Our curriculum design project, “Opening Opportunities with the XO Laptops: A Workshop for Teachers in Hinche, Haiti,” is focused on providing training and instruction to teachers at St. Andre’s school in the areas of technology, English language, and pedagogical strategies. Using our Needs Analysis and relevant literature to inform our design, we have fabricated a workshop that will be implemented over the January term by a team of Monterey Institute TESOL students.
Graves (2010) defines curriculum as “a dynamic system of interconnected, interrelated and overlapping processes,” with the three processes including “planning, enacting and evaluating,” (p. 49). It can be said that all parts of our curriculum are dependent on one another, from the ecology of the school to the implementation of individual lesson objectives. Based on our class readings, we employed a backward design, which essentially means crafting a curriculum “with the end in mind,” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005, p. 338). A results-driven approach forces designers and instructors to consider what students will be able to do at the end of the instruction, rather than how they will do it. Three stages are presented by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), which are “Identify desired results,” (define the goals of the curriculum), “Determine acceptable evidence” (i.e., thinking “like an assessor,” and considering what students will need to produce), and “Plan learning experiences and instruction,” (the actual lesson plans) (p. 18).
In order to form our unit goals, we conducted a needs analysis, which focuses on three points addressed by Nation and Macalister (2010), which are lacks, wants, and necessities (pp. 24-25). As mentioned in the needs analysis, there are many material lacks that we had to take into consideration when designing our lessons, which essentially boil down to limited electricity and a lack of English proficiency on the part of the teachers. “Wants” were determined by the stakeholders of the project (who are identified as the parishioners of St. Dunstan’s church in Carmel, California, and the expressed desire for English instruction by the principal of St. Andre’s). “Necessities” are what the teachers must understand in order to fulfill the requirements of the school (which are the use of the XO laptops and English language instruction). Because we also know that the teachers are untrained, we determined another necessity to be the tutelage of pedagogical theory. This needs analysis informed our goals, which directly coincide with what we want the teachers to be able to do.
Our essential questions and enduring understandings are focused around the three main components of the curriculum (XO laptop literacy, pedagogical strategies and English language instruction). We also introduce the teachers to critical pedagogy by challenging their cultural learning lens, and presenting students as knowledge-contributors in the classroom. Possibly the most obvious and tangible evidence of this will may be when students are more technologically literate than the teachers.
Our syllabus is content-based, because it requires the Teachers to perform tasks that have content aims (which are technology and pedagogical strategies) and require English language support. Lyster (2011) argues that this is the best way to teach a language, because it “is designed to integrate language and cognitive development” (p. 611). Lightbown and Spada (2006) call this the “two-for-one” approach, because learners are introduced to language and content at the same time. This contextualizes the language being learned, and ensures that learners focus on form in order to understand the bigger picture. In our lessons, XO laptop and teacher strategy instruction are presented in conjunction with English language concepts. Additionally, the teachers will be helping their students to perform these tasks, which will hopefully reinforce their own understanding as well. We maintain that this is the best approach to teach all three of these concepts, for which it was only appropriate to create a content-based syllabus.
The time frame of our workshop provides about 18 total hours of instruction, which are to be delivered over the course of two days. Our reason for this is that because the teachers at this school only earn about $2-3 per day, they need as much time as possible to work. This instruction can be provided over a weekend, or broken up into several hour-long sessions in order to work around their schedule.
On the whole, we attempted to create a very flexible unit based on the simple fact that this workshop is unprecedented. Once the team that will administer the workshop arrives to Hinche, they will better be able to conduct an informal, on-site needs analysis and determine what needs to be modified to best instruct the teachers. The outcome of this curriculum will be a more pedagogically aware and technologically literate English language faculty at St. Andre’s school in Hinche, Haiti.
Graves, K. (2000). Designing language courses: A guide for teachers. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
Lightbown, P.M., & Spada, N. (2006). How languages are learned (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lyster, R. (2011). Content-based second language teaching. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning, Vol. 2 (pp. 611-630). New York: Routledge.
Nation, I.S.P. & Macalister, J. (2010). Language curriculum design. New York: Routledge.
Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Columbus, OH: Pearson Education, Ltd.