Integrating english discoveries online with your curriculum

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Integrating english discoveries online with your curriculum

  1. 1. Integrating English Discoveries Online with Your Curriculum
  2. 2. Integrating English Discoveries Online with Your Curriculum Integration between the curriculum of existing course books and English Discoveries Online computer content provides relevance for the students. English Discoveries Online Content Integration Course book Edusoft’s pedagogical department, in consultation with the educational institution, is able to create a fully integrated program of study which matches the classroom textbook with Edusoft computer content and supplementary materials. When following this model, students are assigned computer work, which corresponds closely with the teaching points and topics of the existing course book. How to create a successful integrated model EDO can be successfully integrated with an existing curriculum using any combination of the following, while keeping in mind levels of difficulty: • Topics • Text types (letters, articles, etc.) • Skills (reading, listening, speaking) • Grammar points • Communicative functions • Objectives (reading strategies, learning tips) It is strongly recommended that teachers employ blended learning techniques in order to bridge between the classroom and computer activities, as they would when following a more loosely integrated model. © 2007 Edusoft Ltd. 2
  3. 3. Ensuring Effective Implementation Whatever your model of implementation, you should consider the following in order to encourage student accountability and create a meaningful learning process: Identify your Course Requirements Decide on the amount of time you would like students to spend in the program and the amount of material you think your students should cover and make this a requirement of the course. We recommend students study an average of two hours a week although this can vary from student to student and from task to task. Keep track of students’ progress using the TMS and encourage them to stay on track. Decide whether you want students to produce written or oral presentations based on the program for your evaluation, e.g. they can use the different reading and listening text types from the program as a model for their own letters, messages, advertisements, articles, etc. Decide how your students will use the Community Site. We recommend that they visit the Community Site regularly to improve their reading and writing skills as well as their web literacy and Internet communication skills. Students should be encouraged to send emails, post messages on the forum and read magazine articles. Students who use the Community Site on a regular basis should receive credit in their final grade. You may decide to use English Discoveries Online and its Community Site as a basis for project-based learning. Projects provide students with the opportunity to synthesize what they have learned in the unit and allow for the reentry of the content and language functions associated with the topic. Ideally, the projects should provide a choice of tasks and research activities, which take into account different learner styles and intelligences. They should also contain a written part as well as an oral presentation. These products are a creative means of presenting what the students have learned. It may be as simple as a poster or something more sophisticated like a video or PowerPoint presentation. At the end of the project, students should be encouraged to reflect and give feedback on both the process and the final product of the project. Orientation and Initial Placement It is essential to take the time to introduce students to the program and help them with any problems they may have operating it. It is strongly recommended that you hold an orientation session for students at the beginning of the course, in which you present the main features of the courses, Community Site and student tools. This session should last at least 90 minutes and allow time for questions. Encourage students to take the Guided Tour and refer to the student Help if they are unsure of how to use the program, when working on their own. Suggest that students take the Placement Test to determine their starting level and get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses. This can be done during the orientation session or beforehand. © 2007 Edusoft Ltd. 3
  4. 4. Bridging the Computer and Classroom When working on the computer, students should always be aware of what is expected of them. They should know what their assignment is and understand its objective. If your students are also receiving classroom instruction, take the time to first introduce the topic/ vocabulary/ grammatical structure that they are going to encounter in the computer lesson. Tasks that help students focus on the computer material while they are in the computer lab also enhance the learning process (e.g. while reading, find the main idea, make notes, check a prediction exercise, etc.). It is also important to devote classroom time to reinforce and expand on the computer program. (See the next section, “Blending the Computer and Classroom,” for more detailed ideas.) Assessment In order to help students view English Discoveries Online as an integral part of their existing curriculum, we recommend including work done in the program as part of your evaluation program. The TMS will help you keep track of your students’ progress, completion of tasks and test scores: • Completion of a certain number of assignments should count towards your students’ grades. It is important to insist on at least 80% completion of material assigned. • The English Discoveries Online component tests should count towards students’ final grade. This can be considered compulsory or a bonus. The default passing grade for the English Discoveries Online courses is 80%, but this can be altered using the TMS to suit the requirements of your institution. • The printed English Discoveries Online Exit Tests can also be used to help determine students’ final level. Teacher Support Even if English Discoveries Online is going to be used mainly for independent study, students should have access to some form of pedagogical support either by telephone or email or using the teacher student communication tools (forums internal email) so that they can discuss problems as they come up and receive immediate feedback. Students can keep a learning log in which they reflect on their learning through the course and/or maintain a written dialogue with their teacher about it. This can take the form of an online blog or offline written journal. Customization In addition to simply encouraging students to choose topics or language points that particularly interest them or in which they need extra practice, English Discoveries Online provides the option to construct learning pathways to suit the specific curriculum demands, aims and objectives of your course (see the TMS User’s Manual for detailed explanations). The English Discoveries Online Scope and Sequence, provided separately, provides a detailed list of objectives for each component of the English Discoveries Online course. These objectives can help in planning students’ learning paths and serve as a guide in the creation of customized material for your students according to your own curriculum aims and objectives. © 2007 Edusoft Ltd. 4
  5. 5. Customization Tools: The Study Planner Teachers should encourage students to use the Study Planner to develop an individualized study program and should meet with them regularly to review their progress. Teachers and administrators can make a study plan for classes, groups or individual students. The plan can determine the length of time needed to reach a target level, or the target level a student can be expected to reach based on the length of the course and/or hours a week available. Note that on the Starting Level screen of the Study Planner, you can see the TOEFL or TOEIC levels that correspond to English Discoveries Online course levels. Students preparing for one of these exams can calculate their study plan according to the TOEFL or TOEIC level they wish to reach. The Study Planner is an important tool that provides teachers and students with a framework in which to follow students’ progress during their course of study with English Discoveries Online. Creating a study plan enables both students and teachers to have clear expectations regarding work with English Discoveries Online. Thus, both students and teachers will know how much time the student should spend studying the online course, for what length of time and what level s/he is expected to reach. In addition, once created, the study plan provides a road map that teachers and students can refer to regularly in order to evaluate how the student is progressing in the course. If student progress does not correspond with the original study plan, teachers and students can analyze the possible reasons for the discrepancy and adjust the study plan accordingly. For example, students may have to add weekly hours to their study schedules if they are not reaching their target. The end date of the course may need to be extended or the target level may need to be redefined. (Note that the default value for calculating progress is one hour per component. If this is too much or not enough time for a particular student, teachers can adjust this value in the Settings section of the TMS.) The Course Builder The Course Builder allows teachers to create courses which reflect students’ needs and interests. Thus, if teachers want to give their students extra practice in a particular component such as reading, they can create courses with extra reading components. Teachers whose classes are much stronger in some skills than they are in others can create mixed level courses. Similarly, if particular components or units in the course are unsuitable in terms of level or content, the teacher can replace it with something more suitable. For example, if your program focuses on speaking and the pragmatic use of language, you may wish to create a customized course that is made of the various speaking dialogues from all the units at the level/s of your students. You can use the content search engine and Scope and Sequence to locate content and assess its suitability for use in the course builder. The Authoring Tool The Authoring Tool provides teachers with the opportunity to create content that is relevant to students, such as academic articles or links to relevant external websites. The authoring tool can even be used to incorporate videos of English classes so that students can review or make up classes they have missed at home. © 2007 Edusoft Ltd. 5
  6. 6. The Authoring Tool can enhance English Discoveries Online in a variety of ways: • Teachers can provide additional content for a specific unit. For example, if students are working on a unit related to sports, the teacher will be able to add an up-to-date current taped radio sports commentary that the students are familiar with or a newspaper article about a specific sports event. • Teachers can videotape a scene from a TV broadcast (sitcom, talk show, news) and create data and tasks that focus on visual literacy. For example, students can view a talk show and focus on the language of agreeing/disagreeing. • Teachers may need to supplement English Discoveries Online with material that is required in their EFL curriculum, but is not covered by existing English Discoveries Online material. For example, teachers can provide literature extracts and video recordings, reviews and interviews with the author of the set literary piece. • Teachers can tape (video or audio) lectures that provide content-based learning. For example, tapes of lectures in English on history, science, etc. can be used with texts to teach both English and the subject matter. Supplementary Materials To enhance students’ learning experience, we recommend students use the English Discoveries Online workbooks in order to reinforce what they have learned in the online course. The workbooks contain additional writing and reading tasks which can be included in the students’ final grade. The workbooks also provide materials for role plays and communicative activities which can be used in class. A series of generic worksheets designed to help students appreciate the Community Site can also be downloaded from the TMS. © 2007 Edusoft Ltd. 6

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