I don’t know how to begin, what should I write about my online experience… A strange beginning, filled with thoughts and worries, but eventually everything started to go normally. I’m an English teacher at a high school in Pucioasa, Dambovita, I have been teaching English for 7 years and half of this year I have been an online teacher. English language teaching approaches reflect changing trends, this type of online approach was not so foreign to foreign language teachers.
I began my online teaching using Google classroom. One of my colleagues had used Google classroom before this pandemia and when I asked him to help me, he allowed me to enter on his „domain”, he sent me a code and I started to create my classes on Google classroom, other colleagues were using What’s app, but it didn’t seem a good idea for me. I used what’s app just with my class, 9D, because I’m their tutor and there I sent them all the information they needed. I sent all my classes their codes to enter the classrooms and they really liked it, I also used Meet to see them and to do some sharing. Then I found out about Zoom and I started using it, it seemed nicer than the other one and I didn’t want to confuse my students with too many platforms, because each teacher used something different. I continued using Meet just with my CES student, he is home schooled and I found it easier for him. He can’t type very well, can’t see very well, he is using a wheelchair, his diagnosis is spastic tetra paresis. This is the third year since I’m his teacher and I’m proud he can communicate in English, his handwriting is a problem that’s why his mother has to help him. This online period was ok for him, because he likes using the computer.
We had English once a week and I used Meet and Google classroom with him. During the classes we also used Kahoot and Quizzes because he likes playing games. We worked a lot on his speaking skills, we discussed a lot in English, my main goal was to make him speak. One of the homework I gave him was to watch movies without subtitle, watch news on CNN, or documentaries and tell me about them. Most of my lessons with him were based on communication and soft skills.
The first activity I thought about during this period was to send my students some themes they could talk about, I sent them the draft, the deadline, they had to film themselves and in 2 or 3 minutes to discuss about the respective theme. This was the task:
Choose one of the topics:
1. Nobel Prize Winners (British or American)
2. Romanian Traditions vs American Traditions;
3. Romanian Traditions vs British Traditions;
4. Famous 21st Century Fashion Designers;
5. A British Monarch/ an American President;
6. Ancient Monuments Worldwide;
7.An American/ British Composer/writer/singer/Film star;
8. Any other topic of British/American culture and civilization;
Even if I was afraid of their reactions related to sending me these videos, they really liked it and they sent me pretty amazing videos. Even my CES student enjoyed it and he sent me an amazing video with him.
My students enjoyed the Kahoot games, which I used to revise vocabulary and grammar, they also enjoyed Quizzes, especially when I used teams.
As a warm up, I used you tube videos, with different topics, songs and even did aerobics I also asked them about their everyday activities to warm up the atmosphere. You tube was also very useful for the presentation stages, at vocabulary but also for the speaking topics, I found it very useful.
Another platform I enjoyed was Padlet, I used it for brainstorming activities, for example I wrote a title „New Boy” on the whiteboard and asked students who could this new boy be, they wrote their predictions on Padlet. I also used Padlet with groups, each group had a wall and some activities to do and then at the end of the activities they had to leave comments on the others’ wall.
An interesting app I used is virtual avatar, a virtual avatar is a digital character, which can often be personalized or customized. It can be animated or static. I found it on this website: voki.com. I created an avatar to capture attention and communicate to my students and I asked my students to create their avatars to give me feedback.
Most often I used Google classroom for different activities, worksheets and also for my students’ homework, here I gathered all the evidence of the activities.
It wasn’t easy at the beginning but I got used to this online teaching and from now on I think I will continue using these platforms. I felt happy and confident to see my students even if on Zoom or Meet. I think this period will change our teaching style.