A network to showcase OER for language learning

A network to showcase OER for language learning

Editors note: This post was originally published on the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources blog

The Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) just launched the Language OER Network (LOERN), a page on our website to list language educators who are creating, using, or promoting open educational resources (OER). Every person featured on the page receives an open digital badge from COERLL. In this effort to acknowledge, validate, inspire, and connect open practitioners, we have already distributed badges to 41 teachers, librarians, and administrators.

We built the Language OER Network because we realized that more people than ever have started to understand what we do and are interested in getting involved in their own open projects. We are always thankful to hear from K-12 teachers and community college and university faculty who spend the extra time and energy to find the right open materials to support their students’ language proficiency. The Language OER Network exists to acknowledge this work.

Even though the open movement is gaining momentum, a large number of teachers and administrators either don’t know or misunderstand what OER is. Teachers who do advocate for openness often report that they are doing it alone. Badges provide teachers with proof of their accomplishments, to validate to their colleagues and employers that using and making OER is scholarly, creative work.

Language teachers (plus other staff, administrators, or students involved in OER for languages) can earn as many as six badges on the Language OER Network, for being either an OER Teacher, OER Master Teacher, OER Creator, OER Master Creator, OER Reviewer, or OER Ambassador. From what we’ve seen, this follows the natural progression that many people take, from the basic use of supplementary OER, to the full involvement of sharing the benefits of OER with others. We hope that this set of badges will inspire people to keep opening up, eventually earning all six badges.

We would also love if people embarking on new open projects could look at this page and find others who have similar ideas, to connect with them and potentially collaborate. With the number of people pursuing OER right now, it’s likely that many of them are doing similar projects and could benefit from sharing ideas and resources.

Even though we are publishing the Language OER Network to benefit teachers, it benefits COERLL as well. LOERN will be a tapestry of open language education that will help us demonstrate what this multifaceted movement is all about. Since launching the page in the past month, we are excited to have already learned about new people and projects from across the country. We look forward to hearing from more open educators, and also hope that in the future we can find a way to acknowledge more types of open educational practices, which are just as important as open resources, but harder to quantify.

Read about your colleagues and their open projects, and join the community! https://community.coerll.utexas.edu/

OER for a Common Goal – Meeting the Needs of Spanish Heritage Learners

OER for a Common Goal – Meeting the Needs of Spanish Heritage Learners

Editors note: This post was written by COERLL partner Jocelly Meiners, and originally published in Tex Libris, the blog from the libraries at the University of Texas at Austin, for a special Open Education Week series.

In recent years, the development of Spanish language courses designed specifically for heritage language learners has gained much attention throughout K-12 and post-secondary education in the US. Heritage language learners are students who were exposed to Spanish at home while growing up. These students usually have a broad knowledge about their cultural heritage, and varying degrees of language dominance. Over the years, it has been found that these learners have different pedagogical needs than second language learners, and that they benefit greatly from language instruction that is catered to their specific needs. Throughout the country, as more institutions realize these needs, Spanish instructors at all levels are forming programs and creating materials to serve this student population. It seems that we all have some common goals: to help heritage Spanish speakers develop their bilingual skills, to empower them to apply those skills in academic and professional settings, and to feel proud of their cultural and linguistic heritage. So if we all have similar goals in mind and are all working on creating programs and materials to serve these students, why not share all the work we are doing?

I have been teaching courses for heritage Spanish learners here at UT for over 4 years, and about a year and a half ago I started working as the community moderator for the Heritage Spanish Community. This web-based community, which is hosted by COERLL (The Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning), serves as a space for Spanish instructors to collaborate, share and communicate with others about the teaching and learning of Spanish as a heritage language. We encourage instructors at all levels to ask questions on our online forum, to help other instructors, and to share the materials they are working on. Open Educational Resources are an excellent way to share these types of materials, since they can easily be adapted to the specific needs of each instructor’s particular student population.

As community moderator, I add useful content to our website, create interesting questions for discussion, and encourage others to explore our website and share their work. I have also been able to share my own materials as OER, and it has been very rewarding to hear from people in other parts of the country who have found my resources useful and are adapting them for their own heritage Spanish programs. I believe that if we all collaborate and share our resources openly, we will be much more successful in attaining both our personal and common goals.

Jocelly Meiners was born and raised in San José, Costa Rica and moved to Austin, TX to attend UT, where she obtained her undergraduate education, as well as an MA in French linguistics and a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics. She is currently a Lecturer in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UT, where she teaches courses for Spanish heritage learners.

Happy Open Education Week 2018!

Happy Open Education Week 2018!

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its goal is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Join us March 5-9, 2018!

Language OER Network Launch

Here at COERLL, we’re excited to launch a new network for promoting open projects in language education. The goal of the Language OER Network (LOERN) is to showcase the work of open educators in the field of language learning and teaching. If you are a language educator or student who uses, creates, or promotes open educational resources (OER), COERLL would like to recognize your innovations by listing your name on the LOERN page and by sending you a COERLL badge.

Teachers and students are featured as an OER Teacher, OER Master Teacher, OER Creator, OER Master Creator, OER Ambassador, OER Reviewer, or some combination of those roles.

Please also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear from OER Master Creators and Master Teachers about how they have integrated openness into their curricula.

Stories From Open Educators

We’ll also be publishing blog posts here on this blog from language faculty at the University of Texas who have created open educational resources.

OER for a Common Goal – Meeting the Needs of Spanish Heritage Learners by Jocelly Meiners
Creating an OER for Turkish-language learning has made sharing my ideas possible! by Jeannette Okur
Open Access at the Core of Materials Development for LCTLs by Orlando Kelm

Open Education Worldwide

Other organizations around the world are celebrating Open Ed Week too. Learn more about the movement and the events and materials available at openeducationweek.org/.

A Program for Professional Growth Based on Collaboration

A Program for Professional Growth Based on Collaboration

Over the past three years, COERLL has been working on several projects that require participation from language instructors; a new realm for a language center accustomed to making language learning materials with small teams of faculty and graduate students.

In order to jumpstart these participatory projects, we started a “COERLL Collaborators” program to mentor teachers and give visibility (and some funding) to their work, while spreading the use of open licenses and starting a network for our projects. Participants in the COERLL Collaborators program have helped COERLL tremendously over the past year or so, by testing and providing insights into our projects.

We piloted COERLL Collaborators for FLLITE (Foreign Languages and the Literary in the Everyday), a project with CERCLL (Center for Educational Resources in Culture Language and Literacy) in which teachers write multiliteracies lessons around an authentic resource, receive peer review feedback, and have their lesson published on fllite.org. The FLLITE team chose three graduate students to go through this process, based on lesson proposals they submitted.

These lessons are now published on the project website for anyone to use, and exemplify how a teacher can transform their interests into a completely original lesson.

  • Natasha César-Suárez photographed an image from Spain’s 15-M movement and turned it into a lesson on language in social movements.
  • Marcelo Fuentes developed an image of a letter to God found in a Chilean church into a cultural lesson and letter writing activity.
  • Carol Ready used a poem by Pablo Neruda to teach students about the impact of commercial food production on Latin America through the study of descriptive language.

For our digital badging partnership with Austin Independent School District, which awards teachers digital badges for professional development based on the TELL (Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning) Framework, we chose three more Collaborators. The three teachers agreed to attend professional development and personal mentorship sessions organized by Thymai Dong, AISD’s World Languages Coordinator, and to earn digital badges related to the topics of the sessions.

Unfortunately administrative changes stopped us from seeing this process through to the end, but the COERLL Collaborators still received some mentorship and challenged themselves to take risks and reflect on their teaching.

  • Rachel Preston developed her own professional growth plan based on a self-assessment of her teaching, which led to an increase in her students’ self-assessment, reflection and goal-setting.
  • Tania Shebaro got motivated at a workshop to scrap her lesson plans for the next day and rewrite everything, leading to engaging and participatory class sessions.
  • Janeth Medrano attended every professional development event possible to get new resources and tools she could adapt for her students.

Thank you to all six of our Collaborators – they have taught us, in addition to teaching their students!

Six more COERLL Collaborators are now busy perfecting some new FLLITE lessons in Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, and German, and we are narrowing down COERLL Collaborators applications for our Heritage Spanish project. We are looking forward to expanding the COERLL Collaborators program and building up a network of creative and collaborative language instructors.

See what the COERLL Collaborators have created:

Engage and Explore

Engage and Explore

Photo credit: flickr user UrbanPromise Creative Commons License

From the editor: We asked master Spanish teacher and teacher trainer Rose Potter to create some activities that use COERLL’s resources to engage students and satisfy state and national standards for language learning. She created these five simple but effective activities, and describes her approach below.

As a young teacher in the 80’s, I often called upon images of Sra. Hartley, my high school Spanish teacher, to guide me through lesson planning. Upbeat, funny and highly energetic, we laughed and sang our way through the ALM drill and kill methodology of the 1960’s. Today, when training pre-service teachers, I understand that their default approach to teaching is the model they experienced. Because their teachers were also learners in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s their methodology may reflect that era – or, that of their teachers, products of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s teacher training. Over time, Madeline Hunter’s “anticipatory set” became “priming activity”, “warm-ups”, “bell-ringer review” and more. However, the methodology did not always keep pace. Instead, students often receive a mini-worksheet at the start of class. They are expected to sit quietly and respond to discrete point items while the teacher takes roll and prepares to teach. This century’s students have trouble doing exactly that. The expected quiet time may become a class management challenge.

Today’s LOTE (languages other than English) educators recognize that “warm-up” means preparing the eyes, ears and, most importantly, the mouth. Get them talking! Today’s term “engagement” goes beyond a writing or viewing task, it requires active participation on the part of the students. The steps are not complex: grab their attention, pose a simple task that requires interpersonal communication, use the task to build skills for more complex tasks. That’s it. You will see these steps incorporated into the five engagement activities I designed using COERLL’s materials. As you review then consider the simplicity of each step.

  • Engagement: this can be through an image or video projected on the screen that students see as they enter.
  • Interpersonal task: Pose a question to get them thinking before class begins. Ask your partner/another student: “Have you ever…? Do you like… Do you think… Compare what you see to…”
  • Build skills: The questions may contain unfamiliar cognates or verb constructs that make sense in context but are new to students. Keep it simple, but allow them the opportunity to discover the new learning through practice. Learning vocabulary and grammar as a function of communication makes it real for students.

The engagement is the first step of an inquiry-based, constructivist approach to learning, the 5E’s lesson plan model. Engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. For my students, I’ve added a 6th E, Exit Plan, to assure that they close the lesson. Since using this plan with my LOTE students, I’ve seen an enormous increase in the potential for engagement.

To see more examples of the 5Es in action, take a look at the following resources:

Rose Potter is an Assistant Clinical Professor of LOTE Education for the UTeach-Liberal Arts Program at the University of Texas, as well as a teacher, writer, consultant, and mentor.

Become part of a language teaching community!

Become part of a language teaching community!

This Open Education Week (March 27-31, 2017), we’re highlighting the importance of participating in a community. Working with other language teachers can help you grow professionally and give you new ideas for reaching your students.  Read below for some vibrant communities you can be a part of. And remember: collaboration is easier when you put a Creative Commons license on your rubrics, activities, lessons, and other creations. This ensures that other community members can use your work more easily, while always acknowledging you as the author.

#langchat

#Langchat is a Twitter hashtag for all world language teachers to use in tweets to discuss anything regarding language teaching. Thousands of teachers use it daily to exchange information, get support and find new ideas to use in their classrooms. It is also used for 1 hour twice-weekly Q&A style Twitter chat. Discussion topics are suggested by/voted on by language teachers. The chats are Thursday 5pmPT and Saturday at 7amPT (the same topic for both chats).

FLTeach

The Foreign Language Teaching Forum is an integrated service for FL teachers, dedicated to encouraging communication, sharing, and collaboration at all levels. Our broad discussion topic is foreign language teaching methods for any level of instruction in all languages. Specific areas of discussion include school/college articulation, training of student teachers, classroom activities, curriculum, and syllabus design. Students in teacher training programs, teachers both new and experienced, administrators, and other professionals interested in any aspect of foreign language teaching are invited to participate in our discussions.

The basic premise of the list is that as professional Foreign Language teachers we are all in this together and are here to help one another. The moderators expect all participation in FLTEACH to be supportive and collegial and to follow the basic rules of good Netiquette.

  • Find out more about connecting with FLTEACH through #flteach on Twitter, on Facebook, in the listerv.

COERLL heritage Spanish community

The COERLL Heritage Spanish community is a space for instructors (K-12 and higher education) who want to collaborate, share and communicate with others about the teaching and learning of Spanish as a heritage language. On our website you can find and share resources such as articles, program profiles, classroom activities, event information, sylllabi, information on current affairs, etc. We also have a Heritage Spanish Café, which is an online forum where you can start conversations with other instructors about topics or questions relevant to the community. We would love for you to be a part of our heritage Spanish community.

COERLL FLLITE community

COERLL’s Foreign Languages and the Literary in the Everyday (FLLITE) group is for language teachers who would like to improve their students’ reading skills through the use of authentic texts of everyday genres, including memes, poems, blogs, and images.

Deutsch im Blick Facebook page

The Deutsch im Blick Online community focuses on connecting learners and teachers of German by sharing content; whether it is a fun meme or an article about cultural differences, learning or teaching material. On Facebook, you can connect and interact via likes, comments or direct messages to DiB. In addition, teachers can join the DiB google group and quizlet classes, to share teaching material. Here, you can also get in touch if you have questions or comments about the DiB material. Our overall goal is to create a fun space to promote learning and teaching all about the German language and culture.

Français interactif Facebook community

The Français Interactif Facebook group is a unique community of francophiles, francophones, avid language learners and teachers. Originally created in 2011 as a support group for users of the University of Texas at Austin’s Open Educational Resource (OER), Français Interactif (FI), our fanbase is now spread over six continents and nearly 300,000 strong. Followers will delight in daily provocative posts that share, introduce and discuss various cultural and linguistic aspects of French-speaking cultures around the world. Those who want to engage more actively with the FI community will find vibrant multilingual discussion happening on our wall and in the comment section of our posts. Want to share a resource? Have a question on the group? Experiencing a problem with the FI OER ? Reach out to our moderator via PM, and she will point you in the right direction.

  • Join us for la biggest francophone fête on la planète!

CALICO

CALICO, the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium is an international organization dedicated to research and development in the use of computer technology in language learning: computer-assisted language learning (CALL). CALICO began mainly as a group of people interested in using and producing technology-based materials for second/foreign language teaching. After more than 25 years of growth and experience, CALICO now includes language educators, programmers, technicians, web page designers, CALL developers, CALL practitioners, and second language acquisition researchers–anyone interested in exploring the use of technology for language teaching and learning.

 

Do you know of any more communities for language teachers? Let us know what they are and how to get connected in the comments! And for more information on open licenses, see the Creative Commons website

The TELL Collab: a New Model for Professional Learning

The TELL Collab: a New Model for Professional Learning

This summer, COERLL will team up with the Teacher Effectiveness for Language Learning (TELL) Project to offer a new kind of professional learning experience for world language educators. Embracing a participant-driven model of learning, the TELL Collab will allow educators to engage in the very practices of effective learning they are expected develop in their own language teaching environment. Over the course of the experience, participants will be challenged to become active learning leaders in a variety of settings that ask them to explore, model and share effective language learning practices identified in the TELL Framework.

COERLL’s mission is to promote Open Education, a global, grassroots movement of DIY educators who are taking matters into their own hands.  The TELL Project is very much in keeping with the Open Education movement–it is created BY teachers FOR teachers.

The TELL Collab promises to be a one-of-a-kind event, an “unconference” during which the program is largely decided by the participants themselves. An unconference is lightly planned and highly flexible. The event is aimed at teachers who are highly participatory and not afraid to share their new ideas with others.  In essence, the TELL Collab is a grand experiment that seeks to model a new approach to professional development for foreign language teachers.

How TELL Collab Empowers Participants

The TELL Collab fosters professional conversations and deep learning experiences with national experts, teacher leaders, and colleagues.  The goal is to empower participants to take control of their own professional learning.

TRADITIONAL CONFERENCE THE TELL COLLAB
  • Set schedule developed by organizers
  • Series of speakers selected by organizers
  • Pre-determined content
  • Notebook full of good ideas with possibly no time to process how to use them
  • Sessions may be so large that participant interaction becomes minimal
  • Professional credit based on seat-time
  • Participant-driven schedule based on professional learning needs
  • Participants share resources to support professional learning needs
  • Participants able to personalize content
  • Participants leave with idea(s) AND strategies for implementing them
  • Participants actively work in a variety of small group settings
  • Participants earn performance-based badges that “show what they know”

The first annual TELL Collab will be held June 26-27, 2015 in Austin, TX. The event will be facilitated by Thomas Sauer and Alyssa Villarreal, two of the founders and current directors of the TELL Project. Participants will include Megan Smith and Kara Parker of the Creative Language Class blog, along with world language educators and administrators from across the country.

Learn more about the TELL Collab and register to attend at http://www.tellcollab.org.

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Last year, the Mixxer (a free educational website for language exchanges via Skype) offered a MOOC to English speakers learning Spanish and paired the participants with a partner course of Spanish speakers learning English. Using open educational resources from COERLL, Colby College, Voice for America and the BBC among others, the language learners were introduced to new vocabulary and grammar points through texts and audio and then given activities to complete with their language partner from the other course. If you have ever taught a language class, you can think of the language exchange with the partner as a substitute for the partner activities we do most every day in class.

Thanks to a generous grant for digital humanities from the Mellon foundation, we were able to hire three education and language students at Dickinson College to create lessons in German, French, and Chinese. Created by Betsy Vuchinich, the Chinese materials use content primarily from the Confucius Institute and the University of North Carolina. The lessons have been designed for beginners of Chinese and are available on the Mixxer site.

The German and French lessons, created by Ezra Sassaman and Caitlin DeFazio respectively, are based on the COERLL open textbooks Deutsch im Blick and Français interactif. Both lessons assume some knowledge of the language – roughly one semester – though beginners could start by working through the text on their own. These lessons are currently available and free to use.

We had the opportunity to showcase these resources at the CALICO / IALLT conference in Athens, Ohio (May 6 – 10) and received a lot of praise from educators. Of particular interest is the news that we will use these lessons as part of three MOOCs to be offered this summer (starting July 1st). As before, each MOOC will have a partner course for speakers of Spanish, French and German learning English. Learners from each course will then be able to find partners to complete the language exchange activity provided within each lesson. The courses and lessons are open and free to anyone interested. We will be suggesting that our own students join as a way of maintaining their language skills over the summer.  A more detailed description of each course is provided below along with the sign-up form. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or you can contact me at bryantt@dickinson.edu.

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113108 (Spanish MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113052 (French MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113051 (German MOOC)

LOTE Institute 2014

LOTE Institute 2014

Last week, COERLL had the pleasure of being invited by the Region XIII Education Service Center to present on our work at the Languages Other Than English Institute 2014, held here in Austin, TX. This year, the Institute focused on “Celebrating Our Global Learners,” with sessions like Culturally Responsive Teaching in the LOTE Classroom (Tina Dong – Austin ISD) and Strategies and Steps in Differentiation: Blended and Flipped Classrooms (Sheila Jordan – Round Rock ISD). Our first session, Open Educational Resources for Language Learning, introduced educators to the wide variety of foreign language Open Educational Resources available through COERLL and from a variety of online referral websites like OER Commons, MERLOT, Language Box, Jorum, etc. Our second session, SpinTX – Bringing Authentic Spanish Videos into the Classroom, provided a more in depth look at SpinTX – a website created here at COERLL featuring authentic heritage spanish videos for language learning.

It is always a pleasure to meet and speak with teachers directly about their needs and to hear more about the challenges in finding “the right” materials for teaching. We are always curious to know more about what teachers need in order to be effective in their teaching – whether it is finding high quality and applicable teaching materials to supplement or accompany a textbook, learning how to effectively use various technologies and web tools to create materials, or just discovering a forum to speak with others about their experiences and interests. Understandably, it is difficult to sometimes know where to start. S0, we encourage you to check out our recent talk from the LOTE Institute here and if you have any questions about the websites and resources mentioned or have suggestions of other great content, please get in touch! And, if you’re specifically interested in SpinTX, be sure to check out the new Lesson Ideas page on the SpinTX website.

The Tipping Point: Language Learning for a Changed World

The Tipping Point: Language Learning for a Changed World

Way back at the end of November, you may have heard that the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) held its annual convention for more than 5000 foreign language educators in the sprawling southern city of Orlando, Florida. With the temptations of SeaWorld, Universal Studios, and Disney World just footsteps from the convention hall, several hundred teachers managed to stay on task to attend The Tipping Point: Language Learning for a Changed World – the ACTFL plenary talk that COERLL director, Carl Blyth, had the privilege of giving with fellow rock star educators Kevin Gaugler, Noah Geisel, and Felix Kronenberg. In four 10-minute long presentations, each of the presenters told of a “tipping point” or “ah-ha” moment in their teaching careers, describing how these moments just may have the potential to disrupt and transform the way we teach and learn. If nothing else, what they describe are technologies and trends worth paying attention to in the new year.

Here is a compilation of the some of the talk’s highlights, put together by ACTFL: The Tipping Point: Language Learning for a Changed World

So, how about it?  Do you have a similar story of a tipping point in your teaching or learning of foreign languages? What technologies, ideas, or practices do you see having the potential to change the way that we teach and learn – especially in the realm of foreign language education? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send us a message on Twitter @COERLL