WHAT? - Key Concepts

Understanding Issues (from Richard Saul Wurman's Understanding USA)
  • We are most attentive when we are doing things that are interesting, meaningful, relevant, and valuable to us! (What do your students like to do?)
  • We learn what we are given opportunities to do! (What do your students have opportunities to do with language and technology in your classroom?)
  • Grammar, vocabulary, language, and technology are NOT content to be taught, they are TOOLS to be used! (What kinds of tools do the assignments that you give require?)
  • Assignments should empower students to make a positive difference in the world. (Do the assignments that you give help students feel empowered? Do they position students to change the world in concrete and meaningful ways?)

WHY? - Guiding Questions

  • How are trends in the development, availability, and use of emerging technologies impacting the ways in which students work, play, live, and learn?

  • What implications do trends in the use of emerging technologies have for what teachers need to do to prepare their students to thrive in 21st Century communities?

  • How are foreign language educators currently using emerging technologies to facilitate teaching and learning?

  • How can teachers design compelling learning environments and experiences that will systematically develop students' skills with multiple literacies?

HOW? - Steps to Developing Projects

  • Consider Your Content - What matters to students that could serve as the foundation for the assignment? If the topic is pre-determined, be sure to consider carefully what about it will matter to students! (Comics, dating, drawing, famous people, personal talents, sports, technology, videogames)

  • Connect to a Context - Cultural, Meaningful, Real Life, Relevant (Think: What are some real world circumstances, contexts, or fields in which this topic would be a substantive and meaningful?)

  • Determine the Demonstration - Decide on a task that would allow students to demonstrate their understanding in meaningful ways.

Forte, Imogene, & Schurr, Sandra. (2003). Curriculum & project planner for integrating learning styles, thinking skills, and authentic instruction. Nashville, TN: Incentive Publications. ISBN 0-86530-348-7. This fold-out planning sheet offers an at-a-glance look at ways to integrate multiple intelligences with Bloom's taxonomies, a variety of different student assessments, projects, and performances, and sample curriculum outcomes. Superb if you need ideas for meeting the
needs of a variety of different students!

  • Search for Samples - Even if you don't use them, looking at potential examples will give you ideas that will help you to strengthen the project. Be sure to keep track of samples that show what to do and ones that show what NOT to do from both novices and experts. (Google Notebook is a great tool for doing this.)

  • Separate Into Steps - What will students need to know, understand, and be able to do in order to accomplish the task? How will you teach these things to students prior to asking them to complete the project? What tasks will students need to do in order to complete the overall project? What steps will students need to follow in order to complete each task?

  • Rough Out a Rubric - Doing this will help you to clarify and define what you really want, break what students will need to do into discrete elements so that you can explain it to them more easily, and recognize potential places in the process where students might have difficulty so that you can provide appropriate scaffolding. Be sure to outline your expectations for quality content, process, and product.

  • Scaffold the Students - What scaffolding will you provide in order to ensure student success? Be sure to consider:
    • access to content (hard copies of materials, search skills, notetaking skills, organizational skills),
    • equipment (borrow from a friend, check out from school, learning centers, use at school outside of the school day),
    • expertise (content/topic, field/process, technology),
    • process (what to do, how to do it, how much to do in class v. out of class, roles of group members, progress reports, standards for performance, brainstorming activities, timelines, planning sheets, storyboarding worksheets, editing worksheets, etc.), and
    • technology skills (what equipment or software to use, how to make it work, how to use shortcuts and special features, tips for troubleshooting, tutorials, who to ask for help--including peers)

  • Teach the Processes & the Tasks - Students need to be "taught" how to work in groups, how to break projects into manageable steps, and how to work together to complete tasks. Here are some tools that will help you with that:

Classroom Management Resources - Links to a wide variety of tips and tricks for addressing common classroom management issues, including getting students' attention, interventions for inappropriate behaviors, managing transitions between activities, etc.

Establishing a Climate for Learning - This electronic newsletter from the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center contains links to a plethora of practical strategies and materials that teachers can use to help them become better classroom managers

Learning Centers - Links to ideas and information for structuring learning centers

  • Teach the Tech - Students need to be "taught" how to do projects, how to work in groups, and how to use the technology. Visit Cool Tech Tools to see some you might want to try!

Questions for Self-evaluating Technology Integration

New technologies can foster cognitive engagement with content in ways that are well-aligned with research on learning and memory. However, the exact same technology can be used for language drill or for meaningful communication, depending on how one approaches the task. Consequently, sound pedagogy is an essential part of successful technology use. Teachers striving to provide technology-infused, standards-based lessons in the target language should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Purpose – Will using technology in this lesson allow students to accomplish something that they otherwise could not, or am I using it as just a “bell and whistle?” Am I using the technology primarily for “show and tell,” or do my plans include ample opportunities for my students to interact and create with it as well?

  • Task – Will the technology-based task I have designed develop students’ proficiency in the target language? Is the task developmentally appropriate for my students? Have I scheduled enough time for students to successfully complete each individual step of the task?

  • Tools – Are the technologies students will use to accomplish the task appropriate given their needs, skills, and the goals of my lesson?

  • Process (i.e., scaffolding) –

    • Product: Are my expectations for what students will do with the technology clear?

    • Preparation: Have I determined how I will prepare students to accomplish the task (in terms of content, process, and technology skills)?

    • Process: Have I carefully considered the logistics involved in each segment of the activity and planned accordingly? Have I anticipated at what points students may encounter difficulty and developed scaffolding that will enable them to be successful with those portions of the task?

    • Presentation: Have I thoughtfully planned pedagogically sound ways for students to share their work?

  • Alignment – Have I checked to be sure that the purpose, task, tools, and processes involved in my plans are well-aligned with my language objectives for students?