1. The students use Tapped-In at www.ti2.org, a language rich virtual room, to make their dialogues in Chinese about the topics (topics include going to a restaurant, borrowing books from a library, school life, asking direction, party invitation, etc.) that we learn in the classroom as homework. They also use this virtual room to discuss the meanings and usages of the new vocabulary and grammar points. The goal is for the students to gain deep understanding of what they learn.
2. The students are required to use Blog at www.blogger.com to post their Chinese writings. They are also required to comment on the writings or translate the writings posted by their peers. The goal is to provide the means for students to practice their Chinese writing skills, and to develop their confidence to continue independently with the help from the community of practice.
Students as part of their learning are required to reflect on what they learn and how the technology is supporting their learning of Chinese. As part of my actions, I have examined the learning profiles of students to help me understand how the use of interactive technology enhance student learning as a way to improve my teaching.
Evidence Used to Evaluate My Actions:
- Action research journal
- Collection of students' works
- Transcripts of on-line chats
I have evaluated the outcomes of these actions in the following ways:
Action Research Journal: A reflective journal have been kept focusing on how my students respond to and performance in the new educational activities that I designed. My action research journal can be assessed at http://xkarp.blogspot.com.
Samples of Student Work: The student work has been analyzed based on criteria that emerge from the data and comparison of similar student work from the previous year. Students' writing and projects have been collected to demonstrate their progresses. An analysis of students' progresses has been reported in my cycle one report at http://students.pepperdine.edu/xking/ARP/Cycle%20One%20Goals.htm
Transcripts of On-line Chats: Transcripts of online chats have been saved and sent automatically to my e-mail account. Data from the transcripts are stored and analyzed for levels of student understanding of their learning. The results have been discussed with the students.
Questionnaires: I have asked students a few questions to get their feedback at the end of the first semester. The results of the questionnaires are analyzed and reported in my cycle one report at http://students.pepperdine.edu/xking/ARP/Cycle%20One%20Goals.htm
For the complete cycle one report, please visit http://students.pepperdine.edu/xking/ARP/Cycle%20One%20Goals.htm
Looking back on my actions with the benefit of data, I now think that since the new technologies, such as online chat and blog are interactive, it is easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receiving feedback from each other, and continually refine their understanding and gain deep knowledge. Even when the students are out of my classroom, they still have an environment that is language rich to visit. In this way, they receive feedback from their classmates, and construct their own knowledge in a community of practice.
Vygotsky's theory, Zone of Proximal, has affected my practice a great deal. Situated Learning and other online readings from Wenger established the understanding of CoP. Through the learning and practicing, I realize that social constructionist has played an important role in my classroom. As a teacher, my responsibility is gradually shifting from teaching students to facilitating students' learning process and to coordinate the learning with others. Why did I shift my responsibility? I wanted to see my students to control over their own learning and construct their own knowledge .
When the students are given the sense of controlling over their own learning and construct their own knowledge, they learn enthusiastically. From my observation, I found that when students were working in the computer lab planning and discussing their projects, and solving their problems, they were deeply involved in the learning. Sometimes they were so serious that they did not want to leave the computer lab when the period time was over. I had never seen such situation when the lessons had been conducted by me in a teacher-centered environment.
In the first quarter, I taught students the new vocabulary and grammar points, and asked them as a small group to teach their classmates what they understood, and present their culture research with a multimedia program in the class. I was surprised to find out from the students' reflections that they preferred to be allowed to include the new materials in their own learning and construct their own knowledge.