“I knew that I wanted to help others to learn English so that they wouldn’t feel like outsiders.” – Luis Oliveira, USA
Luis M. Oliveira
Director of Unified Arts/ELL Teacher
Middletown High School
Rhode Island, USA
When Luis Oliveira moved to the US as a nine-year-old child, he didn’t know any English. But two English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers he met on his first day of school not only made him feel welcome, they changed the course of his life.
“I arrived in the US on a Friday and started school on a Monday,” Oliveira shares. “It was a scary time, but my teachers did everything that they could to help me to learn. That had a profound effect on me, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to help others to learn English so that they wouldn’t feel like outsiders.”
Today, this Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert uses technology in creative ways to help his students feel included and to spark their love for learning.
“My favorite classroom activity that empowers my English-language learners is having them record Flipgrid videos,” he says. ”Many of my students are shy and don’t want to speak in front of their peers. Flipgrid provides them a vehicle to share their opinions and have a voice in the privacy of their homes or even in the hallway using a laptop or cell phone.”
This approach has shortened the silent period that most English-language learners go through, Oliveira says.
“My students use Flipgrid to respond to literature, report back on their activities (dialogue journals), participate in global activities, give advice to next year’s students, and reflect on various topics,” he says. “I often use Flipgrid with other programs such as Newsela. The following video gives some examples of how I app smashed Flipgrid with Newsela.”
Using Flipgrid, Oliveira’s students create a Dialogue Journal, connect with and give advice to other students – including Puerto Rican students who lived through Hurricane Maria — and share their reflections.
While technology plays a big role in his teaching, Oliveira feels that balancing technology use remains a challenge.
“I have the students use their phones for many educationally sound activities but at the same time, many of the students are addicted to their phones,” he explains. “They are texting and doing other activities that are detrimental to their well-being. Technology needs to be used to enhance learning and not to distract from learning.”
About Luis Oliveira
- Educational background: Bachelors and Master’s degrees from Rhode Island College (Bachelors Degree: Secondary Education Spanish; Master’s in Bilingual-Bicultural Education Spanish). Also certified in Computer Science and have an endorsement in ESL.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Microsoft Teams, Flipgrid, Immersive Reader, Translator, Sway. I love Teams because I am able to embed many of the other tools that I use into Teams. This gives my ELs many tools with only one log-on.
- Favorite books: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- Website I check every day: twitter.com — I have to connect and check in with my PLN daily.
- Favorite childhood memory: The ride home from the airport after arriving in the United States. I was amazed by everything that I saw especially the huge movie screen from a drive-in theater off the highway. I had a neck ache from the 90-minute drive because I was turning constantly and checking everything out.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? The best advice I have ever received was to worry about the student first and the curriculum second.