This installment in our EdTech Interview series features English Language Arts teacher Larry Reiff. Larry is an Apple Distinguished Educator and integrates a range of technology tools into his lessons. He uses iTunes U and free and low-cost apps to bring the classics to life. Read on to discover his tips and favorite activities for using EdTech in an English Language Arts classroom.
I’m an English Language Arts Teachers at Roslyn High School in Roslyn, New York. My current focus is our freshman Humanities Program. Over that past few years, I’ve helped to develop an entire curriculum based on historical texts, philosophy and classic literature. The literature mirrors the topics they learn about in Social Studies. When students learn about Mesopotamia in Social Studies, we read The Epic of Gilgamesh in freshman Humanities. When they learn about Ancient Greece, we read the plays of Euripides and poetry of Homer. They see how it all fits together. The students at Roslyn are extremely motivated and almost all of our graduates go on to higher education and 90% attend four year colleges.
We are one-to-one school. Each one of my students is issued an iPad and a suite of apps that include Tellagami EDU, DoInk Green Screen, Explain Everything and a few others. Most of our classrooms are set up with Apple TV which allows me to move around and work one-on-one with my students. We’ve worked out a really good work flow using iTunesU and AirDrop.
Technology has allowed me to move to a more student-centered classroom. My students can express their learning in a variety of ways. As English Language Arts teachers, we tend to grade our students based on tests or essays. Technology in my classroom allows me to assess my students through the process of creation. It gives them almost limitless choices to show me that they “get it.”
I love using avatar apps like Tellagami, Chatterpix and Morfo. Not every student likes to raise his or her hand. These apps allow students to step into the shoes of a character or a person from history. Most of all, students have fun doing it. While it is a tech-friendly project, students have to complete a written component including a character analysis before they begin.
I hope that educational technology becomes a larger part of teacher education programs. I see many new teachers that know how to write a lesson plan, but do not know how to create a blog. Our teachers need to understand 21st century learning skills if we expect our students to thrive in the future.
You can connect with Larry Reiff on Twitter to learn more about his work.
Monica Burns is an Author, Speaker, EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
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