option of editing the form? How you use the tools is just as important as how you select them.
Three Resources that will save you time and don’t cost the earth
- Manten Exams. Choose from our content library to create your own exams. Listening tasks rendered to your personal selection without an embargo date! http://www.mantenresources.com.au/teachers/assessment/manten-exams/
- Hiragana Patch and the Katakana and Kanji equivalents. Script resources that emphasise growth mindset and a formative approach to script mastery. http://www.mantenresources.com.au/teachers/resources-teaching-scripts/
- Amazing Race sets. Collaborative tasks covering all skills and mapped to Australian Curriculum outcomes and cross-curriculum content such as literacy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. http://www.mantenresources.com.au/teachers/our-resources/amazing-races/
Yes, we know you are capable, of creating everything from scratch, because language teachers are creative and talented people. But is this the best use of your precious time? You do deserve a weekend too!