I am a High School teacher of English in Israel. Moodle is key to engaging my teenage pupils. In fact, I use Moodle as a hook.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” From roughly the year 2000 until 2012, my plans had to do with finding digital tools to engage my teenage English as Foreign Language pupils during my lessons and beyond (homework!). Just when I thought that had found, and tried with different degrees of success, suitable venues (namely, blogs, forums, educational social media and the like), in 2012 I came across Moodle. To be sure, meeting and using Moodle has been a game changer: it has allowed me to use the digital venues I have mentioned with my pupils, and also have them learn, practice, interact, and be assessed, all in one secure, single digital learning environment. Like Mr. Cattanzara in Bernard Malamud’s “A Summer’s Reading”, Moodle is a change maker.
Like me, you may be a High School teacher, so you know what it is like to compete with so many things that prevent teens from giving full attention to that which you are trying to do (teach them something). Regardless of the country Junior High or High School teachers live an work in, when teaching pre-teens and teens, I believe, we have to try to overcome the influence of their hormones on their behavior or mood (already a major task in itself). In addition, we have to overcome other distractions (Have I mentioned smartphones? If I have not, then I do so now). Oh, yes: it is probably different from country to country, and cultural differences within a country and / or a city play a role, but teens are teens, and engaging them is the key to reaching pupils. As for me, Moodle serves as one such key.
In State, public schools in Israel, classes tend to be somewhat overcrowded: more often than not I have had from 30 to 40 pupils per class/course. I am not alone here. Since not all of us, teachers in Israel, are magicians (I am not), there certainly is a need to have somewhat swift transitions among activities within one lesson so as to keep pupils focused as much as possible. At The Six-Year Kugel High School in Holon (www.kugel.org.il ), where I have been teaching for the last 30 years, I am lucky to have a computer, cable Internet connectivity, available Wifi for pupils, loudspeakers and a screen projector in every classroom I teach (in fact, that is available in every classroom at school). I put all that to use in almost every lesson, showing the course’s Moodle This is the meeting point between both my use of Moodle for Blended Learning and my view of Moodle as one tool designed to catch my pupils’ attention. I use Moodle as a hook.
My pupils tend to joke that I either am “the owner of Moodle”, or get some kickback or fringe benefits from their use of the platform. I have told them that getting a percentage of income given to me as payment for having them make use of Moodle would be considered improper or unethical. Yet I have also said that I get a kick out of having them learn, practice, interact and be tested using Moodle.Yes, I do get a sense of teacher enjoyment, amusement, satisfaction or excitement from getting them to focus during lessons, and from using Moodle beyond class time (Flipped Classroom and homework).
However, you may ask what I do with Moodle, or how I use Moodle in the English Classroom. You may also ask whether I am a lone wolf at school and / or amongst the English as Foreign Language teaching Community in Israel. If you ask those questions, and are interested in the answers, then I will share them in future posts.
Thanks for your time!
Regards from Holon, Israel.