Beyond the One-Day Workshop: Building Sustained Professional Development Online, TESOL 2010 (session handout)


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TESOL 2010
Session: March 25, 7:30 a.m.

Presenters share an online reflective practice group model that provides quality, sustained professional development for adult ESOL teachers through the asynchronous exploration of ideas and best practices. Presenters demonstrate the free Web tool they used and discuss issues surrounding online professional development and fostering program cohesion in practice.

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Beyond the One-Day Workshop: Building Sustained Professional Development Online, TESOL 2010 (session handout)

  1. 1. Beyond the One-day Workshop: Building Sustained Professional Development Online TESOL 2010 Michele Cona and Donna Moss Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP), Arlington, Virginia and ---------------------------- SESSION GOALS: We will share an online reflective practice group model that provides quality, sustained professional development for adult ESOL teachers through the asynchronous exploration of ideas and best practices. We will also demonstrate the free Web tool we used and discuss issues surrounding online professional development and fostering program cohesion in practice. ---------------------------- 1A. PROJECT TIMELINE AND TASKS: CHART Timeline Project Tasks Description Week 1 Workshop We became acquainted with each other and reflective practice as a concept. (initial 3 We came to a consensus on project guidelines, tasks, and expectations. hour face to Teachers completed a peer review task in the online environment (wiki), and face received a packet of administrative materials, which included discussion and meeting) netiquette tips for participating in online discussions. Weeks Teach, Teachers (1) documented and uploaded a lesson plan from a recent class; 2) 3,5,7,9,11 Reflect & completed reflection questions on that lesson; and (every other Peer Review 3) using a set of guiding questions, offered feedback to their partner on their week) lesson plan and classroom experience. Weeks Discussion Discussions addressed 2-3 prevailing questions that came to light within the 2,4,6,8,10 peer review pages, which the co-moderators looked for. Discussions were (every other asynchronous. week) Week 8 Inquiry Group used Discussion time to reach consensus on a question to investigate (midway in the second half of the project, using the “good practice audit”: (1) Identify point of the pressing problems and come to consensus on one to discuss; (2) Analyze project) experiences; and (3) Compile suggestions for practice. The question was directly related to addressing learning styles in the classroom. Week 12 Project Explored what we believed we had learned about teaching through this (final week) Reflection: project. The project reflection was a “survival advice memo”: Teachers wrote to the new teacher who would be teaching the same level and outlined the essential survival advice on meeting all the learners’ needs and addressing their individual learning styles. Week 13 Wrap Up: Discussed lessons learned through the project. (1 hour face to face meeting) 1
  2. 2. 1B. PROJECT TIMELINE AND TASKS: GRAPHIC 2. ONE TEACHER’S PROGRESSION: KARLI Karli’s Personal Reflection for Week 7 Lesson 1. How did the lesson go? What was successful, not successful? (Consider the rationale stated in the lesson objective portion of the plan and also initial needs assessment.) Is there anything you’d do differently? “I was not happy with this lesson. On a whole, I’m having trouble with my morning class. They’re low for 250 and I’m trying to figure out what works for them. This lesson in particular was just mediocre. They had some trouble with the demonstratives, and I incorporated some TPR to help, but which possibly just confused them more. :) But I was feeling ok about the lesson until the end. I had them practicing the conversation about returning and exchanging merchandise with a partner, reading the dialog and then with the book closed and that seemed to go ok. But when I called on students perform for the class, almost all of them were almost unintelligible to their classmates. Either they couldn’t understand their pronunciation, or their grammar was all over the place or they just had no idea what to say when their partner went off script. Those problems made the info grid useless. I ended the lesson feeling like my students had not mastered returning things. So, I’d say unsuccessful. I’d change the last question of the info grid as the answers I got half the time had nothing to do with English (parking, transportation, etc). I’d also spend less time on demonstratives or possibly skip them all together to give more time for the application part of the lesson.” 2. What did you observe about your students’ learning preferences? What feedback did you get? “Surprisingly, I got good feedback from a student. After class, she said she had to return the battery for her phone and this lesson helped her. I’m glad she felt like it was helpful even if I have my doubts. They seemed to enjoy practicing the conversations with their partners, especially since they had props (clothes).” Continue to Peer Review… 2
  3. 3. Peer Review for Week 7 Lesson Guiding Questions: 1. What do you like about your partner’s lesson and what happened in the class? 2. What questions do you have about it? 3. Do you have suggestions about other ways to do an activity? Ruth's comments: “Hi Karli, I really liked reading your lesson! It's very clear and concise and I like your use of props during the application activity. I would think that would make it really engaging! I also liked how you elicited feedback and subtly checked comprehension during Presentation 1 using yes/no cards. Students were able to practice a variety of language/organizational/social skills in meaningful ways. One quick clarification, during the warm-up, was pg. 16 A and B referring to Stand Out? In addition, I wondered what kinds of shopping problems students came up with during the Introduction. Also, during Practice 2, do students ask the 5 questions verbally or do they write them down? What happens to these questions? Do you collect them? As for the application activity, I've always enjoyed using role plays in classes, but I agree it can be hit or miss. I wondered how you selected the idea and if students had enjoyed it in the past. I think it helps to choose good "actors" so students can see a good example of what it means to get into character. Also, maybe you could choose three things important in a role play and go over them with the class (ex. pronunciation, volume, eye contact) and then have 2 students evaluate the "actors' on these things on a 1-5 scale or whatever you decide. Then, they would be evaluated by their peers and maybe make more effort in the future. Finally, while you may feel like your lesson was a bit unsuccessful, I think it was a great start and might just need some reinforcement and more processing or maybe you just need to fiddle with the application phase. I think the demonstratives are important to keep in since students needed to use them during the application. Thanks for sharing Karli! Oh- and I forgot to include the Venn Diagram I used in my lesson, here is the link:” Karli's Reply: “The warm up was from Stand Out. I forgot to scan it in. It was a review of family vocabulary. Most of the problems they came up with in the introduction weren't related to English, but the ones that were on topic were pretty general (i.e. talking, ask questions). I probably should have made a more specific question because the answers were hit or miss. The five questions they asked about their classmates’ clothes were all oral. Regarding the role play, I really liked your idea of picking two really good actors to model it with the first time and highlighting what's important in a good role play. I also like the idea of evaluating each other on acting ability, as that's pretty non-threatening. I realized after I wrote my reflection that this was my students' first role play, so it's possible they will get better in the future as they get comfortable with the idea.” Karli's comments: “First off, this sounds like a great multilevel lesson. The tasks allow students to elaborate and expand as they feel comfortable doing so. Creating lessons that meet students at a wide range of abilities is a skill and it sounds like you have that. I like that you pointed out in the introduction that language is learned with other people. Starting the class off with that mindset will pay off throughout the cycle. Your round robin game sounds like a good way to practice speaking in a way that involves everyone. I liked your approach to the Venn Diagram. I've done them with my 250s and they are so boring! Every pair puts basically the same thing (i.e. We are both students. She speaks Spanish. I speak Russian.) You were probably able to avoid a lot of that thanks to your discussion beforehand about uniqueness. I'm going to keep that in mind. I also like your take on Bingo. Do you run into a lot of vocabulary questions with your students being so multi-leveled? Are the higher students willing to work with the lower students?” Ruth's reply: “Hi Karli, Thanks for the feedback! Yes, students do have lots of vocabulary questions. Vocabulary development is such an important part to language learning! At the beginning of each cycle, I encourage students to buy the Longman Dictionary as a reference, which we often use in class. I also spend some time at the beginning of class/before an activity/reading, etc. explaining any words that I anticipate might be unfamiliar. I've had students underline new vocabulary words in readings, given students a vocabulary log where they can keep track of new words and have used word walls and "swat the word" with success. Recently, I've found working with word families to be very helpful. Students understand the value of this in 3
  4. 4. terms of improving their accuracy and growing their vocabulary. As for the higher level students working with the lower lever students, it really seems to depend on the student. I really try to emphasize the importance of diversity and how each student has a different strength. I find some higher level students have embraced working with lower level students, but it's definitely a bit fragile. I want to keep challenging them, but can't always plan a different activity for each level so I often improvise. Last class, I organized students into like- ability reading groups, which I think everyone found helpful and challenging, especially the 550's.” Follow up Discussion Prompt for Week 7, completed during Week 8 Week 8: Conversation: getting comfortable and reaching goals ----------------- “In your reflections this week, in some way, you all touched upon common challenges with speaking activities, for example: Karli found that many of her students lost steam trying to go from drilling a dialogue to a controlled role play in front of the class, even with the her cues. Meg feels her students may not be equating the conversation of group work with the “conversation practice” they requested during needs assessment. She appeals for more ideas on effective speaking activities, those that “[the students] will get satisfaction out of.” So, let’s discuss (1) how we plan for and (2) how we progress to speaking activities in our lesson plans. There are many things to consider: community building, student comfort, student goals, learning preferences, safety nets (mixed-ability partnering, written cues, etc), scaffolding, clear objectives, etc… Think about a time when a speaking activity went swimmingly, and reached such a glorious communicative crescendo that you’ve thought about bronzing the lesson plan. Think about a time when you felt like you were pulling 30 people through mud, and the activity seemed to fade into a deafening silence. "Where are you from? Anyone? Anyone? Is this thing on?" Think, also, about Meg’s note on how students will get "satisfaction" out of the activity. How would we know? Finally, please make a distinction in your explanations of activities whether you targeted 'accuracy' or 'fluency' or both. As always, it will help you to skim the lessons, reflections, and peer reviews of the other group before you respond in this forum. Best wishes, Michele” Excerpt from Karli’s Evaluation of the Project “This course helped me to thinking about learning styles in my day to day planning and reflection. I had a difficult morning class this cycle and I realized about halfway through that the problem was I had 10 students with the same learning style and I wasn’t meeting it. If I hadn’t been in regularly discussing learning styles in this group, that realization wouldn’t have come to me.” “I would [continue to participate in online professional development] for two reasons. One, it was good professional development. I am walking away with more knowledge about reflective practice, as well as ideas and techniques to implement in my classroom. Two, it was convenient. I could participate when I had time, wherever I was. This was the biggest advantage for me. Had this been a 13 week long in person group, I wouldn’t have participated.” 4