Using technology with infants
Technology offers new possibilities for teaching all age groups. Margie Marc suggests various ways to exploit the fun element of ICT for the benefit of our very young learners.
There is little doubt that the use of technology in the English language classroom is here to stay. It can be great way of grabbing and focusing learners’ attention and connects to their day-to-day reality. Even infants can benefit from the integration of technology in the English lesson; attractive visuals and dynamic presentations can arouse curiosity and promote learning, especially for visual learners. In this context it is the teacher who uses technology but in some circumstances, children can be involved too. All that is needed is a laptop, beamer and access to the Internet. Here are some ideas to capture our infant pupils’ imagination and enhance their language learning.
PowerPoint ® for storytelling
If you are not already using PowerPoint ®, this is a good place to start. Images and storybook pictures can be displayed in large format helping us to get around that perennial problem of children shouting out ‘I can’t see’, the moment we open a storybook. With Infants, PowerPoint ® is most effectively used as a tool to support storytelling but it is important to remember ‘it is how the story is told that counts’ (Garvie 1990:100). Interaction with the story, the teacher and other learners is essential. Nowadays, there are lots of ready-prepared Powerpoint ® stories available on the Web. TES Connect has a selection of stories and other supporting teaching resources for Infants that can be downloaded, and registration and access is completely free!
Videos for revisiting stories
Children love watching videos, especially if it’s a good story they’ve come across beforehand in class. Playing a new version of a familiar story will help reinforce language and give the story a new twist. YouTube and the child-safe site Zuitube have a huge collection of videos to choose from. Downloading a video onto the classroom laptop, pendrive or DVD will permit you to watch videos offline so you won’t have to rely on Internet connection for viewing.
For celebrating special days
Sending digital greeting cards is a lovely way to mark pupils’ birthdays and make them feel special. With Bobblejoy you can create, personalise and send video greeting cards to your pupils. You can choose from different designs to fit the occasion. What’s more, these videos-cards can be downloaded to play in class making this digital tool easier to manage at celebration time.
Create a class puppet
Create an avatar – an animated and speaking character, using your own voice, with Voki. It can even be customised to move its head and eyes, creating extra surprise for your pupils. They’ll love it! Use it to introduce classroom routines, retell a story, introduce a topic or create a mini-listening task. You could even record your pupils singing to create a singing avatar. This can then be saved on your computer or pendrive to use in class at any moment. If you’re new to Voki, you can watch a tutorial on how to use it on the TT blog.
Introducing technology into your lessons will take time and patience but the pleasure of having happy motivated learners in class is well worth the effort. An added bonus, of course, is that digital creations like these are easy to share with parents so they can be involved and enjoy them too!
Margie Marc is a member of Macmillan ELT’s Teacher Training team.