Project Idea #1: Translanguaging in K12 – the Podcast

 

  • An introductory descriptive paragraph, which should include a problem statement, and say *what* your tool/thing will do. This is your abstract, or elevator pitch. This should not have the full theoretical framing of the project. That will come in the final.

Over the last 5 years, the state-funded CUNY-New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (CUNY-NYSIEB) has produced a series of guides to support K-12 teachers of all subject areas as they work with students who exhibit diverse and dynamic bilingual linguistic practices. CUNY-NYSIEB has generally provided teachers at partner schools and teacher candidates in CUNY graduate and undergraduate education courses with these publications in hard copy or in PDF format. The documents often exceed 100 printed pages. Several classroom teachers I have worked with in my capacity as a research assistant at the Initiative have expressed that while they know the guides are chock full of useful tips and strategies, they find them dense and overwhelming to navigate.

Some teachers from around the state have attempted to solve this problem by running study groups with their colleagues to unpack each section bit by bit. While these study groups lead to a great deal of buy-in from those who are initially the most motivated and interested in the topic, they do not solve the issue of exposing teachers and teacher candidates who do have the time to devote to meeting with their colleagues to sift through the dense guides looking for the useful nuggets. Staff at the Initiative, recognizing the challenges posed by the density of the publications, created a series of companion videos to give teachers a “tour” of one of the printed documents. While clear and accessible, the videos have an academic tone, and still bury the information that teachers are most interested in — the tips and strategies for their classroom. Other videos from the CUNY-NYSIEB collection which feature teachers demonstrating certain strategies cannot be made public, as students’ faces are visible, and publishing such content online is prohibited by our IRB and Department of Education policy.

I propose a video podcast series (4 or so episodes) of fast-paced 3-4 minute videos, each of which will introduce a strategy from the CUNY-NYSIEB guides by following the experiences of a teacher who attempted to implement them. These videos will be assigned to in-and-pre-service teachers by professors of education courses focusing on bilingual education and the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

The videos will follow a standard format, walking through how the translanguaging strategy was used, what was successful about implementation, and potential challenges to look out for. They will feature voice-over narration from myself or teachers, snippets from interviews with teachers, b-roll of student work and classrooms, and pans over high quality photographs. The videos will reference a page of the appropriate CUNY-NYSIEB guide if teachers would like to learn more.

I will create a simple companion webpage on the CUNY-NYSIEB site which will embed the videos from YouTube. Ideally, users would subscribe to the YouTube channel and use their podcasting app of choice (iTunes, Podcast Addict, etc) to download the series, so they might watch the videos on the go.

  • A set of personas

Prof. Ana Adjunct teaches courses in bilingual education at several of the CUNY Schools of Education. On an average day, she traverses the borough of Brooklyn to visit the undergraduate student teachers that she supervises at their placement sites — elementary schools which serve sizable populations of emergent bilingual students. In the evening, she teaches a foundations of bilingual education course to in-service teachers who are completing their bilingual extensions or TOEFL certifications. While her class is generally theory-heavy, she wants to make sure that she connects theory and practice so her students feel like her course is relevant to what they do every day.

Ms. “Busy” Bee is a new 5th grade teacher at PS 123 in Queens. She came to the profession through the NYC Teaching Fellows program after quitting her job in marketing. She has strong classroom management skills, but struggles to truly involve the students who have just arrived from foreign countries. The students speak Bengali, Spanish, or Chinese at home. Ms. B took a few years of high school Spanish, but has no familiarity with Bengali or Chinese. She spends a great deal of time outside of school lesson planning. Two nights per week, she goes to classes at Queens College so she can earn her Master’s degree and permanent certification as an English as a New Language teacher. She does most of her reading for class on the subway and bus between home, school, and the college.

Samantha Sophomore is an undergraduate in her last year at CUNY-Lehman College School of Education. She also works part-time as an assistant at a health clinic in the Bronx where she frequently interprets for Spanish-speaking patients. Inspired by a teacher she had as a public high school student in the Bronx, she decided to go into teaching, and she enrolled at Lehman to obtain her early childhood degree. She is just beginning her first semester of fieldwork, during which she is expected to participate as a teaching assistant in the classroom of her cooperating teacher. Because she is bilingual, she is often asked to work with small groups of 4th graders who are newcomers from Spanish-speaking countries. Her fieldwork supervisor has been coaching her to strategically use students’ home languages as a resource during her small group sessions.

  • A use case scenario (where would someone find your tool/thing and how would they use it). Keep it short.

A professor teaching a foundations of bilingual education course at a CUNY school heard from a colleague at another campus that she has been assigning videos about translanguaging to spur on discussion about some of the theoretical readings she normally assigns. The professor accessed the site from her laptop, watched the videos, and decided to include them on her syllabus. She showed her students how to access the site and videos. She expects the students — who are all in-service teachers — to watch 2 videos per week for 3 weeks. They spend time in class discussing how they would adapt the strategies covered in the video to their own classrooms, and making connections to the theoretical readings. As a midterm project, the professor expects the teachers in the class to try implementing one of the strategies covered in the videos or in the CUNY-NYSIEB Translanguaging guide. She expects teachers to write a short paper reporting back about how their intervention worked in their classroom and to connect their experiences to the theories covered in the course.

Teachers will most likely watch the videos on mobile devices, and many of them will do so from public transportation.

  • How you will make the full fledged version. This is your “ideal world” version that fulfills all of your visions and fantasies (what tools you will use, how you will get them, how confident you are that all the moving parts will work together, etc)

In the later part of the Spring semester of 2016, I will continue coaching and building relationships with the teachers who I work with as a research assistant for CUNY-NYSIEB. I will ask a teachers whether he or she would feel comfortable sitting for an interview about integrating translanguaging strategies into their practice. I will have a preliminary conversation with the teacher that volunteers to find out which translanguaging strategies are most helpful for them, and ask them for student work samples. Based on those conversations, I will decide on the topic and “story arc” for the first video. I will storyboard it and script it out as a pilot. I will ask my colleagues at CUNY-NYSIEB and in ITP Core 2 for feedback on the storyboard.

I would borrow video equipment (camera and wireless lapel mic) from the individual that CUNY-NYSIEB has hired to do audio-visual work in the past, or from the GC’s Media Lab. I would visit the school and record b-roll and establishing shots, and an interview with the teacher. I will encourage the teacher to speak in full sentences, to “show, not tell” and may even have the teacher walk through or dramatize certain activities. Since students cannot be filmed, we will have to be creative in representing them.

I will request a workstation in the Media Lab for editing, and will use editing software available on those computers. I will request support from colleagues of mine who do video editing (like Sakina from ITP Core 2) as I get the editing process started. I own a high quality audio recorder, which I can use to record voice-over narration for the videos. I can use music / sound effects from websites like the Free Music Archive.

I would upload the video to YouTube and create a simple page on what will be the new CUNY-NYSIEB website (currently being redesigned using WordPress), in order to showcase the video. The video would be posted along with a link to the page of the PDF guide where a more thorough write-up of the strategy can be found.

Once I have a better idea for the kind of work that goes into creating one of the videos, I will have a better sense for my capacity in the Fall of 2016 — will I produce just 3 additional videos? Would I be able to produce more? Would I need to scale the project back? I would continue borrowing the video equipment from the same sources, and would continue tapping the network of CUNY-NYSIEB teachers so I might have content for the next videos. If I can get one or two teachers to provide content for the rest of the video, that would be ideal.

CUNY-NYSIEB is changing its core activities for next year. While it will still support efforts to work with emergent bilingual students across the state, it will be rebranded with a new name, and will realize its vision by creating materials for schools which are planning to open new bilingual programs. I will request that under the new IRB for the program, we are permitted to film teachers talking about their practice for videos that will be distributed publicly. My videos could be covered by that IRB. I imagine I will need to include language describing what we plan to do with the recordings of teachers in consent forms.

  • Your assessment of how much time this will take, and how much of the skills you currently know and what you would have to learn.

I am confident in my skills as a storyboarder and interviewer, and have strong enough relationships with teachers at certain schools to expect that they would be willing collaborators on this project. While I have edited video using iMovie and Adobe Premiere before, I would need a refresher on editing software. I am less confident in my abilities as a videographer. I would want these videos to look professional, have strong production value with simple but powerful text graphics, and internal consistency. I think about videos like this one from the Teaching Channel (https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/teacher-time-out) as a model, though I would not be recording lessons in progress, and would like to produce something with a faster, more edgy pace. I struggle to think about how I might get at the high production value that I have in mind, but I have a wide network of people I can tap into for support and advice.

  • How you will make the stripped down version. The stripped down version is the minimally viable product. It is the most *bare bones* version to prove that what you are trying to get at is viable. (what tools you will use, how you will get them, how confident you are that all the moving parts will work together, etc)

I have consulted my sister who works for a company that produces web videos and pilot TV series, who asked me what my “budget” was. When I told her I didn’t have a budget, she seemed concerned. To make the videos I have in mind — quick editing, edgy, good sound and video — she suggested I would want to have a 2 camera setup, to hire an editor, and/or a graphic designer/animator etc. For this, I believe the “stripped down” version of what I want is more likely what I will make. The stripped down version would be of lower production quality. The most important thing for me is that the videos have strong sound and video, and express the content in an accessible, engaging way for teachers.

Alternatively, the stripped down version could be an audio podcast. I would interview the teachers about their work with emergent bilinguals, ensuring they told visual stories and painted “word pictures” for listeners about the strategies they used. We could use pseudonyms to describe students, or describe them hypothetically. I could mix in ambient sounds captured at the schools and use music from the Free Sound Archive. The podcasts could still be assigned to students, and might be slightly longer and more conversational than the videos would be — from 6 to 8 minutes. I could package the audio podcasts alongside high quality photographs and text on a simple website.

If I am not able to find teachers who are interested in sharing their work, I could interview teacher educators with whom I have strong relationships, who typically collect student work during their visits to schools and can recount what teachers do in their classrooms to support students using Translanguaging skills.

  • Your assessment of how much time this will take, and how much of the skills you currently know and what you would have to learn.

I have produced videos before, and can imagine that if I am satisfied with a lower production quality that I will be able to accomplish them in the allotted time. I have a great deal of experience recording and editing audio podcasts, and own a professional recorder. It is easier to get high quality sound than it is to attempt both sound and video.  The “let down” factor of doing an audio podcast is that I wouldn’t learn very many new tech skills by completing this project.

Sample script for one of the videos…

  • I’m at PS 126 in Chinatown, with Ryan. He’s a 6th grade ELA teacher. A new student, Y, arrived at the school from China last June. Ryan had struggled to include Y in classroom activities. So we started coaching him. And now he’s been trying to bring in more of Y’s home language practices to support him — even though Ryan doesn’t speak Chinese.

Episode list:

  • Getting to know the student
  • Multilingual culminating products
  • Home language graphic organizers
  • Student language brokers
  • Use of technology
  • Assessment and next steps

Examples:

Bells and Whistles:

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/literature-circles
But with this kind of edgy feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=33&v=KIophehT2oM

Stripped down versions: 

Audio and Images: http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/1-in-8-million/#/christian_hubert

or

Just audio: https://soundcloud.com/saravogel/youth-from-quer-taro-tutors-1

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