On May 2, a couple of us from WIC attended the Penn Language Center’s 8th Annual Showcase and Teaching Award Program. Each year, language educators in SAS apply to the PLC for SAS Language Teaching Innovation Grants to enhance course content and, therefore, students’ language-learning experiences in the classroom. The results of these grants were showcased at Friday’s event, and a panel of judges chose two projects as this year’s winners.
We were so impressed with the Showcase presentations. The talks ranged from flipping the classroom with online lectures to project-based learning to re-developing online language placement exams. Instructors made meaningful use of technology tools to enhance the language-learning experience. For example, Jacqueline Dougherty in French Studies used basic HTML code in Canvas to strengthen beginning students’ vocabulary when hovering over an unfamiliar word. Christina Frei in a German course used project-based learning with language and culture quests through Choosito!, a search platform that filters by language-level and content, created by Penn faculty member Eleni Miltsakaki.
The Showcase winners highlighted at the end of the event won a grand prize of $1000. This year there was a tie! Mercia Flannery in Portuguese Studies won for her class project that involved creating and producing an online journal called Saudade. The other winners, Maria Paredes Fernández and Kara Moranski of Hispanic Studies, created an interactive online course calendar through Canvas. Their goal was to provide a “one-stop shopping” experience for busy college students juggling beginning Spanish with many other courses.
The PLC has also created a special certificate program for language educators wishing to use technology in the classroom to create an online, blended, or flipped environment. To receive a certificate, instructors must attend 6 of our WICshops on technology topics, among other requirements. We really enjoyed working with Ed Dixon, the PLC’s Technology Director, in coordinating our WICshops with the certificate program. For example, many language educators attended both my Voice-over PowerPoint and Working with Video in PowerPoint workshops over the past two semesters. One frequent flyer was Dr. Helen McFie Simone of the Center for Italian Studies. Helen applied basic voice-over narration in PowerPoint to “flip” the classroom with the theme of “Comings and Goings.” Helen’s students would engage with grammar and vocabulary, watch her online lecture video, load their own videos onto Canvas, and then talk in class about their experiences with the “comings and goings” theme – what they did everyday, where they ate, how their routines were similar and different to those of other students. An added challenge of this exercise involved using both present and past tense to describe their routines. With such a simple tool as PowerPoint, Helen was able to transform textbook material into an interactive learning experience for students. I especially enjoyed working with Helen and other instructors, whether in group sessions or one-on-one, as we explored using PowerPoint for online material.
We enjoyed the opportunity to work with so many language educators this past year, and it was wonderful to see how our WICshops help educators develop their courses. Congratulations to all who participated in the PLC’s Showcase and Teaching Awards!