Aug 032013

Recent response to an interesting exchange

With regard to FL teacher education, how do you attempt and/or manage to balance the three important perspectives or goals you are referring to, i.e. “creativity”, “criticality” and “caring”?
Teachers have to use discretion based on the maturity, academic, and linguistic levels of the students, but choices can come in a variety of ways:
1. choosing which content from the Internet to use in class and why the content is appropriate
2. choosing which groups will form and how they are to work together (e.g., team charter)
3. deciding which products to produce (e.g., video, brochure, presentation, etc.)
4. determining how to express empathy and perspective
By pursuing understandings (Wiggins and Mctighe, 2005), teachers can use a variety of assessment methods (e.g., Socratic method, instructional conversations, tests, quizzes, academic prompts, performance tasks, etc.) for making more informed inferences on a student’s achievement.  This also implies the need to set expressive outcomes instead of behavioral outcomes in ways that make learning and the assessment of learning more of a ill-defined, non-linear, and emergent (i.e., authentic) phenomenon.  Thus, we are requiring students to know more than discrete facts and figures that they likely will find on standardized tests; it also makes stakeholders more conscious of a learner’s capacity (as a matter of degree) instead of a competence (either you have it or you don’t).
As for language teaching and learning go, I label communicative and linguistic knowledge and skill as being (to use Popham’s words, 2008) enabling knowledge and subskills respectively in terms of how they relate to understandings.  In other words, language becomes both a means and an end much like ESL and content teachers working together in the US when teaching English language learners (i.e., Sheltered Content Instruction or CLIL).
 Posted by at 11:45 am

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