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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Rhonda Petree An intentional approach to syllabus design for EAP courses October 2019

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an intentional approach to syllabus

design for EAP courses and it's

presented by Rhonda Petrie and I'm Simon

Wright and I'll be moderating the

session today with my colleague Eve

Richmond so during the webinar you'll be

able to hear Rhonda and see her slides

but you won't be able to see Rhonda


you won't need a microphone and if you

do want to ask a question just have a

look down there for the questions box

and what I will do is put some questions

at the end of the webinar and in the in

the question and answer session - Rhonda

so oh yeah you might you might write

questions during the webinar but we

can't really respond to all of them so

we'll do that at the end and as I

mentioned a recording of the webinar

will be on the website in a few days

time and also we'll send you an email

with the certificate of attendance so

I'm very pleased to welcome under as

today's presenter Rhonda Petrie has been

working in the field of English language

teaching since 1999 when she was a

teacher in Kazakhstan she's taught

English to adults and school-age

students in public and private settings

in the US and during the 2018-19

academic year she was US Fulbright

Scholar and a visiting lecturer at Nava

College of the University of Tartu in

Estonia she's currently a lecturer of

TESOL and the AP courses at the

University of Wisconsin River Falls

where she also founded the academic

English language program she conducts

teacher training education training

sessions and is a frequent presenter at

professional conferences so if I only

you over to you Rhonda hello thank you

very much Simon right thanks everyone

for joining me today for the talk on how

to design a syllabus for EAP courses

today I plan to say a few words about

teaching values and course objectives

I'll share a planning tool and

activities with you and then finally

show a completed

course calendar I don't know about you

but when I see a course syllabi that

contains information like this week one

capitalization errors read chapter two

week two dangling modifiers complete

horn I'm not very inspired or motivated

and I can't imagine that students are

very inspired or motivated either I

believe creating a syllabus and

subsequently designing a course is a

creative and intellectual endeavor and

the way in which we present information

to our students can foster interest in

the course material and encourage deep

learning when instructors create courses

in design syllabi we have the

opportunity to demonstrate our

philosophy of teaching and to represent

what we value in the teaching and

learning environment among other things

I value aligning course activities with

learning outcomes creating a

student-centered learning environment

providing ample practice opportunities

through routine exercises and engagement

with the course material and providing a

variety of ways for students to

demonstrate their learning through

formative and summative assessments so a

question to ask yourself is what are

your teaching values as you approach

syllabus design how to start planning a

course well the first step out to be

obtaining the learning objectives or

outcomes for the course will be teaching

what do the students need to be able to

do by the end of the instructional

period what I have for you on the screen

are the course objectives for an

academic writing course that I'm

currently teaching in the next few

slides I'll walk you through how I

created a course syllabus based on these

learning objectives to begin I create a

planning tool like this for myself I

list each of the outcomes in the left

column I have two listed here then I

have columns for teaching and learning

materials where I list specific chapters

in textbook

or guest speakers or videos etc the next

column practice activities is where I

list the routine activities such as

exercises and textbooks or routine

readings or writing activities and the

final column titled how will students

demonstrate their learning is where I

list the evaluations or assessments

these might be things like it essays or

exams or projects using a tool like this

is useful because it can help you make

sure that you are indeed incorporating

all of the course learning outcomes into

your teaching additionally this tool can

help you be more dynamic and creative

with your planning you can evaluate

which parts of a textbook or which

materials are useful for a specific

learning outcome and plan accordingly

you can also consider creative ways for

students to demonstrate their learning

let me walk you through this planning

tool a bit more we know that language

learners benefit from a variety of rich

input so it's useful to consider the

range of options for the materials we

can use in our teaching the materials

might be certain parts of text books or

videos or TED Talks or readings

including books or novels or short

stories or speakers or other authentic

sources we also know that students need

a lot of practice opportunities in order

to master new skills and it's very

helpful to establish predictable

routines for students to do this

practice when we build in routine

activities such as weekly quizzes weekly

quizzes or journal writing homework

completion or discussion groups students

know what to expect and can get to the

habit of preparing well to do their work

I feel strongly about providing many

practice activities to students because

we know how important practice is we

know that readers need eight to twelve

encounters with the word

to remember or to be able to use it we

know that language learners need to

understand close to 98% of what they

read in order to comprehend them the

information and we know that practice

testing can lead to better results on

exams and tests once we have identified

materials and considered practice

activities we need to determine how

students will demonstrate their learning

I really believe that variety is

important some students are going to

going to be best able to demonstrate

their learning through an exam while

others might be best able to show their

learning through an oral conversation or

a visual poster part a visual poster

project for example I aim to incorporate

one personal research project or project

of some sort into each course I teach in

order to give students the opportunity

to newark to explore a topic in depth

and become something of an expert on

that topic personal research and

project-based learning can be very

motivating and meaningful for our

students now let's look at some

materials and evaluation tools in the

different skill areas for reading

courses of course we can use textbooks

we could also use novels or graphic or

verse novels we can incorporate

nonfiction materials online or through

print and our practice and learning

activities may include quizzes just for

vocabulary comprehension or tests we may

also engage students in book clubs or

readers theatre or have them complete

book trailers for reading projects

they've done my colleagues and I have

used the small comm website to create

book reviews after our students complete

a reading project the students work in

small groups to read a book using the

literature circle technique

then working a group to create book

reviews this websites more calm as a

free user-friendly tool that has worked

really well for this type of project in

speaking and listening courses the

materials may include text books or TED


we may do conversational analysis or

situational dialogue analysis and the

practice and production activities may

include things like again quizzes

especially for vocabulary we may also be

doing interviews students may conduct

interviews perhaps alone or on a

one-to-one basis students may be engaged

in speaking and listening groups or do

speeches presentations or conduct role

plays recently I created a speaking and

listening project based on TED Talks

and for this project students met with

in small groups in a discussion group

for a certain period of time to discuss

a TED talk that the group had chosen

each person in that group had a specific

role role to to guide their

contributions to the discussion the

project was designed to help students

improve their oral fluency skills and to

assist them as they learn new words or

phrases as they connected ideas to other

concepts and increase their awareness of

pronunciation features these bolded

points on your screen are all of the

they were the learning outcomes for this

particular course so I incorporated

those into this learning into this

project for my students in this

particular project the students were in

these groups as I mentioned and they

each had a specific role there was a

discussion leader a word wizard creative

connector and a pronunciation prowess

this was an oral communications course

after all and so to prepare for the

discussion students needed to watch a

TED talk

analyzed the transcript and complete a

particular roll sheet the rolls changed

each week and the students needed to

complete these forms before the class

meetings during the class meetings the

students met in a group and they went

through their roll sheets beginning with

the discussion leader and they had a

discussion and then after the discussion

they completed a discussion briefing

sheet this project was really focused on

student choice as a group they decided

which TED Talks to watch and analyze

from a pre-selected group that I had

chosen for them and then the work was

scaffolded in a way that required

student speech to be prepared for

discussion and then ready to talk and it

worked really well in that regard in

grammar courses the materials that we

may use include could we include text

books or authentic sources signs around

campus or in the community or other

websites and the the practice materials

and other activities we would use in the

courses may include quizzes or tests may

be writing journals students may create

posters or grammar newsletters or

handbooks in this regard and often I try

to include poster projects and I've done

this with many grammar courses - poster

projects allow students who think

visually or have creative talents to

shine in ways that they don't always get

to do in a traditional essay or test

situation and posters can be created to

fit a wide variety of learning

objectives and and to have the students

use the language both in a print format

and an aural format and students can be

really proud of the work they've done in

a visual setting like this for some

students it works really well in writing

courses the materials we may use may

obviously include ESL or ESL textbooks

or other university course books

or journal articles I often like to

incorporate other materials other

University course materials into the

writing courses so that students we have

an opportunity to become familiar with

writing styles or genres outside of or

very authentic writing and styles and

from different fields and the activities

that we can do in writing courses

obviously include quizzes again but we

might be doing writing journals writing

essays giving presentations doing write

research projects creating academic

posters or compiling portfolios in

academic writing courses it can be very

valuable to have students complete

research projects and compile their

research into an academic poster rather

than a traditional essay I've often

hosted many poster fairs after students

complete academic posters so students

can share their written and research

orally in addition to a kind of a

traditional written essay format these

many academic poster fairs also give

students experience with an authentic

professional academic activity and and

again once students have done an

activity like this for the first time

the next time that they're doing perhaps

undergraduate research or graduate

school presentations if that's the case

they've already have some basis of

experience with this and that can be a

real confidence booster and help

students shine in these areas

so as we go along gathering gathering

materials considering a variety of

materials to incorporate into our

courses and identifying practice

activities I I feel them in this

instructor planning tool to go along so

I can monitor that I have that specific

materials are meeting specific outcomes

and then I'm able to see that the the

practice activities aligned with the how

students will demonstrate their learning

so I go along and fill in this chart

until you just click in the middle of

the slide is people are saying they cut

the toolbars blocking the bottom aha so

if you just click in the middle of the

slide then you can tab through sorry

about that

yep give me just a second

that's it you should be able to if you

just let tap in the middle some I should

disappear there you go that's it sorry

thanks we're sorry about that I should

have had that going all along sorry

about that

there we go so here we go now we can see

how the instructor planning tool gets

filled in as we go along with the

gathering of the materials and analyzing

practice activities and considering the

different ways that students can

demonstrate their learning until we

eventually have a chart like this a very

user friendly chart and in this case you

can see the I've used my instructor

planning tool to create a student

friendly version which is intended to to

be distributed to the students so I've

got dates in the units which I fill in

later and you'll see I've changed the

materials into how how

to prepare for class meetings so it's

really focus for the sent students how

to prepare for class meetings how to

practice your learning and then finally

how to prove your learning and I like

using this prepare practice prove

technique here so that the the emphasis

is on the students and what and their

responsibility for being prepared for

class meetings how they need to practice

for their class meetings and how to

practice their learning and then finally

what they need to do to prove that they

have learned the material so the student

friendly version is distributed to the

students like this and this is how I've

gone from working from learning

objectives into creating a student

friendly version for the students so

intentional syllabus design really

occurs when course activities are

aligned with the learning objectives and

presented in a student-centered learning

environment and fashion where students

have ample practice opportunities and

that there are a variety of ways for

students to demonstrate their learning

thank you very much and welcome

questions if you may have them okay

thank you very much yes a lot of

information in there that was was really

really good and I'm just having a look

down the questions that we have but

please do enter in any anything else

that you have that you've got let me

just pick on something I've been asked

so far just to start us off I think some

people were saying there were some

really really good examples there are

some great activities and some very good

ones for the higher level students but

would you have any advice on what you

could use with lower level students

particularly sort of a one level or

really basic students sure you know it I

think often it's best first to think as

to how we can

perhaps modify the content for our

variety of learners not always modifying

like well so much the output we can

really modify a variety of those region

areas right and so for example the the

in for reading I particularly like to

use use graphic novels or these verse

novels for students at a variety of

reading levels verse novels are like

poetry on a page if you're not familiar

with them it's V ER SE and what's really

appealing about vers novels is that

there's a quite a lot of white space on

a paper on the page of a book but yet

the students read through an entire book

and I think there's real value in our

students having done that to have read a

complete book so I can't say enough

about verse novels in addition to to

graphic novels but a variety of websites

also provide information and like

non-fiction news sources or news

articles add a variety of levels and

those are the type of other types of

ways that we can differentiate for

students at different levels thank you a

couple of well a number of questions and

is a big question of how to motivate

students the activities that you would

use for that but I guess a lot of what

you've done and it is intentionally

there because it is motivational but

have you got any any favorite activities

and anything you would suggest there

just on that topic of how to motivate

the student yeah it is a really

important question and I would say Joyce

offering students as as much choice as

reasonably possible is helpful and in in

that regards if it's if you're working

with TED Talks for example I've often

taken like him the top 25 most popular

TED Talks and presented those to this

students and allowed them to choose

which TED Talks they're most interested

in right so there's a choice and the

students then have some ownership over

that project for grammar courses

it can be somewhat motivating if

students can like demonstrate their

learning through a poster project for

example explaining parts of a sentence

adjectives or noun phrase azat different

things but if they can have a blank

piece of paper and it's really no sir

it's really satisfying I believe to

allow students to express themselves

through their artwork or their their

drawing abilities or their painting

abilities as long as they're still

meeting the objectives if it's a way

that students can choose to to show what

they've learned that can be motivating

so it's it's really about choice in

terms of motivation okay thank you know

there's lots of questions how much this

is great question here how would you

integrate feedback into the syllabus

both for students and teachers


feedback is obviously a crucial aspect

of what we're doing both as we're

providing that feedback to students and

in getting it themselves so if a student

for example is for an oral

communications course if they're doing a

presentation perhaps to a small group or

to a large group of students having

forms and checklists that the students

have seen ahead of time and then that

the instructor can fill out during that

presentation is a valuable way to do

that we can also take away some of that

pressure in an oral communications

course for example if the students can

give a presentation where they record

themselves and speak and then the the

instructor can give feedback in an oral

fashion like that too

takes away some of that maybe

nervousness that people get if people

are looking at them or all eyes are in

them but if it's just a feedback session

from an instructor to a student via

audio recording that can be a way to get

useful feedback to a student without

some of those extra yeah irritations or

extra anxiety areas so those would be a

few thoughts that come to mind regarding

feedback okay and just a question here

actually on the title of your talk could

you specify once again what an

intentional approach means yeah it means

having a plan and having a tool for

example in terms of going through your

planning I guess the other way to think

about this is often when we are assigned

courses you know week that we might get

the title of the course and where it

meets in a textbook and it may be a

really fantastic textbook to use for the

course but there also may be more to add

to that course beyond using only one

textbook in a course and so that's why I

think it's really helpful to use that

planning tool and it is a backwards

design planning tool where we list out

what our objectives are and the

materials how I'll have the since

practice and how I'll have the students

prove their learning because then I am

being intentional about making sure that

my teaching throughout that

instructional period is in is achieving

each of those objectives there's nothing

worse than getting to the end of a

semester or an instructional period and

realizing maybe you haven't met a few of

those objectives of the course and the

next level teacher is expecting that the

students can do this work and so it

really is important for us to be

intentional about

the planning and the teaching that goes

on during the time period that we are

with the students okay thank you another

question here asks can we change the

objectives according to the needs of the

students well it sounds like a question

that one would need to have with their

supervisor or in their department

meeting is that is there flexibility in

that regard often the answer is that you

can add to those learning objectives

obviously once you get to know your

students and to see what their needs are

but oftentimes those learning objectives

are necessary in order to for the whole

program for the students at the next

level for example and the course is at

the next level the students will be

expected to know or to be able to

complete those particular skills when

they're at the the following level so

certainly it's a question for

supervisors and your colleagues but do

have that conversation

okay just looking through the questions

here let's see if we can do this what is

your suggestion when this framework is

used for engineering students I

integrate clil into my teaching

methodology absolutely maybe I'll flip

back to that that that screen you know

it it the the tool here the the the

instructor planning tool can be used for

for any course I mean look it's really

quite basic learning outcomes and though

so the learning outcomes for the clil

course if it's if it's engineering it's

that's what I heard you say so

listing those learning outcomes and

again they may be there might be five to

ten of those learning outcomes but once

they're there in the left hand side you

can you can plan accordingly which

materials are you going

to use in order to meet those objectives

what types of practice activities do the

students need in that engineering course

in that clil course and again how are

the students going to demonstrate their

learning once you have it all lined up

like that

it's this tool is useful in a wide

variety of courses excellent thank you

very much I think we've probably got

time for a last couple questioning how

could I think this comes back to the

other one about maybe the flexibility of

it or asking students but how can I make

my course more student-centered tailored

to our students need yeah

well I've tried to weave that through

the presentation because I certainly

believe to that creating the

student-centered learning environment is

helpful and and that's why I tried to

introduce a variety of ways for students

to demonstrate their learning it's not

always through a paper and pencil test

that feels very student friendly for for

all students what if they do demonstrate

their skills better in an oral

environment when there's when they're

speaking or listening what if they do

demonstrate their skills better in a

small discussion group for example when

we break out of a mold if that happens

to be the case of teaching and testing

and teaching and testing and ink and

create a variety of ways for students to

practice of skills and creatively

demonstrate their learning I think we

are on the line on the way to becoming a

more student-centered teacher and

creating that environment for our


okay and I think final one here what

teamwork activities would you suggest

using in class mm-hmm great question

maybe I'll forward here a bit to share a

little bit more about these a few

examples I'll think about reading and

and encourage anyone who's thinking of

how to use teamwork the literature

circle model if you're not familiar with

it go out and learn about it though the

literature circle model is is a way for

for students to for teachers to create

small groups of students to complete a

reading task for read a book nonfiction

or fiction for example and in the

literature circle model there it is a

very scaffolded student friendly

activity where students have particular

roles to complete and I was sharing with

you this TED talk discussion group and I

modeled this project after the

literature circle model so the point is

is that it when if you just tell

students get together discuss this book

or get together and talk about this TED

talk the chances are you won't have a

very high quality discussion maybe you

will maybe maybe this since we'll but

they may not they may need more

scaffolding and support in order to take

their learning to a deeper level and

through the the literature circle model

is one way for students to work in small

groups or teams complete activities they

are responsible for those activities and

then to produce a final result

I highly recommend looking into that

teaching technique before for that

question okay thank you very much indeed

I think that's about all we've got time

for here so


The Description of Rhonda Petree An intentional approach to syllabus design for EAP courses October 2019