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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R.

Hill

As I reflect on my MATL journey, one word that comes to mind is affirmation. Most of the work that I have done in this program has affirmed what we do in the New Hartford Central School District. I include these achievements that are found on the front web page of our school to demonstrate that we, as a district, are committed to excellence in education. Our staff and teachers strive for excellence both in our students and in ourselves. From my first course, SPA 536 Latin American Culture and Civilization that I took in this program, to FL 694 Practicum in SI/FL, all of the programs have been designed to enrich the teacher so that he or she may take that learning and share it with their students, colleges, and community. In FL 561, I was able to see some different ways to integrate the ACTFL/NCATE standards into a level five Spanish course. Since at this level there are so many options available, a teacher may design lessons by combining the content with authentic materials and interesting topics and apply them to the learning tasks. Using materials I am used to working with, such Marzano and Pickering (2009), I know that declarative knowledge is constructing meaning (p.51). Students must construct meaning by recalling
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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill prior knowledge and linking it with new knowledge, making and verifying predictions, and filling in unstated information (p.51). For example, if a student is watching a video on Spain, they already are putting the pieces together by linking what they know to the new information they are receiving. The information that is previously known helps them to make predictions about what they might view in the Spain documentary and to verify those predictions as they view the film (p. 51). They might also correct their misconceptions, fill in unstated information, and identify areas that are confusing. All of these activities exemplify the active process of constructing meaning that needs to occur as students are trying to understand the information (p. 51). Taking authentic materials, using topics that apply to everyday life and linking them to student interests is crucial to developing meaning interaction with the content and learning in the classroom. In SPA 641, Afro-Hispanic Influences in the Caribbean, I was able to read two excellent books. One was, The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao by J. Daz and Nuestra seora de la noche by M. Santos-Febres. These two books brought home how different cultures view diversity. The issue of prejudice was very obvious and how a male dominated society was so prevalent in Hispanic speaking countries since the era of the conquistadores.
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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill Because of what I learned from this course, I designed an entire unit based on Afro-Hispanic influences in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I was able to link this unit with ACTFL Standards for Communication 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 - as the students were able to discuss different opinions based on the topics that were found in this unit. They were able to learn about the culture (ACTFL Standards 2.1, 2.2) of the time during slavery and how the native Africans arrived to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The students were also able to make connections (ACTFL 3.1, 3.2) to the history of slavery in the United States. They were able to learn a totally different chapter of the influence of Afro-Hispanics in the Hispanic culture and in the language. Also, they made comparisons (ACTFL 4.1, 4.2) on how the language changed as John M. Lipski points out in his article, From bozal to boricua: Implications of Afro-Puerto Rican Language in Literature. Finally, my students were able to communicate with a family in Puerto Rico (who are friends of mine) and Skype. They were able to ask questions and engage in conversation about the different learnings of this unit. It was a wonderful experience for them and for myself. I enjoyed SPA 641 very much because I was actually able to put what I learned into practice in a way that my students were hooked!

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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill I also took TSL 692, Special Problems as part of my electives in this program. What a great class. I was able to read a great book that dealt with vocabulary and some of the myths that are associated with the teaching of this critical aspect of language acquisition. The book was called, Vocabulary Myths by Keith Folse. The goal of this book is to promote a change that accurately views vocabulary as elemental in any L2 process and shows that the research that has been done supports this change. It is not his opinion but in fact, it is empirical evidence that reinforces these views. Also, an important topic is that teachers have over approximated the actual amount of vocabulary that students comprehend. This resulted in that the comprehensible input is neither thorough nor is it actually considered input. Since vocabulary acquisition is so crucial to language learning, I found this class to be very practical. As I think about the ACTFL Standards, Communication is the first standard. I feel that the reason is that communication is crucial in order to be able to interact with another human being. I really appreciated the line by Wilkins (1972) that says, While without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed (p. 23). It is true that without some words to be able to give you the ability to communicate, you can say nothing. Folse
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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill mentions that throughout the years, the pendulum has been shifting in the teaching of vocabulary. Today, we find it going back towards more traditional methods. With the technology era, many advances have taken place. However, L2 vocabulary research has entered a new phase in which we are no longer looking at whether vocabulary should be emphasized but rather what aspect of vocabulary teaching/learning we should be focusing on (p. 26). The questions have shifted from when and how to how much and which terminology we should be using. Folse believes that teachers need to be very intentional when it comes to the teaching of vocabulary in their classrooms. Again, I really appreciated this class because it had some great resources that I could apply immediately to my own classroom lessons. I have many other wonderful comments from different courses in this program but it would take me a lot longer to be able to communicate all the things I have studied and incorporated in my own learning. I have already recommended this program to another college of mine from this district and she is also taking classes as well. I feel that I have had the privilege to work with some wonderful instructors who really care about their students. I can image that an on-line course has different challenges than a
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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill regular class. Therefore, preparation and implementation can look very differently in an on-line environment. In closing, I am very grateful to the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg for continuing these types of programs were students may obtain their post graduate degrees on-line. In a global world, it shows forward thinking on the part of the college administration. My only regret is that the university does not offer a doctoral program in Spanish on-line. If it did, I would be enrolled in it.

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Final MATL Reflection Portfolio Rebeca R. Hill References ACTFL Standards. (n.d.). actfl.org. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/public/StandardsforFLL execsumm_rev.pdf Folse, K. S. (2004). Vocabulary myths applying second language research to classroom teaching. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. From bozal to boricua: Implications of Afro-Puerto Rican Language and Literature. (n.d.). personal.psu.edu. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from http://www.personal.psu.edu/jml34/borboz.pdf Marzano, R. J., & Pickering, D. J. (2009). Dimensions of Learning Teachers Manual, 2nd Edition (2nd ed.). Alexandria: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. New Hartford Central Schools. (n.d.). New Hartford Central School District / Homepage. Retrieved April 22, 2014, from http://www.newhartfordschools.org

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