The is requiring the academic supervisors of every department present an overview to the Board of Education. On Monday, Feb. 27 World Language Supervisors from Howell High School, Dr. Meryl Norych, and Freehold High School, David Bleakly, lead the presentation explaining the progressive success their department has seen since the implementation of new assessment programs and the integration of technology into the classroom.
“In the 21st century, students must be prepared to participate linguistically in appropriate ways as they interact with members of other cultures and become productive members of the diverse community in which we live; because of this, students must learn how to become orally proficient in more than one language and that’s what we try to do here at Freehold Regional,” Norych said.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreing Languages (ACTFL), formed in 1995, is a nationwide organization that has established specific guidelines for foreign language proficiency across the country. Norych explained how ACTFL’s main vision is for students to attain communicative proficiency in order for them to engage in purposeful conversation. These guidelines ask language teachers to focus on teaching students how to communicate effectively, rather than just focusing on verb drills - as language teachers used to do in the past.
Norych said that in order for learning to be effective it must be meaningful and interactive; furthermore, assessment must match a particular form of instruction. Students in world language classes are often graded by rubrics so that various aspects of a project or assignments can be measured and students are made aware of those expectations.
“Students will be more responsible for their own grade. They’re accountable,” Norych said. “They know ahead of time how they are going to be graded.”
David Bleakly, World Languages Supervisor of Freehold High School, discussed the influence instructional technology has in the World Languages Department throughout the district. Bleakly said that the World Languages Department utilizes technology more so than other departments.
Some examples of this are:
- use of Moodle, an online course management system where students interact with one another and their teacher by file sharing and engaging in asynchronous discussion forums.
- use of Audacity, a recording software program, for students to record themselves speaking in the language and submit those recordings to the teacher for review
- use of programs such as Microsoft Photo Story, for students to blend digital images, text, and voice-over narration in the specific language they are learning.
- use of movie-making software, such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, for students to work collaboratively in the creation of a foreign language film.
“Effective student use of technology provides many benefits to teachers and students,” Bleakly said. “Not the least of these benefits is that students, generally speaking, enjoy working with technology. When students enjoy their schoolwork, than it follows that students will be more engaged in the learning process.
Bleakly stressed that the most important part of the integration of language and technology is that it forces students to synthesize their learning, or create something new based on the course content.
The implementation of new forms of assessment in recent years: authentic and diagnostic (formative and summative) have lead to an increase in grades, according to Norych. Failing final grades from the 2002-2003 school year to the 2005-2006 school year, since implementation began, has decreased by 14 percent.
Norych implemented a new form of assessment within the department when she began as World Languages Supervisor in 2001, when she said many staff member did not even know what a rubric was. She said that the success of the department is partly due to the willingness her staff members had in accepting that new change, which she believes has subsequently lead to the present failure rate of 7.5 percent.