International Postcards- Innovative strategies

During this semester I realized that I would be teaching a unit on Travel to my advanced ELL elementary school students. The book we are using is geared towards speaking, and due to time constraints, it can get difficult to really get learners engaged, excited and motivated from topic to topic. Some of the themes we have done before, and so I wanted to come up with a new way to teach them about the world but also to make it as real and interactive as possible for them.

So after some web and social media searching, I saw a class on postcards and with some input from a co-teacher came up with the idea of international postcards (video and “old school info in the link).

printable-white-transparent-political-blank-world-map-c3

Advantages:

  • Using videos students are able to experience English L2 from a variety of speakers across the globe not just their English teachers who they are used to.
  • It makes the world a little more real and tangible without having to travel (most are from a lower SES)
  • Real life applications and personal.
  • They can use similar technology to reply to postcards and have to think critically to adapt information to the purposes of communicating.
  • Videos I have seen of “making” classes, and PBL all show high engagement from students with age appropriate activities, that are scaffolded carefully.

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Above: One of the cards I have received so far via a photo from Australia.

Disadvantages:

  • I had to plan far ahead to get postcards in on time for the lesson. I did not and have thus pushed back my teaching a little bit (I am lucky to have this freedom).
  • Snail mail takes long regardless of advanced notice. We managed to curb this problem a bit by asking participants to send me front and back photos of the postcards that I can print out in case they don’t get here fast enough.
  • People volunteer but don’t follow through- After sending a reminder to friends about the deadline, several replied saying they forgot or have other pressing deadlines of their own 😦 – This means being patient and also part of the reason why I decided to push back the date of this lesson a bit.
  • Students might struggle a lot with accents and handwriting (I did remind participants to write clearly and also speak slowly and clearly).
  • Making the postcards in might not be as fun for the students and could lead to letting volunteers who put an effort in down with responses.

 

All things considered, I am still excited about teaching this lesson and do think students will enjoy interacting with other English native speakers through this platform. Most students are from a lower SES and so this class will not only include them in the wider world but show them how English is essential to communicate with people around the world.

 

References:

  1. Mobile Learning Technologies for 21st Century Classrooms. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2017, from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3754742
  2. Staff, T. (2016, April 12). 25 Teaching Tools To Organize, Innovate, & Manage Your Classroom. Retrieved May 05, 2017, from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/25-teaching-tools-to-organize-innovate-manage-your-classroom/
  3. Waters, P. (2014, July 09). Project-Based Learning Through a Maker’s Lens. Retrieved May 07, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-through-a-makers-lens-patrick-waters
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