Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guest Blogger Rita Zeinstejer: Traveling to England w/ Google Apps for Education

Guest Summit Blogger: Rita Zeinstejer 
Google Certified Teacher 2008 
Presented at the EdTechTeam Mexico Summit ft. Google for Education
Looking for a summit near you to attend or present at? Click here.

Traveling to England with Google Apps for Education

As an EFL teacher in Rosario, Argentina, for over 30 years, my aim has always been help my students speak and feel English to communicate meaningfully and naturally. Colleagues, parents and students themselves, however, have had a different goal in mind when approaching a new language: that of sitting for an exam, and if an international one, all the more honourable!


With the advent of the Internet, my personal goals became attainable. Before, only those who had the willingness to make the effort to study printed textbooks lessons or else the skill to imitate the only model they had in front of their class --only those privileged students of English could achieve a good command of their target language, not to speak about the fortunate ones who had the economic means to travel and get the necessary direct practice to mingle with native and non-native speakers and hence gain more exposure and a more accurate use of the language. After many years, and making the most of these times when traveling has become a more popular and more doable objective for all, I decided to launch an accompanied trip to England here in my area, taking upper intermediate students of English with me, to allow them to feel the importance of learning English, to realize how the language they’ve been investing time in learning now becomes the main tool that will let them interact with people in other countries in the world.

 This was my ultimate goal, but I had another aim in mind: that of helping my students appreciate the value of getting introduced to the English culture prior to their trip, thanks to the power of the web and Google and all of its Apps. Convincing teenagers that the Internet is the wealthiest source of information as well as the most valuable means of communication --other than a chatting or gaming tool-- was quite a job. I took my students to the Multimedia Centre in the Institution where I worked for +30 years, and gave them the chance to browse different blogs. We had a talk, a discussion, and we analysed objectives. I opened our first class blog with Google's Blogger at http://travellingtoengland2011.blogspot.com/ and enticed them to share on this new site, our main channel to post queries, news, answers and information.

They would have the chance to virtually explore those cities we would be visiting during our real trip and the way for the integration of Google tools was paved. They chose which city in England to explore and process information on. They got together in groups of twos and threes and they were responsible for the final outcome, copyright considered. They selected different Google Apps and made good use of them. The students in the project were from 16 to 25, and while Blogger and Google Sites were our core tools where they housed all other their content, they also integrated Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Search, Google Street View, and I added Google Forms for a quiz I put up once all pages had been completed.

 Aims of the Project

 • familiarize learners with Google Apps for Education
 • appreciate the value of Google Apps for Education
 • allow them to practise English in authentic, meaningful situations
 • allow them to get in contact with English culture
 • raise awareness of the importance of going global
 • help students hone the four skills
 • expand learners' cultural understanding and horizons

 I’ve been repeating this successful experience every January, when I gather new groups of teenagers avid of visiting England. And Google has always been my hub, the virtual space where to get to know prospective travelers to the United Kingdom, the information centre I open up for them to explore, to do research on, and to investigate. And, most importantly, to collaborate and share with the world.

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