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Using Weibo (Chinese Twitter) for Chinese Classes

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  • 1. USING WEIBO FOR CHINESE CLASSES: FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF PEDAGOGICAL SCAFFOLDING Yinghua Cai MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, 2013 Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • 2. BACKGROUND • Since July 2012, I have experimented with the idea of using Weibo, a Chinese social networking tool, to teach college-level Chinese classes. I taught three content-based classes related to Weibo to adult students in the 2012 Summer Intensive Language Program (SILP) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). In Fall 2012, through a student-run language club, Beyond Yourself in Language Development (B.U.I.L.D.) at MIIS, I taught an advanced-level interest course named Chinese Social Media, which incorporated a Weibo group as the main channel for class participant communication. In retrospect, I found my own teaching experience with Weibo not only worthy of documentation but also worthy of further analysis, which may shed light on teaching with social networking sites (SNSs) as well as pedagogical scaffolding in general.
  • 3. WEIBO (微博)
  • 4. DEFINITION OF WEIBO • Kai-Fu Lee, Founder of the Chinese venture capital Innovation Works, explains what Weibo is and why it is important on LinkedIn. He says, • “Weibo literally means „micro-blog‟, and some have called Weibo „the Chinese Twitter‟. But more accurately, Weibo is a 500-character Twitter with Facebook look-and-feel, in a country with very few high-quality traditional media. Weibo is offered by several companies, with Sina having a leadership position.”
  • 5. SOCIAL NETWORKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION • McBridge (2009) • Antenos-Conforti (2009) • Baran (2010) • Friday (2010) • Johnson (2011) • Kabilan, Ahmad & Abidin (2010) • Mills & Chandra (2011) • Raguseo (2010) • Harrison & Thomas (2009)
  • 6. SCAFFOLDING • The game consists of an initial contact, the establishment of joint attention, disappearance, reappearance, and acknowledgement of renewed contact. These obligatory features or the “syntax” of the game occur together with optional features, such as vocalizations to sustain the infant‟s interest, responses to the infant‟s attempts to uncover the mother‟s face, etc. These “non-rule bound” parts of the game are an instance of the mother providing a “scaffold” for the child (Bruner & Sherwood, 1975, p. 280).
  • 7. SCAFFOLDING • In parallel with Vygotsky‟s (1978) concept of an expert assisting a novice, Wood et al. (1976) described scaffolding as the support given to a younger learner by an older, more experienced adult and identified certain processes that aid effective scaffolding: • Gaining and maintaining the learner‟s interest in the task. • Making the task simple. • Emphasizing certain aspects that will help with the solution. • Control the child‟s level of frustration. • Demonstrate the task.
  • 8. PEDAGOGICAL SCAFFOLDING Van Lier (2007)
  • 9. CASE STUDY • Van Lier (2005) suggested that case studies are very useful for graduate students in SLA; not only should they study classic case studies in the field but they should also conduct their own small case study to bring to life the theoretical knowledge introduced in the textbooks and research articles. • As for the potential topics for case study, van Lier (2005) proposes that the role of technology in SLA is in need of case study research. • Furthermore, Duff (2008) concludes that online language development and use is one emerging field for case study research given the increasing use of computers and the Internet in language education.
  • 10. SOCIAL NETWORKING AND PEDAGOGICAL SCAFFOLDING • Although language teachers shared their teaching experience in using SNSs such as Facebook and Ning (Damron & Forlano, 2009), in-depth analyses of their own teaching practice in terms of pedagogical scaffolding are still lacking (van Lier, 2007). Huang (2012) discusses scaffolding with backward design when dealing with 4 Weibo Genres and suggests potential class activities to be included in Chinese classes ; however, more work still needs to be done with regard to pedagogical scaffolding (van Lier, 2007).
  • 11. RESEARCH QUESTION How can pedagogical scaffolding be achieved for Chinese classes using Weibo?
  • 12. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING
  • 13. MATERIALS • lesson plans • handouts • tutorials • reflection notes • Weibo posts • observer feedback • teaching videos
  • 14. RESEARCH QUESTION How can pedagogical scaffolding be achieved for Chinese classes using Weibo?
  • 15. PROCEDURES AND ANALYSIS • For the three SILP classes, I watched the three teaching videos multiple times and transcribed part of the class interaction. Based on the videos, I matched students‟ behaviors (verbal and/or non-verbal) with the expected learning outcomes (course and/or lesson objectives). Once expected learning outcomes were observed, I identified relevant course materials and teacher behaviors, which contributed to such “achievement”. My teaching reflections, including what worked well and what did not, were used as a reference to back up my interpretation of the “achievement”. • For my Chinese Social Media class, I collected all the posts in the Weibo group, and matched them with course and/or lesson objectives. If students‟ posts showed desirable learning outcomes, I identifed relevant course materials and teacher behaviors, which contributed to such “achievement”. The observer‟s feedback, in this case, will be used as a reference.
  • 16. PROCEDURES AND ANALYSIS • If students have met certain course objectives and completed designated tasks in a lesson, then my pedagogical scaffolding can be viewed as “achieved”. After that, by closely looking at the lesson plans and course materials, my observer‟s feedback, as well as the teaching videos and posts in the Weibo group, I will identify and explain van Lier‟s (2007) salient design features of pedagogical scaffolding, which involves continuity, contextual support, intersubjectivity, contingency, handover/takeover, and flow on both the course level and activity level, where “achievement” has been observed.
  • 17. COURSE OBJECTIVES: • CAN-DO STATEMENT
  • 18. SILP INTERMEDIATE: STUDENTS CAN SIGN UP FOR A WEIBO ACCOUNT. • Continuity: Task connections (Vocab-Tutorial-WorksheetRegistration) • Contextual support: Vocabulary list, tutorials, tutorial worksheet • Intersubjectivity: Peer scaffolding (unintentional) • Contingency: Individual consultation during account registration • Handover: Handouts (people worth following) • Flow: Four skills involved, first-time using the tool, excitement
  • 19. SILP ELEMENTARY: STUDENTS CAN SIGN UP FOR A WEIBO ACCOUNT. • Continuity: Task connections (Vocab-Tutorial-WorksheetRegistration) • Contextual support: Vocabulary list, tutorials, tutorial worksheet • Intersubjectivity: Peer scaffolding (unintentional) • Contingency: Individual consultation during account registration • Handover: Handouts (people worth following) • Flow: Four skills involved, first-time using the tool, excitement
  • 20. SILP ADVANCED: STUDENTS CAN SIGN UP FOR A WEIBO ACCOUNT. • Continuity: Task connections (Vocab-Tutorial-Registration) • Contextual support: vocabulary list, tutorials • Intersubjectivity: NA • Contingency: Individual consultation with the instructor • Handover: Handouts (people worth following), presentation prep • Flow: NA
  • 21. CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA CLASS: STUDENTS CAN ENGAGE IN WEIBO GROUP CONVERSATIONS.
  • 22. STUDENT GOAL SETTING (EXAMPLES)
  • 23. LIMITATIONS • Researcher bias • Limited in terms of the instructional time, number of students, nature of the program and/or class
  • 24. VALUE • Learner training (e.g., Dickinson, 1996; Jiménez Raya, 1998; Wenden, 1991; White, 2008) • Promoting learner autonomy • In-service and/or pre-service teacher training
  • 25. Questions? Suggestions? Anything you want to share? Contact: yinghua.cai.chloe@gmail.com

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