Written by Zeynep İskenderoğlu Önel
Eclipsing Expectations: Bridging student learning and teacher development with dialog journals
Kathleen Bailey discussed the invaluable use of dialog journals in EFL classes as learning tools for both educators and learners. She explained how journals provide students the opportunity to use the language as well as to express themselves.
Key concepts that she explained in her talk is summarized below:
She says in dialogue journals, communication becomes systematically dialogic through the way language teaching and learning are organized. Dialogue journals “facilitate the development of new knowledge and awarenesses on the part of both students and teachers” and they “provide a new perspective in promoting language and culture learning through scaffolded interaction.”
She referred to Walqui & van Lier (2010) to define pedagogical scaffolding. Pedagogical scaffolding is “progressive help provided by the more knowledgeable to the less knowledgeable.” She explained the significance of these journals in terms of how teacher responses can help students reflect critically. What is important about scaffolding is that actually once the individuals are capable of performing themselves, the “scaffold” is removed.
Below is the chart to show the features of pedagogical scaffolding from Walqui & van Lier (2010) showing that actually it is not a static process.
|Continuity & Coherence (Task repetition with variation; connecting tasks and activities;project-based or task-based learning)
Supportive Environment (Environment of safety and trust; experiential links and bridges)
Intersubjectivity (Mutual engagement; being “in tune” with each other)
Flow (Student skills and learning challenges in balance; students fully engaged)
Contingency (Task procedures and task progress dependent on actions of learners – response based on the previous utterance, naturally developed conversation in journals)
Emergence, or Handover/Takeover (Increasing importance of learner agency – learners take responsibility of their own learning)
She also mentioned input, interaction and affordances . By affordances she means the relationship individuals build with another individual in their environment. She exemplified this notion referring to Tony Humphreys’ suggestion that each learner has a different teacher. In other words, the relation between the teacher and each individual student is unique and not necessarily similar to others.
She then shared the results of a study she is conducting with David Chisea and Ryan Damerow. Each of the researchers examined the learning that occurred between themselves as EFL educators, and their university students. The teachers learned about their students’ background, impressions from in-class activities and discussions, and specific cultural information. The study does not only focus on student learning and development, but on ongoing professional development of educators, as well.
They analyzed journals in terms of 4 caregories namely awareness (our attention to attitude, skills and knowledge); attitude (stance toward self, activity, and others); skills (the “how of teaching” — methods, techniques, activities, materials and other tools (for Ss, the 4 skills, analysis, studying)); knowledge (the what of teaching” — our subject matter and our knowledge of the students, as well as the sociocultural and institutional context)
The analysis revealed that in student learning happened in terms of Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Awareness. However, educators learning happened in only 3 categories: Knowledge, Attitude, Awareness.
- She finished her talk by posing some questions for the audience to think about:
- Are dialogue journals culturally appropriate in all contexts?
- Should teachers grade and/or correct students’ dialogue journal entries? If so, how?
- What is the optimal length and frequency of dialogue journal entries to achieve their potential benefits?
- Do teachers who share the students’ home culture have opportunities to learn from the dialogue journals, or is this opportunity only relevant to teachers from another culture?