I taught ESL in Spanish Harlem for three years using new media to enhance my lessons and the student’s understanding of English. My ulitame goal was for my students (most 6th grade immigrants with less than a year in the US) to graduate 8th grade being able to effectively express themselves in English. It seems pretty simple, however these kids would most likely tell you a very different story. Most of them came to the US less than a year before stepping into school for their first day. So for them to be thrown in a new environment where they don’t understand the language being spoken and expected to assimilate to the culture, learn algebra, history and science is completely overwhelming.
My job was to teach these students English two hours a day at a time. Year one I did not use any new media, it was 2006 and I was not fully aware of all the teaching possibilities. In 2007, I started the year strong with a heavy new media component in each lesson. I wanted to give the students daily outlets to connect with people around the world in English, whether that was on twitter, goodreads, flickr or tumblr. These tools are the ones I used the most. I would love to say that I have a new media curriculum that I can simply hand over for you to use with your class, but I don’t. Integrating new media in the classroom is just that … integrating. You have to look at your objectives and goals and determine what tools will aid you and your students in achieving those goals and objectives. I think the biggest hurdle into understanding how to use new media in your classroom is to first understand new media.
Here are a few things I did …
Interviews with Students in Austria: Teamed up with a nother teacher on twitter to pair up students to ‘interview’ each other via mentions on twitter about being an ESL student in Austria/USA.