Experiential Module Reflective Essay

For my experiential module, I designed a series of projects based on the “Linsanity” documentary as a supplementary curriculum for elementary Mandarin teachers in grades 2-5. My final product is a teacher guide explaining how to teach/guide/direct each of the four projects. In addition, I created several materials that are necessary to complete the final tasks.

My inspiration for the curriculum design comes from two courses in the MAFLT program, namely 807 on Teaching Methods, and FLT 815 on Teaching Culture. Both were extremely influential in my development as a teacher. In 807 I discovered the many different methods available to foreign language teachers, including project-based learning (PBL). This method really appeals to me as a language teacher because it integrates Mandarin with variety of school subjects and is largely student-directed. In my culture course I learned about the processes that individuals must go through when immersed in a new culture in order to develop intercultural attitudes. I really believe that if our students do not learn to develop intercultural attitudes in the foreign language classroom, they are unlikely to develop them anywhere else. The opportunity for immersion in Chinese culture is lacking for most of our students here in the U.S. However, I want to show with my supplementary curriculum that students can develop these attitudes by examining case studies in culture. Specifically, the “Linsanity” documentary examines stereotypes of Asian American culture and my teaching guide helps teachers teach students to recognize them and compare them to stereotypes of their own culture. Additionally, throughout the series of projects, students will create a personal culture map, conduct interviews, create a plan for a skill they want to develop and introduce their future selves to the class.

I found planning and designing these projects to be very challenging. In my head, I was able to work out the processes that would help students to break down cultural stereotypes. However, articulating these processes in focused, language performance goal-oriented projects was much easier said than done. I knew how I wanted them to think, but I did not know what they should do to articulate their understanding of the content. My mentor, Dr. Amanda Temples gave me a task planning template to help me think about what I wanted my students to accomplish by the end of each project. However, each project spanned several days and required layers of pre-tasks, main-tasks, and post-tasks. At that time I began to feel tired and overwhelmed by the scope of the project. It was at this time that my mentor introduced a customized planning template that would provide an overview of project content and goals. As I filled in this template with the final products to be completed by the students at the end of each project, I began to feel confident about the potential impact of my curriculum. With these goals clearly articulated on paper, I was able to complete the writing of the teacher guide. I believe my vision was realized in the end. I am proud of the work I produced and would be interested in presenting it for feedback at a teacher’s professional development conference.

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