Web Tools for all

Posted: August 22, 2008 in Language Lab, Learning..., technology
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last year we really “dug in” in the upper-level German classes and watched the podcasts of the German news (“Tagesschau” from ARD) on a regular basis. We used various exercises to interact with the news: find key vocabulary, bell-ringer activities with the key vocabulary ahead of time, just watching the show (no audio), only audio, creating our own news interpretation as anchors in front of the video, and more. Watching the news was a multi-purpose activity. It is authentic and holistic learning as students can pick up all kinds of vocabulary and news information (differentiated in its very essence) all while they are learning about German (and world) culture and taking those important steps closer to becoming world citizens. It was a fantastic adventure, and we tried a few different news sources, but ended up sticking most with the Tagesschau.

It was a bright, sunny Thursday (read: hot and sweaty in a classroom with no air conditioning) and I was back from lunch, setting up the final things before the upper-level class and one of my students came up to me, PSP in hand.

“Frau? Were you able to get today’s news? I tried a couple times this morning  and couldn’t get it. I’ve got all of them from the past two weeks and I’ve been watching them <thrusting PSP closer to my face>, but I couldn’t get today’s. Could you?”

(Astounded and caught a little off guard) “Uh, no, actually… I couldn’t either. <smile> Wow. I’m so proud of you! Are you loving it?”

And the conversation went on…

Here’s what you need to  know. This student isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, the A+ student in the class (who you might assume would be the one to do this sort of thing), so this was really eye-opening (and exciting) for me.

It made me realize that the more opportunity you give kids to experience and work with (and find) web tools for learning, the more learning they will do on their own. My job, as a facilitator of learning, is to help equip them with the tools for lifelong learning… and for these students (digital natives or not), the tools that they often (not just want, but) need are embedded in technology (21st century workplace, here we come).

So what tools have you helped your students find and learn (perhaps unwittingly, like me) so they can be life-long learners?

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