Story 13 – Putting technology skills to use

During the summer of 2015, I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship that allowed me to attend BestPrep’s Technology Integration Workshop in Minneapolis. I have taught English to immigrant adults at the Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning in St. Paul since 2001, and I know how valuable it is for my students to build their tech skills while simultaneously improving their English skills. I have continually tried to incorporate technology into my lesson plans, but mostly this effort has amounted to me using a Smart board or a projector in class and directing my learners to complete a variety of online practice activities to improve their word-processing, keyboarding, and grammar skills. Before I attended the TIW workshop, my students used computers regularly, and I used technology regularly, but I knew there had to be a way to integrate technology more smoothly into my instruction.

After attending the TIW and having the chance to learn about so many different tech applications and software, I realized I could dramatically augment my students’ learning by using Weebly to create a class website. The training I received through BestPrep gave me the confidence and enthusiasm I needed to tackle the project of creating my own website in the week leading up to the start of school last September. In fact, my students and I had so much success using the website I created for my ELL 5/6 class that I went ahead and created another website for my ELL 3 class! Now learners in both of my classes can use these websites whenever they have free time and an Internet connection to review vocabulary, test their grammar knowledge in a variety of ways, improve their listening, reading, and writing skills, while simultaneously acquiring fundamental technology skills. They create and file documents; they scroll up and down these documents; they conduct searches on the Internet; they know how to expand or minimize different windows on the computer screen, how to adjust volume, and how to move between tabs; they are learning how to format Word documents; and they are comfortable working on a computer independently. And, while my students are working independently on a variety of activities via our class website, I am freed up to circulate and check in with each one of them.

Having a class website has allowed me to supplement my in-class instruction with all kinds of related practice activities for my students, and my students benefit hugely from being able to access this information out of class at Hubbs or via their phones or their personal computers. It’s been a win-win experience that has made me more confident about expanding my own technology skills and finding ways to integrate technology very authentically in class.

In addition to building my technology skills, I was very happy to have had the chance to shadow Andrew Kueppers at Travelers. I have only worked in educational settings such as schools, universities, or research institutions, so I enjoyed the chance to talk to Andrew about his work, his responsibilities, and his use of technology in his job at Travelers.

My experience as a participant in BestPrep’s week-long Technology Integration Workshop was very worthwhile. I attended excellent presentations that were delivered by talented, helpful professionals, and I had the chance to speak with dedicated fellow participants about our shared goals. I am very grateful for the chance I had to attend such a beneficial professional development experience.

– Allison Shank, Hubbs Center

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