The fog lifts

Attribution: Image: ‘White sunset’ Found on

I may actually be starting to get my head around my new 16-18 ESOL group. I definitely spent the first two weeks in a kind of fog where I felt every thought I had led down the dark alley  of cluelessness.

The first week was a pretty traditional ESOL-y first lesson, with getting to know you activities and a college induction and class rules. So far so predictable. Except it wasn’t predictable. I wasn’t at all sure how the lesson would go at all – as it turns out the much over planned college tour using QR Codes and iPods was a Big Flop while the ‘draw a good student/a bad students/a good teacher’ went fairly well.

But this didn’t seem to clear the fog much in terms of planning for week two. I knew I had to get them to put together their portfolio for PSD, (yawn) and figured I should really do some rules around using IT (it is an IT class afterall – but still – double yawn) and I certainly needed some kind of diagnostic-y task to see what they were comfortable with. (triple yawn)

So I tried to jazz these seemingly dull tasks up by creating a carousel of activities. I set groups up of mixed languages and felt that I spent most of the lesson saying ‘help each other’ ‘do you know’ ‘can you help her/him’ I suppose in hindsight it was pretty ambitious for the second lesson but hopefully it has set the tone for my lessons – that I expect them to work together and that’s how they will improve.

By week three the fog seems to have cleared a little. I’ve taken the first unit of PSD (money) and started to think about how I can embed IT skills into that. I think originally I was thinking that I would keep the two topics separate, and that certainly felt like the advice I was getting from others. But actually, I think I’m going to continue to combine them and consider how I can build on their IT (and digital literacy) skills.

Having the use of the iPads is throwing another element into the mix too. I don’t want to be using the iPads for the sake of it, nor do I really want them to be used as a replacement for a laptop. So I am working hard to think about how to incorporate them but with a clear purpose.

At the moment that purpose feels to be around two things, which I think are linked. Firstly around exploring the functions of the iPad. For example using the voice recorder in notepad for speaking practice and then error correction for the text that appears. The second is the ‘skills’ needed to be able to use the iPad. For example, when correcting text in the notepad I was showing students how to get the magnifier to show so they can move the cursor and the fact that they can switch between windows by swiping with four fingers.

So as the fog lifts, I feel there are going to be three strands to my PSD/ICT lessons

  • the topic will be set by the PSD modules. It’s working ok with the money unit, and I can see how it will work for the safety one. I’ll have to explore the final two for ideas there.
  • IT skills 1: there will be a combination of traditional microsoft skills of Word, PP and Excel (I need to check exactly what’s needed for the exams but I really hope there’s nothing on databases)
  • IT skills 2: using the iPads. As they get more familiar, confident and competent at using the iPads we can look at comparing doing something on a mobile device vs a desk top device. I will also link this to how they could be using their own devices too.
  • Digital literacy skills: linked to all three of these will be things around staying safe online. I’ve already introduced Top Tips for creating a strong password and discussed issues of privacy.

There’s nothing like setting yourself (and the students) a real challenge! What this space for updates.

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