Make Writing and Learning
Meaningful for Basic Writing
Students
South Texas College
McAllen, Texas
Karen Armitano, Ph.D.
Virginia Norquest, M.A.
Jinhao Wang, Ed.D.
NISOD International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence
May 30-June 2, 2010
Austin, Texas
Literature Review
-- Baker, E., Hope, L., and Karandjeff, K. (2009). Contextualized Teaching
& Learning: A Faculty Primer
-- Defines the concept of contextualized teaching and learning
(CTL) as relating subject matter in a course to meaningful
situations that have relevance to students’ lives in the context of
motivation theory, problem-centered learning, social learning
theory, and brain research.
-- Shows programs that focus on employing CTL to support learners’
basic English, math, or English as a Second Language skills.
2
Literature Review
--Gillespie, M. K. (2002). “EFF Research Principle: A Contextualized
Approach to Curriculum and Instruction”
--Defines contextualized curriculum and instruction as relating reallife contexts to teaching and learning in light of cognitive research
and transfer of learning
--Aims at skills and knowledge learners need to perform tasks
meaningful to learners in real life
--Focuses on application rather than possession of knowledge and
skills
3
Literature Review
--Price, D.V. and Roberts, B. (2009). Improving student success by
strengthening Developmental Education in community colleges: The
role of state policy
-- Recommends various ways to strengthen Developmental Education.
Among them include the following:
•
“New ways of contextualizing curriculum by integrating academic
skills with occupational programs” (p. 3).
•
“Alternative delivery of programs (e.g., Career Pathways, bridges)
to accelerate the transition from developmental education to
college-level courses” (p. 3).
4
South Texas College

Located in the Rio Grande Valley

College facts
• Fall 2009: 27,132 students
• Spring 2010: 26,309
• 95% Hispanic

Developmental Courses: English, Reading, and Math

Three Developmental English levels
• Fall 2009--71 (536), 81(605), 91(425) = 1,593
• Scheduled twice weekly/2 hours/1hour lab
5
Prior Developmental English 71
Curriculum

Isolated writing topics

Isolated from a community

Isolated from other developmental courses

Isolated from academic courses
6
Gates Grant for STC
Developmental Courses

Integrates academic writing skills

Integrates academic research

Integrates college communities

Integrates developmental departments

Integrates an academic discipline
7
Inter-Contextualization in
Developmental English, Reading,
and Math

Across developmental departments
• reading and math assignments in
writing
• writing and math assignments in
reading
• reading and writing assignments in
math
8
Intra-Contextualization within
Developmental English

Within English 71
• writing assignments--journals
and writing projects
• reading assignments--2-3 sociology
articles
• math assignments--statistical input on
a graph
9
Syllabus: Developmental English 71
•
Overview of Syllabus (pp. 2-12)
• know self
• know community
•
Overview of Gates Project
• illustration essay project--Week 6-12 (pp. 6-11)
• theme--The Value of a College Education
• situation blurb--(pp. 13-14)
10
Contextualizing Sociology—Why?

Part of core curriculum

Identifies groups of people in society
• e.g., haves and have nots in education

Places individuals in community groups
• e.g., college community, family community

Addresses social change
• e.g., first generation college students
11
Using Sociology Textbook

Textbook display to class (p. 15)

Printed excerpts from text
• education chapter plus graphs
• special arrangements with publisher

Digitized images from the text on
classroom computer
12
Contextualizing Reading
via Sociology Articles

Instructor chooses 2-3 scholarly sociology
articles

Articles relate to topic about a college
education’s value (“Latinos and
Education” pp. 16-17)

Student downloads linked sociological
readings from syllabus on website (p. 18)
13
Writing Journals

Student reads choice of 2 sociology articles

Student writes summary/response
journals to articles
 instructions for journal (p. 19-20)
 sample journal entry (p. 21)
 other readings (p. 22)
14
Researching Actively!

Essay Topic: The Value of a College Education

Student finds 3 interviewees
• classmate or someone currently in college
• faculty/staff with a degree
• family member with no college

Student asks interview questions (pp. 23-24)
15
Let’s Do It!

Ask a “shoulder partner”
interview questions (pp. 23-24)

Take brief notes

Be a good interviewer

Switch

Total time allotted---3-4 minutes
16
Contextualizing Math
Student administers survey to
interviewees (p. 25)
 Class tallies results of survey (p. 26)

Males
1. llll
Females
Total
=4
1. llI
Total
=3
2. IIIIII Total
=6
2. II
Total
=2
Total # Males
= 10
Total # Females = 5
Option: Instructor tallies all classes’ results
(pp. 27-28)
 Student creates graph from data

17
Let’s Do It!

Turn to survey (p. 25)

Answer Survey Question #1(rank your
completion of educational goals)

Tally responses: raise hands (p. 26)
18
Let’s Do It!

Create graph via Word 2007

follow step-by-step PowerPoint (pp. 29-32)

input data (pp. 27-28)

save graph
• copy/paste graph into essay (p. 33)
• meet Dave on YouTube (p. 34)
19
Creating Graph from Data
20
Organizing Interview Responses
• Identify main ideas of interviews (p. 35)
• Use index cards (p. 35)
• Examine thesis samples (p. 36)
21
Let’s Do It!
INDEX CARDS (p. 35)
Take out large index card in packet
 Draw 3 columns
 Choose a heading for top line from main ideas

Family attitudes towards college
Name
Question # Quote or phrase
Mary
4&5
“Quit school at age 14---I
had to work.”
Jose
8
Mom said needed
master’s.
22
Writing the Essay

Write thesis (p. 36)

Read sample essay (pp. 37-38)

Fill in outline (pp. 39-40)
• essay structure--lead in (p. 41), intro, thesis, body
paragraphs, conclusion, full circle
• draft essay using outline and index cards
• insert graph
• explain graph in sentence form (p. 42; p. 38 C)
23
Using Quotes
• Correctly punctuate quotes (mechanics p. 43)
• insert quotes for support (37-A)
• Add sociology article quote to text (pp. 44-45)
• insert article quote for support (p. 37-B)
24
Reviewing and Revising
Self-evaluate with rubric (pp. 46-47)
 Go for tutoring (+5 points)
 Revise and correct (peer editing)
 Rewrite
 Fill out personal writing log (p. 48)
 Publish
 Student comments (p. 49)

25
So What?

What are the advantages of a
contextualized curriculum?
• Engages the students with relevant topics, e.g., self,
community
• Teaches essay structure and research process
• Transitions students to college level classes
• Challenges students to think outside the box
• Develops critical thinking skills
• Creates developmental English curriculum of substance
• Unites developmental departments via topics
• Links developmental with academic departments
26
What’s Next?
Developmental Courses
Fall 2009: Contextualize sociology
 Fall 2010: Contextualize history
 Fall 2011: Contextualize another academic
course (e.g., psychology, government,
biology)

27
Faculty Perceptions
of the Contextualized
Curriculum
1.
Teaching Journal
2.
Themes about what went well:
Interaction in and out of the classroom
(interviewing others, etc.)
Collaboration on tallying the data from the
survey
Creation of a graph
Realization of other points of view
a.
b.
c.
d.
28
Faculty Perceptions of the
Contextualized Curriculum
(continued)
3.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
Themes about student challenges:
Juggling multiple parts of the project (reading, journaling,
interviewing, surveys, graphs, essay)
Handling the amount of reading and the level of difficulty
of the college articles and textbook
Deciding where to insert the graph and how to use
sentences to frame the use of graph
Quoting secondary sources
Using computers for non-traditional students
Feeling tired and overwhelmed/some couldn’t turn in
work on time
29
Faculty Perceptions of the
Contextualized Curriculum
(continued)
4.
Themes about faculty challenges:
Not enough time to finish entire curriculum
b. Difficulty in providing enough one-on-one help and
repetition of instruction
c. Problems with copying and using models from college level
textbook due to copyright issues)
a.
30
Student Perceptions about the
Contextualized Curriculum
1.
Student Reflection Paper
2.
Themes about student perceived challenges:
a.
Fitting the graph into essay
Putting information from survey to graph
Fitting quotes into essay
Finding someone to interview
Feeling nervous about asking questions to interviewees
Feeling not enough time
Gathering all information, sorting information to make
sense, and organizing the essay
Writing “correctly”
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.
31
Student Perceptions about the
Contextualized Curriculum
(continued)
3.
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
Themes about what students learned:
How others value a college education
How to interview
How to do research/how to quote
How to make a graph and use it in the essay
How to compose an essay (use thesis statement,
examples, clarity, organization, and full circle)
Benefited from a step-by-step approach
32
Recommendations When
Contextualizing
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Use step-by-step approach
Use repetition
Use modeling
Use PowerPoint presentation
Provide handouts (how to insert graphs, etc.)
Provide content area textbook (sociology book in this
case)
Provide technical support to teachers and students
Provide lab time
Allot enough time for the project (6 weeks needed for
this project)
Structure faculty collaboration on lesson planning
33
References
Baker, E., Hope, L., & Karandjeff, K. (2009). Contextualized Teaching & Learning:
A Faculty Primer. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from
www.cccbsi.org/Websites/basicskills/Images/CTL.pdf
Gillespie, M. K. (2002). “EFF research principle: A contextualized approach to
curriculum and instruction.” (EFF Research to Practice Note 3). Jessup,
MD: ED Pubs. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from
http://www.nifl.gov/lincs/collections/eff/masters/03research-practice.pdf
Price, D.V. & Roberts, B. (2009). Improving student success by strengthening
Developmental Education in community colleges: The role of state policy.
(Policy Brief). Retrieved April 3, 2010, from the Working Poor Families
Project’s Website:
http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/pdfs/WPFP_policybrief_winter0809.pdf
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Slide 1