Question: In your present educational/teaching circumstances, what level of problem is most urgent to solve and why? What type of team would you need in order to solve it? Who would you place on the team, and who would lead it?
The question asks for me to focus on my own teaching environment. However, since everything regarding the structure of my school and the future of our French Immersion online program is up in the air right now. I decided to focus on another school that I know a lot about. Both my children have been students there since Kindergarten and I have been volunteering there for the last 10 years.
Six years ago, the school district to which my children’s’ school belongs implemented a one-to-one computer program for all students in grade 4 to 12. However, the technology was added as a tool to help in the classroom, but no goals on why it should be integrated were developed, nor strategy specified as to how to implement it. Christensen (2015) stipulates that “by just introducing technology in the classroom, the disruption is being missed which is required to arrive at a more positive outcome. ” From what I can tell to this day, the technology is mostly used for word processing, doing research online, and working on limited pre-approved computer programs. I cannot blame the school’s teaching staff as they were not informed of the goals of the implementation nor have they received any training on how to properly embed technology in the classroom.
“In his book Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban reported that across a large sample of school in his study, computer had little or no impact on the way student learned.”
I believe that the school has access to the tools to implement a blended learning model. However, there are many steps that are required for this to happen. In other words, the district or the school would need to take “the necessary steps to change the norm through an intentional transformation” if they want to utilize to a greater extent the technological tools they have at hand.
First, they would need to identify the goals to make the change. In the case of the school, the goals could be to increase students’ success, offer more personalized learning to students, and to enhance the learning experience with the 21st century technology. The next step would be to organize a team that would design, organize and prepare the implementation of the blended learning model within the school.
However, I don’t think that this educational entity is ready to do the jump to blended learning. Therefore, I would like to present to them a project of a smaller scale. With the authorization from the governing body, I would like to assist a few teachers to implement blended learning in one section of their Français Langue courses. This could be used as a pilot project. I like the advice that Tucker (2013) gave in her article called: “Think big but start small”.
In order to run this pilot project, a lightweight team would be required. It would composed of two Français Langue teachers, a course developer, someone from the district’s technology department and someone in a leadership position. I would like to recruit one Français Langue teacher from my children’s school and another one in the district as content specialist. An administrator at the school level or at the district level would provide an administrative point of view. The computer technician would help with programs’ implementation The course developer would be me as I have experience developing courses and program for online learning. I would also be the one leading the project as I have a good knowledge of what blended learning is and I have an idea of what this model should look like in a Français Langue course.
At the end of this pilot project, data would be collected to see if teaching a Français Langue course in a blended learning environment has an effect on students’ success, an increase on personalized learning, and an improvement in students’ ability to use 21st century technology. A summary of the course would be prepared to present to the teaching staff and the governing body in hope to advocate for more blended learning courses to be developed and offered within the district. If more teachers are interested in this innovative model, either other lightweight teams or a heavyweight team would need to be created. This disruptive change within an establishment would require professional development and some funds to help with the transition. In consequence of this disruption, the technology would become more integrated in the teaching and learning which would be nice to see.
Up to today, I have taught in face-to-face and online environment. However, as I learn about blended learning and look how I could make changes within an educational environment, I am drawn towards this innovative model of teaching. Since I might not be teaching at my current online school next year, the idea of launching a blended pilot project in Français Langue courses is very appealing to me. I guess time will tell.
Christensen, Clayton. (2015). Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Brand.
Tucker, C. (March 2013). The basic of blended instruction. Retrieved November 22, 2016 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/The-Basics-of-Blended-Instruction.aspx
Focus Question: If you could go back in time and design your own learning environment what would you create for yourself? Knowing what you know about education today.
Growing up in a rural French community in Quebec, I did not get much exposure to the English language. In school, we studied English as a second language where we learned basic conversations, grammar conjugation and how to write proper sentences. With Bill 63, 22 and 101, which were created to protect the French language in Quebec and as I lived in a remote area, I had no option of enrolling in an English Immersion program. This did not seem to be a problem until I began my Psychology degree at a Quebec French university. Every time I did research, most of the references found were in English which I did not understand. That was frustrating to say the least. To solve this problem, I decided to immerse myself in the language by moving to Vancouver and eventually, by enrolling in an English university. However, learning a language while learning university course content did not turn out to be the ideal. I immersed myself in the language which allowed me to develop reading, listening and speaking skills but I always needed someone to proofread my writing since I never learned the grammar rules of the language. To this day, I don’t feel confident in what I write in English. From my own learning journey, I recognize the importance of being in contact with the language in an authentic way but I also know that a learner needs to acquire knowledge on how the language works and to practice in a controled environment such as a classroom in order to be able to feel confident about his overall skills.
When I was in high school, it was already “recognized that an important relationship (existed) between experience and learning” (Knutson. 2003. p. 52). However, there was not much experimentation available in what was offered in my English classes. No one around spoke English and there was no internet nor technology to support the learning and to make it more interesting and authentic. These days, there is such a variety of online tools available online to assist with the learning. One student in my OLTD program learn Italian by using free web applications. She used Duolingo and Memrise to learn the basic of the language, to manipulate it, and to practice her skills. She also supplemented with News in Slow Italian. After three weeks, she was able to carry basic conversations in Italian with someone fluent in the language. Her progress tells me that someone can use online tools to learn the language basics, to manipulate and speak it, as well as to listen to it. I have to say that it would have been nice to have had access to such tools instead of having to do: grammar drills, activities of “repeat after me”, dialogue practice with another classmate who did not know more than me and listening activities from tapes played in the front of the class by the teacher. I would have liked to have had access to the application mentioned above but also, the teacher could have used French resources such as the 7 jours sur la planète de TV5 which offers videos and listening comprehension exercises for beginner to advanced learners. So, back in my English high school classes, I would have like to have lessons taught by the teacher, to familiarize myself on how to converse using online activities, to manipulate the language using web applications, to practice dialogues with classmates,to watch authentic videos on cultural aspects, and to assess my own understanding and learning. I believe that acquiring a second language requires some individual work as well as interactions with others while using the language.
My past experience in learning a second language has taught me that being immersed in a language is the best way to increase someone’s fluidity. However, I also learned the importance of knowing the syntax and structure of the language in order to be able to manipulate it correctly. This is why if I was taking a high school English Immersion course, I would listen to the teacher speak in class, watch movies, tv shows, and anything of interest available online, learn the grammar rules taught by the teacher and use the applications recommended to practice them. As for developing my oral skills, I would converse within a group in class but I would also use an online application to record my voice to practice. I could try to meet French speaking student my age in social media. If I was unsure how to pronounce a word, I would search it in an online dictionary as most of them include a dictation of it. Compared to a lot of high school students in French Immersion classes where they speak French only when the teacher can hear them, I would own my learning and not be dependent of what my teacher requires me to do. I think that if I would have graduated from such a high school English Immersion program, I would have the choice to attend a French, bilingual or English university and would also be able to read and understand what I find while doing research.
Basically, if I knew what I know now and if I had access to what is available online these days, my knowledge of the English language and my skills of using it would definitely be at a higher level. I would not doubt of my abilities and feel like I have to get someone to proofread what I write.
Behiels, M. D., Hudon, R. (July 31, 2013)Bill 101 (Charte de la langue française). Historica Canada. Retrieved Nov 4, 2016 from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/bill-101/
Crema, S. (June, 2016) Learning project summary. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2016 from http://screma.edu.glogster.com/learning-project-summary
Knutson, S. (Spring, 2003). Experiential Learning in Second-Language. TESL Canada Journal, 20(2). 52-64.