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.

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

 

Meet Us At the ACTFL Digital Badge Booth!

Meet Us At the ACTFL Digital Badge Booth!

The ACTFL 2013 Convention Network is growing — more than 450 attendees have signed up to earn a digital badge for engaging and sharing professional interests with the foreign language community. How can you join in? Go to the ACTFL Digital Badges site and click Become a Convention Networker to sign up. Then follow the steps to earning your ACTFL professional development badge, like these 21st century FL professionals:

Why Digital Badges?

COERLL partnered with ACTFL to bring you this badge-earning opportunity because we see the potential for digital badges as an alternative and effective method of credentialing and tracking professional development. In our Fall 2013 newsletter, Digital Badges for an Open World, we enlisted leaders in this movement to help us vision cast the future of digital badges.

In the newsletter, Evan Rubin, Director of Instructional Technology at LARC (our partners in FL digital badge initiatives) shares:

evan“I have very high expectations for badges in foreign languages. I imagine badges taking on gamified elements, where leaderboards will highlight high achievers. General statistics about any individual’s activity and performance could be accessed. I envision a community of practice in which participants will be proud to share their badges online, and where a sense of fun and friendly competition will motivate language professionals to create their own online personal learning networks (PLNs). …

Badges serve educators by allowing them to pursue a professional development agenda that is more customizable in every respect, without losing an ounce of rigor, but rather offering the possibility of a more interactive and more rigorous, continuing education.

Badges can serve administrators by providing the opportunity for faculty to design and deliver a professional development agenda, while still allowing them to vet and verify the status and standing of any current or prospective teacher on their staff. This goal will lead us into the future.”

You can join Evan and hundreds of other Convention Networkers who will be making meaningful connections at ACFTL 2013 and earning their very own digital badge. Go to actflbadges.org.

And when you arrive at the convention in Orlando, come see us at the Digital Badge booth. Find out more about how it works and meet other Convention Networkers f2f!

ACTFL-FloorPlan-booth-location

Also, please stop by the COERLL booth to find out about our open (free) educational resources and professional development for FL education:

ACTFL-COERLL-Booth

Make Professional Connections With Digital Badges

Make Professional Connections With Digital Badges

Today, we’ll hear from Abby Dings, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Spanish Language Program at Southwestern University, about digital badges for growing your professional network.

DingsDigital badges are poised to play a central role in Continuing Professional Education for language educators. Digital badges allow educators to explore areas that interest them, and to join peer communities focused on similar topics. The opportunities for networking and sharing expertise and ideas are valuable aspects of many badge challenges.”

See COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter for the full text. Abby is co-developer of a badge system to work in conjunction with the Spanish Corpus Proficiency Level Training website.

ACTFL-digital-badge

Earn a Digital Badge at ACTFL 2013

The ACFTL 2013 Convention Networker badge is a great example of how digital badges increase your professional exposure and create interest-specific connections.

Connect with Abby Dings and other language professionals who have joined the Convention Network so far. Search for members with common professional interests or languages. Then click Become a Convention Networker to begin making meaningful and lasting connections with your ACTFL colleagues!

 

Digital Badges Showcase Your Achievements

Digital Badges Showcase Your Achievements

ACTFL-digital-badgeAs part of our digital badge education series leading up to the ACTFL 2013 Convention, we’d like you to hear from teachers, administrators and other foreign language professionals about why badges matter.

First, a quick crash course on digital badges as a growing and effective means of showcasing your professional achievements …

411 On Digital Badges
  • Badge issuers include universities, professional organizations and language resource centers.
  • Badge earners can display these digital representations of professional development on personal websites, Facebook pages or wikispaces. Visit  openbadges.org to learn how to display your digital badges online.

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  •  Viewers (e.g. peers, employers) who click on the digital badge can see important information, including the badge issuer and a course description. Viewers also see what the badge represents, including achievements, skills, competencies, community involvement, CPE credits earned, evidence for formal or informal learning, links to portfolio work and other details reflecting the merit of the badge.

In COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter, Austin ISD World Languages Coordinator Tina Dong talked about how digital badges could make a difference for the teachers she evaluates:

COERLL_TDong_091613“I see potential for badges to be a reflection of a teacher’s language proficiency, their ability to differentiate instruction or to integrate 21st century skills and their knowledge of how to embed culture into instruction. In addition to teachers having an innovative way to visually display such attainments, it would help me determine which teachers can lead professional development workshops in certain areas.”

See the newsletter for the full text.

ACTFL 2013 attendees can go to actflbadges.org to earn a Convention Networker badge today! Connect with Tina Dong and other language professionals in the network.

Maximize Your ACTFL 2013 Convention Experience — Earn A Digital Badge

Maximize Your ACTFL 2013 Convention Experience — Earn A Digital Badge

If you’re attending the 2013 ACTFL convention in Orlando, we wanted to let you know about an exciting opportunity to earn a digital badge called the “Convention Networker.”

ACTFL-digital-badgeCOERLL and ACTFL have partnered together to develop this badge to showcase your efforts in connecting and networking with other convention attendees — f2f and through social media. Why is this important? Digital badges are fast becoming the means of showcasing professional experience and knowledge.

 

Watch this video for a quick ramp-up on badges:

 

ACTFL President and Loveland High School French teacher Toni Theisen recently shared her excitement about badges in COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter:

COERLL-Newsletter-Fall2#1B0“I want ACTFL members to learn about the badge concept and the potential of recognizing their skills and expertise at a more detailed level. This is why we are partnering with COERLL to present the first ever ACTFL badge. ACTFL can lead the way for developing ideas of using badges to recognize many possibilities of professional teaching and learning through multiple paths of credentialing.”

See COERLL’s Fall 2013 newsletter for the full text.

Then visit www.actflbadges.org to sign up and find out what you need to do to earn your ACTFL 2013 digital badge.

Leading up to the convention, stay tuned to learn more about the potential of digital badges for foreign language professionals.