Home Tool Tips THEMED ISSUE ON LANGUAGE EDUCATION: Positing THE tool in my English classes

THEMED ISSUE ON LANGUAGE EDUCATION: Positing THE tool in my English classes

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I am an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher who is always looking for new ways to engage my students. Disengagement has been an issue in my classes since many of my elementary level students are shy and don’t not want to participate in communicative tasks due to a perceived lack of speaking strategies, vocabulary range and grammar knowledge.

I found a solution to my dilemma three years ago when I started flipping my English classes.  I began by flipping the writing process steps and the vocabulary component of my lessons, but since I am coordinating an elementary level course in a private university in Chia, Colombia, I have recently been flipping the grammar component, as well. Why do I flip the grammar lessons? I have observed that my students feel the need to communicate during in-class time when they have some knowledge about a pre-taught grammar topic.

I consider myself a “techie teacher,” so I took advantage of this by giving more attention to the individual learning space (independent work time) and how I might maximize the benefit of that course component for my students.  In this space, many teachers curate videos from YouTube and/or create their own to leverage in-class time for practice.  According to Bergmann and Sams (2014) technology makes out-of-class mastery possible for students; that is, videos allow students to learn at their own pace and at time since they can watch assigned videos as many times as they want. Currently, I am getting the most out of my videos with a relatively new and trendy tool that helps me to turn them into interactive ones.

The tool I recommend today, and it is my favorite one, is: Playposit.

Playposit – Engagement is here.

This tool has opened a cutting edge way process to teach a second language through technology.  Teachers can use this free tool to design their own interactive videos or use pre-recorded ones available on the web page. Playposit allows teachers easily enrich a video – taken from anywhere on the web – with a variety of powerful interactions. The videos can be either curated from YouTube or created by implementing tools such as Screencast-O-Matic; the purpose is what matters the most.  Depending on the objective of your class, you might use your videos to provide input or to accelerate learning by means of practical activities. At the end of each out-of-class video lesson, students have used technology in a meaningful and effective way, which will empower them to participate in class (Hyler & Hicks, 2017).

Using this tool, teachers create interactive curated or created videos by using different powerful tools.  This tool has many gains such as embedding varied questions; for instance, multiple-choice questions, free response and fill-in-the-blank. In addition, it also permits teachers to trim their videos and include reflective pauses, surveys, links from other web pages and even a discussion forum!

These interactive ed-tech options not only engage the student, but also enhance their learning (Hyler & Hicks, 2017). They create pathways for students to demonstrate understanding in a way that a traditionally delivered video presentation does not. They also serve to scaffold students’ learning process because they can pause, review a part of the video, or interact with the content teachers are sharing.

What else does it do?

Teachers should take advantage of another major feature this tool includes. Teachers can open a course and place different bulbs or lessons in it, like a digital table of contents. When the teacher designs a lesson with a video, they can share it through a link via email, or embed it in any platform; so, the teacher can keep track of their progress (See Figure 1). The advantage of this feature is that learners receive individual feedback which increases long-term retention and triples learning efficacy (PlayPosit, 2017). In addition, teachers have the possibility to check statistics of their students’ performance and progress. Brinks Lockwood (2018) states that this is actually a plus since these videos are ideal to boost autonomy and teachers have the chance to check students’ scores and participation in the lesson. In class, teachers can also take advantage of their students’ scores to elicit from students further questions or instruction they might need on the topic.

Figure 1. Screenshot from a student’s score.

A short example

Few months ago, I created a lesson about prepositions of place for my English course.  In the university Moodle platform I included different steps to provide my students input about some prepositions of place (See Figure 2). My students were asked to check their meanings and proper pronunciation using a dictionary. Then, I embedded a PlayPosit video in Moodle for a practical purpose (See Figure 3). The aims of this video were to demonstrate the pronunciation and practice the usage of each preposition. Finally, students were asked to draw their bedroom in detail, so during in-class time, students had the opportunity to interact with their partners and demonstrate their knowledge of the content by describing their rooms (Brinks Lockwood, 2018).

Figure 2. Screenshot from LMS course.

Figure 3. Screenshot from a Playposit video

Lastly, PlayPosit enhances my students’ learning process, because it promotes participation in both their individual and group spaces and increases the likelihood of reflection on their learning process. I strongly recommend this tool for your flipped teaching practice, so you can be certain when you flip your classes, your out-of-class activities are as dynamic and engaging as your in-class ones!

References

Bergmann, J and Sams, A. (2014).  Flipped Learning:Gateway to Student Engagement. International Society for Technology in Education.

Brinks Lockwood, R. (2018). Flipping the classroom: What Every ESL Teacher Should Know. The University of Michigan Press.

Hyler, J & Hicks, T. (2017).  From texting to Teaching. Grammar Instruction in a Digital Age. Routledge.

PlayPosit (2017). Retrieved from www.playposit.com

 

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Juliana Díaz
Juliana Díaz holds a BA in ELT from Universidad Industrial de Santander, an ICELT certificate (In-Service Certificate in English Language Teaching) from Cambridge University and a Master’s degree in English Language Teaching – Autonomous Learning Environments from Universidad de La Sabana. She works as a level coordinator and researcher in the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures at Universidad de La Sabana. Juliana has been flipping the writing and grammar components for her face-to- face courses at this university. Her research interests are Flipped Learning methodology, writing process and learner autonomy. Find her on Twitter at @tchju

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