Sunday, May 17, 2015

TESOL Teaching Reading and Writing Online Course Week 4

Final Project:  My Wiki page (reading, vocabulary, writing lesson on Symbolism) part of a group wiki

My Discussion Posts for this week:

Strategies for Assessing Reading and Writing Online
I completely agree with the arguments presented in The Case for Authentic Assessment.  Multiple-choice tests are helpful as formative assessments and are easiest to create and score online, but given online, there is a huge potential that students will cheat. (For interesting reading on this topic, see the Chronicle of Higher Education 3-part series – especially the third part – easily found with a search on Google – the series is called “Cheating Lessons”). 

Of course preventing cheating online is not impossible.  There are some software programs that have lockdown browsers (Respondus is one, which my college offers and is integrated with Blackboard), and at my college, many online credit courses have the requirement that students to take midterms or finals in the campus proctoring center. 

All in all, though, we probably need to view online tests we assign as practice opportunities for students rather than real assessment.  As Wiggins writes, “While multiple-choice tests can be valid indicators or predictors of academic performance, too often our tests mislead students and teachers about the kinds of work that should be mastered. Norms are not standards; items are not real problems; right answers are not rationales.” 

Don’t we want to assess how students can use their English to accomplish tasks that require them to listen, read, writing, and speak?  Traditional tests don’t do this very well, but authentic assessment certainly challenges online teachers to think outside the box, take on technology learning to find the right tools suitable to the assessments, as well as provide technology training to students to be able to complete authentic assessments online.

Also, as the article Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning mentions, all stakeholders should play a role in assessments, and authentic assessment has the advantage of “… providing parents and community members with directly observable products and understandable evidence concerning their students' performance; the quality of student work is more discernible to laypersons” (Wiggins). 

I also read the Merlot article Online Assessment Strategies: A Primer which discusses matching assessment techniques to learning objectives (Bloom’s Taxonomy), as well as issues of cheating in the online environment.  

After reading this article, I did a Google search to find out what sort of authentic online assessments I could do online because I’m having a hard time envisioning how to transform some F2F assessments to the online environment.  I found this interactive wheel Bloom’s Taxonomy Circle Diagram.  When the outer gold-colored part of the circle is selected, there are activities listed.  For example, for “Evaluation,” the activities listed are the following: Comparison of standards, conclusion, court trial, editorial, establishment of standards, group discussion, recommendation, self-evaluation, survey, valuing.  All of these types of “activities” could lend themselves to authentic assessments in ESL, with checklist and/or rubric scoring.

Other Bloom / online-environment-related resources I have on my bookmarks are the following:

·        Educational Technology and Mobile Learning has a ton of resources, such as these two, which are related to this week’s topics: Web Tools to Use with Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and Web-based Versions of Bloom’s Taxonomy – most of which have already been discussed in this course and
·        For ipad apps only, see Padagogy Wheel, which is interactive.

Online tool for assessment
This site is great for creating reading, vocabulary, and even writing quizzes that are interactive online with many different question types (blank boxes and dropdowns, drag and drop, matching, multiple choice, checkboxes, and essay/open-ended questions) with customizable feedback on students’ answers. Insert multimedia (images, videos, audio) in quizzes. You can set time and attempt limits. Create classes and view students’ scores. Quizzes can be shared with a link or embedded. See help center at for more information on creating quizzes.
Benefits – Easy to use.  Practical. Great option for teachers who don’t have access to an LMS.
Drawbacks – With a free subscription, you can only generate PDF files (see the sample I created).  To unlock the full potential of the site, you need to subscribe $25 – 39 per year for all features. I wouldn’t purchase the subscription because I do have access to an LMS that can do everything on this site, but the site is easier to use.  I probably will use the PDF generated quizzes now and then, though.

Online tool for feedback on student writing
Students can share Google docs and presentations with you, and you can add voice comments and annotations. When a student responds to or acts on the feedback, the teacher receives a notification in the dashboard and an email.  Students likewise receive notifications when you post need feedback. The Kaizena videos on YouTube show you how to use this tool.
Benefits -- Free.  “Veedback” integrated with Google docs; no need for external software or downloads
Drawbacks ?  not sure – will need to experiment with it.  I believe that students could compose on MS Word, upload to Google drive, and then share.  After I practice I will let you know how it compares to Jing…

Also found:
It has four sections:
1. Quill Proofreader - passages that have grammatical errors placed in them - students locate errors.
2. Quill Grammar -- teaches grammatical concepts through sentence writing exercises.
3. Quill Writer - two-player activity; students take turns writing a passage together from a shared list of words.
4. Sentence Shuffle -  rearrange sentences from a text into the correct order.

Web 2.0 tools
Over the years I have used and had students use numerous Web tools; it's hard to pick just one that's a favorite or that I use more often than most.  However, since we have mostly been looking at writing as paragraphs and essays, I thought I'd include a Web tool that is for more sentence-level writing: dialogs.  From grammar to problem scenarios to parts of speech to verb tenses and vocabulary, students at all levels can be assigned to write dialogs and digitize them with this incredibly easy-to-use site:
Site for making animated cartoons. Types/# of characters:  Maximum of two characters per scene; 33 edgy characters (from Fabio-like "Stud" to Uncle Sam to Jimi Hendrix impersonator "Mojo"). Types/# scenes: 15 genres of background music; up to three scenes; 15 backgrounds, 12 skies, 4 plots (rendezvous, pick-up, chase, soliloquy), four title designs; Dialog:  Up to six lines of text per scene, maximum 100 characters per line of dialog; text in speech bubbles; Saving and sharing: No registration necessary; sharing by email (URL link) or html code embedded on a Web page; cannot be edited or changed at a later time.  See Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Video.
Benefits – Easy enough for novice computer users to use.  I have used it with beginning – advanced students.  I rarely have to demo the site beyond the first couple of screens. They love it! Super fun! Guaranteed to bring laughter to the classroom.
Drawbacks – Once a movie is “rendered,” it cannot be changed.  There are not commenting options.  Each line of dialog is limited to 100 characters of text (single space after periods). Some characters are “racy,” so if you have hyper-conservative students or very young students, you may not want to have them use the site or limit which characters they can use.  My students always choose the Hugh Hefner playboy guy and his scantily-clad playboy bunny girl. 

How I have used the site:

  • Students learn idioms each week related to our reading/writing/conversation themes.  For homework, they ask native or fluent speakers of English to explain (define or provide an anecdote) the assigned idioms. Then, in class we discuss the meanings, source/history of the idiom (if any), and come up with sample sentences, with students recording all.  At the end of the term, students (individually or in pairs) write dialogs using an idiom or search for a new idiom to teach the class.  They use the site to digitize their dialogs and present to the class.

  • Students learn phrasal verbs (get up, go out, hand in, etc. – Amy is familiar with these because we use the same Fundamentals of English Grammar textbook/workbook).  I create conversation questions and discussion board prompts that require them to use the phrasal verbs.  Again, at the end of the term, they write dialogs using a specified number of phrasal verbs, digitize the dialogs with Dvolver, and present to the class.
Examples of former students’ movies:
Sample Phrasal Verbs Project
Sample Idiom Project
More ideas for using the site:
  • Teachers can create cartoons to use to introduce a topic for a class reading, to spark a discussion, or to pose a question to the class or a problem to solve.
  • Students can create cartoons from any dialogs they write, with purposes ranging from practicing a grammar structure or vocabulary word to dramatizing a role play for a given scenario.
  • Teachers can make cartoons to introduce or reinforce vocabulary, and students can be assigned to write scripts that demonstrate their comprehension of given vocabulary words or learned idioms.
  • Both students and teachers can show do's and don'ts for a given scenario or problem; teach and learn about or have a debate; have opportunities to participate in listening comprehension exercises.
  • Students can be assigned to respond to a reading or a class discussion topic, as in this example: We read in class about changing gender roles of men and women in modern society. Respond by writing a story/script for a mini movie or writing a dialog to give your opinion or experience with this topic. 
  • Students can make news reports or give opinions on current events or political issues.
  • Make commercials or a movie review.
  • Tell jokes or stories or write the dialog for a short story or the ending of an open-ended story.

Sites similar to Dvolver:

I also have students do similar projects with comic strip sites:

Instructor’s Message for this week:
Dear Kristi,

Congratulations! You have completed all course requirements, and I have submitted a grade of C for course completion. I want to also thank you for your valued contributions to the course. Your insights, online tools for reading, vocabulary, writing, and assessment provided helpful resources and additional context for more in depth discussions. I especially like the extensive list of assessment resources on your wiki page including Google Forms, Blubbr, and Classmarker.

Your final project lesson plan provides a reflection of your experience as a teacher and clearly demonstrates your understanding of how to integrate technology to support the language learning process. Thank you also for sharing some of your ideas that you have published in the OTAN newsletter.  Your lesson plan on symbolism provides an engaging, interactive, and meaningful experience that incorporates many tech resources to support the learning process.  I like your use of an in-class oral presentation and final reflection for assessment. You have an incredible amount of patience and stamina, moving ahead in the course even with a crashed computer. Great job and thank you for your hard work on this.

It was a pleasure working with you, and I wish you much success in the certificate program.  I will look forward to reading more of your contributions to OTAN.  Please do keep in touch and feel free to contact me at any time.

Warm regards,

Resources from this week:

Required Reading Articles

Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning from The American Association of Higher Education
Assessing Student Learning, from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education Website - includes tips and a guide for assessing
The Case for Authentic AssessmentPractical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 1990 - note: while this article dates back to 1990, topic relevancy applies to many aspects of assessment today when considering language proficiency as the transfer of knowledge learned anywhere into use in authentic, real-life situations
Additional Articles
Feel free to peruse this extensive list and add other comments. 
Create Online Quizzes (These are all free)
Gather feedback (surveys, opinion polls etc.) 

Portfolio Assessment
Presentation Software
Online Whiteboards  

Learn to Use Web 2.0 Tools (from Edutopia),

Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything (online tools),

Wikis, Blogs, and More, Oh MY. Technology, April, 2008).

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