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Behind every good lesson... part 2 - HOTS


As this post explains, when I am preparing lessons the first and most important factor that guides my planning is pedagogy. This is true even though I am a true fan of embedding technology into my practice.  Technology is never the driver or the star, it is a vehicle. 
In this post you can see how I have sown the foundations to a new topic and my students have a solid vocabulary base on which to build.  I may have used active learning strategies or pair work activities, listening exercises and reading comprehensions - to name but a few.  At some point in the process I will have embraced a technological tool because when MOTS activities are necessary, technology can meet this need perfectly.

I am now at the point in my planning when I want my students to use this new language and also combine it with previous knowledge to create new work that demonstrates their progress.  I am looking for some knowledge construction.  There are many ways to go about this and I still may not feel the need to turn to technology. On the other hand technology can provide me with many opportunities that enhance the process and bring language learning alive.  
In the first instance I may still turn to taskmagic so students can complete some gap-fill exercises that provide  them with model answers (or I may do this with my trusty interactive whiteboard where there are opportunities to be a little more creative). I may create a video using explain everything and embed into educanon so that students can watch and listen to a sample created product whilst responding to some questions.  These sample models are there to guide and scaffold the learning.  Here's one I made earlier on the perfect tense for year 8. 
As students prepare their written work or presentations the chance to collaborate with each other via Google Classroom should not be ignored.  The feedback process is vastly improved as students collaborate with each other, peer assess, make suggestions and improve their work.  All this can, of course, be achieved in class, on paper, but the speed and immediacy provided for through Google Classroom is  a wonderful advantage, in my opinion.
This stage of the process can also be achieved through a tool such as Edmodo where language learning can gain even greater purpose as students interact with language 'experts' from other countries.  I have spoken here of the efficacy and usefulness of Edmodo, first in terms of collaboration and secondly as a medium to complete telecollaborative projects.  The idea that students can communicate and use their new-found language and skills with foreign language students from France or Spain is a powerful one and should be explored if the opportunity arises.
A final 'product' can be written, recorded or filmed using any number of apps.  For written work, consider a poster making app such as canva, grafio, word swag or phoster to name but a few.    Grafio will allow your students to embed some sound too so they can verbally annotate their written with work or some images that they might use.    Here is a very simple example of what some work might look like using Grafio. 
 

















It is possible to see the potential for creativity with such a tool.
A presentation might fit the bill too - use Prezi, Emaze, or perhaps Google Slides which can be used within Google Classroom and can thus be used collaboratively.  These presentation and poster making tools mean that previous written tasks can be redefined and students can be challenged to create something that allows them to use a number of skills, for example, both speaking and writing within the same product.  
There are many options that I did not consider here.  I know, for example, that I have not mentioned Aurasma and I can see how a news report could allow students to demonstrate more than their writing skills if they also embed a spoken element via Aurasma.
Technology can bring a task alive for students and allows them to push themselves to achieve more - which, after all, is our aim.  The important point to remember however is that the technology is not the driver in lesson planning.  Pedagogy is - technology is just a tool - but what a great one!









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