Week 7: Wrapping up CEP 812!

Bringing Passion, Creativity, Questions, and Technology into My Classroom

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(Stanley, 2012)

You have to admire these artists.  I have no idea how long they have practiced their craft, but I am sure that they’ve been working hard at honing, developing, and pushing their skills for a long time.  They must maintain concentration on their craft in front of an audience whose attention they must work to maintain all while being aware of the other performers on stage and listening to the rhythmic drumming behind them.

To me, teaching is much like this.  I’m expected to teach French but know it’s not just about the content.  I have to be aware of students social/emotional needs while keeping a close check on my own.  I am expected to engage, inspire, discipline, instruct, mentor, manage, and love my students—to do what it takes to get them to learn irrespective of my contracted hours.  We must reach out to parents and communities, engage in professional development, support school improvement goals, infuse state standards in instruction, keep up with technology, infuse technology into instruction, individualize instruction, be aware of allergies, and assisting in the crafting and support of the exigencies of Individualized Education Plans, students, parents/guardians, administrators, communities, and policy makers… not all of whom respect or even value what you do.  Teachers are expected to do all of this and more while supposedly balancing a personal life and family and try to maintain your health and sanity!

As Friedman (2013) wrote, “The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime.”  Friedman’s words help to underline the wicked complexities of life and what it means to be a teacher and a learner in the 21st century. I frequently ask myself how I am supposed to accomplish it all.  During this course, we were encouraged to tackle just such wickedly difficult issues by engaging in a questioning process based on Berger’s (2014) work.  The results lead me to some interesting revelations.

The first question that popped into my head was, “Why aren’t I the teacher I want to be?”  This surprised me, but then I started thinking about all of those demands placed on teachers that I mentioned previously. I realized how stressed and anxious I’ve been lately just trying to be the teacher that my students need me to be while worrying about keeping all the other folks vested in education happy.  This lead me to wonder, “What if I weren’t anxious?”  Eventually, I arrived at the following questions:  “Who am I as a teacher now?” and “How would this change if I could stop fretting over peripheral matters and just focus on having the best French classes ever?”  Admittedly, that might be lofty, but I believe in shooting for the moon!

I’ve included an infographic here that I hope sheds more light on these questions.  Please keep in mind that, in the spirit of Berger (2014), what may appear to be answers are only stepping stones to more questions.

Please, click the following link:

Who I am as a teacher, and who I’d like to be!

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                                   (Glover, 2012)

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References:

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas (1st ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Friedman, T. L. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as I.Q. [Editorial]. Nytimes.com. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html
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Week 6: Raveling the Gordian knot of education… or starting to at least…

patrick_corriganillustration.jpeg.size.custom.crop.777x650Corrigan (2010)

Greek legend relates the tale of Alexander the Great and the Gordian knot.  The story goes that, when he arrived in Phrygia, Alexander saw an elaborate, intricate knot.  An oracle had predicted that anyone who could ravel the knot would rule over Asia.  After trying in vain for some time to untie the knot, Alexander the Great ultimately solved the conundrum by drawing his sword and slicing the knot in half.  Thus, the Gordian knot has come to represent intractable, or as we call them in this course, wicked problem.

My research partner, Noelle, and I soon discovered that education is a Gordian knot.  We had originally tasked ourselves with researching how to rethink or re-imagine teaching to meet the demands of 21st century society. We first grounded our views into the skilss and dispositions 21st century teacher “should” possess in Koehler and Mishra’s TPACK model (see the image below). In our view, teachers globally must be prepared to and ultimately inhabit the nexus of where their pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, and technological knowledge intersect in order to embody and evince the qualities of an effective, savvy 21st century educator.  We then tackled our problem through brainstorming questions based on the questioning processes outlined in Berger’s (2014) book A More Beautiful Question to begin untangling and raveling or wicked problem of rethinking teaching.  We asked questions like, “What should a teacher be able to do in the 21st century?  What dispositions should s/he have?  Why isn’t the profession widely respected in the United States?  How would we change teaching?”

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However, we soon realized that we could not rethink teaching without rethinking education as a whole.  No job exists in a vacuum (well, maybe astronauts, but that’s being a bit literal), and this is doubly true of teaching.  Teaching and learning are embedded in an intricate web of actors, policies, curricula, procedures, expectations, etc.  As a result, we quickly realized that we must take a step back and rethink education from multiple perspectives.  We asked ourselves, “What if we could rethink education from the ground up?”  To accomplish this, we utilized design thinking and a strategy known as a the circle of viewpoints.  We then revisited our questions and engaged in further brainstorming. The results of this fruitful process produced more focused set of questions and potential solutions that would serve as a springboard for our research into rethinking education (presented below in my infographic from Week 4).

Rethinking_Education_for_the_21st_Century

We then crafted a survey to augment our own academic research in which we asked primarly fellow educators, staff, and administrators (due to timing and their accessibility) for their views on education and our proposed solutions (A clickable link to our survey is included here.  You are welcome to click on it and check out our survey questions!). Our Wicked Problem Survey!

As one might expect from a wicked Gordian knot of an issue like education, we discovered that reaching consensus proved elusive.  Nevertheless, our results from both our reading of research and our own data analysis indicate that our stance on the need to rethink education fro 21st century demands and our proposed solutions are on target.  Yet, they are only the tip of the iceberg.  Each solution only poses more questions. Therein lies the start of a fascinating, difficult journey through educational innovation grounded in the needs and expectations of those so intimately involved with teaching and learning (parents, students, teachers, administrators, policy makers, etc.). Streamlining curricula and standards to facilitate collaboration, flipping instruction, and infusing technology are only a few of our proposed solutions.  Please, clink on the following link to see what I believe is a truly interesting and inspiring presentation of all of our diligence and research!  Remember, this is the start of a larger foray into educational reform.  If it piques your intellectual curiosity and leaves you asking more questions, then we have been successful in our efforts.  As Berger would most likely say, take some time to live with those questions, wrestle with them, see what happens when you focus less on the answers and more on the questions…

Rethinking Education!

https://infograph.venngage.com/js/embed/v1/embed.js

References:

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas (1st ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

Corrigan, P. (2010, October 21). Untangling our Gordian knot [Digital image]. Retrieved June 24, 2017, from https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2010/10/21/untangling_our_gordian_knot.html

 

Harvard Project Zero. (n.d.). Visible Thinking: Circle of Viewpoints. Retrieved July 01, 2017, from http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/VisibleThinking_html_files/03_ThinkingRoutines/03e_FairnessRoutines/CircleViewpoints/CircleViewpoints_Routine.html

 

*Koehler, M. (2011, May 11). TPACK [Technological pedagogical content knowledge]. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://www.tpack.org/

*Please note that while Koehler and Mishra both developed the TPACK framework, Koehler is cited on the TPACK website as having posted the image that is utilized in this Blog post.

Week 5: How do you tackle a wicked problem?

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This week, we were asked to come up with solutions for Rethinking Education in the 21st century. Our think tank came up with many solutions, but we focused on a few of the more actionable possibilities.

We started by asking ourselves lots of “Why” and “What If” questions and narrowed them down to the following actionable “How” questions:

  • How can we rethink education to ensure that it is individualized and responsive to the needs of each student while maintaining standards for rigor and effectively utilizes 21st century technological tools?
  • How can we structure education for teachers to provide ample productive opportunities for collaboration to meet the needs of all students (e.g. lesson studies, curriculum planning, activity coordination and evaluation)?

From there, our think tank came up with a few solutions that we thought could help Rethink Education in a positive way.  Here are our solutions:

  • Instruction should be flipped or blended to allow for self-paced learning.
  • Instruction should incorporate technologies to enhance individualized learning and collaborative projects.
  • Instruction should utilize Inquiry Based Learning to ensure that content blends with student interest and research.
  • Students are assessed on a variety of measures some of which are student-directed while others are teacher-directed.
  • States will streamline and coordinate standards/curricula/techniques to facilitate interdistrict collaboration among teachers and schools.
  • Teachers will have established/guaranteed time for self-directed collaboration (horizontally and vertically) within the school, district, and interdistrict.

 

We then crafted a survey to gather data and opinions about our proposed solutions. This survey was created as a component of an assignment that is part of our graduate programs in educational technology at Michigan State University. We also hope that the results will inform discussions and planning for technology integration in the work we do together and with students.

We would really appreciate your participation!  Your answers will be collected anonymously — please do not give your name or any other personally identifiable information.

We will analyze this data and submit them for evaluation to our professors at MSU. We will share our analyses with you once they are complete.

Again, we hope that you will decide to participate, as it will help us gather important data for our future work.

If you choose to participate, please complete this survey no later than Friday, June 23, 2017. Thank you very much for your time and insights!

https://noelle32.typeform.com/to/w3slqc

Reference:

Nelson, PJ. (2009, May 2). Problems [Man with sinking ice shack]. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/pjnelson/3492701267/in/photolist-6jD1pn-9f2cAa-or2mP7-bptJY-aUZJT8-7zdBeB-6ooTwe-e667qi-oxGzLs-e5dhi6-dtiZwU-iewWj-RH7MJD-VE5cRr-nyA42b-7Hv2kh-5DZNMq-83xsd7-Myr8m3-bhFWvk-5Zy7nz-4XZHzT-bF5xMB-Tojn55-92UnNh-92Rfua-83um1P-83um7B-bnEDeD-cKfd1-Tx2m45-5Zy7nD-TojmPf-bWRpks-6eXn3Y-p1DKAL-q6hJUo-V8smrP-7ueuDu-gPNHdx-s7rLkE-3Ak69-X4iEn-ubpjw7-W4kvt-5vjdLj-SH5PE5-bSHvg-chXnx-AwVoKK

Week 4: Navigating through a wickedly entangled issue!

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Rethinking Education for the 21st Century

This week in CEP 812, my partner Noelle and I teamed up to delve into rethinking education for the 21st Century. As part of our process, we brainstormed questions and engaged in a creative role-taking technique (the circle of viewpoints) in order to explore the complexities of re-imagining education from multiple perspectives.

The process proved very fruitful, as it encouraged us to break free of our own educational experience bubbles, and it helped us narrow our numerous questions into a more focused, manageable list.  First, we felt that we needed to have an understanding of why rethinking education is an issue of concern in the first place.  Why rethink it at all?  Second, we realized that we had to come to some understanding of or agreement upon what teaching and learning “should” look like in this century if we want to prepare students for the world of all of our imminent futures.   What does it mean to teach for the 21st Century?  Third, if we are to rethink what it means to be a teacher and a student and what it means to teach and learn, then we must also question what is being taught and what school itself looks like.  Why can’t we restructure education and rethink what is taught?   Our fourth and final focus question then became concerned with how rethinking teaching and learning from the ground up could possibly be balanced with the needs of our students and the demands of the public.  How do we rethink teaching, maintain balance with standardized testing demands, and ensure that students have multiple paths to demonstrate their learning and have it assessed?

I have included an infographic here for your perusal.  We have found some very interesting information and perspectives!

Rethinking_Education_for_the_21st_Century


If the embedded infographic does not work for you, click on one of the following links!

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Rethinking Education for the 21st Century


Reference

Licht, M. (2014, November 9). Modern Kitchen [Digital image]. Retrieved June 11, 2017, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/15754414125/in/photolist-q1aurK-dDgLcG-3zia96-9qLNCj-aW8S4i-dDbp5a-dDbog2-ncrqut-dhng8G-6ugCqK-eFHrr6-6ukNeY-oymtzz-7KKx55-89a8Hh-n9RS6H-dDgLRA-n9K4xH-2Pc1ob-a5Cf9q-n4bXc-asd2z1-a5zmfv-n9LkF3-daBm6B-ac6523-n9JPPk-n9JXAn-ac3fxe-ac66wY-9KpQHg-5PEPWx-62hpTQ-6Xm5Mf-a5CerE-5MKF8b-a5Cei7-a5Cfpm-a5Cf5f-a5zmhi-62dbAn-9qHNWv-n9UcKN-n9S5Wk-9qLNHd-5dHccb-ac3dXi-oHB6i-am1rHr-aaY7k7

Week 3: Bubbles might be pretty, but don’t get trapped in one!

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Bubble

I have been taught that a good scientific mind always looks for confounding evidence and is open to myriad possibilities and perspectives.  After all as Glesne (2011) explains in her section on “trustworthiness” in qualitative research, one must engage in “negative case analysis–conscious search for negative cases and unconfirming evidence so that you can refine your working hypotheses” (p. 49). Without such diligence, one’s research runs the risk of being both myopic and inherently flawed.  We have to get out of our insulating bubbles to engage with contexts, viewpoints, and potentialities we would have never otherwise considered.  Stated another way (as our instructors noted this week in our course), Gee (2013) underscores our need for seeking out diverse perspectives, “In a healthy society, diversity is honored because diverse people and viewpoints serve the same purpose as variation does in evolution. Such diversity expands the possibilities for new discoveries and survival in the face of change. A closed society, like a species with little genetic variation and too much inbreeding, is doomed” (pp. 117-118).

Taking all of this into consideration, I sought out resources to expand and enrich my information diet that would provide rich texts from varying perspectives for my own teaching practice as well as mine and my partner’s research into our wicked problem of rethinking teaching! For instance, I subscribed to the RSS feed of TeachHub.com and Education Week to expand my exposure to the multitudinous facets of teaching and not just high school world language education.  Since Educational Pioneers does not take sides in the public/charter debate and focuses instead on improving the education of all students–particularly those from minority and low-income backgrounds–I added their blog to help me ensure that I would not overlook the challenges students from diverse backgrounds confront.  In addition, I subscribed to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2017), because their mission involves serving “..as a catalyst for 21st century learning to build collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders so that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.”  To me, this truly speaks to the issue of re-imagining or rethinking teaching.  Furthermore, I added the Christensen Institute (2017) as they are proponents of “Improving the world through disruptive innovation.”  My following of TeachersofTomorrow.org and TeachforAmerica.org will assist in my investigation of alternative routes to certification which will push me out of my bubble as a traditionally prepared teacher. The Hawn Foundation’s website was also added even though they do not have a blog/RSS feed, as their MindUp program speaks to educating the emotional sides of children and not just the acquisition of information.

While no deletions were made, the expansion to my PLN will truly benefit both my partner and myself in our investigations of rethinking teaching.  Furthermore, my revised information diet supports my continued efforts to push myself as a world language educator concerned about his own teaching practice as well as the state of teaching at large.  I truly endeavored to find rich and varied sources of information from diverse perspectives.

Yet, I still felt some conflict.  Intuitively, I know that investigating all sides of an issue is crucial if we are to become critical consumers of information, but where do we draw the line?  At what point is it OK to say, “I’m not going to follow this feed or link to this site due to what it stands for.”?  For instance, I cannot in good conscience follow Betsy DeVos, as her family is notoriously hostile to LGBTQ people.  For me, that is tantamount to supporting hate groups.  However, she is the current education secretary.  I can divorce her personally from her ideas.  However, if I include people like her in my PLN, am I not complicit in legitimizing what she stands for?  Perhaps each of us must seek as many perspectives as possible while maintaining our ability to look at ourselves in the mirror each morning.

Here’s a Storify with some of the videos and articles I’ve found on rethinking teaching.

Rethinking teaching: Storify

References:

Clayton Christensen Institute. (2017). Improving the world through disruptive innovation. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from https://www.christenseninstitute.org/?wref=bif
Gee, J. P. (2013). The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
Glesne, C. (2011). Becoming qualitative researchers: an introduction, 4th ed (4th ed.). Boston, Mass: Pearson.
Partnership for 21st Century Learning, P21. Our Vision and Mission. Retrieved June 04, 2017, from http://www.p21.org/about-us/our-mission

Week 2: Deeper inquiry through “A More Beautiful Question”

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A More Beautiful Question

In his book A More Beautiful Question (2014), Berger explains that student queries drop off dramatically once school begins.  As one illustration of this sharp decline, he cites a study that found “Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 questions a day. By middle school, they’ve pretty much stopped asking” (pp. 43-44).  Therefore, he poses the obvious but incredibly provocative question “Why does questioning fall off a cliff?” (p. 42). He cites numerous researchers that proffer different possible explanations from the brain’s reduction in the formulation of neural links, to children just not needing to question as much, to societal stratification, to children losing interest in education.

Yet one passage in particular really struck me as speaking to the core issue of the precipitous decline we see in student questioning.  Berger writes, “…the more general problem of schools favoring memorized answers over creative questions is nothing new.  Some point out that it’s built into an educational system that was created in a different time, the Industrial Age, and for a different purpose” (p. 47). This hearkens back to an article I once read by David Labaree (1997) in which he discusses differing, competing goals of American education—democratic equality, social efficiency, and social mobility.  Labaree maintains that, as social mobility began to dominate in the American educational system, what one learned became less valuable than what one could get for one’s education.  He explains: “The value of education from this point of view is not intrinsic but extrinsic, because the primary aim is to exchange one’s education for something more substantial—namely, a job, which will provide the holder with a comfortable standard of living, financial security, social power, and cultural prestige.” (p. 55) He further elaborates stating that students quickly learn not to value learning but the “credentials” they obtain in schools.  “Grades, credits, and degrees—these become the objects to be pursued” (p. 56).

Herein lies what I believe is a core problem in education today.  In the United States, our society values what has become known as the American dream.  No matter where you come from, who you are, or how much money you have, you can become whatever you want to be through grit, determination, hard work, and doing well in school.  I for one believe in that mantra.  However as each child struggles to get ahead, education naturally becomes a competition for the advancement of the individual rather than a team effort where everyone succeeds.  After all, in order to get ahead, you have to do better than the student or family next to you!  As students are rewarded for getting the correct response over demonstrating growth or taking a novel approach to solving a problem, they come to see “the right answer” as the object of any lesson.  Therefore, I question the entire premise that questioning drops off.  Rather, I think the questions change and that this might not have been captured by the researchers referenced in the book.  I maintain that the rich, deep, “more beautiful” questions we hunger for our students to produce quickly get replaced with much more superficial questions due to the way their education is structured.  Students quickly learn to revert to queries such as, “What’s my grade?”, “Can I get extra credit?”, “How can I get a better grade?  If I get a bad grade, I’ll be on punishment.”, “I need an A.  How can I get an A?”, or “What’s the right answer?”

I think that our challenges in education are of our own making.  We as educators and as a society emphasize having the “right answer” versus the learning involved.  For instance, I routinely have students asking me what they can do to get an A+ or an A over an A-.  Furthermore, failure is seen as a complete fiasco, weakness in the individual, and a dereliction of our duty as educators rather than as the natural part of inquiry that it is.  Failure can be incredibly instructive and can inspire powerful questions in and of itself.  Even in terms of this assignment, we are instructed to compose a response of 500-700 words.  Quantity trumps quality.  Of course I realize that the course and instructors ARE concerned about substance and that the word count is merely a guideline for students to get a handle on how much is enough of a response.  Yet, how often do we outline projects and assignment in terms of quantity vs quality of learning or substance?

I am just as guilty as everyone else in this regard.  I think that this credentialization (as Labaree terms it) has pervasively insinuated itself into our educational system.  I wonder what might happen if we challenged students by structuring our assignments and grades on how our students demonstrate a deep engagement with a topic, the questions they asked, and their processes for investigating their questions.  What if we held them accountable for demonstrating the skills they have begun acquiring, continued to hone, or mastered utilizing higher order thinking skills as opposed to how many pages, how many words, how many examples of something they have provided, or if the response has been formatted appropriately?  I suspect all of us would find education much more inspiring, purposeful, engaging, and downright exciting if we did!

Here’s a link to a Slideshare from the “A More Beautiful Question” Website entitled “5 Ways to Make Better Questioners.”  Just some food for thought…

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References:

Berger, W. (2015, September 15). 5 Ways to make better questioners [Slideshare PDF]. Education.  https://www.slideshare.net/featured/category/education

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Buckley, L. (2013, January 16). Inquiry Grade 5 [Students utilizing MLA on laptops]. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybuckley/9849708763/

Labaree, D. F. (1997). Public Goods, Private Goods: The American Struggle over Educational Goals. American Educational Research Journal, 34(1), 39. doi:10.2307/1163342

CEP 812 Week 1: Problems of Practice!

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As a point of introduction, I teach French and Italian in the metropolitan area of Sacramento, California.  The schools here are typically quite diverse in terms of student ethnicity, language, and socioeconomic status. Since this first assignment asked us to think about a special learning need my students had and how to address it utilizing a technological resource, I wanted to do some deeper thinking about an issue that might be under-addressed in schools in order to have maximal impact on my students’ learning and sense of belonging or connectedness to our classroom community.   I teach some wonderful students who have myriad learning needs, so deciding which problem to tackle took some time.

Eventually, I decided to delve into how to meet the needs of students from the surrounding migrant farming communities.  These students come to school with surprisingly divergent experiences in education.  Some have not attended school anywhere regularly.  Some have learned in severely under-resourced environments.  Others might have educational experiences with frequent interruptions, while still others might have more “traditional” schooling experiences.  Not surprisingly, these students have widely varied levels of literacy in their primary languages as well as English.

Students who have multi-lingual backgrounds have so much to contribute to a world language classroom community.  The challenge is that this sub-population of English Language Learners (ELLs) frequently only attend our school until the autumn growing season is completed, and they do not return (if they return at all) until middle spring when local farms begin harvesting once again.  During their absence, these students lose touch with their schools, classmates, and teachers.  As a result, they continue to experience gaps in their learning, difficulties acclimating to the school environment, and challenges in developing peer relationships.

My questions became obvious.  How could I help students who experienced frequent interruptions in their education feel some sense of continuity?  How could they be empowered to continue their learning when they were not with us?  How could we work together to help them feel connected−to feel a sense of belonging– to a classroom where they were actively engaged in valuable learning experiences?  For this assignment, we were to select an “ill-structured” problem.  I seemed to have gravitated toward questions that proved to be more of the “wicked” variety instead.

I knew that I wanted to evaluate the abilities of the program Duolingo to meet the needs of these students.  I selected Duolingo for a variety of reasons. First, it is FREE, so money would not be an issue!  Second, it is a well-known, commonly utilized application.  Third, it can be downloaded onto any smart phone or used on a computer as well.  Fourth, Duolingo has support for schools and teachers who wish to utilize the application in their classrooms.  Fifth and finally, the program has numerous languages that could support students from a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds in a variety of settings.

Yet, the vexing nature of these questions I had identified was compounded by the fact that, when I turned to research literature for help, I found almost nothing regarding teaching students who had fragmented educational experiences in the world language classroom.  How could I effectively evaluate a program for the needs of my students without grounding my investigation in research?

Ultimately, I turned to an article from DeCapua and Marshall (2010) for assistance in evaluating technological tools that might benefit this student population.   Their research focused on a five-month intervention in a high school English class for “students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE)” (p. 50).  Admittedly, this was not a world language classroom.; however, the researchers developed an instructional model called the Mutually Adaptive Learning Paradigm (MALP) that proved useful as a framework for evaluating the utility of Duolingo.  Through MALP, DeCapua and Marshall outlined what they felt were the basic needs of ELLs who had limited/interrupted formal education.  First, these students needed “immediate relevance and interconnectedness” (p. 54).  Second, teachers needed to bridge “learning through oral transmission to learning from the written word”, and third, teachers needed to “focus directly on academic tasks that help these students develop their critical thinking skills” (p. 54).

Based upon these criteria, I determined that Duolingo would be beneficial in meeting many albeit not all of these criteria.  In the first regard, the application has numerous benefits.  The vocabulary taught is composed of high frequency words needed in everyday conversation.  In addition, it provides some basic grammar information for students.  Since the application focuses on real world communication, students will quickly see its relevance.  Also since Dulingo can be downloaded for free on their smart phones, the students will have ample opportunity to utilize it no matter where they are.  To assist with their sense of interconnectedness and motivation to actually engage with the software on a regular basis, Duolingo offers opportunities for the students to compete against one another through leader boards, to accumulate points and virtual gems, to receive immediate and specific feedback, etc.  Since the application is free and online, the students in question could, in theory, continue their learning and some measure of continued connectedness with their peers regardless of their location.

Dulingo is also helpful in terms of helping students bridge learning orally to learning with text.  Vocabulary lessons feature pictures, text in English, as well as text and audio in the target language.  This is truly helpful for English language learners as the utilization of visuals, bi lingual text, and audio all reinforce each other and what was learned in the classroom.  In addition, the brief grammatical explanations also reinforce grammatical concepts learned in class that they can also apply to other classes.  This also helps students bridge the gap from learning from orally and auditorly to learning through print.  Furthermore, the students could sign up for free for lessons in English for Spanish-speakers for example.

The only aspect of DeCapua and Marshall’s (2010) MALP model whose fit with Duolingo was a bit dubious for me was the third. I do think that Duolingo can assist this population of students focus on academic learning.  The application reinforces and deepens that done in class.  As mentioned previously, it offers immediate feedback and even provides checkpoints for the students.  I am not sure how much the program increases critical thinking skills however.  In spite of that potential exception, I do believe that English language learners, especially those who have interrupted and/or limited experiences in school would greatly benefit from utilizing Duolingo in the language classroom.

Here’s a brief screencast showing some of the beneficial aspects of Duolingo I discussed. This is also one of my very first screencasts, and I’m getting over a cold. Be kind!  LOL

 

 

References:

DeCapua, A., & Marshall, H. W. (2010). Serving ELLs With Limited or Interrupted Education: Intervention That Works. TESOL Journal, 1(1), 49-70. doi:10.5054/tj.2010.214878

GDJ. (2016, February 08). Colorful Question Head Circles 9 [Digital image]. Retrieved May 20, 2017, from https://openclipart.org/detail/240442/colorful-question-head-circles-9