Language Teacher in Focus: Sydney Morgan
Middle school teacher Sydney Morgan was looking for an authentic way to gather data on her newcomers' English language skills, while also uplifting student voice and building community, despite being socially distant. The resulting project had students create school tour videos, which required written and spoken English production. Ms. Morgan shares more about the project below.
Middle School Humanities and Spanish/English Language Development Teacher
Melrose Leadership Academy
What were the goals/outcomes you were hoping for with this project?
There were a few things I was trying to get the kids to work on. We were working on phrases like "there is/there are," parts of the school, introducing themselves, and sequencing words. I was trying to bring all those things together through a culminating project that had meaning. We are using it for virtual school tours. We wanted it to be a tool that newcomers could use as they came in. We did it in Spanish or English, and some of them did it in another language. I wanted them to feel like they had a voice, and they were able contribute in a meaningful way.
What data did this project provide around your newcomers' English and academic development?
We first wrote out a script, and that was really helpful to see where they were at in terms of their written language, and speaking [the script] helped me see where they’re at in their spoken language. I wanted them to have the chance to speak more and interview each other, and listen to each other. It helped me see their speaking, their writing, and their comprehension, because they had to make questions for the script for it, as well as their vocabulary.
What is the value in having authentic language tasks as culminating projects, rather than a test, for example?
I can tell they put in a lot of effort and did their best work because they knew it was going to be shared with the community. When they’re trying their hardest and doing their best, what are they able to produce? It's valuable because, first, they feel like they’re part of the community, which is hard right now because we’re so separate. And second, they really have something to share that helps our community and makes our community better.
Read the full interview to learn more about Ms. Morgan's project and see videos of her students' completed projects! E-mail her if you want to learn more.