Aysem Bray's e-portfolio

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”A Chinese Proverb

Professional Standards for Queensland Teachers-Standard 1

 "Design and implement engaging and flexible learning experiences for individuals and groups" (p.10).

Students today have grown up in a world where mobile computers, cell phones with browsers, and other personal digital devices are common tools, and instant messaging, blogs, and wikis are common modes of self-expression (Apple, 2008).  Dondlinger (2007) argued that the use of computer-based learning and teaching increases students’ intrinsic motivation and performance (as cited in Snowman et al., 2009, p.454). In order to engage this new generation, I encourage learners of all ages to practice vocabulary and grammar by having them use programs such as Comic Life or iMovie in order to support their learning with technology.

Language learning can be bothersome for many students. There are too many grammar rules to apply and too many vocabulary words that must be learned. But almost all students like reading a short story, especially if the students can see themselves in the story. Pobre Ana (Poor Ana) is a poor, middle school girl living in US. She learns Spanish at school and the school offers her the chance to go to Mexico for three months as an exchange student. Her view of life changes after the trip. Our middle school students take class trips each year, so they can understand the excitement that the character, Ana, must feel as a young adult traveling alone for the first time. They feel further connected to the student due to Ana's problems with her family, which are the typical issues teenagers face -- arguments with siblings and parents and struggling with self identity.

After studying in detail the vocabulary and grammar of each chapter, I gave my students a project  with a rubric. They had to get in groups of 4 or 5 and take the roles of the main characters and make an iMovie summarizing the chapters of the book.  I adopt constructivism in my teaching by allowing students to play and experiment with ideas, to create, to reflect and work out their own thoughts by designing activities that allow for discussion (Fetherston, 2007, p.161). This project is constructivist because it is a collaborative, real-life activity, authentic, and is designed in a way that the students’ learning matches the task so that it lies within their ‘zone.' In GDE3001 Learners and Learning, it refers to the 'zone' as the difference between what child can do on his or her own and what can be accomplished with some assistance (Snowman et al., 2009, p.47). On top of it all, the students were very excited to use computers to show their understanding of the book and thus created outstanding projects.


Professional Standards for Queensland Teachers-Standard 2

"Design and implement learning experiences that develop language, literacy and numeracy" (p.11).

First year Spanish students are learning vocabulary and grammar starting from the opening day of class. I use music by Tom Blodget to reinforce vocabulary and grammar they learned from their textbook. The students are thrilled to listen to his songs and learn a great deal from them. Even after years, if they hear a word, they immediately recall that moment they listened to it in class. I even hear students singing the songs between classes in the hallway. It is a great teacher supplementary material that comes with cooperative activities where students work together to find solutions to problems.  It also supports communicative language teaching using language materials authentic to native speakers of the target language (Larsen-Freeman, 2000, p.132-133) which emphasizes all four language skills -- reading, writing, speaking, listening. Therefore these songs with the collaborative activities provide an excellent opportunity for the students to practice their language skills.

The most interesting part comes after listening to several songs when I assigned the technology project. The students were to make a music video using iMovie. They are given the song sang by Tom Blodget and they were asked to correspond the vocabulary with the correct image. In agreement with Gardner's multiple intelligence theory, I also give a karaoke version of the song for those who would like to sing as well as correspond the pictures to vocabulary words.  The results were awesome. The students were eager to see each others work. Some students were shy to sing and used the song where Tom Blodget sings but most of them sang the song which gave me the opportunity to assess their pronunciation as well.


Professional Standards for Queensland Teachers-Standard 3

"Design and implement intellectually challenging learning experiences" (p.12).

Education serves to change the individual’s personality from passive to active. Lesson planning shifts from focusing on teacher delivery of content to designing collaborative projects that tap into cross-curricular content, abstract concepts, and learning in meaningful ways (Knobel & Wilber, 2009).   Bruner argues that conceptions that children arrive at their own are generally more meaningful than those proposed by others (Snowman et al., 2009, p. 337).  Vygotsky believed that children learn more from the interactions they have with those who are more intellectually advanced, particularly if the interaction is designed to fall within the child’s zone of proximal development (Snowman et al., 2009, p. 47).  Therefore, I implement intellectually challenging learning experiences that actively promote student inquiry, both individually or collaboratively, and also promote higher order thinking by scaffolding.

In GDE3001 Learners and Learning, it was mentioned many times that scaffolding is supporting learning during its early phases through such techniques as demonstrating how tasks should be accomplished, giving hints to the correct solution to a problem or answer to a question, and providing leading questions which supports student learning (Snowman et al., 2009, p. 47).The feedback I received from my administrator after my observation I had back in 2007 clearly states that I adopted these scaffolding techniques in my teaching.

When assigning projects, I try challenging my students, too. After reading Pobre Ana, some of them struggled to understand the exact meaning of each word and phrase, but they realized that they did understand the gist of a passage. In addition, I record native speakers' voice reading chapters using the Garageband program so the students could listen as much as they need to understand the pronunciation. Later I came up with the iMovie project that asked them to retell the story in a movie format. This required a lot of collaboration and thinking outside the box for them. It was one of those assignments that allowed the students to take the idea and run with it. And run they did!


Professional Standards for Queensland Teachers-Standard 4

"Design and implement learning experiences that value diversity" (p.13).

In the GDE4006 Relating and Collaborating course book, Friend and Cook (2007) state that understanding the culture of a student's family is fundamental to understanding and effectively serving the student because a family's culture is a significant determination of its structure, values, and beliefs, all critical influences on the student (p. 352).  Therefore Queensland College of Teachers requires that all teachers should value, acknowledge, and build on student and community diversity, know the diverse characteristics of the students they teach and implement learning experiences that are inclusive (2006, p.13).

In the world we live, there are students from diverse backgrounds in almost all classes. Multicultural education is an indicative component of being a successful teacher. As an immigrant to the United States with Turkish ethnicity,  I wish to foster an understanding of and mutual respect for, the values, beliefs and practices of different cultural groups (Snowman et al., 2009, p.143).   In order to achieve this goal, I make sure that students bring their unique cultures into class by having discussions where they become proud of themselves and their cultures. 

Also, I use my class as a way to introduce my students to the different faces of Spanish-speaking culture and diversity.  I use materials that come from all over the Spanish speaking world, so the students learn to appreciate and learn from each and every culture, history and dialect. When I learn something from my travels, I share it with my students. Sharing different cultures with my students is an important part of my job, not only because my students really need to have their eyes opened to different cultures, but also to me as a constructivist educator. Part of becoming a good global citizen is understanding that other cultures are interesting and that they have their unique value. To help my students explore the various Spanish speaking countries, I have them do the Spanish Speaking Countries Postcard Project at the beginning of the first year Spanish class. The students have to use computers to find information from the Internet and write a postcard to me explaining what they have experienced during their visit. The results (social_page1) (social page 2) came out great. Students were eager to share with me, and with each other, the information they gathered from all over the world. In the future, I am planning to add another component to this project which will be having the students dress up as the locals of the country they are representing to give more flavor.


Professional Standards for Queensland Teachers-Standard 5

"Assess and report constructively on student learning" (p.14).

I use a variety of assessments in my teaching: quizzes, tests, projects, speaking & listening activities, and reading & writing activities. My students receive verbal and written feedback in the forms of mini-conferences, rubrics and written comments from me in order to influence their self efficacy. In addition, KIS uses PowerSchool which is a grading program that automatically updates to a web portal where students and parents can check grades. The school also provides two parent-teacher conferences each year where I speak with the students and parents about their performance; plus, parents and/or students can arrange to meet with me before or after school.

Due to my constructivist approach, it is very important for me to provide feedback to students about their assignments. They need to understand their mistakes as well as understand what they are doing correctly. Rubrics offer students a chance to see exactly how and why they received the final grade; they offer students a chance to see how to improve the next time and exactly where they are strong and weak.

When I had my students do a Family Book Project (with Rubric) they had to keep submitting their work over and over throughout the school year as we learned new verb tenses. First, after we learned the vocabulary about family members and how to describe them, they had to provide photos and write statements about seven members of their family. In this description, I asked them to explain who the people are, how they are, their ages, what they are doing in the picture. The project required them to use three different verb tenses, but each tense was added to the project after it was taught in class. The students continued adding and changing this project throughout the entire year. Again, the results were great and students were eager to share their work with each other.

Finally, according to Siemens (2004), some of the principles of connectivism are that learning and knowledge rest in diversity of opinions, learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources, learning may reside in non-human appliances, and nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. Therefore, students also need the skills to understand how to locate, comprehend, synthesize, evaluate, and effectively use information (Apple, 2008). With that in mind, for an assignment that requires students to gather information from the Internet to accomplish a task, I use the Big6 Rubric. The Big6 is an information literacy curriculum developed by two librarians in the US. The Big6 breaks information literacy down into six categories with clear and exact explanations of each domain: task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access of information, use of information, synthesis and evaluation (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 2003).