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Working towards better language education

Blogpost 1 iBUILDIT International Erasmus + project

SG De Waerdenborch Goor (NL)

By Lise Dunsbergen

In a series of upcoming blogs I will outline our school’s (teachers’) contribution to the iBUILDIT project over the next 2 years. This project started in March this year, in colaboration with ETS global, Goaltesting and a number of primary and secondary schools in Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands.

We had our first physical meeting in Diepenheim (NL) in the first week of October 2021. During this week the whole group worked on planning tasks fort his project and visited a number of primary and secondary schools for inspiration.

The main aim of this project is to improve English teaching in schools by assessing the students regularly (monitoring their development) and using the outcome of these assessments to look closely at the development of individual students’ skill levels. We can use this knowledge to adjust our teaching and differentiate in het classroom. The idea is, that students’ motivation to learn English will increase once their teaching material is more adapted to their individual level.

At the end of the project, we intend to produce best practices guidlines voor assessment-driven, individualised instruction in the classroom.

During the project, everone involved will regularly post updates on our progress. We will produce an e-book, posts on social media and a series of webinars on the subject.

During the first day of our October training week, we met our foreign friends and received instruction on how to procede with the iBUILDIT project. After lunch we got to work on the results of the latest TOEFL assessments. Unfortunately, due to IT-problems, the assessments at De Waerdenborch had to be postponed to early November. Nevertheless, we got instructions on how to use the assessment results. At the end of the day we attended a webinar by a representative of National Geographic Learning on how to use imagery in the classroom to enhance productivity and motivation with the focus on primary education.

On Tuesday we had time to evaluate 2 primary school visits and we worked on the outline for our intellectual outputs that will be produced over the next two years. Later that day we attended another webinar by a representative of National Geographic. This time the focus was on reading practices in secondary education. We received useful information on how to be more creative in our teaching and how to make reading more suitable for our students on different levels.

On Wednesday morning we welcomed the international teachers’ group to our school in Goor, where they were able to visit our classes and in the afternoon we received some good feedback on what they had seen that morning. After a half afternoon working on our intellectual tasks we finished the day early, so our foreign friends had some time to explore the city of Enschede by themselves.

On Thursday morning we attended a lecture on differentiaton and personalisation in the classroom. Later, representatives from each school gave a presentation on how we deal with different levels of knowledge in the classroom. In the afternoon we received useful information on how to use digital media to enhance our daily English teaching and differentiation. Some of this knowledge can also be used for classes other than foreign languages. We also visited the Diepenheim Drawing Centre, to see drawings made by a Danish artist.

On Friday morning it was time to evaluate the work we had done that week and to look ahead to the coming months. We made a plan on how to proceed and which aspects of this week we would be able to implement.

- We scheduled the next assessments and extra tasks: early November.

- We set up meetings with the local primary school that is also involved in this project.

- We need to find time in the curriculum to introduce more reading tasks to our students.

- We meet in Denmark in February 2022 to work on the next steps in this project.

- We need to stay in contact with the other groups and contribute to their output.

TOEFL assessments and L-scores

After the students had completed the assessments, ETS Global will provide the teachers with the results. The results show how the students score on listening, reading and language form & meaning.

There will be ERK level scores for each student, but more importantly, every student has an L-score (lexile score) This L-score will be extra helpful, because it gives a more detailed insight on students’ abilities. On the website, us teachers can find the L-score of practically every book or text ever made. If we are able to provide reading material that is on or slightly above a students L-score, the student will experience more success in reading and will hopefully be more motivated to read and learn. Reading will be a key factor in improving English language skills.

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