Bi-Cultural Integrates Technology into Language Instruction

Posted on: November 1st, 2016 by admin
Samantha Schnelwar and Shira Kohl (foreground) work together on a Hebrew language activity using the iTalAM program. (Photo by Kathryn Danner)

Samantha Schnelwar and Shira Kohl (foreground) work together on a Hebrew language activity using the iTalAM program. (Photo by Kathryn Danner)

Bi-Cultural Day School recently rolled out an innovative approach to language-instruction for the entire 2nd grade class, blending technology with an interactive and engaging program.

The digital program of iTaLAM is a complete multi-media and sensory model, building on the strengths of the current TaLAM curriculum to provide an Internet-based curriculum with content appealing to the digital generation.

“The iTalAM’s blended learning model has really taken our rich and robust language instruction in the classroom and added a whole new dimension; it meshes the current print-based curriculum of TaLAM with games, songs, and digital interactive books for a truly multisensory, holistic learning experience,” said 2nd grade Jewish Studies teacher Lauren Hazony.

The lessons available through iTalAM are all specially designed for a young learning audience and feature listening and reading exercises, games, creative writing, art activities and animated stories and songs. All content focuses on general Hebrew language conversation as well as the celebration of holidays and Shabbat, accessed on customized Google Chromebooks.

In addition to the learning aspect for the students, on the instruction side, Hazony can monitor student progress through the back end of iTaLAM’s learning management system, enabling her to monitor student work both in class and at home, as well as to evaluate, report, differentiate, and individualize learning. “This aspect of the program is so helpful to me as the teacher; I can adapt each lesson to each child’s own language skill and monitor their progress to make sure that they’re progressing at their own comfort level. It really allows me to differentiate language instruction in a unique and individualized way,” added Hazony, who completed an intensive professional training course to become proficient in teaching iTalAM. The program also allows students to listen to their own reading and pronunciation and to recognize and correct their own errors.

“Our second graders really love this program and the parents are excited to see technology being used for Hebrew language-learning. All the instructions, typing and even the keyboard are in Hebrew and they’re able to login and complete the work at home also,” said Hazony.

This is not the first time that Hazony has incorporated a progressive method of technology into her teaching method. Hazony, along with many other Bi-Cultural Judaic Studies teachers, have been using VoiceThread, a web-based application that allows participants to have conversations and to make comments using any mix of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file. Hazony explained that using these types of technology tools have proven to be invaluable tools to improve the student learning experience. “Reading and speaking Hebrew out loud is crucial to fully grasping the language and these tools are exciting ways to capture the student’s own understanding and customize material specially for them.”