Friday, January 30, 2015

TESOL Foundations Course Module 1

Task 1:  Reading and Discussion Board

From ESL teacher electracy: A shift from flat to digital teaching and learning
+ I got this article, first in three-part series, in my email: 4Cs of 21st Century Learning for ELLs

I learned a new term I had never heard of before (electracy).  I’ll start throwing in that word in casual conversation and impress people ;)
I was a bit shocked (I practically choked, to be honest) by the information in the eLearning Revolution video that “it can take 220 hours to curate one hour of elearning”! I went to the source Web site to try to find a breakdown, but I couldn’t find it, so I wonder if that includes writing the code for the LMS, too, or what!? 

I do realize and firmly acknowledge that teaching online takes more time than teaching onground because of the need to be very specific, concise, and even repetitive in the directions and explanations for students, the need to have frequent communication with not just one class but with every student in the class, and the materials creation that goes beyond text in adherence to principles of Universal Design in Education and accessility requirments (e.g., providing closed captions or a transcript for a video).  But 220 hours = 1 hour! 

My answers the discussion questions:
I completely agree with paradigm shift from the 3 Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) to the 4 Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) in 21st Century education. Although I am not connected much with K-12 because I teach in a noncredit adult/community college department, looking back on my own education, I really did not see the value of studying math, for example, because the assignments were only about doing the problems without a lot of real-world applicability or relevance.  I realize that a lot has changed now, thankfully, as I see in my daughter’s schoolwork, but I think a lot of work remains to be done in applicability to preparing students for the world of work. It would be great to see more of an interdisciplinary approach -- connecting the subjects/ content across subjects, as some colleges do with paired courses (for example, an English composition class paired with a history class). 

While (as far as I can tell at this point) the Common Core does build in deeper, critical thinking skills for K-12 students, I really appreciate what the American Institute’s for Research’s 2013 report Connected Teaching and Personalized Learning: Implications of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) for Adult Education advocates: an approach to adult education that includes “[c]urricula or modules of curricula that incorporate assignments and learning activities for which students are content creators, creating digital content and contributing it to the Internet environment…” Such projects are engaging and motivating while “develop[ing] students' skills with the subject matter (mathematics, language), giv[ing] them practice with technologies that enhance their résumés and their capability for entering community college programs” (p.6). Obviously, in adult ed, many students take ESL classes to prepare for transitions to higher ed or to get better jobs, so going beyond the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in our classes is what will help these students attain educational and employment goals. Math aside, this is what I try to do in my classes by teaching the four skills around a theme with an end product students create with technology (could be as simple as a Word-processed document to as advanced as a student-produced Web page or video).

The Common Core does not directly affect my situation; however, many of the students in the ESL program in which I work go on to take Adult High School/GED and credit college classes. Similar to the soon-to-be implemented Common Core digital assessments, the GED is now computer-based, so if students have not had the opportunity to use technology in ESL and end up in AHS, GED, or credit-bearing courses, they will be at a big disadvantage. I believe whole-heartedly that adult ESL instructors who are not having students use technology (even minimally at the beginning levels by doing keyboarding) are doing their students a disservice. I realize that there are always accessibility and equipment issues, but students need basic computer skills these days just to apply for a job, check their school children’s grades and enroll their kids and themselves in classes, and so much more. Because we do not have Common Core in adult ESL, a lot of leaders in the field of adult ESL are looking to the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education for guidance in instructional development to incorporate the 4Cs, even though there have not been federal mandates (yet) to implement the standards into our curricula. I reviewed the anchor standards to see where technology was embedded, and this is what I located – digital literacy skills that pretty much mirror what Crumper mentions in this module’s article ESL teacher electracy: A shift from flat to digital teaching and learning” as necessary for K-12 students to have for the PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments (and which, I believe, most teachers in adult ESL I know are already doing at some level): 

·       Within Language Arts and Literacy / Writing Standards

CCR Anchor 6: Use Technology, Including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others – page 27

CCR Anchor 8: Gather relevant information from print and digital sources…

·       Within Language Arts and Literacy / Speaking and Listening Standards

CCR Anchor 2: Integrate and evaluation information presented in diverse media and formats…page 31

CCR Anchor 5: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations – page 32

 In addition to Learning for Life: ESL Literacy Curriculum Framework by Bow Valley College, referenced in Crumper’s article, REEP World has an ESL Technology Curriuclum with lesson plans and materials, but I am not sure when it was last revised.  These seem like they would be useful with either beginning ESL students or ESL students who are novice computer users.
I really like Fresno County Office of Education’s Recommended Technology Skills for the Common Core to guide educators in K-12 in integrating technology and promoting digital literacy skills. I would like to use this guide as a checklist for my own professional development because there are some skills that I don’t know how to do…I can’t imagine handing this to some of the teachers in my program and telling them that they have to teach these skills, though. I can hear the protests now: “I’m an ESL teacher, not a computer teacher.” However, I think if we can integrate technology with having students do some hands-on projects, I believe we can start taking small steps in the right direction. Just as in ESL, we have to start at the level of our students’ skills.
Because the program I teach in receives federal funding (Workforce Investment Grant), we must complete an annual tech plan.  Actually, I am a tech plan reviewer of submissions in California for OTAN, and for this year’s plan, there were major changes in the plan requirements to reflect the need to incorporate digital literacy in adult ed.  This should make for more interesting reading because in the past a lot of agency’s tech plans were just about buying software or securing wi-fi.  The new tech plan requirements include matching up objectives to International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Student Standards.  ISTE also has the Standards for Teachers, which is a good starting point for personal professional development (also mentioned in Crumper’s article).
I personally do not have many limitations in terms of using technology for my own teaching, but I do serve as a technology mentor, and in that role the biggest challenge is that there are teachers who do still practice “flat” teaching. We offer at least four technology-integration workshops (planned based on teacher need determined from surveys) per year for which teachers get flex credit (paid) to attend, yet since the majority of our department’s instructors are associate/part-time faculty who work at least one other job, scheduling is often one challenge.  My goal is to eventually offer some online trainings (using Blackboard Collaborate).  Of course the biggest concern is that the teachers who most need to “get up to speed” in teaching with technology are the ones who never attend any workshops. 

I read the article “Audio Feedback versus Written Feedback: Instructors’ and Students’ Perspectives” from the Merlot Journal of Online Teaching and Learning, Vol. 10, No. 1, Mar. 2014, online at The topic is interesting to me because as I take more of my class(es) online, I hope to try out this technique in providing feedback to students on their writing.  In a class of 30 students and even with an instructional aide and a writing consultant, it’s difficult to fit in individual conferences with students on the preliminary drafts of their writing assignments, even though that is the ideal way for students to get feedback on higher-order concerns (content, organization, etc.). In my own experience I have found that students understand and put into effect suggestions for improving their initial drafts more effectively when I have a chance to talk to them and ask questions to draw out ideas for expansion or elaboration.  A lot of instructors use screencasting, with tools such as Jing or Screencast-o-matic, to provide spoken feedback. With some tools, you can annotate and write on the document.  According to the research (which, by the way, was not centered on ESL) cited in this article, the data indicated that students reacted favorably to audio comments on their writing, while teachers’ attitudes were mixed. It would be very interesting to see such a study replicated with ESL students and to measure the impact of audio comments v. written comments v. F2F conferencing sessions on the quality of students’ revisions.

Task 2:  WebQuest
This is my WebQuest for EL Civics Education Unit #33 / Advanced (for Level 6, 7, and VESL)
What career is good for me?

Task 3:  Discussion Board - Netiquette
I completely agree with the idea of teaching netiquette to ESL students, although I have had very few issues with students over the years. More often I receive electronic correspondence that breaks netiquette rules from people who should know better.  In my VESL class, I often include a unit of netiquette, but in other classes I just bring up the topic the first week when covering class policies. I can recall just a few times when students have broken rules of netiquette, and I usually just communicate with the offending student individually or use the occasion to capitalize on the “teachable moment” if I think more students in the class may not know about the netiquette rule.  One example is when students type in all caps.  Another is when they include emoticons from their email provider that just don’t appear or are simply too cheesy for serious correspondence.  Finally, most students are emailing via smartphones or texting, so they do need to know the following:

·       for email, have an address that contains their name (not for school and workplace correspondence

·       for email, use a subject line that is just one or two words long and gives the main idea

·       for texting, to include their name somewhere – I get texts from students excusing their absences, which only have a phone number so I have no idea who the sender is unless I go to my roster and track down the phone number (which has typically changed or is different)

·       I think there are other rules that should be taught for texting because it is replacing email (so I hear) in day-to-day informal workplace communications – I just don’t even know what those rules are, however… ideas, anyone?

I really like the “Share Expert Knowledge” Rule 6 of "The Core Rules of Netiquette" by Virginia Shea.  I usually have one or two students per term who are novice computer users (even though they know Facebook). I always have a handful of students in class who know more about computers than I would ever dream of knowing. When I have students do a variety of work in the computer lab, at least half have taken a class with me or another teacher who uses our course management system (and the software we have students use regularly), while the other half do not know how to navigate it at all.  Rather than taking up three hours of valuable class time explaining how to navigate Blackboard, I have created a handout with screenshots and a couple of screencasts, but what works best is pairing up experienced with inexperienced students for the first few computer-based tasks in the class.  They learn from each other and help each other, but I first set the “helping” environment by expressing the information in Rule 6, explaining that all students have different strengths -- some are great readers, others are grammar aficionados, others are fluent English speakers, while still others are computer whizzes – and there is only one of me and 30 of these skilled students in the class, so they can benefit from helping each other.

This is the simple and short policy I am going to include in the future in my CMS (crafted as a requirement for the @ONE Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning Course assignment for Week 2 on Course Essentials):

 Practice good online manners, also called “netiquette.” If you are not sure what this means, you can watch this BrainPop movie (press CC to see the closed captions). Do not write, say, or share anything online that could be offensive to your classmates. Be respectful, courteous, positive, and helpful online -- as you are in the classroom.

In a hybrid or fully online class, I do believe student grades should be influenced by the quality and frequency of their online postings. However, the online posting assignments should have specific wording about what is required of students and should be accompanied by these requirements in a checklist or rubric form. “Quality” needs to be modeled with initial example posts.  Also, online postings should be low-stakes formative types of assessments, a low-ish percentage of total final grade. I do not teach in a program that awards official grades; in fact, in our college’s credit ESL program’s course offerings, students’ performance is graded as pass/no pass because these classes are non-transferrable. Even though the noncredit program I teach in does not award grades, I do grade students for every assignment and quiz, using Blackboard’s Grade Center (I used to use Engrade but decided to put everything in one place). Some students religiously check their grades and immediately alert me if I have entered something incorrectly. In Adult ESL, teachers are lucky because students have a lot of intrinsic motivation to do the coursework even when it is not graded.  However, that fact doesn’t negate the need to make tasks and assignments engaging. Therefore, I think that if the questions posed for discussion online are interesting and allow students to interact by communicating with each other meaningfully about their opinions and experiences – with instructor participation – online posting assignments could succeed even without grading.


No comments:

Post a Comment