Tech User of the Month: Dawnette Polland of Yavapai College Adult Education!
Dawnette Polland, ELAA Instructor and IET Co-Coordinator for Yavapai College Adult Education, has created a robust resource for her students that is beneficial for the present and future. The Google Site that Dawnette created for her ELAA students has activities to not only support growth in their language skills, but also in their digital literacy skills. Dawnette included a keyboarding skills resource, called Typeracer, that students can download to improve their typing abilities! Not only that, Dawnette has big plans to further develop the site, including utilizing it for the TVM setting it up to have students submit assignments through the site! Check out her responses below to see all the different angles Dawnette thought about to ensure her Google Site is top notch!
Q: What was the need that prompted you to create the site?
A: On March 16, 2020, my colleagues and I were notified that our college would convert to a remote atmosphere due to COVID-19. We needed to immediately begin designing a way to transition our Face-to-Face (F2F) classes to an online course. Most ELAA students do not own a computer (laptop, tablet, desktop) let alone know how to use it. Although, they do have cell phones.
So, the question in my mind was, “How can we transition our students to work online, access Burlington English (BE) with us in a Zoom virtual class while reinforcing their ability to work independently in the BE Student Lesson section?”
In my mind, the first step was to make sure our goals not only aligned with the AZ Standards but that we, as instructors, ensured the students continued growth in (1) reading, (2) writing, (3) listening, (4) speaking, and (5) a means to continually assess the students’ comprehension.
Whatever was designed needed to be robust and able to keep alive during, and after, these new experiences and opportunities.
Q: How was that need filled as a result of the site?
A: The biggest need with our students was explaining how to log into BE, how to log into and use Zoom, and then how to use the BE Student Lessons on their own.
The first huge hurdle after conquering Zoom, was to visually show the students what we were saying regarding how to use a browser. Then the questions evolved to, “How do the students find BE on a browser?” And, of course, how to explain to learners how to create their BE account and log into their Zoom class. Please note, most ELAA students do not have, or use, email so sending them BE’s material alone via email wasn’t a sure-thing that they would see it before class let alone understand what it was saying. This site had to reach all levels of learners.
Initially, for my students, being able to visually look at the pictures on the ELAA Google Site aided in a not so rough experience for the learners as well as the instructor. For those who had a better handle on English, they also had written step-by-step instructions with the visuals. This Google Site covers where to enter their search for BE in the browser, opening BE, creating a BE account, clicking on the BE virtual Class Scheduler, and logging into the Zoom virtual class through BE.
An additional need was to attempt to have each learner create an email account to make the transition from F2F classes to the virtual classroom with the ability to use every virtual tool available. This brought us to the issue of being able to communicate with students via email in addition to texting, sending worksheets via email, and additional learning tools such as verb tense charts and material used in the virtual class. But to do so, the students had to also have a basic understanding of how to use the technology, e.g., computer, monitor, and mouse. For these reasons, I created the main menu called Computer Basics. Sub-menus include Creating a Gmail account (with other optional links for Yahoo, Outlook, or iCloud). The third sub-menu is giving direction on how to download documents from their email account on a computer or a cellphone.
Of course, helping students obtain the Zoom app, plus learn how to use it, was the final and most important need to meet. At this time, without Zoom we wouldn’t have virtual classes. There are a few other meeting apps, but Zoom is the most readily available to everyone. This Google Site includes a menu called “Zoom-Downloading the Zoom App and joining a Meeting.” As the title states, here the learners are able to follow both visual and text in locating the Zoom app, downloading and installing the zoom app for a cellphone and computer/tablet along with how to join a meeting if not using BE’s great scheduler.
One last thing, two of our instructors were using USALearns so there was a need for a dedicated page guiding the learner on locating it on their browser, registering with USALearns along with a list of classes / keys to participate.
Q: What are the student expectations for using the site?
A: A couple of us expected the students to refer to the site to first follow along on how to log into BE or USALearns, how to log into the BE virtual class, and how to use Zoom. I expected my students to also continue to use the site to find free books that were featured monthly (a link was provided with each book) along with other recommended reading material to continue developing their skills in reading.
It was also expected to be used to further develop their grammar skills (under Skills) which is labeled grammar and vocabulary; learning keyboarding skills by downloading the Typeracer app either learn keyboarding or to improve what they already knew.
In addition, I asked the students to continue working on their pronunciation and could reference the Pronunciation page to work on vowel sounds and phonics (with YouTube videos for additional guidance), along with the “More Lessons” page to learn with short YouTube videos. There are also YouTube videos being added to help with specific events in their lives such as job interviewing.
Finally, this site will be used as a TVM tool. This is still under construction, but once finished, the students will be expected to check their section level (beginner, low intermediate, intermediate, etc.) for their assignment. They will have a way to either turn it in via the site, or a link where the instructor can check the work.
Q: Were there (or are there still) challenges that came with implementing the Google Site in your classes?
A: Yes, it was a challenge to get some of the students to work on their own and use the Google Site outside of class, or simply go to it to troubleshoot. One solution that helped was to pull the Google Site up in the class and go to a page and use it myself while having the students participate. Example: Under “More Lesson” we watched a video that tied into that day’s lesson. Or use one of the videos under “Learn and Practice English with Videos.” I would ask the students to tell me where to navigate from the menu to find what we wanted to use. The idea was if they became more familiar with the Google Site they would (1) not be afraid to access it, (2) were able to find something they were interested in and use it, and (3) give them more internet/browser maneuverability experience.
I feel that once I get the TVM side of the site figured out and running that the students and instructors will use it frequently.
Q: Describe the features of the site (the tabs, links, etc.).
A: It was very important to have a flow that made sense and was easily accessible. Since I’m working with students learning English, and BE being our key resource during this era of Covid-19, the menu and links must be easily understood first visually and then cognitively. This specific site is designed to answer questions a student may initially ask when alone: “What is ELAA and why is this google site important to me?”
Because most of our online ELAA courses use BE, it was very important to provide a reference point upfront for learners to follow steps on “how to find Burlington English on their browser, how to log into Burlington English, how to log into the Burlington English online class, and how to access the Burlington English student lessons.” It’s different if we were in a brick-and-mortar classroom sitting at a computer, so the question became “how” do we help our students make a smooth transition?
We begin with the Home page where the questions are asked and answered: “Why do I want to Learn English and why is it so important?” It also introduces links and suggests the user click on those for more information on that subject / topic / word.
To throw a personal touch in, I included on the Home page two videos of the life of Guo Jing’ in Wuhan, China. The purpose was to connect the learner to someone across the world and see what they were going through during quarantine. As we evolve out of this Covid era, this video will be updated with current, and interesting, videos.
Shortly after the initial exposure to BE online, the students became inquisitive and asked, “What is Burlington English?” For this reason, information on what BE was about was the next menu item.
Now, it was important to consider those students who have never used a computer, laptop, or tablet and created a menu tab called “Computer Basics.” This provides only the basics on computers, monitors, and tablets. Just enough to give them some exposure and soften the learning curve.
Sometimes the instructors wanted to provide worksheets for the students to use during the virtual class, or work on as homework. Other times we like to send them material covered in class for their reference, e.g., verb tense charts. This couldn’t be sent via text, so the normal tool we used was email. Most of our students didn’t have an email address and didn’t know how to create an email account. Under computer basics are sub-menus for “Creating a Gmail Account” and links to Yahoo, Outlook and iCloud if they don’t want Gmail as their provider.
Using Zoom was essential for our virtual classes, so a tab was created in the menu bar entirely committed to Zoom, e.g., downloading zoom, how to use zoom and troubleshooting zoom.
Students sometimes need homework to reinforce the subject matter, or to look over work to be covered in the next class. The next menu in this site is still under construction because I’m experimenting with using Edmodo to create assignments in which the student can select a link and see/submit the finished product. However, the plan is that each level will have its own section to head to and complete. For example, a beginner level learner is being exposed to elements of a story: characters, plot, and setting. For the TVM assignment, the learner will then read an assigned short story and identify each element. Again, this section is under construction.
Because one of our instructors was using USALearns, it was important to dedicate a page to expose the student to what USALearns was about, how to register / log in to USALearns, the classes/class keys that were available, and inform the students that they could use this resource to prepare for their U.S. Citizenship test. It also has the instructor’s contact information.
Next important element for our student’s education is to concentrate on specific skills. What exactly does that involve and how can we provide lessons in a browser-based site? I created a page showing what those basic skills are and then provide one page per level with assignments for each skill. Example: Every level reader is asked to keep a reading journal (with explanation and examples of how to do this), then it’s followed by a writing assignment that is geared to their level. There will be assignments for each area: Reading, writing, listening, speaking and an assessment.
Under the same Skills menu is a sub-menu to build vocabulary. Each level of student has e a link to Vocabulary.com to work on vocabulary. There are only three (3) short stories on the page at this time, but the plan is to add more short stories for the purpose of continuing vocabulary building and understanding.
The Writing sub-menu link is mainly text outlining valuable writing tips. This isn’t finished because eventually there will be visuals as this has too much black text on white background.
Part of writing in today’s digital world is being able to type on the computer keyboard, so we included a fun app to create an account to learn, and practice, typing.
Since I love to read and love books and believe this is a great tool to expand your world and help students to learn English, the next menu is called Featured Books. All these books have links attached to them to find the free version, or pdf, and/or can listen to some of the books. The goal is to feature two new books every month. Following this menu is the menu link for Recommended Reading just in case any of our students become avid readers.
Pronunciation is key to speaking fluent English and this process is as important as reading. Accordingly, pages under the Pronunciation menu are created entirely for students to practice hearing and speaking vowel sounds and different phonetic sounds.
Lastly, we have the “More” menu for those students who desire to enhance their practice of speaking English. The method used is by providing short videos where the student can listen, watch, hear, and then repeat. To top this off, why not watch some movies in English, especially since we are quarantined? On the page titled “Movies to watch during self-quarantine” are trailers of suggested movies. All movies are family-friendly since our students will either be watching with a friend, or their children.
Of course, there is a “Contact Us’ form for more information, e.g., to take classes, make recommendations for the site, or just questions.
Q: Is there any additional information you’d like to add?
A: I’ve been tossing around creating interactive videos and inserting them into the site. However, I first need to learn how to make them. That, and time, is all that has prevented me from this final addition. Other than that, I think I just need to complete all the construction projects that remain within the existing site.
I am excited to see how Dawnette will continue to evolve this wonderful resource and continue to benefit a wide range of students! Check it out here!
Are you or someone you know implementing technology into instruction in an innovative way?
9/4/2020: BurlingtonEnglish Core Has New Content Features!
Translated voice overs now available in five languages for the Tutorials, languages include: Spanish, Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Korean, and Haitian Creole
Module 9 is now available
Module 10 is out coming next week
Lesson plans and worksheets now available for Modules 1-2
Scope and Sequence is now available
All worksheets for Modules 1-2
ICL Worksheets only Modules 3-8 (expansion worksheets coming soon)
8/7/2020: Check Out EdReady's Webinar Series!
EdReady is hosting a range of sessions for all levels of users! Topics range from EdReady 101 (for those interested in learning more about it or are just getting started) to EdReady Advanced and New Functionality, as well as, Leverage EdReady Reports to Support Your Students (both ideal for teachers already using the platform). See the times, dates, and register here!
7/2/2020: Check Out 3 New Features in BurlingtonEnglish!
Readers are Now Available on Mobile Devices! A teacher guide is also available with tips and strategies on how to incorporate the readers into your instruction!
Levels 5 & 6 are now available in Core - there are 4 modules for each level!
The promised Placement Test is here! Teachers will have a Placement Test tile on their home screen and can assign it to a specific student or all students. Once the student logs in, they will automatically be directed to the placement exam (it is approximately 15 minutes in duration). The report will show which level of BE to place the student into. Note: This exam is for instructional placement only and does not take the place of the TABE CLAS-E and cannot be used for NRS reporting purposes.
State-Approved Online Curricula Info-graphic
This info-graphic contains the approved online curriculum for the Learner Mastery Model and Clock-Time Model as well as tips for success regarding reporting proxy hours in AAEDMS and the Teacher Verification Model! Click here to view.
Blended & Virtual/Distance Learning Policy
The updated version includes pertinent AAEDMS information and features the newly approved online curricula. Click here to view.
UPDATED: AZ Library Resources for Internet Challenges
Wifi Hotspot Lending Program Update: recently awarded funding for 16 libraries to start or continue lending programs, and with the CARES Act stimulus funding are in the process of awarding additional funding for hotspot lending. Reach out to your local library to see if they are a participant of this program.
Teacher Verification Model Lesson Repository with Search Feature!
It has been a year of dreaming and 6 months in the making, but, it is finally here (courtesy of, Kyle Boysen)!Use this Google Sheet to filter and search for TVM submissions from around the state. An instructional video is coming soon, for now follow these three simple steps navigate it:
Click the link above then select “Make a copy”
Use the drop-down boxes to select your filter/search criteria
Check out this table that briefly describes various digital tools that can be used in all access scenarios (from a computer with reliable internet to a cell phone with unreliable internet to no internet or computer access)
Self-Paced Online Courses - Earn 4 hours of PD for each one!
NEW! Digital Literacy for Teachers (Beginner to Intermediate levels)
Focus: Introductory training on Microsoft Office Suite and Google G Suite to support Digital Literacy in the classroom. Click here to enroll
Focus: Instructional strategies that are often referred to as 'The Marzano 9’, along with a range of technology tools that can be integrated into your instruction. Click here to enroll
Google Sites for Assessment
Focus: Building a Google Site with a YouTube video, a Google Form, and some written guidance for students to follow. Click here to enroll
Blended Learning Certification (TVM requirement)
Focus: Ensure an understanding of blended learning as a mode of instruction. You will also have a thorough understanding, and provide evidence to show as such, of the 'teacher verification model'. Click here to enroll
Thank you for visiting the site! Contact Corina at [email protected] if you have any questions/concerns/comments.:)