Teaching Matters Conference Proceedings - Gordon State College

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What We Teach

A Collection of Papers Presented at the Eighth Annual

Teaching Matters


Gordon College

March 26
27, 2010

Edited by Jason Horn

Gordon Publications

Barnesville, GA


Table of Contents






Mathematics and Larger Ways of Knowing the Universe:
Connections to Philosophy, Linguistics, and Aesthetics



Peer Review as a Writing Improvement Tool in

Undergraduate Curricula


Alan Burstein

Teaching Media Literacy in the Introductory Accounting




Don’t Forget Direct Instruction


Dorthee Mertz

Alouette, Amélie and Au Revoir: The Beginning of your

French Fluency


Mary T. Nielson

Teaching Matters, But So Do Perceptions: Top Ten

Mistakes New and Not
New Faculty Should Avoid


James Yates

“What I wish Someone Had Told Me: Do’s and Don’ts

When Teaching Online”


Patrick D. McGuire

The Effect that Teacher Enthusiasm & Humor Have on

College Student Attention


Jane McClain

A Different Approach toward Argumentation: The Fair



Crystal Shelnutt

From the Proverb to the Propositional: Keeping to the Old

Paths in Classical Rhetoric with the Modern Student


Patricia Burgey

Losing the Professional Voice: Interactive Learning in the

anced Composition Classroom


Christy Price

Why Don’t My Students Think I’m Groovy? The New


for Engaging Millennial Learners

What We Teach


Mathematics and Larger Ways of Knowing the Universe:

Connections to
Philosophy, Linguistics, and Aesthetics

Robert Blumenthal

Georgia College & State University

Mathematics appears in some form or other in the core or general education requirements of
most colleges and universities, and a lot of energy is often expended regarding the specific form
this requirement should take. For example, one thorny issue i
s just what level of mathematics
should be required. Should it be sufficient merely to demonstrate proficiency in algebra thus
basically requiring of students no more than they were supposed to learn in high school? Or
should every student be required to

take a bona fide college level course like calculus?
Furthermore, what do we want the students to take away from the required course? Is our goal to
demonstrate just how useful mathematics is in dealing with worldly matters and how
indispensable it is w
ith regard to understanding and interpreting real
world data and solving real
world problems?

With regard to the first question, namely, is proficiency at the high school level sufficient for
meeting the core math requirement at a university, the ans
wer has to be no. Certainly, we would
hope to provide students with content and approaches which do more than merely replicate the
high school experience. A student who has had four years of high school mathematics and who,
therefore, has taken geometry,

algebra, and in most cases a course covering standard precalculus
topics should be offered an opportunity for intellectual growth which goes beyond a mere rehash
of techniques studied in high school. Which leads to the question: just what type of intel
growth are we talking about? Yes, mathematics is useful. Yes, it solves all sorts of technical
problems. Yes, it enables us to analyze and interpret various kinds of real
world data. Yes, it
enables us to model real
world situations and to unde
rstand and address a large variety of real
world issues. Is this the focus which we wish to emphasize in our core mathematics experience,
or is there perhaps another direction we might take with regard to intellectual growth and
development, particularly
in a liberal arts institution?

What We Teach


I have repeated the phrase “real
world” because I think we do our students a disservice by
focusing exclusively on the worldly aspects of mathematics. As Wordsworth reminds us, “The
world is too much with us…” And he


For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.
Great God! I'd rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Have sight of Proteus rising
from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

It is that phrase,
glimpses that would make me less forlorn
, which is the key. At its heart,
mathematics has nothing to do with the world. Its efficacy in understanding the world and in
ing real
world problems is a fact, but this utility is a by
product rather than the central
motivation behind the creation of mathematics. Mathematics offers glimpses

glimpses of the
reality which underlies the physical realm, glimpses of the way in whi
ch our minds function and
the ways in which we process ideas and the relationships between those ideas, glimpses of the
role and limitations of language as vehicles for thought and the expression of ideas, glimpses of a
beauty unlike any other leading to a
n aesthetic experience which rivals that of anything offered
by the other fine arts.

What do we mean when we say that mathematics has nothing to do with the world? This
requires some attention. First, what is mathematics? Definitions can be tricky

things. A
colleague of mine once offered the following definition:

Mathematics is what mathematicians do

The English biologist T.H. Huxley offers a definition which is a bit more enlightening:

[Mathematics] is that [subject] which knows nothing of
nothing of experiment, nothing of induction, nothing of causation.

What We Teach


Notice that this definition describes mathematics by telling us what it is not. Observation,
experiment, inductive reasoning (drawing general conclusions from specific cases)

these play
no role in mathematics. In a word, mathematics is not science.

The truth claims of mathematics
in no way depend on observations of the world. Rather, the reasoning involved is deductive
(reasoning from the general to the specific) and depends only on our rational faculties. This
leads us to very provocative definit
ion formulated by the English mathematician J.J. Sylvester
contrasting mathematics and science:

The object of pure Physics is the unfolding of the laws of the intelligible
world; the object of pure Mathematics that of unfolding the laws of human

In other words, mathematical knowledge is self
knowledge. It tells us something of how we as
human beings think, how our minds work, how we process ideas, and it demonstrates our natural
propensity for finding connections between seemingly
unrelated concepts.

We all feel that numbers lie at the heart of mathematics. Actually, this not true but let’s
accept the premise for the moment. Students deal with numbers all the time, but unfortunately
their only conception of numbers is that
they are things you compute with. Our schooling, with
its relentless emphasis on solving real
world problems, teaches us that we can use numbers to
model all sorts of phenomena and that crunching these numbers will enable us to better
understand this or t
hat real
world situation. It is most unfortunate that, beyond computational
applications, there is little appreciation of all that underlies the concept of numbers.

What is the first thing we learn to do as a child? Count, of course. And thus we
the whole numbers, what mathematicians call the natural numbers: 1, 2, 3, … . If we have a
sibling or two, and thus the need to share this goodie or that, we quickly encounter the concept of
dividing these whole units into pieces, and so we com
e to terms with numbers like 1/2, 1/3, 4/5,
or, more generally, the concept of a fraction. The ancient Greeks, who saw the universe as being
in a state of perfect harmony, had a great affinity for fractions and, indeed, for them, the concepts
of number an
d fraction were indistinguishable. The musical connotations implied by the word
harmony are quite relevant given that the fundamental musical tones are based on certain ratios,

What We Teach


i.e., fractions. That all numbers had to be fractions was the consequence
of a harmonious world
view in which all quantities are commensurable, i.e., able to be compared via fractions.

These same Greeks were renowned for their work in geometry. Of particular interest were
right triangles. If we remember anything from our

experience with high school mathematics, we
surely recall the Pythagorean Theorem. If c is the hypotenuse of a right triangle with legs a and
b, then c

= a

+ b

(the converse is also true). This is a great result in that it relates a geometric

namely a right triangle, with an algebraic object, namely an equation, thus exhibiting a
marvelous connection between geometry and algebra, two disciplines which at first glance
appear to be unrelated. Consider, as the Greeks did, a right triangle with e
ach leg of length 1.
Then c

= 1

+ 1

= 2. In other words, c is a number whose square is 2. (Today we call this
number the square root of 2 and write is as
). It’s a number and so, of course, it must be a
fraction. It is natural to ask

which fraction? What are the numerator and denominator of this
fraction? In the course of trying to find these values, we discover that they do not exist. In other

is not a fraction. It’s a perfectly good number, giving the length of the hypotenuse of
a very simple right triangle, but it’s not a fraction. It’s something else. It’s some other kind of
number. Another name for a fract
ion is a rational number (from the root word ratio). Thus,

is not a rational number; it is irrational. Pythagoras (or at least his school) proved this and it also
appears in Euclid’s
. But aren’t all numbers supposed t
o be rational? How does one
deal with these two contradictory claims? In the case of the Greeks, the solution to this dilemma
was essentially to ignore the problem. Of course, all numbers have to be fractions. The world
simply could not be constructed

other than in this harmonious fashion. So they just didn’t think
too much about anything which suggested otherwise.

In his wonderful essay,
A Mathematician’s Apology
, the British mathematician G.H. Hardy
explains why he chose to spend his life purs
uing mathematics and talks in very compelling terms
about the satisfactions he has enjoyed as a result. It’s the best piece written by a mathematician
explaining why he does what he does. In the course of the essay, he cites two examples of
mathematics w
hich he feels embody the essential characteristics of a good piece of mathematics.
One of these examples is Pythagoras’ proof of the irrationality of
. Hardy notes that the result
is important, unexpected (and, indeed, surprising
), simple to prove, and easily generalizes to

What We Teach


prove that many other numbers are irrational. Hardy goes on to assert that this combination of
characteristics imparts a genuine aesthetic quality to the result, thus rendering it beautiful.

We noted
above that the claim that numbers lie at the heart of mathematics is false. If that is
the case, then just what is it that is at the base of the enterprise? At its root, mathematics deals
with the most basic of human propensities, namely, collecting thin
gs and thereby forming a
collection. Mathematics is about collections. The mathematical term for this is set. A set is a
collection of objects, and we can then think of the set as a single entity. Forming a single entity
out of a disparate collection o
f objects is the essential mathematical act.
E Pluribus Unum.

of many, one.

Every mathematical concept, including numbers, rests upon the notion of a set.
There are two kinds of sets: finite sets and infinite sets. An example of a finite set is A = {6, c,
9, v, *}. An example of an infinite set is the set of all natural numb
ers N = {1, 2, 3, …}. The
whole edifice of mathematic is built on sets, but not just any sets. The whole thing rests
ultimately on infinite sets.

In 1874, the German mathematician Georg Cantor posed the question: Do all infinite sets
have the same

size? His most celebrated result, and the one which has deep implications for
mathematics and philosophy, is that the answer is no. He exhibits two infinite sets which do not
have the same size. Infinite sets come in different sizes. In other words, t
here is not a single
undifferentiated notion of infinity. Some infinite sets are truly larger than others. This result
completely changed theory of sets and, since sets lie at the heart of mathematics, all of
mathematics as well. Prior to Cantor, going
as far back as Aristotle, the very idea of an infinite
set was rejected. The idea was rejected because it led to various unpleasant consequences like
the fact that a part can be equivalent to the whole. This is nonsense and so the very idea of the
nce of infinite sets must be nonsense. But aren’t infinite sets necessary for the doing of
mathematics? Yes they are, but the solution to this dilemma was to ignore it in the same way
that the Greeks ignored the problems posed by the existence of irratio
nal numbers.

However, for Cantor, infinite sets exist. The set of natural numbers exists as an actually, not
just potentially, infinite set. We can hold in our minds in a single instant of time the collection
(i.e., set) of all natural numbers. Ye
s, this leads to certain startling consequences like the fact
that a part can be equivalent to the whole. The reason we are startled is because we are
expecting infinite sets to behave in the same way as finite sets. But this is an unreasonable

What We Teach


tion. Infinite sets are fundamentally different from finite sets and we can’t expect them
to behave in the same way. We’re in a brave new world where a part can be equivalent to the
whole and where some infinite sets are truly larger than others. This i
s not unlike the situation

ushered in by the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics where we are confronted
with behavior which runs contrary to common sense and everyday experience.

One of the weaknesses of many of the courses aimed at the general student is that all too often
they morph into either a math appreciation course or a math history course thereby transforming
the experience into something other than a course in mathem
atics. Even if this situation is
avoided, another pitfall is that many such courses are survey courses organized around a
multitude of topics. As such, each topic receives only superficial treatment and the student
misses the essential experience of delv
ing deeply into an important mathematical theory. I have
sought to avoid both of these situations and have taught for many years a course organized
around a few (at most three) selected topics in advanced mathematics.

These topics must be chosen car
efully and, in my experience, need to meet several criteria.
Each topic must be one which the students have not encountered before and must represent a
truly important mathematical idea. Each topic should be modern in the sense that it originated
ely recently and is an active area of continuing research. Finally, each topic must be able
to be presented to the general student without loss of mathematical rigor. This last point is
particularly important since the whole point is to convey a meaningf
ul sense of the mathematical
experience. I have had considerable success in this course with three topics: number theory,
group theory and the theory of infinite sets. (See the Appendix for more detail on the course

Most of the students r
eact very well to this course for two reasons. First, it is so unlike
anything they expected from a mathematics course, and secondly they realize, especially from
the discussion of infinite sets, where they are challenged to abandon certain of their preco
ideas about reality, that mathematics has profound things to say about questions which have been
raised for thousands of years by various important thinkers.

What We Teach



Number Theory

Prime numbers

Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic

Euclid’s pro
of of the infinity of primes

Rational and irrational numbers

Proof that square root of 2 is irrational

Generalization to exhibit other irrationals

Perfect numbers

Group Theory





Counting arguments


Definition of a group

Examples of groups (both finite and infinite)

The integers mod n

The symmetric groups


Lagrange’s Theorem

Infinite Set Theory

Hilbert’s Hotel Problem

Cantor’s definition of equivalence

Equivalence of N and Z

Equivalence of N and Q

denumerability of R

Equivalence of R and R

Cardinal numbers

Continuum Hypothesis

What We Teach



Cantor, G. 1955.
Contributions to the founding of the theory of transfinite numbers
. New York:
Dover Publications.

Hardy, G. H. 1940.
A mathematician’s apology
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huxley, T. H. 1872.
Lay sermons, addresses and reviews
. 169. Quoted in Robert Edouard
On mathematics

(New York: Dover Publications, 1958).

Sylvester, J. J.

On a theorem connected with Newton’s rule, etc.
Collected Mathematical
, Vol. 3, 424. Quoted in Robert Edouard Moritz,
On mathematics

(New York: Dover
Publications, 1958).

What We Teach


Peer Review as a Writing Improvement Tool in Undergraduate Curricula

Joseph A. Mayo

Gordon College

Peer Review as a Writing Improvement Tool in Undergraduate Curricula

Poor student writing skills are not new to the college classroom. Although undergraduate
courses in English composition usually pave the way for improvement of student performance,
generalization of acquired writing skills from these to other college cours
es remains problematic.
This problem is exacerbated by the common student misconception that writing well is the
exclusive domain of the English major.

As in other college disciplines that stress the importance of student writing skills, there
are two s
chools of thought on how to improve the quality of student writing in the context of
teaching undergraduate classes in my own discipline

psychology. One approach advocates for
the establishment of a separate course for the sole purpose of teaching effectiv
e writing skills
tailored to psychology (e.g., Calhoun & Selby, 1979). Consistent with the writing
curriculum argument, a far less sweeping solution to the problem entails reinforcing sound
writing skills in the existing framework of established

courses. In the form of the

(Camplese & Mayo, 1982; Mayo, 2006; Mayo, 2010), this latter stance is the one that I
have adopted across a range of undergraduate classes that I teach.

How the Colleague Swap Works

In using the Colleague Swap,
students earn grade
applicable credit by exchanging or
swapping writing assignments with three classmates. Throughout this process, students work
together in pairs to evaluate and critique one another’s work. General guidelines governing peer
critique of t
erm, theme, research, and other papers take into account the following questions:

What We Teach


1. Does the introduction properly launch a connecting thread of ideas?

2. Does the summary effectively recap the main points?

3. Do subsequent sentences in each par
agraph flow from the opening sentence?


Are relevant ideas expressed accurately, completely, and coherently?


Are all grammatical, spelling, and other mechanical errors eliminated?

In addition to asking peer evaluators to incorporate their suggested revisi
ons directly into
the body of the writing assignment, a pre
evaluation ticket

a 26
item checklist of
standard rhetorical, contextual, and bibliographic considerations

is used to help evaluators
organize and present summative comments to their stude
nt colleagues. As reviewed preliminarily
in class with an opportunity for students to ask clarifying questions, the evaluation ticket is
organized into comprehensive categories containing various subheadings. Points are assigned to
each subheading on the c
hecklist, and room is provided for writing constructive criticism related
to that item. The contents of the evaluation ticket can be modified to conform to the idiosyncratic
needs of the course and the writing assignment involved. Appendix A presents a sam
evaluation ticket.

After the colleague swaps are completed, the marked papers and attached evaluation
tickets are returned to their student authors and class time is allotted for each student to meet
briefly with corresponding peer evaluators. During

the resulting work sessions, students explain
their critique evaluations and help one another improve the quality of their papers. As a caveat in
employing the Colleague Swap, though, students need to know that suggestions for change
offered by their clas
smates are purely advisory in nature. Ultimate responsibility for researching
the necessity, accuracy, and validity of these recommended revisions lies squarely on the
shoulders of the student authors.

As a measure of quality control over the peer
ue process, it is useful for both the
instructor and the authors of respective papers to rate the critique evaluations offered by students

What We Teach


in a manner that ties to overall grade determination for the course. Rating systems may vary in
accordance with ins
tructors’ individual preferences.

Benefit Analysis

There are curriculum
specific advantages afforded through the use of the Colleague
Swap. Once revised papers are submitted to the instructor for final grading purposes, most
technical errors
will be eliminated and the content is typically stronger. With mechanical and
grammatical mistakes minimized, instructors can now concentrate more freely on the task of
judging each paper’s content in the general absence of distracting technical errors.

llowing students to critique each other’s papers also creates a more cooperative learning
environment and increases student involvement in the content and flow of the course. It is only
natural that students develop a greater vested interest in a class in
which they believe their
feedback visibly matters.

For instructors, the primary disadvantage associated with the Colleague Swap is
expenditure of time

both in rating critique evaluations and in devoting class time to student
work sessions that could other
wise be used to lecture and/or discuss salient course topics.
However, this difficulty is offset by student’s writing gains and the consequent need for
significantly less time by instructors to correct mechanical errors in students’ revised papers.

Another potential pitfall in the use of the Colleague Swap surrounds the assignment of
students to peer
critique relationships. Due to the high probability of rating inflation, it is wise to
avoid allowing students who know each other well to swap papers.

As a related consideration
for instructors regardless of the nature of the peer
critique relationship, students are generally
inhibited about criticizing a classmate’s paper

either out of personal insecurity or fear of
reprisal. Before undertaking the Col
league Swap in their classes, it is important for instructors to
advise students on the need for unbiased feedback in their critique evaluations as an important
way to help one another become more proficient writers.

What We Teach



Calhoun, L. G., & Selby,
J. W. (1979). Writing in psychology: A separate course?

Teaching of Psychology
, 232.

Camplese, D. A., & Mayo, J. A. (1982). How to improve the quality of student writing:

The colleague swap.
Teaching of Psychology
, 122

Mayo, J. A.

Colleague swap revisited: The use of peer critique to improve student

writing skills.
Psychology Teacher Network
, 7, 14.

Mayo, J. A. (2010). Co
nstructing undergraduate psychology curricula: Promoting

authentic learning and assessm
ent in the teaching of psychology
. Washington, DC:

American Psychological Association.

What We Teach


Appendix A: Sample Evaluation Ticket

: Print your own name and the name of the student author in the designated areas shown
below. On the
blank line appearing to the left of each of the following 26 elements, assign between 1 and
5 points (1 = excellent, 5 = extremely poor) as a means of rating your classmate’s paper. Blank space is
provided directly beneath each element for you to briefly s
ummarize your comments that you believe will
improve the quality of the paper. Once you have finished, staple your evaluation to the back of the paper.

Your name: __________________________

Name of Student Author: __________


Writing Style:

1. _____ precision

2. _____ economy


_____ fluency


_____ jargon


_____ slang


_____ ambiguity


_____ sexist language


Logical Order in Composition:

8. _____ coherence

9. _____ organization

10. _____ transition

11. _____ sentence structure



12. _____ punctuation

13. _____ grammar

14. _____ spelling

15. _____ capitalization

What We Teach




16. _____ quality

17. _____ relevance

18. _____ accuracy

19. _____ completeness

20. _____ proportion

21. _____ originality


References (if applicable)

. _____ placement

23. _____ quality

24. _____ completeness

25. _____ form

26. _____ accuracy

What We Teach


Teaching Media Literacy in the Introductory Accounting Class

Alan N. Burstein

Gordon College


Introductory Accounting: It’s More than Debits and Credits

Introductory accounting in today’s college classroom is necessarily more than debits and
credits. Despite occasionally recurring ‘debate” over “user” versus “preparer” approaches
(Burstein and McCa
rron 2010), introductory accounting has increasingly come into line with
recommendations of the Accounting Education Change Commission made nearly two decades

The primary objective of the first course in accounting is for students to learn
about acc
ounting as an information development and communication function
that supports economic decision
making. The knowledge and skills provided
by the first course in accounting should facilitate subsequent learning even if
the student takes no additional acade
mic work in accounting or directly
related disciplines. For example, the course should help students perform
financial analysis; derive information for personal or organizational decisions;
and understand business, governmental, and other organizational en
(AECC 1992)

As the “language of business,” accounting is seen over time less as bookkeeping and more as a
means of communicating across a variety of business functions within the realm of business.
Such an approach is especially appropriate in
an environment where the vast majority of
accounting students are in the class not because they plan on becoming accountants, but rather
merely to satisfy a requirement for completion of a business major

In my own introductory financial accounting class, therefore, I’ve developed objectives and
expectations going beyond the substance of accounting itself to include appreciation of

What We Teach


accounting as a means of communication as well as to improve both written

and oral
communication skills:


I expect my students to come to appreciate accounting as the language of business

and to attain a level of fluency commensurate with that of any first semester language


I expect my students to seek competence as co
nsumers of quantitative information
Students must not only “work problems,” but also talk about what they’ve done and why
they’ve done it, relating analytical thinking about data to critical thinking about concepts.


I expect my students to perform in a

collaborative, professional learning and
working environment
. I have embraced cooperative learning, not only as a means by
which my students can learn as much from one another as they do from me, but also to
help hone skills in working together which wil
l serve them not just in their classes, but
ultimately in their careers.


I expect my students not only to improve in their written and spoken
communication abilities, but also to understand the importance in doing so
. My
classes feature widespread st
udent participation, and I actively work with students to help
them express their thoughts articulately and precisely. I’m a strong believer in “writing
across the curriculum” and incorporate a significant writing component into my classes.

These object
ives, aimed at promoting critical thinking and communications ability, are not
independent of developing accounting “skills” but rather complement an introduction to
substantive accounting. Learning activities provide context for the accounting concepts I

so that the students themselves can see how their newly acquired accounting knowledge
enhances their overall ability to understand and critically evaluate not just accounting
information itself, but a variety of media pertaining business in general
as well as personal


Literacy in the Language of Business

The environment of today’s community college and access institutions presents formidable
obstacles to pursuing such objectives. The focus of many such learning difficulties lies with a
deceptively simple looking concept

literacy, defined by the National Assessment of Adult

What We Teach


Literacy (2010) as “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s
goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” While we o
ften lament that our students


read, the reality, especially in the quantitatively oriented and jargon laden context of
business, is that many of our students

read. The American Institute of Research reported,
in its 2006 study on college stud
ents’ literacy, that 11% of the nation’s two year college students
possess “prose literacy” skills at only a “basic,” level; just 23% have reading skills classified as
“proficient.” Even more problematic for those of us who teach quantitative disciplines
such as
accounting, fully one third of two year college students had “quantitative literacy” skills
classified as “below basic” or basic (Baer et al 2006). Because the AIR’s sample of students in
two year colleges included only students in their last year

of study toward an associates degree,
the results pertain to students who have

any developmental learning classes required
to presumably bring their reading comprehension up to college level. How can we expect such
students to intelligently appr
oach accounting texts which are not only inherently quantitative but,
even at their best, are often not intrinsically engaging for our students?

A full introduction of accounting as the language of business, moreover, requires going
beyond accounting t
exts into the “literature” of business, including not just annual reports and
financial statements, but a wide spectrum of media with which a student must be comfortable to
keep abreast of developments in business in the Twenty
first Century. “Literacy,”
is a multi
faceted concept, and fluency in “the language of business” addresses nuances of
literacy beyond those of the AIR study. All students, regardless of major, need to attain a level

literacy, defined as “the ability to mak
e informed judgments and to take effective
actions regarding the current and future use and management of money,” (U.S. Department of
Treasury, 2010) and embodying ‘the ability to understand financial choices, plan for the future,
spend wisely, and manage
and be ready for life events such as job loss or saving for retirement”
(Rosacker et al, 2009). While the concept “financial literacy” is often applied to students’

What We Teach


abilities to manage and plan for their own personal financial situations, “business literacy,” is
more typically applied to the student’s preparedness to function within a business organization,

encompassing “the ability to use financial and business info
rmation to understand and make
decisions that help the organization achieve success.” (Business Literacy Institute, 2010).

In today’s information society, the concept of “literacy” necessarily goes beyond print on
paper. To enhance students’ abilities to
process critically the unceasing flood of information to
which they’re exposed, Hawes (1994) argues the need for business schools to teach “information
literacy,” defined by the American Library Association (1989) as the ability “to recognize when
ion is needed and…locate, valuate, and use effectively the needed information.” In
accounting classes, we have readily available a variety of media for teaching students to actually

the language of business. By incorporating different kinds of media

excerpts into my
accounting class, I have sought build on the notions of financial and business literacy to foster
media literacy

into my introductory accounting classes. The Center for Media Literacy (2010)
defines media literacy with a broad brush:

edia Literacy is a 21st century approach to education. It provides a
framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of

from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an
understanding of the role of media in soci
ety as well as essential skills of
inquiry and self

Inclusion of an explicit media literacy component into the class is aimed at enabling students to
better comprehend accounting concepts while facilitating their understanding of the importan
of accounting concepts both in business and in their everyday lives


Exercises in Media Literacy

My interest in incorporating media literacy into my accounting classes derives from frustration
over many of my students’ ignorance regarding current events in the real world of business. A

What We Teach


strong believer in writing
curriculum, I have previ
ously required my students to
complete a sequence of assignments during the course of each semester requiring analysis and

interpretation of various aspects of a number of different corporate annual reports. While many
students were successful in “going t
hrough the motions,” few showed the interest, curiosity, or
even the ability to relate accounting, the basic language of business, to anything that was going
on in the real world of business or to their own personal finances. I can teach my students to
ork problems” in accounting and even to make sense out of financial statements, but failure to
relate accounting concepts to the broader business world seemed a waste to me. I needed my
students, few of whom intend to major in accounting, to take somethin
g more from my class than
technical knowledge of the workings of annual reports.

New York Times
article (Hirsch, 2009) on the importance of

on reading
comprehension inspired my interest in guiding my students through a more varied set of readin
(and ultimately, viewings) than those generally associated with introductory accounting. From
the outset, however, I realized, that I wanted do more than merely ask my students to read and
summarize; I wanted to involve my students more deeply in their

exploration of business media.
My fortuitous participation in the Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellows Symposium in May,
2009, exposed me to a vast collection of techniques which I felt might engage my students in
their exploration of business media (Alb
y, 2009a and 2009b). Making frequent use of active
learning methods and carrying labels evoking their origins in the K
12 world such as “popcorn,”
“chalk talk,” and “fishbowl,” they are unashamed in their attempt to be entertaining, yet each is
to encourage students to think critically of the media excerpt under consideration.
Taken together, the assignments I fashioned were meant to sharer four characteristics:

They would expose the students to different types of media

They would guide the
students’ reading, listening, and/or watching with appropriate
instructions and questions

They would each require a written submission

What We Teach


They would include in
class activities which ask the students to think and respond in a
variety of ways

Table 1 lists the seven Media Literacy Assignments I used in the Fall, 2009, semester in my
introductory Financial Accounting section. Excerpts were drawn from
newspapers (especially
New York Times
, which has free access), internet articles, corporate annual reports, and
YouTube. Each assignment included a “preparation” step, providing guidance to the students’
reading or viewing and usually requiring a writ
ten submission, and a class activity step. The in
class discussion techniques in many cases seemed especially well suited to the cooperative
learning teams around which I organize my accounting classes (Burstein 2009). The appendix to
this paper provides

further details on the specific activities employed.


Student Response

After each assignment, students were asked to evaluate the extent to which they enjoyed the
assignment on a one
three scale as follows:

Table 1:


2009 Media Literacy Assignments




Class Activity


Deere Earnings

Newspaper Article

“Deere Posts 27% Decline in
Quarterly Profit’




Carters Inc.

Carter’s Inc. Letter to Shareholders





Entrepreneurs and
Credit Cards

“Should Entrepreneurs Minimize
Credit Card Debt?”

Advice to

Chalk Talk


Disney Earnings

YouTube: “Earnings Watch

Walt Disney Co.






Article: “GM Falls Short on Some
Goals, CEO Says”


Role play:


Student Debt

Set of Articles: “Room for Debate:
How Much Student Debt is Too


Likert Scale


Facebook Cash Flow

Two articles on Facebook Cash Flow

choice of



What We Teach


1. Not enjoyable

2. Somewhat enjoyable

3. Very enjoyable

Few students disliked the assignments, with most finding the assignments “somewhat enjoyable”
or “very enjoyable.” Table 1 shows the average “rating” for each assignment. Students gave the
highest scores to those assignments which got
them out of their seats and moving around the
room, especially the silent “chalk talk”, the somewhat more boisterous “fishbowl,” and the
preparation intensive video production.

At the end of the semester, students were surveyed on their overall impressio
n of the
assignments. Students were asked to respond using a five point Likert Scale (disagree strongly,
disagree somewhat, neutral, agree somewhat agree strongly) to the following three statements:


I find that the assignments help me improve my unders
tanding of the topics we’re
covering in the class


The assignments have helped improve my general knowledge of business.


I enjoy the break from routine class work which the assignments provide.

The accompanying chart summarizes the results
of the survey. Not surprisingly, the students
enjoyed the break from routine. The purpose of
the assignments, however, was to reach beyond
the students’ entertainment and enjoyment. Most
of the students agree
d, with nearly half agreeing
strongly, that the assignment helped improve general knowledge of business. While two thirds
of the students agreed that the assignments helped reinforce understanding of specific class
topics, this last question nonetheless g
enerated the weakest response of the three. As a result, I
have taken greater care going forward in coordinating the concepts underlying each media
literacy assignment with the specific concepts that we’re concurrently covering in class.

What We Teach


Fall Semester, 2009, Media Literacy Assignments

Assignment 1: Deere Earnings

(Week 2)

Media Excerpt
: Newspaper article “
Deere Posts 27% Decline in Quarterly Profit ,”

New York Times,
19, 2009, selected to acclimate students toward thinking about corporate earnings.

class Preparation
Guided Reading
: Students are asked to complete a structured response form asking
three questions:



sentence from the article which

you found especially difficult to
understand, and enter it below.


In a brief paragraph and in your own words, explain below what the article says
about the effect of the global economic downturn on Deere’s profit.


Suppose that you are an owner (shareho
lder) of Deere. Based on the article, explain
in a brief paragraph and in your own words whether you’d hold onto your shares in
Deere or sell them.

Class Activity
: Each cooperative learning team is assigned a different paragraph of the article,
focusing on the question “What needs to happen for Deere to have a better year (that is,
earn a higher profit) in 2010?” Teams designate one spokesperson to participate in a
“retelling” of the article.

Activity Reference:


Assignment 2: Carter’s Inc.

(Week 3)

Media Excerpt;
Letter to Shareholders from Carter’s Inc.
2008 annual report

class Preparation:

Guided Reading:
Students are asked to complete a structured response adhering to the
following instructions:


Select ONE sentence which you find especially interesting; cut and paste it (or copy
it) as response n
umber 1.


In a brief paragraph, discuss the overall "tone" of the letter, being sure to state who
the intended audience is and whether you think the tone is appropriate for the


Now try to "read between the lines" and state in a brief paragraph whether or not you
think 2008 was an especially good year for Carter's and why you think so.

Class Activity

Performance Assessment
. Cooperative learning teams use
team marker boards to write Letter to Shareholders

Cookie Company, the textbook example company (Ingram and
Albright, 2007), after its first month of operation, using the
financial statements derived in the tex
t and guided by the
following questions:


Who is the audience for the letter?


What is the letter trying to accomplish?


What information can you provide that makes your point?

What We Teach


Activity Reference:
Authentic Performance Assessment


Assignment 3: Entrepreneurs and Credit Cards

(Week 5)

Media Excerpt
: Newspaper article, ‘Should Entrepreneurs Minimize Credit Card Debt,” from New York
Times series on small business, September 1, 2009, discussing research findings on small
firms’ reliance on credit card debt. Many of our students are interested in small

and entrepreneurship.

class Preparation:

Response to

“Eight months ago, your friend Jessica started a custom t
shirt business located in mall
kiosk. Now Jessica wants to expand to two other malls but needs to pay six months’ ren
in advance of each of the kiosks. She has enough credit on her credit card to cover the
rent, but she’s wary of using her credit card for her business. Discovering that you have
recently acquired expertise in small business financing, she asks your opi
nion. What will
you tell her? In your answer, draw on information from the article and be sure your
response alludes to income, cash flow, and risk. “

Class Activity
Chalk Talk
. The question “Should Jessica use her credit card?” is written on the
marker board
to be addressed by students in an activity guided by
the following instructions:

Chalk Talk is a silent activity; nobody may talk
at all

Go up to the marker board and write words,
phrases, questions, etc.

Comment on or connect entries with cir
cles and

Maintain silence!!

Activity Reference:
Chalk Talk


Assignment 4: Disney Earnings

(Week 8)

Media Excerpt
: YouTube showing Bloomberg report on Disney earnings.

“Literacy” pertains to more than just

able to read intelligently, especially in today’s world, where so much information is
delivered in other than print media.

class preparation:
Guided Viewing
Students prepare notes on questions keyed to specific timings of the



How does the recession affect Disney’s income?



What specific income statement accounts does the recession affect?



Who is Peter Kwiatkowski, and why does he care about Disney?



How can “bottom line” results meet expectati
ons when “top line”
results fall below expectations?



What might steps now being taken to attract consumers to theme
parks imply for theme park revenues after the economy recovers?

What We Teach




How has the recession affected retail and entertain
ment businesses in



What’s the outlook for Disney’s future?



What does it mean for shares to be trading at “fair value?”


Video Production
. Each cooperative learning team is assigned a separate question as follows:

Red Team

How does the recession affect Disney’s income?

Green Team

What specific income statement accounts does the recession affect?

Blue Team

How can “bottom line” results me
et expectations when “top line”
results fall below expectations? (Recall that the “bottom line” is net
income and the “top line” is sales revenue.)

Purple Team

What might steps now being taken to attract consumers to theme
parks imply for theme park revenu
es after the economy recovers?

Orange Team

How has the recession affected retail and entertainment businesses in

Yellow Team

What’s the outlook for Disney’s future?

Each team prepares a brief presentation to be made by one or
more spokesperson
s which in effect recreates the earnings
report in the “Gordon Business News” format, featuring a
background of Gordon College buildings, complete with
stock ticker featuring Georgia based corporations. The
report is recorded, edited, and made available f
or the students
to watch.

Activity Reference:
Classroom Video Production


Assignment 5 (GM)

(Week 9)

Media Excerpt
: Newspaper article, ‘GM Falls Short on Some Goals, CEO Says,”
Wall Street Journal,
8, 2009

class preparation:


, asking students to discuss three strategies GM was pursuing as part
of its restructuring.


Role play
. Each cooperative learning team prepares one member to participate in a meeting of
the following five GM stakeholders, who have come together to discuss whether GM was
moving quickly enough to reduce costs and improve cash flow;

ple Team: A Representative of GM’s Chief Executive Officer, who is interested in
defending the progress which GM is making.

What We Teach


Blue Team: A Representative from the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry,
who wants to know whether GM’s actions are st
rengthening the U.S.
auto industry.

Green Team: An officer from Bank of America, representing Creditors, who want to
ensure that they’ll recover as much money as possible that has been
lent to GM.

Orange Team: A union leader from the United Auto Workers,
who is worried about
GM’s reduction in workforce.

Yellow Team: A senator from the Senate Commerce Committee, which wants to know
how quickly the government can sell its shares in GM and whether or
not it will make money in doing so.

Activity Reference:
Graphic Orga


Role Plays


6: Student Debt

(Week 11)

Media Excerpt
. Set of articles addressing the question “How Much Student Debt Is Too Much?” from
New York Times

series “Room for Debate,” featuring a panel of experts’ responses to
a question posed by the editor. (
New York Times

class Preparation:

Each member of a cooperative learning team is assigned a difference article in the set;
students prepare a written summary of the articles they’ve been assigned

Class Activity
Likert Scale Lineup
: Students discu
ss student loans in their
cooperative learning groups and then line up in front of signs
stating whether they “Disagree Strongly,’ “Disagree
Somewhat,” “Agree Somewhat,” or “Agree Strongly” with
the statement “Borrowing money for a college education is a
ood financial investment.”

Activity Reference:


Likert Scale Lineup


Assignment 7: Facebook Cash Flow

(Week 13)

Media Excerpt
: Two articles, one from Reuters and the other from wired.com, on positive cash flow reported
by Facebook in September, 2009. The article was chosen as we began the final stretch of
our semester long

to appreciate the difference between cash flow an
d income.

class Preparation:

Choice of Questions. Students provided answers to the following questions;


Answer any one of the following questions of your choice. Note that some of these
questions may require you to spend a few minutes doing resear
ch on the internet or

What We Teach


Who owns Facebook?

What does “capital spending” mean in the context of the Reuters article?

What’s an “IPO,” and what does it have to do with Facebook’s being able to
“command higher confidence from investors?”

Why do the w
riters have to make an “educated guess” about Facebook’s
revenue rather than just take it from Facebook’s financial statements?



of you

to answer the following question, which may require a brief

Why did I

these readings to illustrate the difference between cash flow
and income?

Class Activity
. After discussing
Face book’s

financial condition in their
cooperative learning
groups, students are invited to a “fishbowl,” a circle of

five chairs gov
erned by the
following rules;

I will ask for five volunteers to enter the fishbowl and
will choose people if I don’t get

Only people in the fishbowl can talk. They’ll be
discussing the question “Is Facebook making money/”

If you’re outside of the fishbowl and have something to
contribute, then wait for a pause in the conversation and
go sit down in the empty space. At that time, one person
should leave the fishbowl.

Activity Reference:
Fishbowl Discussion


What We Teach



Accounting Education Change Commission (1992),
The First Course in Accounting,

Position Paper no. 2,
Sarasota, FL: American Accounting Association

Alby, Cynthia, “What Can I Do Besides Lecture,” presentation to the Georgia Governor’s Teaching
Fellows Symposium, Athens, May 2009(a).

Alby, Cynthia, “Methods for Discussion,” present
ation to the Georgia Governor’s Teaching Fellows
Symposium, Athens, May 2009(b).

American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy,
Final Report,

Library Association, 1989

Baer, Justin D., Andrea Cook, and Stephane Baldi,
The Literacy of America’s College Students,”
American Institutes for Research, 2006.

Burstein Alan, “A Cooperative Learning Toy Chest,” presented at
Teaching Matters, Engaging
, Barnesville, GA
., March, 2009

Burstein, Alan and Karen McCarron, “Efficacy of the User Approach to Teaching Introduction to
Financial Accounting,” Paper presented at the Georgia Association of Accounting Educators,” Macon,
January, 2010

Business Literacy Institute, “Bu
siness Literacy: Training with Bottom Line Results,”
, n.d. accessed 3/15/2010

Hawes, Douglass, “Information Literacy and th
e Business Schools.”
Journal of Education for Business,”

vol. 70: Sept/Oct, 1994, pp. 54

Hirsch, E.D. “Reading Test Dummies,”
New York Times,

Op Ed Contribution, 3/23/2009.

Ingram, Robert W. and Thomas Albright,
Financial Accounting: Information for


Thomson, 2007

National Assessment of Adult Literacy, “Definition of Literacy,”
, n.d., accessed 3/15/2010

Rosacker, Kirsten,
Srini Ragothaman, and Michael Gillispie, “Financial Literacy of Freshman Business
School Students,” College Student Journal, Vol. 43: June, 2009, pp. 391

U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Literacy and Education Commission, “My Money,”
, n.d., accessed 3/15/2010

What We Teach


What We Teach


Don't Forget Direct Instruction

Sheryl Venable

Georgia Southwestern State University

Direct instruction has numerous meanings and definitions. These include the
led meaning, the cognitive strategies meaning, the DISTAR meaning, the undesirable
teaching meaning, and the teacher effects pattern meaning (Rosenshine, 2008). This article's
focus is the teacher effects pattern meaning. This form of dir
ect instruction is defined as teacher
led instruction comprising certain teacher
performed tasks.

Researchers who have developed teacher
performed tasks include Robert Slavin, Robert
Gagne, Madeline Hunter, and Barak Rosenshine (Huitt, 2003). This articl
e will address
Rosenshine's tasks. Rosenshine's sequence of direct instruction includes the following six steps:



Guided Practice

Corrections and feedback

Independent practice

Weekly and monthly reviews (Huitt, 2003)

During the
review step, the teacher should review homework. Homework should be
pertinent to the teacher's school's state standards. The teacher should also review important
previously taught concepts and any prerequisite skills needed for that day's lesson.

The sec
ond step is presentation. During this step, the teacher should identify the goals of
the lesson. These goals should be derived from the school's state standards. The teacher should

What We Teach


teach the material in small steps. Rosenshine's (2008) research revea
led that teachers who taught
material in small steps and had students practice those steps were more effective than those who
taught an entire lesson and had students complete worksheets. During the instruction process
teachers should model procedures, us
e examples and nonexamples and check for understandings.

The third and fourth steps are guided practice and corrections and feedback. These steps
are related and may overlap. Guided practice involves teachers asking students questions to
determine wheth
er or not they understand the material. This stage requires teachers to prepare
tasks for the entire class to perform under the his/her guidance. Guided practice should continue
until about 80% of the students have mastered the material.

The fourth s
tep is corrections and feedback which, as previously stated, is related to
guided practice. When teachers ask questions during guided practice and students hesitate,
teachers should go back over the procedure for getting the correct answer. This is call
ed process
feedback . When a student's answer is partially correct or incorrect, the teacher may try to get
more information from the student by asking more questions. This is called sustaining feedback
(Huitt, 2003).

The firth step is independent pract
ice. During independent practice, students work alone
and the teacher provides help when needed. Ideally, independent practice should continue until
the students are able to produce automatic responses.

The sixth and final step of Rosenshine's sequence
is weekly and monthly reviews.
Teachers should incorporate weekly and monthly reviews throughout the school year. Review
items may be included in homework and morning work. When teachers notice students are
forgetting or missing certain concepts, these
concepts should be re

Direct instruction has a strong positive side. According to Lindsey (2009), "direct
instruction is the dirty little secret of the educational establishment. This method, rich in

What We Teach


structure and drilling and content is the
opposite of the favored method so today's high
education gurus, and contradicts the popular theories that are taught to new teachers in our

universities. Direct instruction should be no secret at all, for it has been proven in the largest
l study ever and continues to bring remarkable success at low cost when it is
implemented." http://www.jefflindsay.com/EducData.shtml

The largest educational study was Project Follow Through. Completed in the 70's, it
costs $600 million and involved 79,
000 students in 180 communities. Its focus was
disadvantaged children in grades K
3. Subjects tested included reading, mathematics, spelling,
and language Of the programs and philosophies considered, direct instruction outshined all.
Cognitive skills a
nd self
esteem were higher in children taught by direct instruction. Lindsay
stated that "other program types, which closely resemble today's education strategies (having
labels like 'holistic,' 'student
centered learning,' 'active learning,' 'cooperative

education', and
'whole language') were inferior." Research revealed that direct instruction improves the
achievement of low academic students (Hayes, 2009) and is effective for teaching basic skills
(Woolfolk, 2010).

Direct instruction is associated wi
th negative aspects. Rosenshine's (2008) investigations
revealed that direct instruction is too dictatorial, promotes submissive learners, and involves a
teacher taking information and inserting it into students.

In conclusion, direct instruction is of o
ne of several teaching methods. It has several
definitions and this article focused on the teacher effects pattern definition. It should be viewed
as an instructional tool along with other teaching methods. Direct instruction appears to
facilitate teach
ing basic skills, and to be an effective teaching method for academically
disadvantaged students.

What We Teach



Hayes, E. (2009).
Education's dirty little secret
. Retrieved from



Huitt, W. (2003).
Classroom instruction
. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA:

Valdosta State University. Retrieved from


Lindsay, J. (2009).
What the data real show: Direct instruction really works!

Retrieved from


Rosenshine, B. (2008).
Five mea
nings of direct instruction
Center on Innovation and


Woolfolk, A. (2010).
Educational psychology

(10th ed.). Boston: Pearson

What We Teach


Alouette, Amélie and Au Revoir: The Beginning of your French Fluency

Dorothee Mertz

Armstrong Atlantic State University

What do I teach? French. Does it matter? I believe so. Even in the South of the United
States? I strongly believe so. According to the AATF (American Association of Teachers of
French), the top reasons to learn
French are as follows:


Be understood in 55 countries across five continents and by over 200 million people.


French is the third most common language on the Internet. Connect with pen pals, visit
foreign websites and find student exchange opportunities.


Get a head start on learning other Romance languages like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese
and Romanian.


French is a melodious and romantic language with a relatively quick learning curve.


Develop critical, creative thinking and problem solving skills. Frenc
h also provides the
base for more than 50% of the modern English vocabulary, which improves performance
on standardized tests.


Open the doors to art, music, fashion, food, architecture and literature.


Discover a new appreciation for other cultures in cou
ntries that speak French like:
France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco and many African nations.


Use French to pursue studies in Francophone countries.


Promote language diversity throughout the world.


Be more competitive in the national and interna
tional job market in disciplines like
business, medicine, aviation, law, transportation technologies, global/international
distribution and luxury goods.


French is the official working language of the UN, NATO, UNESCO, the International
Olympic Committee,

the European Union, the International Red Cross and much more!

Now that I have established that French is the most important world language to learn and to
know, how do I get my students, who, for the most part, are only taking my classes to fulfill the
foreign language requirement and not because they like it, to master that “beautiful language that
is so hard to learn”?

What We Teach


I often tell my students that the courses they take with me are obstacle courses: if they
were to only take classes in their majo
rs, they would do well for the evident reason that they
would only study what they like. Consequently, French, in this case, is not only part of their core
requirements so they become well
rounded individuals, but also to show their future employers
that t
hey can master something that is difficult to them, a subject that is out of their comfort
zone, a class that makes them use different parts of their brains, makes them think and innovate,
gives them better math and logic skills as well as an advantage on
the job market. Therefore, my
role is to motivate and make them understand that this obstacle course is beneficial to them.
Most of all, it is important to me that my students come out of their French class actually
speaking French.

In order to reach my
goal of French proficiency and motivation, I use technology. I
believe that this tool helps me “edutain” my students (a term that Don Marinelli and Randy
Pausch discussed in a Chronicle article
): I want to educate them but make it an enjoyable
at the same time. Interestingly,

AATF and ACTFL (American council on the teaching
of foreign languages) urge world language professors to use technology in their classrooms. The
AATF created a specific section on their website where professors can get mont
hly ideas on how
to use different technologies in their classrooms: the
AATF Telematics and New Technologies
The ACTFL website also presents articles on how to use technology in class, and
its yearly conference offers many sessions on the use o
f technology to enhance teaching and
learning in the foreign language classroom. What do these organizations know about the
enhancement of teaching languages with technology that we do not know?

According to ACTFL, there are five standards for Foreign Lang
uage Learning:
communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, communities.
Some of these goals can be


Edutainment for the
College Classroom

by Don Marinelli and Randy Pausch. March 19, 2004.
The Chronicle of
Higher Education

The Chronicle Review

What We Teach


reached in a regular classroom environment, but in my opinion, and that of AATF and ACTFL,
the use of specific technologies can create a world
room that would be even more effective.
In my classes, I incorporate music, films, conversation with real French students through the
web; technology overall is an asset in my everyday teaching.

: a song everyone knows.

Why does everyone remember
it? This song, which is
actually rather awful in its description of plucking a lark from head to toe, is not remembered for
its content, but for its repetitive melody, rhythm and sounds. It is often used in French classes to
teach body parts:

gentille alouette,

Lark, nice Lark

Alouette, je te plumerai

Lark, I will pluck you

je te plumerai la tête,

I will pluck your head

je te plumerai la tête

I will pluck your head

et la tête, et la tête,

And your head, and your head

e, alouette,

Lark, Lark

ah, ah, ah, ah…”


Not only does it have an easy melody to remember, but the words are not complicated either.
Moreover, as the song goes on, one just needs to replace one body part with another and the rest
of the song r
emains the same. Most of the time, this song is also accompanied by body
movements, showing which body part is being described, which brings another foreign language
teaching technique into the equation: that of TPR, or Total Physical Response. Obviously,
students learn differently; some learn by listening, others by reading, others by doing, and some
by writing. When using a song to teach a particular topic, I am able to reach out to other types of
learners because of the way a song is integrated into
a lesson. Before the song, we may review
what the body parts are in French with brainstorming activities, so students will hear what the

words sound like, and if I have them on a Powerpoint presentation, they will also see an image of
the word being referred to, as well as its written form. This satisfies visual and audio learners.


Translation mine.

What We Teach


Those who learn by writing may also benefit by copying th
e words down and drawing a picture
in their notebook.) The repetitive nature of the song allows students to hear the words being
pronounced and repeated several times, which helps in the memorization process.
tudents can

then fill
in the blanks of the te
xt with the different missing body parts

most learners are satisfied
here. Finally, when everyone has all the lyrics, we act out the song by singing it ourselves and
pointing to the different body parts. This final activity appeals to the kinesthetic lear
ners. One
element I have learned over the past twelve years is that looking silly has never killed anyone; I

make bird and plucking motions, as well as sing in front of my students to capture my students’
attention and maintain their interest. As long as i
t benefits my students’ learning I do not mind
performing like an actress in class. Many students write in their evaluations that what they
remember most from the class are the songs that we covered. I believe that adding gestures and
choosing songs that
are expressly repetitive helps in getting a message across, even if in a real
life situation, one may not talk about plucking birds on a regular basis. The body parts
vocabulary learned along with the song will be what students will remember, and prove use
ful if
they ever find themselves in a Francophone country, for example, they will be able to identify
the body part that hurts.

How is music linked to technology, especially when using the song Alouette? I find most
of the music I use on “Youtube.” In thi
s case, I used a karaoke/children’s version

.) Most of the songs I use are usually a little
more modern than “Alouette,” so students not only get vocabul
ary and grammar from these
exercises, but also pop culture. Many students tell me after a song that they went back to

to look for more songs by the same artist, or even went to buy a CD from that author.
The new trend is for my students to add Fran
cophone artists’ names into their Pandora radio

shelf (a new type of radio that only plays music you like), and songs in French are then mixed in
with their American favorites (

What We Teach


: a film eve
ryone knows. Movie making is known as the “Septième Art” (the
Seventh Art) in France. Using French or Francophone films in a French classroom is
consequently a must, especially since, according to the AATF, French is an asset in a theater or

career. In a language classroom, showing a film just to show a film is not
productive. When I decide to use a film in my class, I carefully choose a short segment (two
minutes at the most) around which a whole activity is based.

is set in Montmartr
e and
provides the perfect context for a segment on culture: the Paris monuments, the French
French art, the French
, the French market…. Or it can lead to a great lesson on food and
drinks and then onto cultural differences between the USA a
nd France on how we prepare meals
and what we eat for our different meals.

For our purposes, the lesson will be on the French café. Our pre
screening activity will be
a directed activity in a language lab equipped with computers and the internet. With thi
s activity,
students will understand the history behind the modern French café, the culture linked to it, the
politics linked to famous ones, the habits of people going to cafés in France, the products found
in a café, etc. Then, students will be asked to
imagine what they will see on screen, in Amélie’s
. While screening the film, students will have to identify the elements they imagined would
be in the café on screen, and the ones that are actually there, as well as the ones that are present
but they
had not thought about. Finally, students will continue the scene from the film by writing
a dialogue incorporating the cultural, vocabulary and grammatical elements they will have
learned previously.

This activity obviously involves technology: research o
n the internet and film showing.
But how did technology really enhance their French learning? I believe that culture is an integral
part of language learning. Without a good understanding of the culture associated with a

particular language, someone can n
ever be truly fluent in that language. Going to a café is most
probably one of the first things that someone visiting France will do. If my students come out of

What We Teach


the lesson with the

segment knowing how to order something at a café, it will be great.
But if in addition to being able to order they can fully appreciate the experience of the café
(getting an espresso that tastes like real coffee without a free refill, having a

ting on
you who is not necessarily the most joyful person in the world, having a heavy smoker sitting

near you, smoking at seven in the morning while you are trying to enjoy a
…) Because
they will be aware of that culture before going there throu
gh seeing it in
and researching
Internet websites, the experience will hopefully be even more enjoyable.

Not watching the whole film, especially when it is such a wonderful one as

can be
frustrating: if time is limited in the classroom, and i
t usually is, I suggest a film night during
which we can watch the film together and bring foods from around the Francophone world to
enjoy and make the experience a real cultural one.

Au revoir

marks the end of a conversation. Its counterpart is…?

The music and
film segments I use are great tools to

my students and bring them to a higher level of
fluency in French through memorization thanks to repetition or through cultural awareness, but
daily communication and practice are key to learn
ing. In order to make this daily practice more
beneficial to my students, I make my classes student
centered. Unfortunately, with up to thirty
students in a classroom, a one
one conversation between me and each student is impossible.
Fortunately, I can
open the walls of my classroom to the world with
a program that gives access
to educational cyberclassrooms through
, the free
Internet telephone service that allows you
to chat, share files and hyperlinks, and make videoconference calls. When one fol
lows simple
security rules, it is a very safe and inexpensive tool to use in order to reach people from all over
the world and communicate through microphones and webcams. In January 2008, I started using

as an exchange interface for my students at a
ll levels, so they can have a one

exchange with a Francophone person once a week and get an extremely high amount of practice
in one session: something that would be impossible in a regular classroom.

What We Teach


A lab equipped with computers and headsets is
the perfect setting to start a world
classroom where language students are able to practice with native
speakers of the language they
are learning to communicate, get even more insight on the culture of the language they are
studying, connect with their co
unterparts from other countries, compare their ways to the ones
they see on the computer screen from actual natives, and get a real
life practice that they would
never be able to experience in the regular classroom.

For oral communication to be successful
, one needs to interact, because vocabulary and
grammar are only one part of communication. This is the reason why adding webcams to the
experience is important. It is true that students could simply use the headsets and listen to their
counterparts, but t
he possibility to see the person one is communicating with is also a great part
of language learning and culture understanding. Many studies have shown that body language is
very important in communication, and the ability to see lip movement when an inter
locutor is
speaking helps in understanding what the person is saying, especially in foreign language
learning. Also, seeing people from different countries and exchanging with them will help in
breaking stereotypes. Being able to speak on a weekly basis wi
th native speakers of French
improves students’ language skills and confidence in their ability to express themselves in a
foreign language and does expand the classroom walls to the entire world.

During those sessions, my students have workbooks with gui
ded conversation topics
related exactly to the vocabulary, grammatical or cultural topic just discussed in the regular
classroom. Of course, students can improvise and ask questions of their own to their partners,
they are not limited to the questions on p
aper, but the conversation guides help keep the students
on track and allow them to have a back
up in case they run out of their own ideas. The
conversations usually last 50 minutes and start in French (meaning my students and their

counterparts both spea
k French) for 20
25 minutes, and then switch to English for the second
half of the conversation, so that the French counterparts can practice their English. Since this is a

What We Teach


conversation exchange, it benefits people on both sides of the ocean.
offers an instant
messaging function that allows partners to write what they cannot understand and consequently
give immediate feedback. Students learn a lot more through these live exchanges than through a
textbook: they can get direct answers to their qu
estions, can see bodily reactions associated with
conversation in French, and are exposed to “real” spoken French, with slang words,

bbreviations, and idiomatic expressions that are not found in the textbook or that I do not have
the time to teach in cla
ss. Creating a world classroom not only benefits the foreign language
students but also helps me develop as a language professor, because I observe where their