Welcome to Google Hangouts for English Language Learners

Going to a conference is always a good professional development experience. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend the CATESOL Regional Conference in Southern California and attended a great session I had chosen for two reasons: (1) I am always interested in the use of technology for instructional purposes and this was a session on using Google Hangouts, and (2) as co-author of a recent book on translanguaging (Lubliner & Grisham, 2017) I love learning about ways we can serve our emergent bilingual students more effectively. The intersection was highly beneficial and I made the acquaintance of two colleagues working toward the same. The result is this invited blog (and stay tuned for one next month. I hope readers will find this useful and gain some instructional ideas from Kate and Kim! ~Dana

Google Hangouts

Difficulties presented by disengaged, shy, or unmotivated students in an English language learning environment can be detrimental to achieving learning objectives which are necessary for building student confidence in their language skills. Teachers can use multiple techniques to motivate learners, but some students, especially younger learners, do not flourish solely in a classroom setting. They crave and are distracted by the immediate gratification and acceptance they receive through the internet and social media platforms. Furthermore, beyond homework, students tend to disassociate their school life from their personal life, leaving little time for reflection or applied learning in the world beyond the classroom doors.

For younger students, who Twenge (2009) refers to as “Generation Me,” disengagement can be directly linked to the fact that they don’t solely exist in a real world setting. They learn and live very much in an online world, where they work endlessly to project idealized personas as a true extension of themselves. The implications of this technological reality for teachers is that they must not only tap into the real self students bring into the classroom, but also the digital self they work so hard to build to communicate who they are online.  Thus, by creating a space for the digital self in the learning process, teachers will find more opportunities to hold their students’ attention and promote meaningful learning. By creating an online community alongside the real world classroom community “Generation Me” students can build what Coleman (1988) refers to as social capital through negotiating meaning, sharing information, and demonstrating their own knowledge and value to their classmates. This type of communal and shared learning increases learner autonomy and authentic use of classroom knowledge inside and outside of the classroom.

This raises the question, how do we get our classrooms to straddle the worlds of digital and reality? How do we bridge the gap to effectively improve student learning? In this 3-post series, we will provide one way of addressing this question by introducing you to the multimedia communication app Google Hangouts and illustrating multiple methods of using the app to take your classroom into your students’ digital playing fields.

BASIC USES

Classroom Management

Google Hangouts is foremost a tool for communication. As a modern messaging app, it is intuitively used by most students. Once you create a group, your students have access to their peers in a unique way that you can use to your advantage. Students quickly become engaged with this tool as it mimics the social media platforms they use outside of school.

  1. Communication
    1. Teachers can send reminders to students about homework, community events, and other opportunities for students to practice English outside of school.
    2. Students can easily ask the teacher or their classmates questions relating to course content and language learning.
    3. Students can snap and share content in and out of class by taking photos and sharing them to the group. While we encourage note-taking, a quick photo at the end of class can ensure they have the material before running to their next class.
  2. Increase Language Output
    1. Shy students come out of their shell and are able to show off their grammar expertise in this low stakes environment.
    2. Conversations go beyond classroom walls, as students interact with one another for assignments or for fun.
  3. Build Community
    1. Giving students a safe space to practice English with one another relieves the pressure from becoming “friends” on other forms of social media.
    2. Students can easily share interesting things they find with their classmates, from language practice tips to cultural nuances. Teachers can encourage sharing articles, videos, and other relevant links as appropriate to their situation.

Classroom Enhancement

Bringing students’ digital selves into the classroom is an effective way to bring their attention to a lesson. Although students are inside the classroom, it allows them direct access to the outside world, endless realia, and personal examples. The ease with which the app allows you to share and view posts builds learner autonomy by giving students an active role in building the lesson around their interests and experiences.

Warm Ups

Google Hangouts can be a useful tool to help ease students into a lesson using realia and their own interests to get them focused.

  1. Emoji Story: Put students in pairs. Have students tell the story of their previous day in emojis and post it in Hangouts. Then, have students guess their partner’s activities.
  2. Class Poetry: Going around the classroom, each student can add a line to a poem in Hangouts (this could be based around the theme of the lesson or include review points from the previous lesson). When you’re done, post the poem on Reddit.com and see how many likes it gets by the beginning of the next class. This is a great one for building camaraderie.
  3. Create a daily challenge: This can be as simple and fun as giving students 2 minutes to post the cutest baby animal picture or funniest meme they can find and voting on the best one. On the other hand, quotes, pictures, trivia questions, riddles, music, and so much more can all be used to introduce the topic of the lesson in a fun way. Sharing so much content right at the beginning of class is going to inspire conversation and activate background knowledge around a topic.

Grammar Lessons

After teaching your grammar point, students can use Google Hangouts to show their comprehension. Instead of asking students to give you verbal or written examples individually or at the board, have all students send an example of the grammar point to the Hangout. This allows you to view all students’ work at once, and to easily correct it as a class instilling the good habit of proofreading, and reading aloud to check for errors.

Building upon this, you can connect it to the outside world by giving students a few minutes to search the Internet for examples of the grammar IRL (In Real Life), and then identify the various uses of each point.

Reading

Teaching students to be active readers can be quite the challenge, but Hangouts can help. First, assign a short silent reading assignment at the beginning of class. You can even post the reading in the Hangout to keep your lesson paperless and eco-friendly.

  1. Vocabulary: As students read, ask them to use the dictionary feature to look up words they don’t know, and have them post those definitions to the hangout. This creates an automatic vocabulary list for you to use for quizzes, homework, review, writing assignments, and other activities. Furthermore, it lowers the students stress levels because they will see that everyone has questions versus only one student being brave enough to ask.
  2. Summaries: Read together as a class, but after every paragraph, have students summarize the paragraph. As a class, students can review the summaries and decide which ones are most accurate. You can then piece the most accurate ones together to create a summary of the whole reading for the class to keep for review or a study guide.
  3. Questions: Good readers ask questions and make connections. When reading in class, you can focus on teaching students about using different types of questions to help them be better independent readers. Focusing on one style of question at a time, you can ask students to create their own questions to discuss the reading in small group. This can range from pre-knowledge and comprehension questions to evaluation and synthesis questions. For example, first, walk students through a set of questions designed around using context clues to help find the meaning of a word. Then, have them do the same with a word from the reading they were unsure of while posting the questions they used to find the meaning in hangouts. This is an effective way to emphasize the benefits of slowing down, asking questions, and realizing you can find the answer without anyone’s help or a dictionary.

GET STARTED WITH HANGOUTS

Signing Up

Google Hangouts is free to use, all you need is a Google account. If you already have a Gmail account, you can use it or create a new account just for use in your classroom. Don’t have a Google account yet? Follow the instructions below.

*All students must also have a Google account to participate in Hangouts chats*

  1. Go to www.google.com
  2. Click “Sign In” on the top right hand side of your web browser:

    Hangouts 1

    Signing in

  3. Click “More Options,” then, “Create an Account”
  4. Enter your desired login information.
  5. You now have a Google account.

Signing On

To access the Google Hangouts app on your web browser, follow the steps below.

  1.  Go to: hangouts.google.com
Hangouts 2

Go to Hangouts

2.  On the left side of the screen, click “New conversation”

Hangouts 3

New Conversation

3.  Select “New group” and enter the Gmail addresses of your students. You can give your group a Name. When you have all the addresses in, click the green check mark.

Hangouts 4

New Group

4.  A chat box will appear on the right side of your screen with all of your participants.

 

Hangouts 5

Chat

5.  Send your first message! Try “Hello, class!”

 

Hangouts 6

Hello Group Controls

Using the App

Now that you have your group set up, there are a few key features to notice. Note the colors on the image below, as their functions are described in detail below.

RED: This icon shows how many people are in the chat. If you click on it, you can see a list of participants. In this list, you can add or remove participants.

BLUE: These are your chat settings. In this menu, you can change your group name, set up notifications*, archive your conversations, and adjust your joining settings. (*If you do not want to receive an alert every time someone posts in the group, uncheck the “Notifications” box.)

BLACK: Live video chat. This calls everyone in the group and uses your webcam or cell phone camera.

PINK: Send pictures or videos to the chat.

GREEN: Emojis! Students love to express themselves with emojis.

Reminders:

  • Set ground rules for your Hangouts groups. Include students in the process of rulemaking, but be sure to include one that defines what is appropriate (example: Do’s and Don’ts for Hangouts)
  • Determine ahead of time how much you will commit to using Hangouts outside of class with students, and make it clear to them. Example: “I will only check Hangouts until 4 pm, and then I will turn off notifications,” or, “I am not available to respond outside of school hours”
  • When using Google Hangouts you will need wi-fi, and we recommend always providing an example of exactly what you want students to do in the app, versus a written or verbal direction
  • Screencasting or projecting Hangouts for the whole class on a larger screen still allows for a main focal point and creates a sense of responsibility for the students to provide good content
  • Be flexible. Technology in the classroom doesn’t always go as planned, so make sure you have backups or alternatives for when this happens.
  • Get creative. Have fun, think outside the box, and enjoy using this free tool in your classroom!

Stay tuned for our next blog for more ways to use Google Hangouts in your classroom!

References:

Alptekin, C. (2002). Towards intercultural communicative competence in ELT. ELT Journal, 56(1), 57-64. doi:10.1093/elt/56.1.5

Brindley, J.E., Walti, C., & Blaschke, L. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(3). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v10i3.675

Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94. doi:10.1086/228943

Lin, J., Peng, W., Kim, M., Kim, S. Y., & Larose, R. (2012). Social networking and adjustments among international students. New Media & Society, 14(3), 421-440. doi:10.1177/1461444811418627

Lubliner, S. & Grisham, D.L. (2017). Translanguaging: The key to comprehension for Spanish-speaking students and their peers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Tang, Y. (2006). Beyond Behavior: Goals of Cultural Learning in the Second Language Classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 90(1), 86-99. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.2006.00386.x

Twenge, J. M. (2009). Generational changes and their impact in the classroom: teaching Generation Me. Medical Education, 43(5), 398-405. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03310.x

About Kate and Kim 

Kimberly Guppy

Kimberly is an adjunct ESL instructor at Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California. She received her M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction (TESOL emphasis) from the University of Kansas in 2015 and began teaching at an IEP in Los Angeles. As a professional, Kimberly is a member of both CATESOL and TESOL, and is the coordinator-elect of the Technology-Enhanced Language Learning Interest Group in CATESOL. She is also developing the new catesol.org website, which is set to launch in Fall 2017.

Kate Lulinski

Kate is the Academic Coordinator for the IEP program at Cal America Education Institute in Koreatown, and recently started teaching ESL for the Los Angeles Community College district.  She can be reached at mskatelu@gmail.com

Kate and Kim

Kate and Kim

The Lazy Classroom Model

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Hey, who are you  calling “lazy?” That’s what I thought when I first came upon the phrase, “Lazy User Model.” In this case, being lazy is not a value statement or judgment but rather a phenomenon that explains certain behaviors, particularly when technology is involved, that may permit the user to get on with the business of learning.  Let’s explore that a little.

What is the Lazy User Model?

Remember the last time you wanted to upgrade your cell phone? One of the factors you likely considered was how much time you would need to spend to learn the features and affordances of your new phone.  If you chose a phone that worked much as your old phone did, you demonstrated the principle of the Lazy User Model (Tétard & Collan opens as PDF, 2009).  The theorists postulate that users attempting to solve a problem, such as obtain information or carry out a task, are limited in some ways and have a set of possible solutions against which to weigh the need and the limitations.  They believe that users typically choose the solution that results in the least cost to them and still solves the problem. That is why they call the theory the “Lazy” User Model.  You can see that in this case, being lazy may save on the overall investment of time, money, or other resources.  Here is what that looks like in graphic form.

Lazy User Model

The Lazy User Model

Plug your need for a new cell phone into the graphic, and you will see how being lazy works for you.  You need a new cell phone. The state that limits you includes the choice of phones your cell phone provider offers, your knowledge of the phone you already have and when your current plan expires allowing you to select a new phone. Your possible solutions (let’s say) include an iPhone and an Android. The least cost or lazy option for you is the type of phone you already have because you already know how to use most of the features. The cost in terms of time spent learning the features of the phone outweigh the choice to adopt (or “switch” as Tétard & Collan, 2009 call the action) the possibility of choosing a new brand of phone.

Being Lazy in Class

What does being lazy look like in class? More important, why would you want to allow your students to be lazy? In our present case, let’s change the title of the model from Lazy User to Lazy Classroom.

Here is a scenario from a project Dana, Linda, and I reported on Literacy Beat recently (here and here). We asked a group of fifth graders to learn science vocabulary through the Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy Plus (VSS+) model.  The students needed to solve the problem of creating the VSS+ entry by selecting images, creating an audio file, and writing a definition, among other things.

The need or problem: Create a VSS+ entry.

The state that creates the limitations: Use the tools assigned and that are available in the school computer lab.  The students were further limited by the amount of time they had to complete the project before they were required to submit it.

The set of possible solutions thus includes choosing Thinglink or PowerPoint. Most of the students were familiar with PowerPoint but hadn’t used it, and none of the students were familiar at all with Thinglink.

The lowest cost or “lazy” solution for most students turned out to be PowerPoint because most of the students were familiar with the software. Some students did try Thinglink and created successful VSS+ entries because they were intrigued with the tool, and a few others started with Thinglink but switched back to the more familiar tool after experimenting with it.

Lazy Classroom Model

Lazy Classroom Model

What are the Implications for the Lazy Classroom?

There are several things we might take away from the Lazy Student Model.

  1. Being lazy can be a time saver that allows the students to concentrate on the task and not on the tool.
  2. Being lazy might mean that students will not choose the best technology because they chose the tool they know instead of the best one for the task.
  3. If students need to learn how to use a new-to-them technology, the will need support. Support could include direct instruction, a series of help or job aids, or access to a peer expert who is knowledgeable about the tool. Indeed, in the VSS+ project, we purposefully chose some students to become experts in working with sound files, selecting graphics, or designing graphic images using the drawing tools in PowerPoint, for example. Then, when other students needed assistance, we teachers directed the students to their expert peers to teach them what they needed to know just in time to put the technology to work.

What other implications for the Lazy Classroom Model occur to you? Are there examples you would like to share? Please use the comments section to post your thoughts.

Learn more about the Lazy User Model at http://lazyusermodel.org/

Reference:

Tétard, F. & Collan, M.  (2009). Lazy User Theory: A Dynamic Model to Understand User Selection of Products and Services. Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences – 2009. Retrieved from https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/hicss/2009/3450/00/09-13-01.pdf


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Webwatch: iGameMom, Games for Learning

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Happy Mother’s Day to our readers and to my terrific Literacy Beat co-bloggers!

Rose

By TDWolsey

Have you spent time searching the App Store for just the right learning game only to download an app and find it was not quite what you imagined? One of my favorite new sites is iGameMom where the contributors review learning apps for mobile devices they believe are worthy for children of different ages. Finding the right learning game is easy on iGameMom. The site is well-organized with reviews grouped by age and subject area. Because this blog focuses on literacy, this post highlights that section of iGameMom. However, there are many cool apps in other subject areas to check out.

Within the literacy category, you can locate apps for developing letter recognition and related skills, spelling, reading, and language. Recently, iGameMom reviewed Expand Vocabulary with Word Art, a game that pairs humorous artwork (as you know, Literacy Beat often features topics related to visual literacy, so this app was a great find!) with vocabulary learning in a game environment.  Apps reviewed on iGameMom can also be located by the price including those that are free. If you download an app, you may want to use the link provided on the site because it helps to support the site without any cost to you for doing so.

iGameMom

iGameMom: Games for Learning

In addition, there are several resources from the web linked on iGameMom that you may find useful. A list of free apps for iPad that iGameMom recommends are grouped by topic or skill to be developed.  The literacy-related lists include vocabulary development, handwriting (yep, handwriting—still an art in our digital age!), storytelling, grammar and more.

Infographic: Humanizing the Online Class

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Many posts on Literacy Beat relate to visual literacies in digital environments, and this week I wanted to share with you an infographic (thanks to our LiteracyBeat friend, Peggy Semingson) that describes ways to humanize the online class or course. Email and threaded discussion communications can seem cold and dry at times. But teaching is an art of the heart and soul as much as it is about the stuff of any content.  I think you are going to like this infographic! Also, be sure to check out the presentation mode to break down the elements of the infographic. The presentation mode can be activated in the top, right of your browser.

Humanize

PiktoChart – Click to open the infographic.

Peggy Semingson added: “Infographic was created by Michelle Pacanksy-Brock at Cal State Univ., Channel Islands (Instructional Designer). Her blog/website is here: http://www.teachingwithoutwalls.com/. I actually also came across her interactive syllabus example in the Online Learning Consortium class on The Interactive Syllabus.” Read more from teachingwithoutwalls here

Read more on Literacy Beat about Infographics.

Cool Tools from the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

A post by Jill Castek

In July 2014, I was so inspired by the presenters and participants who attended the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy (also see the Institute Wikispace at https://dliuri2014.wikispaces.com/).  This six-day institute held at the University of Rhode Island focused on how literacy is changing as a result of emerging media and technologies.  It offered participants an exciting and hands-on experience in which to discuss and explore new approaches to teaching literacy in today’s digital age. Presenters introduced a wide array of technology tools that can be used to create digital products, critique media, and curate online resources in engaging and efficient ways.  I’ve spent the last several months since the institute exploring all the tools, techniques, and possibilities.  This post focuses on just a few of these  resources:

Vialogues: https://vScreen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.04.47 PMialogues.com/ is a tool that can be used to spark meaningful conversations with students around videos you post to the platform. The discussions allow for a time-stamped, annotation-like discussion. Online interactions can refer specifically to exact parts of the video using time stamps. To scaffold the discussion, you can add comments, surveys and open-ended questions for your students that encourage students to critically analyze video texts.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker https://popcorn.webmaker.org/en-UScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.21.39 PMS/editor/ is another tool for analyzing video (its surprisingly easy to use).  Just take a video from YouTube and students can add their own commentary using pop-up boxes.  Students can use it to critique the messages in commercials, music videos, or public service announcements.  Use it in conjunction with, or in preparation for, a face-to-face dialogue to provide an avenue for students to share multiple points of view.

Blendspace https://www.blendspace.com/ creates easy to use and beautiful to look at collections of inline resources (including images, videos, Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.23.17 PMwebsites).  Just drag and drop items into your Blendspace to curate an entire educational experience for your students.  Optional features allow you to see which students have viewed the resources you posted. Quiz questions can be embedded throughout to help students track their progress through the content.  Visit the Blendspace site and explore the different ways teachers are using this innovative resource to enhance educational experiences for students.

Symbaloo http://www.symbaloo.com/ is a curation tool that is organized like a grid.  EacScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.29.12 PMh square contains an image and a link to a website.  Many educators have used Symbaloo to organize sites that students regularly visit so they are accessible all in one place. Others have used it to collect resources for students to explore on a given topic.  Collections are easy to share and are engaging to look at.  Your students will make connections easily to the visual format.  This video will introduce the benefits of its use in the classroom.

2015 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy Sign-Ups

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.48.01 PMAttending the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy was one of the most  rewarding experiences of my professional career.  If you’d like to attend the 2015 institute, mark your calendar for July 26 – July, 31, 2015 and visit the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island website to learn more http://mediaeducationlab.com/summer-institute-digital-literacy.

If you have used any of these resources in your classroom, leave us a comment.  We’d love to hear from you (and we’ll benefit from your experiences, too).

Curating Videos on the Web for Children

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Sometimes, searching for and selecting the best content online can take as much time as actually watching, reading, or engaging with the content itself. This is especially true for parents and teachers who often make the selections for children.  This is so for text and image-based digital content but also for video.  Youtube EDU provides some guidance for teachers and parents.  In this LiteracyBeat post, I will tell you a little bit about a new service that curates video content from a variety of sources and for specific audiences: Pluto TV

Where YouTube EDU uses an electronic discovery system to identify content, Pluto TV employs about 15 human beings who search for and curate videos. For parents, teachers, and children, the curation process is particularly important because each of the children’s channels (currently channels 901-906, click the “Channel Lineup” button on the top left) on Pluto are aimed at a different demographic, a very important feature that differs from television channels that may air content for preschool children in the morning and elementary-age children in the afternoon. Moreover, the curated content filters out shows on popular channels that don’t always deliver the educational or useful content parents expect. There is also a Kid’s Mode with a parent lock feature.  Shows can be saved for future viewing or a reminder sent that a show is about to air.

Pluto Screencap

Pluto TV screenshot – Kid’s Channel Lineup

The interface is a familiar one that looks like the channel line-up on your television service provider.  Each show plays at a specific time and it is possible to save a show or set up a reminder to watch it later. Of course, Pluto is well-designed to work on multiple devices and there is an app to improve the experience, as well.  Learn more about Pluto here.

Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World: A themed issue from Kappan

Phi Delta Kappan has just published a themed issue on “Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World” (November, 2014, volume 96, No. 3). For a short time period, you may view and download all of the articles online, for free.

http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current

magazine cover shows child reading on a tablet

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World

As literacy and technology expert Mike McKenna states in the opening to his article,

“Technology integration into language arts instruction has been slow and tentative, even as information technologies have evolved with frightening speed. Today’s teachers need to be aware of several extant and unchanging realities: Technology is now indispensable to literacy development; reading with technology requires new skills and strategies; technology can support struggling students; technology can transform writing; technology offers a means of motivating students; and waiting for research is a losing strategy.”

We have a lot to learn, a lot to accomplish, and we need to pick up the pace! I found this issue both practically valuable and thought provoking.

Please go to the Kappan website http://pdk.sagepub.com/ and search for the current November 2014 issue, or click on  http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current to go directly to the table of contents. I’ve listed the table of contents below (note that Jill has a piece on online inquiry and I have a piece on eText and eBooks). Enjoy!

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World – Table of Contents

Michael C. McKenna, Literacy instruction in the brave new world of technology

Joan Richardson, Maryanne Wolf: Balance technology and deep reading to create biliterate children

Christopher Harris, Fact or fiction? Libraries can thrive in the Digital Age

Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Can computers make the grade in writing exams?

Melody Zoch, Brooke Langston-DeMott, and Melissa Adams-Budde, Creating digital authors

Bridget Dalton, E-text and e-books are changing literacy landscape

Diane Carver Sekeres, Julie Coiro, Jill Castek, and Lizabeth A. Guzniczak. Wondering + online inquiry = learning

Gail Lynn Goldberg, One thousand words, plus a few more, is just right

Kristin Conradi, Tapping technology’s potential to motivate readers

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