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Innovations in writing curricula: Instructor and learner perspectives and dialogues Marlen Elliot Harrison, PhD and Tomoko Oda, ABD

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Presentation on theme: "Innovations in writing curricula: Instructor and learner perspectives and dialogues Marlen Elliot Harrison, PhD and Tomoko Oda, ABD"— Presentation transcript:

1 Innovations in writing curricula: Instructor and learner perspectives and dialogues Marlen Elliot Harrison, PhD and Tomoko Oda, ABD m

2 Overview Personal introduction (5 mins) Part 1 - Brainstorming the topic (10 mins) What is innovation in writing pedagogy? (10 mins) Part II - Marlen & Tomokos study Our stories, our methods (20 mins) Part III - Responses (30 mins) Narratives, Dialogues & Surveys Reflections & Discussion (15 mins)

3 Question If innovation can be defined as a new method or idea, how do learners in the Japanese, post-secondary learning environment respond to innovations in writing curricula? Likewise, how do instructors develop and implement such innovations?

4 Brainstorming the Topic Find one or two partners for discussion and introduce yourself. Explain how you are involved with English language writing (teacher? student? both?). Define innovation in terms of teaching/learning English language writing. For example: What does it look like? How do we develop it? How do we know if it is successful? You have 10 minutes.

5 Innovation Innovative Teaching in Australia (Cumming & Owen, 2001) Attributes - altruism, creativity & passion Skills - facilitate connections; repertoire, span Knowledge - pedagogy, profession, people Values - commitment, sharing, development Strategies - pushing boundaries; creating spaces; value-adding; building communities

6 Needs of ML Writers Leki and Carsons 1994 study of 33 students at two North American universities identified five main areas where multilingual (ML) writing students could be best supported by their instructors: 1) giving students a variety of writing assignments aside from the standard essays; 2) helping students analyze a variety of writing styles and genres; 3) aiding proficiency in language processing and vocabulary retrieval via repeated acts of language processing; 4) to consider the intellectual challenges (aside from linguistic) posed by an instructors activities; and 5) strongly link critical reading activities with critical writing activities.

7 Shifts In their chapter Meeting the Needs of Advanced Multilingual Writers, Canagarajah and Jerskey (2009) also urge instructors working with multilingual writers to consider literacy traditions from non-western backgrounds in re-developing their pedagogical practices as a means of understanding their students textual and rhetorical traditions and knowledge bases, and recommend a list of paradigm shifts in the field of composition instruction. From: Deficiencies/errors Focus on rules/conventions Texts as transparent/objective Focus on text construction Written discourse as normative Writing as constitutive Text as static/discrete Texts as context-dependent Compartmentalize literacy traditions L1 or C1 as a problem Orality as a hindrance To: Choices/options Focus on strategies Texts as representational Focus on rhetorical negotiation Written discourse as changing Writing as performative Text as fluid Texts as context-transforming Accommodate traditions L1 or C1 as a resource Orality as an advantage

8 Reflection & Break, 1 Think back to what you discussed earlier and what has been presented so far. Chat again with your partner(s) and share something that you considered, noticed, reflected on related to the teaching/learning of English writing. You have 5 minutes. When finished, we will share our thoughts with the group.

9 Tomoko Mr. P utilized different teaching modes from Japanese English teachers. It allowed me to identify alternative means of self- expression through his writing lessons. He allowed me even to discover Who am I? Beyond his writing lessons, I learned a joy of learning and eventually of life. Writing about myself was like a psychological therapy for me. He applied this teaching method both in classroom settings and in one-on-one private lesson settings. Unfortunately, the way of his teaching was not accepted by all the students in the classrooms of the English institute. Some of them complained since they had never experienced the tasks that he assigned in regular traditional Japanese schools. They were confused about how to put their self-expressions in words because his tasks were too direct to be asked in Japanese culture. In other words, they got a culture shock from the way of his teaching.

10 Marlen So much time was spent either writing to the instructor, writing homework- related activities or focusing on basic paragraph development that I began to wonder if these students had ever had to use written English in real-world communication outside the classroom. I wanted to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to recognize a need for English, to recognize the function of it in everyday life. I pondered, How can Japanese students at the college level practice English writing in a way that felt both natural (non-academic) and authentic? My response, essentially, was to require penpals (also known as keypals when online) as part of the overall curriculum for all courses. I reasoned that such a task would allow students the opportunity to put into practice the language introduced in our classrooms. I hoped that they would begin to develop a sense of English self; confidence and comfort using English; and most importantly, I wanted them to have a Yes, I can! moment. In these ways, I emphasized written English via an innovation in my own curriculum. While other instructors may have utilized the same tasks, for me - for my teacher development - this was yet another new approach.

11 Birth of the Study In response to a call for papers for a new anthology on innovations in language teaching, we started by examining our own experiences, contexts and interests. Tomoko had experienced Writing to Learn (WTL) with Mr. P and began to develop a deeper sense of English language identity and awareness of self. Marlen had understood that as a teacher, if he hadnt constantly searched for new ways to stimulate learning, he would have felt dissatisfied with his pedagogy. This led to considering the 5W 1H of teacher innovation and perhaps more importantly, the responses of students.

12 Our Study PARTICIPANTS 5 native English-speaking teachers of English living and working in Japan, AND... 5 native Japanese-speaking learners of English who have experienced EFL writing instruction. METHODS English narratives about teaching / learning. Narratives shared via blog to encourage written dialogue, e.g. Instructor A ~ Learner A, etc. Online survey with closed and open-ended Qs. PAR/FCEF

13 PAR & FCEF PAR - Participatory Action Research Participatory ~ e.g. traditional participants engage in the development and design of the research. Action Research ~ Rather than an experimental design, data is collected in real-time and examines people and events as they occur; The work of PAR deliberately inverts who constructs research questions, designs, methods, interpretations and products (Fine, n.d.). FCER - Feminist Communitarian Ethical Framework A moral framework for research that questions power in researcher- participant relationships and knowledge construction. Suggests that participants and researchers form a community of inquiry. In the feminist communitarian model, as with the model of participatory action research advocated by Greenwood and Levin, Fine and Weis, Smith, Bishop, and Kemmis and McTaggart, participants have a coequal say in how research should be conducted, what should be studied, which methods should be used, what findings are valid and acceptable, how these findings are to be implemented, and how the consequences of such action are to be assessed. Spaces for disagreement are recognized, and discourse aims for mutual understanding and for the honoring of moral commitments (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p.36).

14 Reflection & Break, 2 Chat again with your partner(s) and hypothesize our results. What do you think the instructors and learners wrote about? What were their dialogues like? You have 5 minutes. When finished, we will share our thoughts with the group.

15 Innovation Teachers Innovation, indeed, as any other fundamental of instruction or learning, is, I believe, a moving target. At present, I would define it as a negotiated plan of action that allows learners to work more effectively together with the aid of an instructor(s) to develop greater competence as a practicing writer, as marked by increasing mastery of form and power of expression and exchange of ideas with readers in a reading, writing, learning community. Innovation can be getting students to practice writing techniques and concepts previously learned without them realizing what they are practicing is nothing new. Students A class that more carefully considers the practical necessities of writing outside an academic environment. Innovation happens around the web network. Web communication makes English learning free, open, and interesting!

16 Paradigm in Japan Students It is all about preparation for the entrance exams. Grammar-translation method and some oral communication method. Teachers In many classrooms there is an increasing effort to implement the process approach to writing, more or less as it has been practiced in English L1 settings over the last 30 or 40 years. That said, there is a parallel track of instruction that emphasizes error correction, and a lack of integration with Japanese L1 composition practices, which in general are woefully non-existent as an approach. In my experience, the paradigm of writing curriculum at a university level by native English speakers, centres on a textbook (usually needing to be chosen BEFORE classes have even begun), that works on developing essay layout, strengthening sentence transitions and paragraph content, and experimenting with varying styles of writing voice. Grading seems to be based on submissions of prepared essays throughout the semester, textbook activity, and accuracy of writing tests at the completion of the course.

17 Personal Innovation Teachers It is my process of process of discovering of what motivates students and how they learn. I think it begins with my passion and enthusiasm for the topic. It is woven in to how I motivate and expect greatness. It is part of the formula for making writing fun, expressive and something to be proud of. Ideas come from: From my own practice, and from an interdisciplinary approach to poetics, arts education, and to engagement with current research in foreign language pedagogical research. From observing students, reading teaching methodologies and talking to other teachers. Everyday life in Japan as a non-Japanese participant. From nature, from the seasons, from cultures, from conversations, from "what if" daydreaming creative.

18 Reflections Teachers This project has helped me begin to re-evaluate my practice as an instructor, and to begin to explore questions of how I might become even more effective in helping students master rhetorical forms, increase their grammatical awareness, and better integrate reading and writing in my university curriculum. What does it mean to be fully engaged in learning? How do we open up to allow ourselves to explore the potentiality of engagement? What do students expect to learn from writing classes? Practical skills, or pathways to higher education. Participating in this survey has repositioned me on my philosophy of teaching (just before the commencement of Semester 2 in late September), to ensure I continually give my students the attention, the right tools, and the right balance of academic fluency and accuracy with written expression excellence.

19 Students Would have liked: Writing for fun. Maybe journal writing or review writing of movies etc might be fun activities. Translation from English to Japanese. Advice to teachers? Be aware of condition of English education in Japan and local culture. My advice is to show "good" and "natural" english writings to students. From the good examples, learners can get the "sense" of English writing. Innovative practice Specific instruction to teach how to write in APA style. I have never experienced such a great lesson that I can remember even later. Imitation of great English writers. The most important lesson I learned was that copying sentence is better than originating sentence! Writing an essay about oneself.

20 Other Comments I realized how English education in post-secondary education is teacher-dependent. I wonder what teachers can do making use of this advantage. In the era of the internet, you can learn English without going to English class. Is "official" classroom English education really needed? If so, what part of English education is still required? How Japanese education board's policy or university entrance exams influence English learning in Japan. I know nothing of how essay writing is taught in Japanese, which techniques or structures are common or focused on and I would be interested in learning about the process to then apply it to how writing essays in English is done to learn more about commonalities and differences between the two in order to better understand and teach essay writing in English to second language learners. Participation in the project has helped me reflect on my practices as a teacher, though I feel as noted above that so far I feel like I'm only scratching the surface of the potential for becoming a more aware, reflective teacher/researcher of writing instruction. In brief, it has stimulated me to reflect more deeply, and increased my motivation to work on improving my teaching practices. It's made me think more about looking into what students should already know or at least what they have previously learned and to gauge how well the students have grasped what they learned to better prepare for the class and to get an idea of what the students need to continue on or start from to improve their writing abilities. The project was helpful in the sense that I could be organize my experience of learning English and could find my strong points and weak points in English writing. In a word, this project was helpful to know " how I learned English " and " what I learned from English ". I found that teachers' perspectives are different form students' perspectives.

21 Thank You! To read the dialogues between the teachers and learners, please visit: Password: ganbaru To contact Marlen:

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