Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Albert Einstien (1879-1955)
I hear and read a lot that nowadays teachers preparing students for the world that they do not know; that transferable skills are very important since they are applying for any jobs; that we should not focus on grades – rather on student voice and solving real problems.
My school did this shift more than 10 years ago. It took time to train teachers and create the curriculum. “Through both the curriculum and our teaching, the elementary school at AAS aims to develop the intellectual, emotional, and physical potential of each child, in a secure and stimulating environment, directly supporting the school’s mission.” (ES, AAS)
What are “new pedagogies”?
Learning partnership between a teacher and students
Learning engagements are based on real-life problem-solving and connected to students’ interests
Digital tools and resources are integrated into the learning process
Evaluating students’ progress together and choosing learning strategies based on that analysis
How does it look like in my WL class?
Learning a language is an active learning process. Students inquire about the knowledge and skills they can implement in real-life situations after leaving school. First, the students have the opportunity to implement their skills and knowledge on the safe environment in the framework of the classroom:
Read the menu and make the order
Listen to the forecast and decide what to wear
Through situated learning, students are able to learn and practice skills in a meaningful language learning environment.
Secondly, students can choose how to practice their knowledge and skills; each ES student has an iPad provided by our school. The school has subscriptions to different language platforms that make the learning experience fun and engaging.
“Knowledge about certain ways of thinking about, and working with technology, tools, and resources; and working with technology can apply to all technology tools and resources. This includes understanding information technology broadly enough to apply it productively at work and in everyday life, being able to recognize when information technology can assist or impede the achievement of a goal, and being able continually to adapt to changes in information technology.” (Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for integrating technology in teachers’ knowledge. )
In the last few years, I had a question – if I, a World Language teacher, should be expected to teach technology. Nowadays, reality gave me the answer – YES! During Distance Learning, the use of technology became so necessary. Teachers and students are learning together how to use different apps for language learning, a new feature of Google products (Google Slides, Google Sites, Google Forms, Google Drawings).
The beginning of my learning path was based on the SAMR model. It was created by Ruben R. Puentedura and consists of four technological levels of use (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition).
This model was created to support teachers with the visualization of complex concepts. First, we (I and my students)were using Word document instead of paper and pencils to create presentations (levels 1 and 2). Now we (I and the other Russian language teachers) are creating Google Slides for one theme but different levels with various learning engagements. The use of technology improves our collaborative planning, allows sharing our own expertise on a subject, saves our planning time, and, as a result, we have solid teaching materials.
The SAMR model demonstrates the progression a teacher can take while he/she goes through the process of learning about technology and teaching students with the help of technology. I can see how technology becomes an essential part of a WL class naturally.
Now I can see myself as part of another framework – TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). This model explains the equal importance of the three main elements (Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge, and Technological Knowledge).
As educators, we have mastered our pedagogy and content knowledge before we come to a classroom. However, technology knowledge is not at the same level as the other two. That is why I started to take different PD in order to improve my technology knowledge and skills and be able to make decisions about what technology to use in the classroom.
Now I have a list of educational technology that I can use to accomplish different goals. Quizlet can be used to introduce and practice new vocabulary or some grammar concepts. Kahoot can be used as a learning engagement or formative assessment. Fripgrid can be used for developing and evaluating interpersonal and interpretive skills. Google forms can be used for self-reflection. Seesaw is a student portfolio. Book Creator can be used for developing and evaluating presentational writing skills and PuppetPals – presentational speaking skills. And I am sure there are many more educational technologies.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Both of these models present an idea of how to improve the learning environment with the help of technology. The difference is that TRACK highlights the importance of pedagogy, technology, and content; and SAMR focuses on technology integration into a classroom.
When I was reading resources for this week, I was thinking about my competence in using technology. I found the simple and clear visual explanation about four stages that a teacher takes to build confidence in technology use. I think I am at the Mastery stage and ready to go to the Impact stage.
The Anglo-American School of Moscow’s technology vision is the following:
My teaching practices are based on AAS’s vision for learning. We have different levels in a WL classroom to differentiate and meet individual students’ needs. The students have their learning goals and plan of action. The students know the learning objectives and can demonstrate their achievements using different tools. We use a variety of online learning platforms to develop and assess the students’ knowledge and skills.
Bobbie Harro, in his article, the Cycle of Socialization,says that society influences man’s thoughts and programs man’s behavior. All of us live in the framework of a society, and we are playing a variety of roles accordingly. The beginning of the cycle represents the situation into which a man was born. He/she has no control over this. There are no bias, assumptions, or questions. The second circle represents the institutions that help shape a man’s view and beliefs and help instill prejudice or acceptance. The third circle is additional enforcement – it can be rewards or punishments. And finally – a man is forced to make a decision.
I believe it should be a change. If we are talking about the current situation, we are keeping our genetic and cultural codes of behavior; on the other hand, we are brainwashed by mass media controlled by the government. When you speak different languages, it is fun to read or listen to the same news in different countries; however, they may contradict each other. As educators, we are responsible for teaching a new generation to read between lines, to choose their position based on morale, cultural identity, and common sense. Unfortunately, sometimes it is only the BIG words and no actions in a society. Ideally, it would be great to have a system and a curriculum in place, at least for all international schools first.
Flipgrid is a good tool to help students connect with each other and share their learning.
Pluses to use Flipgrid in WL class:
Easy to use and authentic – a teacher creates a prompt (a question, video, or image), and students post video responses to the prompts;
Useful to use during DL because it doesn’t require a real-time discussion
It can be used to evaluate various skills (interpretive reading and listening, presentational speaking, and writing).
Teaching remotely became my new reality. Virtual lessons are not the same as in the classroom. I knew that I need to find another way to organize the learning environment for my students. I am teaching through Webex meetings, so I found that creating slides per lesson is the most organized way to put everything together and ready to go at any minute.
I have started to play around with slides: each slide is an activity.
The first slide is a welcome slide (the date, the name of the day, and a picture that gives a clue what we are going to talk about or brings a mood).
It will be the first lesson after the autumn break. It is said,“Good morning! Smile!” in the picture. The students will share their fun memories about their vacations.
The next two slides are the alphabet song and words that we will practice reading.
The next three slides present new grammar concepts (we use different pronounce when we talk about girls and boys in Russian). I used to have one slide with all these sentences. Now I created four other slides (one slide – one structure, different color code: red – describing girls, blue – describing boys). The slides’ background is gray because it is essential to understand this grammar concept, and I wanted to create a serious atmosphere.
The last two slides are a song about a family and Tic Tac Toe game.
MY MAIN OUTCOMES FOR CREATING SLIDES:
Think about the audience (grade 1, Family Unit).
Be authentic (use authentic resources – real pictures, songs, and games).
Teaching nowadays is challenging. One year ago, it was so easy to assess presentational skills – a student was making a poster and presented it in front of the class.
During DL time, I want my students to be motivated to learn Russian and improve their skills. I can not create the same atmosphere that we have in class. Still, I would like to implement a new type of thinking and solve the problem, new forms of presenting educational information, and assess students’ knowledge and skills.
Infographics can be used for different levels. What makes it unique? It is an authentic resource that can be used even for the Novice level. Infographics are created for native speakers and introduce the theme or problem to discuss; it visualizes key points.
Pluses of using Infographic in WL Class:
Comprehensible even for beginner students
I created the Infographic for introducing Russian holidays.
Proficiency Target –Intermediate Low
Essential Question – How does learning languages help to understand other cultures?
Infographic – Праздники в России (Holidays in Russia)
Use – The teacher uses the infographic to introduce the name of holidays, dates, and the key information about holidays.
When I was creating this infographic, I had some difficulties:
To choose the right picture (should it be a photo or a drawing)
To choose only six holidays, among many; what are the main ones to know for ES students
To summarize the information in short sentences
This infographic was used instead of two-pages of text. I believe that it empowered my students to explore more about each holiday. This way of presenting new information is more convenient and effective for the modern generation.
Reading infographics involves more detailed processing of information, it is not just an illustration of a topic, but also its analysis that allows students to rethink and visualize.
Nowadays the situation requires moving from a real classroom to distance learning. As a WL teacher, I was teaching online since the begging of the school year. The reason is that we can not mix the students from different classrooms. So, technology is currently the only means by which I can reach out to my students.
We have started to use a new web conferencing tool – WEBEX. It allows organizing the live sessions, sharing information and tasks, having breakout sessions – the students can work in smaller groups on different tasks depending on their language skills and knowledge.
Did we have complications with technology? Yes, almost every day.
1) The students do not hear me, or I can’t hear them. The solution – restart the meeting or rejoin the meeting.
2) Sharing the video with the right resolution or share the link and ask the students to watch the video by themselves and then come back to the meeting. Very challenging with little ones.
3) In order to have smooth lessons, we wrote the code of behavior together, such as be on time, unmute yourself, but keep a camera on, raise your hand if you want to speak, use a chat for learning purposes. When a student makes a presentation, they create Google slides following certain rules:
Use the common background for the whole presentation, and this background should support the main idea of the presentation
One big idea per a slide
Use a bigger font or different color for writing the main idea
Add the picture to illustrate and support the presentation
On the way, we are learning together how to solve problems. I always have a plan B in Seesaw if something does not go well in WEBEX. Unfortunately, it requires more time for planning. New updates appear so quickly that we watch tutorials together and try to figure out how it works on different sides of the screen.
Another problem is keeping ES students (5-7 years old) in front of the screen for 45-60 minutes in a WL class. It is exhausting for students and teachers. I have realized that a small chunk of a live session should be followed by individual student work (during this period, a teacher is available to answer questions and clarify). I believe that the live session should be interactive and creative. Another solution is creating/ or finding short videos of the lesson content that students can watch asynchronously at their own pace. During the live sessions, the students can demonstrate the knowledge they learned or ask for clarifications.
New distant learning reality changes the teaching practices and classroom culture tremendously.
It was difficult to come back to the routine of learning since our life has not yet become back to normal. We are teaching in masks and online at the same time. It is challenging to keep the attention and interest of 4 years old child for 45 minutes during World Language class.
When I have started to write COETAIL blog
I knew that colors, drawings, and font make the difference and attract the readers’ attention. I tried to use different fonts, colors, images, and videos.
In today’s internet, visual literacy is a skill to decipher what was being communicated, it helps to eliminate the barriers
Visual cultureis playing a huge role in nowadays life. In today’s visual Internet, visual literacy is a skill and a necessary ability to decipher what is shared online and distributed in any other form of visual media. It happens a lot in learning foreign languages, the learners are trying to imagine or draw visuals in their heads when they are reading in a foreign language.
New things that I want to implement in my blogs:
To put on top the main idea
Use visual images such as photo posts, viral videos, charts, infographics in order to support my ideas
Use brighter colors in order to attract the reader’s attention
More space around elements draws the reader’s attention
Use the dot points to summarize
These elements I am using while creating Seesaw activities for my little learners during distance learning.
When I was reading the recommended resource for Course 2, I was thinking of how I could implement this knowledge in my classroom. I am a WL teacher in elementary school, so we start with basic computer skills. It would be a challenge to start developing digital literacy skills. I can demonstrate an example as a teacher, but incorporate these skills in foreign language teaching will be possible in grades 4 or 5. So, I have decided that PD for teachers would be more relevant for this course.
When I read the final project requirements, I thought it would be interesting to create a workshop to build a common understanding of the concept of students’ privacy and discuss teachers’ responsibilities in this area. We have a school’s security system already in place, and it is operating at a very high standard. But I believe that it is essential to train teachers to examine online resources and incorporate digital literacy skills.
I know the future audience of this PD. I have been working with them for the last ten years. This topic is new for the majority of our teachers. We haven’t had official training on how to protect students’ data privacy and how to check the safety of online educational resources. But lately, we have started to use more and more apps and online programs. Therefore, we have chosen the following standards:
3.b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
3.d. Model and promote the management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.
Plan of action was the following:
Contact my colleague and discuss the key features of a workshop.
Create a shared google document and google slides document, on which we were asynchronously working together, developing ideas and concepts, while we were exploring the resources.
Schedule the meetings 2-3 times a week.
Make a list of resources and assign the tasks.
The main challenges were:
Ten hours time difference
Some resources can’t be opened in Google, and I used Opera browser
It is crucial to check every app and online program for safety and privacy.
My responsibility as an educator is to share this knowledge with my colleagues.
My responsibility as a teacher is to incorporate digital literacy skills in my teaching when it is applicable.
Online collaboration is possible when you have clear goals, a lot of resources, a detailed action plan, experienced colleagues, enough time, and a good internet connection.
“By teaching others you will learn yourself.” G.I. Gurdjieff
The young generation is the first generation that can not imagine life without cell phones and social media accounts. They live on the internet communicating with peers, exploring information, and learning new knowledge. Media literacy definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. If your level of digital competence is low, you will be excluded from the labor market and society. On the other hand, if young people are using digital media uncontrolled and not following the ethical rules, it could lead to damaging individuals’ personal relations and spreading misinformation.
How do your school’s policies/agreements empower stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities?
Digital Citizenship Agreement
In our school, we are still working on developing acceptable use (AU) policy for students. Still, we have the system in place to protect students’ privacy and to develop a responsible digital citizen who contributes positively to our school community. The Digital Learning Vision is presented on the school’s website, and the Digital Citizenship Agreement is placed on the back of each I-pad that school provides to students and teachers in elementary school. At the begging of the year, we have a discussion with examples of what it means to be a good digital citizen. If a student does not use a device (I-pad or Chromebook) appropriately, he/she could lose the privilege to use it for a certain time and/or have a conversation with a teacher, admin, or Tech integrationist about the case. All educational apps sites are checked by the Tech integrationist using Common Sense Privacy Evaluations and Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Model Terms of Service.
We have a detailed COMPUTER AND INTERNET STAFF ACCEPTABLE USE AGREEMENT for faculty written in Faculty Handbook.
“The School offers electronic communications and network access to all users. Access to the network provides users with Internet access in addition to other resources. All employees, students and visitors are encouraged to use the school wifi or wired internet connections (not to use data from cellular networks). Our goal in providing this service to users is to promote educational excellence by facilitating resource sharing, innovation and communication. While the Internet provides a massive information source to our school, we must also recognize that some material available may not be considered of educational value in a school setting. The responsibility for 35 proper educational use of the network lies with the user. If an AAS user chooses to access resources that are objectionable, adult-oriented, or restricted, the consequence may be withholding or termination of access privileges, depending on the circumstances and intent of the user.”
The main statements of AAS Computer Systems and Internet Use Terms and Conditions:
School computers should be used to support education and research consistent with the learning outcomes.
Network Etiquette – Users are expected to abide by the following rules of network etiquette.
Accuracy of Information.
Security is a high priority, especially since the system involves many users.
Any software installed must be properly licensed and evaluated by AAS IT Department prior to the installation.
“AAS respects the right of employees to use blogs and social media as part of their professional network and as an extension of their personal and professional lives. We do not want to discourage employees from self-publishing and self-expression, but employees are expected to follow the guidelines and policies set forth to provide a clear line between you as the individual and you as the employee in order to preserve the environment that is based on focusing on students at all times.”
What actions will you take to continually improve your own media literacy? Your students’ and colleagues’?
My first step in improving my personal media literacy was joining COETAL courses, and now the more I read, the more questions I have. I started to explore by myself and found a lot of exciting resources. My colleague from Middle school, Irena, and I have decided to create PD for teachers to introduce the issue of Digital Safety and Student Privacy.
I decided to examine the learning engagements and assessments through the lens of media literacy and to find the way to engage students in real-world inquiries that require them to search out information, assess it, and interpret its social and cultural context; connect with other students around the world, and write for authentic audiences.
How have you supported your students and peers in becoming more empathetic?
WHAT IS EMPATHY?
Empathy – “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Empathy plays a significant role in the WL classroom. At the beginning of the year, we create the classroom agreement in which we agree that it is important to be caring and respectful, and it is OK to make language mistakes because we are learning.
We have different dialogues and role-plays when students imagine themselves in the other person’s situation, and they have to experience the emotions that the other person could experience and try to understand the feeling and choose the appropriate language structures and intonations, voice volume. So, we are modeling empathy on an everyday basis during language class.
Learning a language without understanding culture is impossible. Language allows expressing thoughts and feelings, sharing knowledge and experience, and it closely connected with values and customs. Some of these values and customs can be different and difficult to understand that is why it is very important to introduce students to them, explain the history and maybe try (food, games, cloths, housing, moves and theater performances, stories and anecdotes, etc.) and develop the empathy to something what is unusual.
I was always careful when I was choosing the authentic materials for students to study (read, watch, discuss), and use the classical ones, not from social media. Now I start thinking about using social media materials, choosing these materials with my students, and modeling how to interpret these materials following the framework for media literacy proposed by Thoman and Jolls (2005):
• Who created the message?
• What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
• How may different people understand this message differently than me?
• What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this message?
• Why is this message being sent?
I really like this video that explains the empathy and how empathy can empower our students.