Every teacher has his or her favourite classroom resources, but for Zein Odeh, a teacher with almost 10 years of experience and the current junior school English curriculum coordinator at Toronto French School, one tool in particular stands out. As a firm believer in inquiry-based learning, Odeh chooses GoGoTeach – a subscription-based lesson tool for teachers – and GoGoNews – a free news search engine – as her favourite classroom resources.
Today, she is the educational consultant for GoGoNews, and encourages teachers in her school in Toronto to use the product. In an interview, Odeh told us why she loves GoGoTeach and GoGoNews, as well as what other technological products her school uses.
What is GoGoTeach?
GoGoTeach is basically an educational tool designed for teachers to use in their class to promote nonfiction literacy. It allows for educators to introduce current events and other nonfiction topics to their students, and this is done through a variety of methods. GoGoTeach is divided into four basic sections:
- We have Language, where you can write a descriptive paragraph and maybe write a blog. It could be designing a poster based on an article. You have to read an article, then do some type of inquiry activity that goes along with that article.
- We also have GoGo Word, which plays more on language convention, so it could be how to use an apostrophe, how to use nouns and verbs. It could be using adjectives. GoGo Word is more specifically honing in on the skills.
- We have GoGo Reading Comprehension, which allows for teachers to practice reading with their students. There are different types of questions for GoGo Reading Comprehension where you have to predict, or inference or simply state thoughts based on the article.
- Then you have GoGo Discussion, where a topic might be introduced and the students in class can debate the topics, or respond to their topics in their journal or give an oral presentation.
GoGoTeach is leveled from grade two to five, with questions in the different categories catered to those levels. So it can be used as a literacy center, it can be used for core reading, [and] it can be used for guided reading. Teachers can also use it for open or guided inquiry.
How do teachers use GoGoTeach in the classroom?
We have some teachers who use it for homework, so they tell their students to log onto GoGoTeach, and the teacher themselves can assign tasks for their students. It can be more open,
and you can start your day with some news and say, ‘I am going to give you five to 10 minutes to browse the site. Who has read an interesting article? What did you read about it?’ Or, it can be more guided by giving them a topic or asking them to contribute an article in response to a certain question. It really depends. There is a lot of flexibility.
How does GoGoNews inspire students?
By introducing GoGoNews on a daily basis and having them read this type of content, you are opening their world to many different situations, many different narratives and many different issues that are affecting our world, and many students are inspired by that to take action.
Why do you call GoGoNews the ‘Google for kids?’
We actually have a search tool on GoGoNews where students can type in the topic and it will retrieve all the information, all the images that have to do with that topic. So when I have students searching on GoGoNews, I don’t need to be afraid that other topics will come up or something inappropriate will come up on the search engine because there’s a filtered search engine on GoGoNews.
What other technology tools are being used in your classrooms?
We have iPads, SMART Boards, computers and video cameras. Those are the different kinds of tools that we are using right now in the classroom.
How can using these tools impact learning?
The research out there definitely shows that students are far more engaged when they are using such tools. It is far more engaging for students to be reading on an iPad or via a SMART Board. But also, what’s really important is not just the technology. I think technology is a way to promote or show the content, but what’s more important is the actual content.