This chapter has presented some of the ways that language learners can interact socially and shown how both teachers and learners can use technology to support and encourage collaboration. Each of the activities provides students with specific roles to play that are important to the outcome of the task, gives them choices so that they must discuss and plan, and provides them with important reasons to listen and respond to each other. Even these task features do not guarantee that learners will interact and learn, but chances are better that they will than if the tasks are not planned to enhance interaction.
► Teachers’ Voices
As far as other activities that might be helpful, I think you can also have the students record what they want to say in a greeting card from American Greetings (https://www.americangreetings.com/) and send the e-card to each other (since your focus at this point seems more communication and getting them motivated), or they can even record what they want to say to an author and send it by e-mail.
These are the roles I use in my classroom—of course there are others and some worded differently, but these roles work well for my fifth graders: Manager, Timekeeper, Cheerleader, Taskmaster, Reporter.
Different titles are used depending on the activity: geographer, cartographer, text media, and so on. Most titles revolve around: recorder, presenter, timekeeper, organizer, facilitator. I give these roles names that are appropriate to the task.
First and foremost, just because students are in high school, it does not mean they are prepared to work with the latitude of issues associated with open forum discussion on the Internet; this is scary. Therefore boundaries must exist with regards to technology in K–12. I would not, however, rule out using e-mail in a structured, purposeful lesson. In terms of building language, MSN Messenger is a great way for students to build their automaticity. I have found when students are really engaged that they amazingly come up with vocabulary and words that they themselves were not aware they knew.
The second reason I would structure and use e-mail and MS-type chatting in elementary school is to narrow the socioeconomic gap; other students have access to this in their homes and it provides rich experience that students may need later on down the road.
For my science class, I have decided to divide my class into five groups of three and task each group to create a Wiki page about a particular animal they have learned about. I think they will like this activity.
I think students’ using their cell phones in the class is a distractor. During recess, I see my students are always busy playing games on their cell phones. I need to talk to their parents and have them turn their cell phones off when entering the class.