Tech Tools I love to Use w/ my English Learners

Before I dive into my list, let me provide some background about my Transitional class. My students have transitioned out of the ELD program, but are not quite ready to handle the rigor of a traditional English CP class due to language deficits. The goal with the Transitional program is to provide language support (oral, writing and reading) to help the students eventually move into an English CP class. I currently have 25 Sophomores enrolled in this class. Along with students new to the country, I also have LTELs (Long Term ELs) who have unique issues that  stem from low reading and writing skills, lack of family support and/or lack of motivation. Using technology with these students can be a challenge due to their lack of self-control. Without my presence in the classroom, circulating the room, these students will somehow begin to browse other sites (YouTube, for example). This makes choosing appropriate learning tasks and technology tools crucial.

1. Verso

One of the texts on our school’s Sophomore reading list is the play, The Glass Menagerie. Teaching drama is sometimes challenging because the playwright intended it to be acted out on stage. Often dramas are read in class and/or sometimes acted out by students. Because my students have language issues, reading in class needs a ton of scaffolding. I wanted my students to experience the play without having to watch the whole movie, while passively taking notes or taking up a 2 hour chunk of time. After a class reading, I would add an activity on Verso that required the students to watch a snippet of a scene and answer an open ended question tied to one of our essential questions. Once students make their initial post, they must reply to two peers’ posts. I love that the posts remain anonymous and students aren’t enticed to comment just on their friend’s post or worry about the class judging their own initial post.


Verso sample
I provide students with frames for both posting AND responding. When I first started, students would comment, “I agree” or “Good job,” and the frames have helped significantly.
Verso Cheat Sheet
I provide my students a Cheat Sheet to fill out while viewing the video to help them organize their thoughts.

Love that Verso allows you to add instructions (I add sentence frames) and key vocabulary for students to include.

Verso edit

2. Peardeck

At some point, all teachers need to relay information to their students and/or teach new concepts. Before Peardeck, I would use either Google Slides or PowerPoint and deliver notes, while students took Cornell notes on a Google Doc and/or filled in a graphic organizer. While I tried to check for understanding, by occasionally asking questions and/or asking the students to pose their questions developed from their Cornell notes, I never truly knew how well my students understood the concepts. With Peardeck, I import my Google slides or Powerpoints and pose questions intermittently throughout the presentation. These questions may be open ended, multiple choice, or drag a dot/annotate on an image/slide. Because each student is logged in with their unique school email, I can see how they are responding live. I can time their response, lock the question, and even display anonymous answers on the screen for the whole class. There are many times during a lesson when, because I can view their activity, I will say “So-and-so, I am still waiting for your response,” which also holds students accountable. An added bonus, is that after a session, teachers can send out a “Takeway” that produces a copy of each students’ responses and leaves a space for students to take notes later into their Google Drives. Usually, the day after a presentation, I will start by asking them to revisit their notes and write a summary in the box provided.

3. GoFormative

Like Peardeck, Goformative is an awesome tech tool that allows the teacher to see the work being accomplished live. What is an added bonus is the ability to give live feedback, which pops on the students’ screen; this allows the students to make revisions and corrections instantly. This tool is AMAZING! I have had students annotate passages, answer multiple choice questions, write thesis statements, code essays,etc. You name it and it probably can be done with Goformative. One time when I had students annotate a poem, I asked students to upload an image that symbolized what was happening in a given stanza. Just by looking at the images, I could see whether they were getting the gist of the poem. Students were very creative and even uploaded an image, labeled it, and added their own pictures with the freehand draw tool.

Try one of these tools! You will not be sorry.


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