By Maria Spelleri, Manatee Community College, USA
I use the internet a lot in class even though my students don’t have individual internet access in the classroom. Our classrooms “only” have an instructor computer station and an overhead projector so the whole class can see. I find it invaluable for giving students a variety of interesting input that I used to have to pull together myself from pictures, books, movies, etc. Let me give you an example of a typical day from recent weeks, with four different classes:
In my lower level class, I have bookmarked some video clips from YouTube, movie trailers, or an advertisement. We review grammar concepts with the video as I elicit a narration of the video and ask questions about what is happening or is going to happen.
In my upper-intermediate reading class, the students are working from a text chapter that has an academic article about DNA analysis. They have to read a complicated article on DNA studies on Oetzi the Iceman. Since no one has a clue who Oetzi is/was, I use the internet to show them photos and simplified background information about the topic, as well as a map showing his possible trek through the mountains and valleys of Europe. (Most of my students only had a vague idea where the Alps are.) I will also use my textbook publisher’s website to do a review on Fact vs. Opinion in the format of a series of brief examples we can easily read as a class from the screen.
In my advanced writing class, we are working on personal essays. I link to archives of a radio program that features personal essays from readers. I quickly copy and enlarge the text so students can see it, and play the audio of the author reading his or her own essay, which really makes the essay come alive and also makes it easier to comprehend.
We then discuss the differences between a typical academic, informative essay and a personal essay. For homework, students will go to this radio website, choose an essay to read, and then write in the class blog why they recommend this essay to others. Eventually, students will write their own essays, post them on the class blog, and then read and comment on-line on each other’s work. The class votes on their favorite, and this student submits it to the radio station, as the station has requested its listeners to do.
In my speech and listening class, I show students wonderful animation and video from a website that has video representation of sounds. On this day, we are working on long ee versus short i sound.. We look at the video and animations and try to copy the facial and mouth movements prior to further practice from the book.
I remember the old days of collecting photos and cutting things out of catalogs, running to the photocopies when I stumbled across some writing I wanted to use, spending entire weekends making class materials- how time consuming it was, and how richer I feel the input in my classes are now thanks to the vast resources of the Internet.