News items are common resources teachers use to develop ESL students’ cultural understanding of the society they live in.Take the Sydney Morning Herald app.
1. Using resources that are instantly available saves you preparation time. Instead of buying the paper, flicking through, choosing an article, cutting it out, pasting it, writing some questions on the paper and photocopying it, you only need to project it from the iPad for all students to see it in class. You can also send them an email copy of it from the app. Or they can view it on their mobile device.
2. Another big advantage of a newspaper app are the interactive features. Again this saves you time in creating it yourself. For example, on the topic of food I found this article “Bite size view of a nation” explaining what Australians are eating and how much they are eating. Not good news. Longer working hours means more processed food!
Anyway, if you view it in a normal browser, this is what you get. Plain text with lots of advertising.
Now look at the same article in the SMH app. It includes a touch screen visual where you tap on a food item to reveal the statistics. Similar to what you can do with the Notebook software of Smartboards but here it is already made!
This is what you could do with an interactive article in class.
- Guide students by asking topic related questions to elicit their views and experiences. E.g. Which of these foods do you like? How many times a week do you eat seafood?
- Then have them read the article individually to check their understanding of vocabulary and idioms.
- Finally have them collaborate together to create their own graph using Word, The Keynote app or Google Docs templates.
3. I’d also like to point out to those unfamiliar with the app that you can save the article for when you are ready to use it. Throw away those cardboard folders!
4. Plus cutting down on prep means that you’ll have more time to actually read the rest of the news!
5. Of course, I’m primarily interested in making reading the news more engaging for students – not to sell the app which is free anyway at the moment. Try it.
How much of an improved learning experience is it for students when you use the app rather than the paper copy or browser version? Have you tried any newspaper apps in class?
Pics are iPad screenshots.