Friday, October 15, 2010

On the importance of orientations

My first blog post for the UMass Online blog is now live, check it out here

I think I may have approached the subject here before, I don't really remember, but orientations are, I think, pretty important when you are entering an academic program.  It really sets the tone for the program, both in term of curriculum and all the administrative minutiae that we as students have to deal with (and if done right, it creates connections to classmates, alumni, and outside organizations!)

What do you think? Have you been to an orientation that rocked?  Have you been to one that's been sub-par?  What's worked for you as a student and what would you like to see?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Course correction! Ay-Capt'n!

Over the summer I started working on my field experience, one of the last requirement for my MA in Applied Linguistics.  Honestly, last summer I would have preferred to have gotten the practicum waived and taken phonetics and phonemics instead, but now I am glad that I have to take it.  I am getting a lot out of observing a seasoned (and pretty awesome) instructor do what they do best. 

Over the summer, to get out of the "teaching" requirement (which seems to have been absent in previous semesters... but anyway...) I was thinking of creating an eLearning module, perhaps using something like captivate, where I would be able to use communicative approaches to teach content and language.  My initial thought was to teach a little bit about the Apple of Discord and Paris' choice.  This would have coincided with conditionals, so students could learn a little more about what supposedly happened that lead to the Trojan War and the events in the Iliad, and they would have had an opportunity to learn and mess around with conditionals in Attic Greek. After the students took this eLearning module they would be assessed for knowledge (obviously) and they would take a survey to see how they liked the method of delivery.

Based on my observations however, it seems like the class is based a lot on Grammar Translation (not much of a surprise there) so dipping toes into a communicative competence model near the end of the semester may not be a great idea - the " you don't switch horses in mid-stream" cliche comes to mind (not to mention that a proper eLearning course, with my workload will take a lot of mental power and time to complete, and I probably need to focus more on preparing for the comprehensive exams in December)

So at this point there is a need for course correction!  While doing research over the summer, I tried to find any research that pointed to Classicists using methodologies other than Grammar Translation (GT) to teach classical Greek and Latin, but unfortunately I could not find much.  Google Scholar found an intro chapter to teaching classics using Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) methodologies (yay!) but it was only an intro chapter and it was just a description of what GT is, how classics have been taught, what CLT is and so on (all info I already knew).  It seems to me that there is lack of information in this area so I've decided to do something along the lines of a traditional research paper (I've read most things anyway by this point so I don't have to do a lot of new reading) where I will write more about using CLT methodologies in a classical learning environment and how technology can be used to facilitate classical language learning.

Any thoughts? I'd be interested in hearing from classicists out there :-)