Recommended Apps

by Luis J. Hernández

I usually start my workshops by reminding participants that the “cool” technologies listed here are useless unless we start with a clear purpose in mind for the lesson. To help them with that, I introduce participants to the ExCEL method for engaging instruction. I created this method (a variation of the 5E model of instruction) while I was in the classroom looking for an easy-to-follow strategy to guide me through the lesson cycle while focusing on the subject matter introduced with the lesson, and the academic language required by it. 

ExCEL stands for Explain, Create, and Elaborate.

ExCEL MethodExplain
It refers to taking the time to design meaningful learning experiences that incorporate the most effective ways to engage the students with the objectives for content and language of the lesson (TEKS and ELPS here in Texas). The key to this fundamental stage of the lesson is to make sure that the message is clear, relevant and truly comprehensible.

Tip: using culture and language to activate prior knowledge is a fantastic starting point.

Providing students with the opportunity to create a new product (foldable, PowerPoint, a sketch, etc.) by using the newly gained knowledge and ideas.

Tip: technology offers fantastic and engaging tools to facilitate this.

Encourage students to take that new knowledge and use it in multiple contexts while making connections between multiple academic subjects.

Tip: using games, group projects, and other challenging and playful activities are great ways to achieve this.

A final and fundamental element in this method is the ongoing evaluation of the activities against the reference provided by the objectives for content and language. In this area, I recommend using multiple forms of informal assessment and providing opportunities for peer review and discussions.

Here is the framework for the ExCEL method which can be used as a reference during the lesson planning phase.

ExCEL Method Framework

Now that I have provided you with this method of instruction as a guideline, here is the list of apps that I usually model during my professional development workshops.  These are powerful tools for facilitating learning and language acquisition when used correctly. Just click or tap on the name to learn more about each tool.

Presentations, Visual Note-Taking (Sketchnoting), Playful Learning and Formative Assessment

Digital Storytelling and Video Editing

Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality

Affordable Virtual Reality in the classroom is also available today with some of the apps designed for the Google Cardboard and other variations of the VR viewer. Here are some recommended apps and videos:

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