Immersion Teachers in CoBaLTT

The ACIE Newsletter, February 2001, Vol. 4, No. 2

In the previous issue of this newsletter, Marcy Zachmeier-Ruh, Project Assistant, introduced the Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology (CoBaLTT) program which is in its second year at the University of Minnesota. In this issue, we introduce you to three immersion teachers who are participating during the 2000-01 academic year.


Each spring, twenty-five Minnesota foreign language teachers are selected to participate in the year-long, professional devel-opment Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology (CoBaLTT) program. The teachers, representing both traditional instruction and immersion programs at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, agree to attend a week-long summer institute and three two-day follow-up workshops during the school year. Participants focus on:

  • learning the theoretical principles and practical application of content-based language instruction.
  • creating authentic tasks and adapting curriculum materials to meet national and state world language standards,
  • measuring student language proficiency through performance-based assessment, and
  • selecting and using technology that will motivate students and enrich classroom content-based instruction.

For the 2000-2001 academic year, three immersion teachers are taking part in the series of CoBaLTT workshops. Thus far, the teachers have attended the week-long summer institute and the first two-day workshop held in November. Reports from the three teachers shed light on the variety of topics being explored and the grade levels being addressed.

Sur la Piste des Voyageurs
Maureen Curran-Desano, Instructional Technology Specialist for Normandale French Immersion School in Edina, Minnesota, is planning an electronic field trip, Sur la Piste des Voyageurs. Students will travel back in time to la Nouvelle France (New France), following the route of the voyageurs, the hardy, music-loving, canoemen of the French fur trade. Images and video clips of costumed guides and historic places of Quebec and Minnesota will serve as background, and students will enjoy some of the music of the French voyageurs sung by the Normandale French Immersion School chorale.

This project meets many of the Social Studies standards that are part of both Minnesota’s Profile of Learning and the Edina school district’s third grade curriculum. Because it also reflects the World Language Standards, it is equally appropriate for traditional French classes. Some of the themes included will be the history of New France, geography, Native Americans, fur trade animals, and famous French explorers who, along with the voyageurs, brought their language and culture to the entire Upper Midwest.

Las Plantas: Sus Partes y su Ciclo de Vida
Terri Geffert, second grade teacher at Bridgewater Elementary School (Spanish immersion) in Northfield, Minnesota, is working on a science unit. The objectives of the unit, Plants: Their Parts and Life Cycle, will include learning the parts of a plant and their functions, exploring the parts of plants that we eat, and studying the life cycle of a plant. She will use Hyperstudio as a presenta-tion tool (students pair up to view a teacher-created presentation on plant parts at their com-puters). The students themselves will use KidPix to compose a slide show about how seeds travel. Students will also use a digital camera and a video camera as they document results from small-group inquiry experiments. They will design their experiments based on questions they pose—for example, “Which will grow faster, the seeds planted 1 cm from the surface, or the seeds planted 1/2 cm from the surface?” The unit will include whole-group lessons as well as lessons designed for small group stations.

Introducción a los Microscopios
Gloria Ruff, fifth grade teacher from Robbinsdale (Minnesota) Spanish Immersion School, is developing a trackstar to tie in with a fifth grade science unit on microscopes. A trackstar is a site that allows teachers to organize a variety of web pages into different assignments. For example, Gloria first searched the Web to find information relating to microscopes, then organized the information into her own trackstar following models available on the trackstar website. When the unit is ready she will set up the computer lab in advance with her own trackstar on the computer screen. Students will open a word processing program and move between the trackstar window and the word processing window. They will read information she has selected, answer questions she has created on the computer, and print out their work. Eventually, they will learn how to e-mail their responses.

The first section of the trackstar on micro-scopes will ask students to read a selection on the history of the instrument describing some early microscopes and the inventors who worked with them. Using this information, students will answer comprehension questions. The second section will show a microscope with parts labeled in Spanish. By clicking on each component, students can read about its function. They will take notes on a hard copy sheet and use it as a resource when they have their first hands-on experience.

As a part of this trackstar, students will also have the opportunity to view enlarged images found online, which come from microscopes that are more powerful than those to which they have access in class. They will view some different parasites and bacteria.

The last section involves studying five different types of microscopes. Using the information they read, students will work on developing advertisements targeted toward the appropriate audience for each type of microscope, then share these orally with the class. This type of writing is covered earlier in the year, so students will be familiar with writing ads.

In addition to the class curriculum, which does not develop a lot of language, students will go online to read, learn vocabulary, and do research in Spanish.


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