Saturday, 1 January 2011

Course 5 Project

(One of the most commonly-used academic vocabulary in English)
analyzed, analyzer, analyzers, analyzes, analyzing, analysis, analyst, analysts, analytic, analytical, analytically

Why would anyone want to analyze this jellied candle?

Now it's time to bring together some of the knowledge and understandings gained from the previous COETAIL courses and apply it to a 'real world' experience in the classroom. I'd like to revamp an existing vocabulary learning project in my EAP (English for Academic Purposes) 12 class. This group of EAL students are the least proficient English learners in the high school. Most of the group is generally Japanese and most of these (usually 90%) will be returning to Japan for college or university. The implications are that these students are sometimes weary of their English learning attempts, as they still have not achieved a passing score in reading/ vocabulary or writing. Further, the closer they get to returning to their home countries, the less motivated some are to improve their skills. Counter to this, however, there's a subset of students who view this last semester of language learning as their last-ditch attempt to get as far as they can in English. I have these two groups in mind when I set out their last semester tasks and try and individualize their experience as much as possible. I believe a focus on vocabulary benefits all in the group and find myself challenged to improve their vocabulary via innovative teaching as well as learning strategies. This is where Web 2.0 comes in and where the following NETS-T standard is targeted:

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:
  • a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity

Here's a UBD (Understanding by Design) look at this revamped vocabulary learning unit:

Stage 1 – Desired Results

Established Goal
EAP 12 learners to leave ISB in June having acquired more English academic vocabulary than their current level at the start of the semester.

Students will understand that learning strategies, including metacognitive strategies, can enhance long-term memory in acquiring vocabulary. What is anticipated is that students will need to explore the different learning strategies, on somewhat of a trial and error basis using Web 2.0 activities, to see what's most effective for each as a learner.

Essential Question(s)
Can academic vocabulary learning and acquisition be fun?
Does the use of technology help to motivate and improve the second language (L2) vocabulary acquisition process?

Know & Be Able to Do
Over the course of their last semester, the Gr. 12 EALs will acquire (which means actively use in speaking and/or writing) at least 30 new most-commonly used academic English vocabulary.

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence

Performance Task(s)
• Do a pre-assessment. Looking at Academic Vocabulary Lists (Coxhead), students will identify words that they do not know how yet to use and will work to acquire these vocabulary over the semester.
• Practice the meaning and usage of a particular word via a glossary on & a wiki for reference. (A particular context in the form of a question is teacher-generated.) This is where the use of different strategies and different online activities come into play. Here are possibilities:
  • Find a picture that (obviously) illustrates the meaning of the word in context and post it.
  • Post a copy of the word family.
  • Create an original sentence that reflects personal experience using the work in the correct context.
  • Locate a practice exercise using the word and include the link on for others to use. Somehow provide evidence of having completed the exercise.
  • Using Bloom's Digital Taxonomy: 'analyzing,' try mind-mapping or 'creating,' after 4-5 words, try a photo story or a comic creation.
• After 5 entries have been completed, student takes a 'quiz' on the vocabulary word in the same context, using a new set of questions (teacher-generated again)
• When the unit is completed, have a 'public' presentation (maybe a digital story), or other creation, like a rap/ interview/ talk-show and subsequently post on SlideShare. The final assessment demonstrates acquisition (spoken and/ or written).
• Some type of self-assessment to discern to what extent each student actually acquired the vocabulary.

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

• Ensure that students' prior knowledge of the vocabulary can be utilized to more deeply understand a particular word and its usage.
• Ensure students remain interested in the project—invite them to add, revise activity.
• Allow students to evaluate their work and its implications
• Ensure activities are personalized to the different needs, interests, and abilities.

This is the plan. Now comes the implementation. Vocabulary practice and quiz questions, as well as the glossary itself to be set up on The glossary needs to link to a Wiki. Sites need to be identified to practice the vocabulary and to complete the glossary requirements. All to be posted and made available on Panthernet.

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