After about four weeks of milling around numerous ideas in my head, I have finally decided that the Speech and Debate unit, which was the final unit for the year is the one that can be truly transformed with more integration of technology. And although I will not be teaching the unit next year, I will co-plan the unit with a fellow COETAILER and another colleague for 8th, 9th and possibly 10th graders. The unit will be delivered through the English for Academic Purposes course which is a part of the World Language cycle. In its present form, the unit requires that students:
► Write a speech incorporating the five key elements (organization, development, style, purpose, and audience) found in presentations.
► Memorize and present their speech in a logical sequence.
► Speak using appropriate eye contact, volume, and pronunciation.
► Read a variety of genres and types of text with fluency and comprehension.
► Produce oral work that demonstrates synthesis of multiple informational and technical sources.
► Summarize, make judgments, and evaluate the content and delivery of oral presentations.
The actual debate portion was added so that the unit could be integrated with a project done in the Humanities class called Modern World Slavery. This integration really enhanced the unit since it gave students a real world application for the skills that they were practicing.
The debate portion also allowed for more technology to used to refine the process. Students use online resources, including infographics (for making research data visible), YouTube videos (as models for debate procedure), Google documents (for collaboration and documentation of the process), and Voicethreads to practice pronunciation, articulation and fluency.
Next time around, I would like to see my students getting more timely feedback on their articulation and fluency. Although students were required to record their speeches a number of times and upload it to youtube so that it can be vetted, it would have been more effective if they could have gotten feedback during the practice. One students had difficulty with the word “wage”. After listening to her video, I called her in class and corrected her pronunciation of the word. She repeated the corrected version however by her next recording she was back to her familiar error. I then recorded my voice so that she can listen. It helped however again she reverted to the incorrect pronunciation. It was only when I was able to give her my full attention for about 12 minutes, her reading her speech and getting instantaneous feedback, were we able to get correct!
So that being said, what is needed is a way to create a language lab setting where the facilitator can listen to a number of speakers and give feedback right away or students can recorded their voices and some software help them with the pronunciation immediately. I am not sure exactly how this could be accomplished, however, I am confident that with the help of my co-teachers and the fabulous tech integrators who supports us, we will have something quite amazing to share.
My second option is not redesigning a unit but developing a resource page that will be beneficial to EALteachers and content teachers using SIOP and the Workshop Model for reading and writing. What I want to do is integrate some of the (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol),SIOP framework into workshop lessons and use the WIDA Model results and other anecdotal, to create mini strategy groups for instruction. The goal is to support the development of linguistic complexity, language usage and vocabulary usage.
According to the professionals at the WIDA Consortium, linguistic complexity, language control and vocabulary usage are the three areas that help students really become proficient English Language users. Once a student has acquired about two thousand high frequency words, he or she is able to read and write up to a fourth grade level. With the addition of approximately 570 academic words, a student is able to read and comprehend content up to grade 8 level. The problem is that a student’s writing ability does not grow or expand simply with increased vocabulary. What happens instead, is that students continue to write using simple tense and general vocabulary.
The most efficient way to help these students is through the use of mini lessons targeted to develop their abilities to construct more compound and complex sentences, using dependent and independent clauses correctly and an array of tenses. Mini lessons also need to be taught so that language control can be developed. Content and academic vocabulary specific to the topic is also emphasized.
The Moodle page will include a collection of mini lessons, designed to develop specific skills. Frameworks for strategy groups, heretical list of grammar lessons that can be taught to support the development of language control and flowcharts to guide users in finding the most efficient ways to do this. Best of all, it will be a space for collaborating and sharing lessons, units and best practices.