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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Delivering the Message Assignments + Projects

Examine the Topic

Now that you have read the research and viewed the video discussion on presentational communication, you will examine the topic further by looking at examples of student products and working backwards to determine how the presentational activities may have been designed.

The student work in these activities is the culmination of a four-week Russian II project called “Our Village.” The overall project integrates all three communicative modes, but you will focus on the presentational tasks in these activities. The following is a description of the overall task presented to students by teacher Jane Shuffelton:

“Our Village” Task Description
We will create a village/state where we will work, govern ourselves, and discuss issues of importance to the village/state. We may decide to produce some items that we would offer commercially to a village/state in Anchorage, Alaska. Russian will be the official language of the village/state.

A. Written Presentational Task 1: A New Identity

For this activity, each student wrote a one-paragraph description of himself or herself to send to the other citizens of the village/state. In the following interactive activity, you will read one of the student paragraphs and work backwards to try to determine the paragraph’s audience, purpose, genre, and theme.

B. Written Presentational Task 2: The Village/State

For this activity, student groups created advertisements for the new village/state to try to entice people in Alaska to join them in this new world. In the following interactive activity, you will read one of the advertisements and work backwards to try to determine the ad’s audience, purpose, genre, and theme.

C. Oral Presentational Task

Now that you’ve examined how two written presentational tasks may have been designed, you will design an oral presentational task. Select one of the written presentational tasks and describe the final product of an oral presentational task that uses the same themes and content. Use the following questions to guide your writing:

  1. Who is the audience?
  1. What is the purpose?
  1. What characteristics of the given genre should students consider as they work?
  1. What is the theme(s) of the content?
  1. What vocabulary do students need to know and be able to use? What grammatical structures might dominate their speech?
  1. What linguistic and cultural goals do you want to meet with this assignment?
  1. How might you assess this presentation?

Assignment:

Write an oral presentational task summary to submit as an assignment.

Put It Into Practice: Activity A

Assignment:

In this section, you will apply what you have learned to your own teaching. The following activities are designed to assist you in developing effective presentational tasks. Choose one or both of the activities below.

Activity A: Designing a Presentational Writing Task

In this activity, you will design a realistic presentational writing task by first identifying the audience in order to focus the final product. You will also be asked to develop your lesson in a way that incorporates the stages of prewriting, drafting, revising, and publishing. You can design the activity for individual students or for groups.

  1. Unit/Lesson selection. Begin with a unit or lesson that you are planning to teach and for which a presentational task is appropriate. For example, it might be a weather unit in which students communicate about different kinds of weather events (such as rain, snow, or drought).
  1. Backward design. First, describe a product that you want students to develop for their presentation. For example, if the topic is weather, you could ask students to create a) an almanac that describes seasonal weather patterns in their town or in a country that speaks the target language, or b) daily weather reports with three-day forecasts. Next, determine who the audience would be and why they would be interested. Then decide whether students will be working individually or in groups. Finally, based on the description of product and audience, draft a rubric for assessing that product. Be sure to include your expectations for different aspects of the presentation, such as comprehensibility, language control, vocabulary usage, the product’s impact on the audience, and cultural awareness.
Note: For more ideas on setting expectations for presentations, review the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) K-12 Performance Guidelines (see Resources). If you would like to learn more about writing and using rubrics, go to the Assessment Strategies lesson on the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library Web site. To check out a sample rubric, view the Video Project Rubric (PDF, 28 K) created by Yo Azama (Promoting Attractions of Japan) or the Rubric for Interpersonal Task (PDF, 20 K) created by Paris Granville (Assessment Strategies).
  1. Prewriting. Design a prewriting activity (with prompts) that engages students in the language and topic before they begin to develop the final product. Students can find inspiration and motivation, as well as review necessary vocabulary, through brainstorming, creating a web, doing free-writing, and more. For example, students can brainstorm about the different kinds of weather events that can occur, or do a free-writing exercise in the target language about the weather they experienced during the past week.
  1. Drafting. Prepare instructions for how students should write their first drafts. What resources may they use? How much time will they have? Will they be working on this in class with your assistance, or will they do some of it at home? Is there a model they could look at that can serve as a benchmark? For example, if students are creating an almanac entry on weather, you can have them read a sample entry first to understand the expected format and content. If students are creating daily reports, you can have them read one from a Web site or newspaper to see how precipitation, temperature, and other information are formatted.
  1. Editing/Feedback. Describe how students will get feedback on their first draft. For example, will they be peer editing, receiving feedback from you, or a combination of both? Will the feedback be given in the form of written edits to their draft, or will you have a discussion about their work? Also, how will the feedback balance issues of language accuracy and information?
  1. Revision and publication. Describe how you will expect students to revise and complete their presentation. For example, will they have additional opportunities to receive feedback? Also, because presentational tasks are intended for audiences beyond the classroom, they lend themselves to publication or display. Knowing that their work will be shown to a wider audience can encourage students to target their work more precisely to the intended audience and use language more accurately. Therefore, conclude by describing how you will expect students to publish (display) their work for the intended audience.

Put It Into Practice: Activity B

Assignment:

  1. In this section, you will apply what you have learned to your own teaching. The following activities are designed to assist you in developing effective presentational tasks. Choose one or both of the activities below.
  2. Submit your design for a presentational writing task and/or a presentational speaking task.

Activity B: Designing a Presentational Speaking Task

In this activity, you will design a presentational speaking task by first identifying the audience in order to focus the final product and make it more realistic. You will also be asked to develop your lesson according to the process approach. This requires incorporating stages of prewriting, drafting, revising, and publishing/presenting. You can design the activity for individual students or for groups.

  1. Unit/Lesson selection. Begin by selecting a unit or lesson that you are planning to teach and for which a presentational task is appropriate. For example, it might be a weather unit in which students communicate about different kinds of weather events (such as rain, snow, or drought).
  1. Backward design. First, describe a product that you want students to develop for their presentation. For example, if the topic is weather, you could ask students to create a) a radio broadcast or a TV segment on the day’s weather and the next day’s forecast for their town, or b) a severe weather alert for a region of a country that speaks the target language. Next, determine who the audience would be and why they would be interested. Then decide whether students will be working individually or in groups. Finally, based on the description of product and audience, draft a rubric for assessing that product. Be sure to include your expectations for different aspects of the presentation, such as comprehensibility, language control, vocabulary usage, the product’s impact on the audience, and cultural awareness.
Note: For more ideas on setting expectations for presentations, review the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) K-12 Performance Guidelines (see Resources). If you would like to learn more about writing and using rubrics,go to the Assessment Strategies lesson on the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library Web site. To check out a sample rubric, view the Video Project Rubric (PDF, 28 K) created by Yo Azama (Promoting Attractions of Japan) or the Rubric for Interpersonal Task (PDF, 20 K) created by Paris Granville (Assessment Strategies).
  1. Prewriting. Design a prewriting activity (with prompts) that engages students in the language and topic before they begin to develop the final oral presentation. Students can find inspiration and motivation, as well as review necessary vocabulary, through brainstorming, creating a web, doing free-writing, and more. For example, students can brainstorm about the different kinds of weather events that can occur, or do a free-writing exercise about the weather they experienced during the past week.
  1. Drafting. Prepare instructions for how students should draft their oral presentation. What resources may they use? How much time will they have? When will they be able to rehearse the draft, either in person or on audio- or videotape? Will they be working on this in class with your assistance, or will they do some of it at home? Is there a model they could look at that can serve as a benchmark? For example, if students are creating a radio broadcast, you can have them listen to one in the target language first to understand format and coverage. If students are creating a weather advisory, you can have them view one online or on video, preferably in the target language, to see how precipitation, temperature, and other information are formatted.
  1. Editing/Feedback. Describe how students will get feedback on their first draft. For example, will they be peer editing, receiving feedback from you, or a combination of both? Will the feedback be given in the form of written comments to their draft, or will you have a discussion about their work? Also, how will the feedback balance issues of language accuracy and information?
  1. Revision and presentation. Describe how you will expect students to revise and perform their presentation. For example, will they have additional opportunities to receive feedback? Also, because presentational tasks are intended for audiences beyond the classroom, they lend themselves to public performance or recorded display. Knowing that their work will be shown to a wider audience can encourage students to target their work more precisely to the intended audience and use language more accurately. Therefore, conclude by describing how you will expect students to present their work to the intended audience. Will their presentation be performed live or videotaped?

Action Research Project

If you would like to focus on presentational communication for your action research project, use the following questions and examples to help frame your thinking and shape your project.

Assignment:

  1. The following four-step process will help you plan a small action research project to explore your questions about the presentational mode of communication, implement action plans for helping students develop effective strategies for completing presentational tasks, and collect information to assess your instructional innovations. Before you begin this section, you can go to About Action Research for an introduction to the process of designing and conducting action research projects. If you are taking this workshop for credit, you will need to complete one action research project from any one of the eight workshop sessions as an assignment.
  2. If you are taking the workshop for graduate credit, submit your completed action research project on any one of the eight session topics.

I. Thinking

  1. What issue concerning instruction and presentational communication do you want to describe, document, and investigate? For example, you could examine the role of feedback in improving your students’ presentational skills, or you could explore the role of audience in the design of your presentational tasks. This will be the focus of your action research project.
  1. Why is presentational communication important to you as a teacher? How have you approached the design of presentational tasks in the past? How do you want to change that approach and why? What has been your experience with providing ongoing feedback to your students? Are you satisfied with the students’ performance and/or your instructional strategies? Why or why not?
  1. What is your research question concerning the presentational mode of communication? The research question will help you investigate your area of focus and understand it better. For example:
    • How can I introduce an authentic audience into my presentational communication tasks?
    • How would using real-world tasks affect the quality of students’ written or spoken presentations?
    • How can I change the way I provide feedback? How would this change affect the quantity and quality of student-written presentations?

II. Acting

  1. What is the action plan for carrying out your project? Depending on your action research question, the following are some questions you might ask yourself to help you develop an action plan:
    • What feedback strategies do I want to experiment with in my classroom?
    • What types of presentational communication tasks will I use and how will I involve an audience in these tasks?
    • How much time do I need to monitor and document the effects of my action plan?
    • How will I measure students’ reaction to my new feedback approach or newly designed presentational communication tasks?
    • How can I create an information gap between my student presenters and the target audience? How can I enable my students to fill this gap?
  1. What information will you need to collect to answer your research question and assess your project? For example, you could keep a record of your assessments of students’ presentational communication over time, analyze student writing samples for quality and/or quantity of production, distribute student questionnaires and self-assessments of presentational communication tasks, or compare work samples before and after the implementation of your action plan. You should have at least two sources of information.
  1. How much time will you allot for your action research? That is, when and for how long do you plan to collect information before you’re ready to begin analyzing it? Develop a timeline for implementing your action plan.

III. Reflecting

  1. After collecting your information, how will you analyze it? That is, how will you organize and review the information you have collected to understand it better and help you answer your research question? For example, will you use assessment rubrics for documenting growth over time? Summaries of interview data? Comparisons of self-assessments? A key for specific language or textual features (e.g., verb formation, main ideas and supporting details, spelling, topic development and coherence, and effectiveness in addressing an audience)?
  1. How will you display the information so that it can be shared with others? For example, you can use charts, graphs, and/or tables. The goal is to organize your data in a way that presents a clear description of what you investigated.

IV. Rethinking

Note: The final step of the action research project is to reevaluate your teaching practice based on your research data. Because it takes time to complete an action research project, it may not be possible to do this step during the workshop. However, if you are taking this workshop for credit, you will need to complete one action research project during or after the course of the workshop to submit as an assignment.

  1. Based on what you learned through your data analysis, how will you rethink your presentational communication tasks? What changes will you make to your lessons the next time you address presentational communication and prepare to provide students with task formats and feedback? If you had to research presentational communication again, what changes would you make to your action research plan?

Reflect on Your Learning

Assignment:

  1. In this session, you analyzed different approaches to developing presentational tasks and reflected on the importance of audience to a presentation. You will now write a one- to two-page summary of what you have learned and how you plan to apply it in your classroom. Review the notes you have taken during this session, as well as your answers to the Reflect on Your Experience questions. Use the questions below to guide your writing.
    1. How does the concept of audience influence the design of presentational tasks? Consider an audience that you have not targeted in past classroom activities. How might you address that audience with a future presentational task?
    2. How does having a final product in mind help you plan an activity?
    3. How would you explain the difference between a writing task that serves only to help students achieve an interpretive or interpersonal goal, and writing used as part of a presentational task?
    4. How does a presentational task or product help push students to achieve higher levels of proficiency?
  2. Submit your summary as an assignment.

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