Content-Based Language Teaching Through Technology

The ACIE Newsletter, November 2000, Vol.4, No. 1

by Marcy Zachmeier-Ruh, COBALTT Project Assistant, CARLA, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
First in a Three-Part Series

The Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology (COBALTT) program sponsored by National Language Resource Center funds and administered by CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) at the University of Minnesota, began in 1999 and is now in its second year.

Each spring, 25 foreign language teachers are selected to participate in this year-long professional development program. The teachers represent both traditional instruction and immersion programs at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. The COBALTT program is comprised of a week-long summer institute and three two-day work-shops during the following academic year.

Summer Institute
Through selected readings, class discussions, and hands-on practice, teachers master advanced principles of content-based language instruction, proficiency-oriented language instruction and assessment, and standards-based education.

The technology component of the program encourages teachers to explore ways in which they can use a variety of computer and information technologies, including the many authentic sources available via the Internet, in conjunction with the principles of content-based language instruction. During the summer institute, teachers also begin developing content-based lesson plans for use in their own classrooms. These lessons should utilize technology in creative ways while addressing state and national standards.

Fall, Winter, and Spring Workshops
During the academic year, COBALTT participants work independently to create new lessons, pilot them in their own classrooms, make revisions, and collect exemplars of student work. Throughout this period, teachers share information with colleagues and COBALTT staff via e-mail and the web. Participants also meet for three Friday-Saturday workshops to share the new lessons they developed following the summer institute and work in teams to make adjustments to these lessons. They also share their experiences using technology-based materials in their classrooms and their explorations of key sites on the Internet. In addition, teachers learn how to use technology to create checklists and rubrics for perfomance assessment, ways in which to evaluate the effectiveness of technology-based materials, the basics of using authoring programs, and how to create their own web pages.

At the completion of the spring workshop, teachers submit their lesson plans, which are then edited and added to the Lesson Plan Search on the COBALTT web site (/cobaltt/). The web site also contains an annotated bibliography of sources on content-based language instruction. Both the lesson-plan search and the annotated bibliography are currently available and are being expanded



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