crime, criminals & keeping your online presence private



I have reflected previously that I would embed the topic from PSD into developing the students ICT & digital literacy skills, however as the end of 1/2 term approached I felt that it was becoming increasingly challenging to keep the students engaged for 4 hours on a single topic. So today I have changed tack and had two distinct sessions: 2 hours of PSD and 2 hours of ICT.

Over the past couple of weeks I have also been increasingly aware that the iPad project has been dominating my thoughts and my planning with this group so I was keen to have a more balanced lesson this week.


The topic we are moving onto is ‘staying safe’. As with the money unit, I am struggling somewhat to reconcile the tasks they need to complete for the qualification and how to make the lesson ESOL-y, interesting & meaningful.

Drawing on the Personal Safety and Crime Prevention pack we started today with crime/criminal/verb vocabulary activity.

Firstly, as a class we talked about different ways to learn new words and we discussed four different ways:

  • pictures
  • translation
  • dictionary
  • talking to someone

In groups they were given the worksheet and an iPad. Using the iPad they could check the meaning of any new words via Google images, using the ‘define’ function or via Google translate.

Google Translate proved a real hit with one group of (usually very quiet) girls with three different languages. They took it in turns to translate into each language (Thai, Arabic, Urdu) and then listen to the pronunciation in English. The group of rowdier boys (it is the first time they’ve been split in groups by gender) focused much more on Google images and needed much more support and direction to stay on task. They weren’t interested in completing the worksheet & I found myself having to work hard to take a step back from them and give them the opportunity to work independently. The final group of three girls worked fairly well together. They were able to find an image or a translation fairly independently, but they were asking for clarification about the meaning from me before moving onto the next one. No one really found the definitions useful.

For the first time, I feel that the iPads really slotted well into a task without having to over think it too much. Could they have done the same task with a laptop – absolutely. But I think the laptops would have been much more obstructive to the task whereas the iPads sat neatly on the tables and were easily mobile between the students. I think the other advantage of the iPad is also that it is showing students how they can use mobile technologies to support their studies. I’m thinking about planning a lesson where they can compare different translation sites/apps.

The Thai/Urdu/Arabic trio really made great use of Google translate beyond this task. Next they had to write simple sentences about three pictures. Firstly, this group typed in the instructions on the worksheet into Google translate, & once they had written their sentences they also typed these in too.

We finished the class off with a focus on form. The groups had to re-organise the words by number of syllabuls. By this time, one of the boys had moved himself away from the other three boys who were really struggling to be on task and he worked well on his own. It was good to have this very ESOL-y task in the lesson, I think I have really missed this aspect of my teaching & know I need to continue to think about how to incorporate language more into these PSD/ICT lessons.


Although I wasn’t strictly following on with the same topic, I had chosen the ‘staying safe’ unit next as I thought this would link well with staying safe online.

We started we a categorising activity around online vocabulary (eg: search engine, google, yahoo, social media, facebook, browser, chrome, safari) and this linked to us discussing the public – private dichotomy. I had planned to get the laptops out at the stage, but actually it was more natural to continue to use the iPads again so the students googled themselves. One student found a picture of themselves that a friend had shared and another found that there was a link to the Pinterest work we’d been doing in class. Facebook links were visible, but these were to other people, so we then talked about whether anyone could find their facebook page via Google – the answer was no.

They then signed into facebook and had to search for each other (if they weren’t already friends)  One of the nicest things for me about this task was when the Thai student was sharing her photos with the others, to see again how the technology was giving three very quiet/low level ESOL students a chance to genuinely communicate with each other.

What we discovered at this point was that the students privacy settings were not so secure, and that anyone with a facebook account could see everything they were writing and all their photos, but on my account all they could see was the profile picture and nothing else. They didn’t seem so happy about this (although I’m not sure if it was just them not wanting their teacher to see it!!) so I showed them where they could go to change the setttings and they said they would do this at home.

I think having the private – public dichotomy discussion running through these activities has helped my E1 group to make an more informed decision about what information they want to be visible online.

Finally, I wanted to introduce the class VLE page and I had hoped to introduce the idea of having a class facebook page but for this I did need the laptops. Logging in took each group a different length of time so in the end I finished the lesson by directing them to the ESOL nexus crime/criminal task & we finished the lesson setting spelling homework. Again, it was good to be doing something so traditionally ESOL-y.


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