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How to challenge our own attitudes

How to challenge our own attitudes

Site: ECML - Moodle | Community
Course: Virtual Open Course (VOC): Collaborative Community Approach to Migrant Education
Book: How to challenge our own attitudes
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Date: Sunday, 18 August 2019, 11:05 PM

3.A. Try it: Designing a Problem Based Learning session

After reading all about Problem Based Learning in the Learn about it section, now it is your turn!

Here are six important steps that will help you design and develop a Problem Based Learning session in your educational setting:

3.A.1. Explaining the Problem Based Learning approach and procedure

STEP 1

If the participants are not familiar with Problem Based Learning, it is important to devote some minutes to explaining the approach and the format of the session(s) before you begin the activities. In some settings group discussions and peer learning may be an unfamiliar and initially uncomfortable learning situation. It is therefore important to stress the knowledge, experience and variety of worldviews which participants themselves bring to the session(s) and the value of these complementary personal resources. For instance, someone who is themselves bilingual or closely connected to a bilingual individual will be able to share insights into how bilinguals learn and function on a daily basis. Participants who have experience of working with emergent bilingual learners in educational settings will be able to share the challenges and successes they have encountered.

3.A.2. Group formation

STEP 2

To engage in Problem Based Learning, the participants must be organised in groups (at least two groups are needed) of ideally no more than four participants each. Ideally you should aim to have groups containing a mixture of participants with varying degrees of familiarity with bilingualism, intercultural experiences, experience of teaching children from culturally diverse backgrounds etc. You can do this in a fun way by playing a game such as “find someone who…” or by setting up a speed-dating situation where participants have to talk to a partner for one minute on a set topic such as “what languages do you speak and how did you learn them?” then change partners to talk about a another topic. This will help participants to identify potential group members when you announce the requirements for the composition of each group. Group composition requirements could be for example that each group must contain at least one person who is bilingual or who personally knows someone who is bilingual, at least one person who has travelled abroad extensively, at least one person who has taught children who speak a different home language from the language of the school etc.

Once groups have been formed, it is helpful to ask group members to share their expertise by answering a simple question such as “What can the individual members of your group bring to the course in terms of knowledge, experience and insights.

3.A.3. Explaining the course objectives, content and evaluation

STEP 3

Many (future) professionals express feelings of being ill-equipped to deal with complex multilingual classroom contexts and are thirsty for knowledge and strategies to help them to function effectively in their professional environments. Banks (2001) has proposed that to help students to become effective citizens, professionals working in multilingual/cultural contexts need not only to acquire and develop appropriate knowledge and strategies but should also learn to challenge and critically examine their own cultural and national identifications. Being supported and encouraged to challenge monolingual mindsets and discriminatory practised policies is a vital element of any professional development course which aims to bring about institutional change. Below you will find an example of course objectives, contents and evaluation methods used during the Home language / school language course, inspired by the European project TESSLA (Teacher Education for the Support of Second Language Acquisition).

TESSLA

AIMS OF COURSE:

  1. Raise awareness among student teachers of the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of their schools.
  2. Support student teachers to develop a critical awareness of language discrimination and the attitudes underlying it.
  3. Enable student teachers to critique the monolingual/monocultural habitus of schools and model strategies to transform it
  4. Equip student teachers with strategies to maximise the potential of children from ethnic minority backgrounds.

COURSE CONTENT:

8 resource/input sessions with problem based learning activities and student collaboration.

Themes:

  1. Introduction to the course, linguistic and cultural diversity globally & locally
  2. Linguistic policies, official documentation and terminology, National, European levels, portfolios
  3. Language learning (first, second, foreign), bilingualism and plurilingualism
  4. Benefits of bilingualism /plurilingualism
  5. Identity and home-school relationship
  6. Language sensitive teaching and plurilingual instructional strategies
  7. Children's literature, multiliteracy and intercultural education
  8. Student presentations & peer assessment

EVALUATION

  1. Each group member is required to participate actively in weekly discussions.
  2. Group members will take it in turns to act as group secretary and to write up the group discussion minutes.
  3. Each group member will undertake regular reading assignments and feedback to other group members during discussion sessions.
  4. Each group member will participate equally in the final group presentation.
  5. Each participant will take part in the peer evaluation process.

3.A.4. Identifying a problem to use in Problem Based Learning

STEP 4

You can either supply a ready-made problem (see below for an example problem) or invite participants to share real life problems they have already encountered with the other members of their group.

Read an example problem here

An example problem

This problem was written to encourage discussion amongst (future) teachers of primary school children (Hancock et al, 1996).

It could be adapted for use with other members of the education community (teaching assistants, parents, school psychologists…) working with children from different age groups.

Mrs McGregor teaches a class of 7 year olds which contains a number of children whose home language (their mother tongue) is different from the language of the school. Mrs McGregor is really concerned that these children don’t seem to be making the same progress as the native speakers of the school language. Some of them don’t participate in learning activities. The Scottish children in the class are losing patience with these children’s attempts to communicate. Mrs McGregor would really like to help these pupils more and would like to help the class as a whole to be more welcoming. She is discussing with you what she might do.

3.A.5. Working with the problem

STEP 5

After initially identifying the problem with which the group is to work, group members can hold an initial brainstorming session as to how the problem could be solved. It is important that the group members feel at ease when discussing such complex and challenging problems. The safe space provided within the confines of a small group, sheltered from public scrutiny, facilitates discussion.

The course tutor should refrain from proposing his/her own solutions to the problems, instead circulating from group to group and prompting discussion through the posing of questions. It is important that the members of the group listen to each other’s points of view and produce their own home-grown solution to the problem posed.

A “secretary” is appointed within each group to note down the main ideas generated by the group in the form of minutes which act as a written record of the sessions for all the group members. The minutes should be shared with all the group members who should be given the opportunity make additions and or revisions. The act of recording, organising, rereading and revising the group’s exchanges forces the participants to reflect further on their discussions.

It is helpful to use the problem as the central focus of a course or module to which participants return at the end of each input session and around which they share new insights and generate additional and alternative solutions. Sufficient time must be allocated for these discussions which constitute the space in which participants can negotiate, challenge and reassess their attitudes. Tutors need to resist the temptation to devote the entire session to input and allow time for the participants’ voices to make themselves heard.

3.A.6. Final presentations

STEP 6

The final session should be dedicated to the presentation of the various group problems and solutions (20’/group) to the class as a whole. There should be a plenary discussion and questions at the end of each presentation to allow for peer-led probing questions, clarification and justification. It is possible to further increase whole class participation by integrating peer evaluation into the evaluation process, through written evaluation (pro-forma) immediately after each presentation.

The performance criteria used in the evaluation should echo the aims of the course.

Read an example of performance criteria and assessment pro-forma here

An example of performance criteria

Performance criteria:

Through the assessment task participants should demonstrate that they have:

  1. a critical awareness of the linguistic and cultural diversity of the schools in which they will work
  2. an in-depth understanding of language discrimination and the attitudes underlying it
  3. the capacity to critique the monolingual mono-cultural habitus of schools and to model strategies to transform them
  4. a working understanding of a range of strategies to maximise the potential of additional language learners.

An example of the pro-forma used for peer assessment of each group presentation

Everyone in class assesses each group presentation according to the following performance criteria, rating on a scale of 1-5.

Through the assessment task participants have demonstrated that they have:

  1. a critical awareness of the linguistic and cultural diversity of the schools in which they will work

                      1              2             3             4               5

         The criterion has not                                                   the criterion has been

           been met at all                                                                   met in full

  1. an in-depth understanding of language discrimination and the attitudes underlying it

                      1              2             3             4               5

         The criterion has not                                                   the criterion has been

           been met at all                                                                   met in full

  1. the capacity to critique the monolingual mono-cultural habitus of schools and to model strategies to transform them

                      1              2             3             4               5

         The criterion has not                                                   the criterion has been

           been met at all                                                                   met in full

  1. a working understanding of a range of strategies to maximise the potential of additional language learners.

                      1              2             3             4               5

          The criterion has not                                                   the criterion has been

           been met at all                                                                   met in full

An example of the pro-forma used for peer assessment within each group

Everyone in each group assesses the contribution of each group member to the presentation according to the following performance criteria, rating on a scale of 1-5.

Contribution of (name of group member) to the presentation

              1              2             3             4               5

 No contribution                                                                   An extremely helpful contribution

Tutor assessment

The tutor assesses each group presentation according to performance criteria and rates on 1-5 scale, cf pro-forma used for peer assessment of each group presentation.

Email feedback can be provided which will include general feedback to the whole class and group specific feedback to each group member (based on tutor observations and a synthesis of the peer evaluation pro-forma).

3.A.7. References

Banks, J.A. (2001). Citizenship Education and Diversity. Implications for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education. Sage Publications, USA.

Bauer, L., & Trudgill, P. (1998) : Language Myths. London; New York: Penguin Books

Grosjean, F. (1982) : Life with Two Languages – An Introduction to Bilingualism, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press.

Grosjean, F. (2010) : Bilingual – Life and Reality, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, Harvard University Press., p.276.

Grosjean, F. (2015) : Parler plusieurs langues – Le monde des bilingues, Paris, Albin Michel, p. 229.

Hancock, A., Hermerling, S., Landon, J. & Young, A. (2006). Building on Language Diversity with Young Children: Teacher Education for the Support of Second Language Acquisition, LIT Verlag, Münster, Germany.

Mary, L. & Young, A. (2010) "Preparing Teachers for the multilingual classroom: Nurturing reflective, critical awareness”, pp. 195-219 in Ehrhart, S. Hélot, C. & Le Nevez, A. (ed.), Plurilinguisme et formation des enseignants : Une approche critique / Plurilingualism and Teacher Education: a critical approach, Frankfurt, Peter Lang, 241p.

Young, A. & Mary, L. (2009) "Former les professeurs stagiaires à la diversité linguistique à l’école" Langue(s) et intégration scolaire, Le français aujourd’hui. N°164, Association française des enseignants de français, Armand Colin, Paris, pp.87-7.

Young, A. & MARY, L. (2010) "Une formation des professeurs des écoles en phase avec le 21ème siècle", pp.349-363 in Mangiante, J.M. (ed.), Langue et Intégration, Frankfurt, Peter Lang.