Welcome to señora Layport's website!
Ms. Layport's philosophy:
" I believe that the key to increase students interest for learning a language lies in the teacher’s approach and teaching methods used."
Ms. Layport's background:
"El puente de las Americas" "Panama City" "Panama Canal"
I was born in Panama City, Panama a small country in Central America. It is mostly known for its canal and beautiful beaches. There I lived most of my life and worked as elementary school teacher. In 1992 I moved to the United State with my family. Today I live in Lorain a small city in the state of Ohio, and I am proud to say that I am a grandmother of three beautiful children.
My passion is teaching Spanish to all type of learners. I have been teaching Spanish in the USA for eleven years. I started teaching Spanish at Lorain County Community College in the year 2,000. More recently I was hired as Spanish teacher in a very prestigious High School, Amherst Marion L. Steele. Here I have had the most rewarding experience as a Spanish teacher, but I have found that students need to increase their learning motivation. It seems to be a countrywide problem! In my classroom, teaching and learning Spanish has become a challenge.
In looking for solutions and tools to improve my teaching style, I enrolled at the Full Sail University Education Media Design and Technology program in the year 2010. Through this program I discovered that schools in the USA in general are not always taking into consideration the potential of the digital age to stimulate learners. Being introduced to the 21st century technologies, through this program has made an impact on my classroom procedures and management. With the development of my Action Research project last year in my classroom, I have experienced both challenge and praise among my students, staff, parents, and administrators.
My Action Research Project at Marion L. Steele High School was intended to increase my students’ motivation by teaching the Hispanic culture with use of WebQuest. I have learned that students need to make connections in order for true learning to occur. Why learn Spanish when students don’t see a connection to their own reality? Through WebQuests students developed an appreciation of cultural differences and similarities among Spanish speaking countries and their own. With the use of the technology available students were directed to discover and learn in ways otherwise not possible. My ARP increased my students motivation at Steele, and also helped them to become global citizens.
Ms. Layport's Action Research Project Summary
The purpose of my action research project was to increase my students’ motivation to learn the Spanish language by making the connections through the Hispanic culture and through the use of the WebQuest approach.
I began by asking, I wonder what would happen if I guide students to become more knowledgeable of the Hispanic culture by using the technology and allowing them to discover and experience a new way of learning about it? I learned about a teaching tool or technique called “WebQuest” and decided to try it with my students.
I hoped to demonstrate how I would improve my practice as well as how I could contribute to the body of literature done on the WebQuest approach as a tool to increase motivation among students.
Today’s revolution of technology has spectacularly changed teachers abilities to reach out to students. Researchers recognize the impact of integrating WebQuests into teaching; they are the means that help students connect learning to real world experiences. Through WebQuests, educators can enhance the learning experience and create an engaging environment.
With WebQuest lessons, students work on a key aspect of reading and writing. Students experience a sense of empowerment through acquiring and reinforcing the academic content. WebQuests engage all students regardless of their abilities while giving accurate feedback and producing measurable outcomes that can be assessed by the educator. Learning takes place by creating an informal, stimulating, and creative environment while applying 21st century skills.
“One of the goals in learning a language is to incorporate the systematized study of culture into foreign language classes, because knowledge of the cultural contexts in which languages are spoken is essential to achieving true mastery of a foreign language” (National Standards, 2006, p. 31). “Unfortunately examples of how this can be effectively accomplished in a language course are limited” (Alstaedter & Jones, 2009, p.641). To address this need Alsteadter and Jones (2009) designed a Web-based inquiry project and a research study to examine how the inquiry project would affect students’ ability, perceptions, and values related to the Spanish language and the Hispanic culture. They investigated the appropriateness of a specific WebQuest task designed for students who have a foreign language proficiency level of novice-low or novice-mid. My Action Research Project goals were to expose my students to the WebQuest experience appropriately, precisely, and clearly. I wanted my students to view this challenge as an opportunity to make their own choices of what information to include, discuss, and present.
Researchers have studied WebQuests for many years now and its use in education. According to Laborda (2009) “WebQuest are a very common way of using Web resources to research a variety of topics, and if appropriately used can trigger the situations necessary to develop both writing and oral communications” (p. 258). The WebQuest model developed by Dodge was originally a workshop for teachers of all subjects. Dodge prepared activities that allowed for teachers from all content areas to collaborate. The dynamic in which Dodge (1995) was guiding motivated him to design the WebQuest strategy. He observed teachers’ enthusiasm and discussions about different topics. WebQuests then became a new way to learn.
WebQuests allow teachers to create an environment that promotes student centered learning, cooperative learning, critical thinking, and evaluation methods by using the Internet. “When engaged in a WebQuest, students use technology to experience cooperative learning and discovery learning while honing their research, writing, and presentation skills” (Salsovic, 2009, p. 670). According to Salsovic, it has been found that using experiential activities in the classroom greatly improves motivation, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities. Moreover, they found in their study that WebQuests encourage students to see the relevance in the knowledge they gain from solving authentic problems. Schwerizer and Kossow (2007) state when students use WebQuests, they use the same knowledge they might use for a short essay or presentation to create a product that has real-world value.
Sen and Neufeld (2006) agreed that the underlying reason for using WebQuests is not simply the popularity of the Internet or the Web but rather to guide students in the research without providing answers. These writers found that WebQuests present a unique opportunity to combine a wide range of effective instructional practices in one activity, integrating technology, scaffolding, collaborative learning, critical thinking, authentic assessment and constructivism all in one seamless bundle.
Analysis of Instructional Problem
Like many teachers across the country, I was concerned about my students lack of motivation. In order to improve my practice as a Spanish teacher I wanted to get my students motivated to learn Spanish. After learning from the WebQuest approach through New Mexico University, I researched a huge amount of articles regarding "WebQuests." I then decided to incorporate the use of WebQuest in my classroom hoping to increase my students motivation and interest in learning Spanish.
I was targeting high school students grades 9-12.
DesignInstructional Design Constraints
Cycle 1: March, April, and May
Cycle 2: September, October, and November
Subject or Content Spanish and the Hispanic culture.
Instructional Theory or Outcome
The theory that best supports my AR project's goals is the discussion approach to instruction. This approach emphasizes learning and not teaching and the importance of deep critical thinking, sharp analytical skills, and empowerment of learners. With application of WebQuests students will have the unique opportunity to combine a wide range of effective instructional practices in one activity, integrating technology, scaffolding, collaborative learning, critical thinking, authentic assessment and constructivism.
Cognitive: students will manage their own learning by searching the information and originating meaning in what is offered to them. Students will also develop their intellectual skills by knowing how to search the information, read, identify, classify, and interpret it. Another essential part of the research is to lead students to re-state the information gathered.
Action Research Goal:
Improve and/or increase motivation among my students learning Spanish through the use of WebQuest.
Collected existing WebQuests and created new ones based on the curriculum standards.
Students needed to have access to a computer.
Design WebQuests for all levels
Read peer evaluated articles
Search the Internet and collaborate with others
Discussions and feedback
Reflect about AR project
Create concept maps
Implementation Students will:
• Complete their WebQuests related to a Spanish speaking country.
• Learn about all six WebQuest components or critical attributes: introduction, task, process, evaluation, conclusion, and resources
• Research different Websites available to gather specific information about the Spanish speaking country's flag, government, food, geography, music, costumes, and values
• Type and save their findings in a Word document.
• Evaluate the reliability of the information gathered.
• Collaborate and create a concept map using the target language.
• Discuss their findings.
• Interchange information.
• Determine the cultural differences between the Spanish speaking region/country and The United States.
• Write a short essay reflecting on the project.
EvaluationValidity & Evaluation Data
Students completed a reflective essay as part of the WebQuest project. They synthesized the knowledge gained from the WebQuest, compared and contrasted cultural traditions with the United States. They reflected on the impact of the knowledge and cultural understanding they had gained from the WebQuest. I collected my students' reflections, transferred and analyzed them qualitatively.
I used a WebQuest questionnaire (survey) to obtain summative data. I asked questions such as “was the design of the WebQuest task effective?.” This questionnaire had a number of questions related to the WebQuest design, Spanish skills, and the content.
ARP Cycle 1
I found out that about 75% of my students believed that completing the WebQuest helped them to learned about the Hispanic culture and understand the similarities and differences between the United States and the Spanish speaking country studied. I also found out that about 10% of my students believed that they did not have enough computer time to complete their WebQuests. Many students felt that they gained some computer skills they didn’t have before starting their WebQuests.
About 60% of my Students did not have the necessary computer skills
99% of my Students did not know what a “concept map” was.
ARP Cycle 2
I decided to read more peer reviewed articles and find a common denominator that could help me to better present this tool to my students. Then I learned more about the “six critical attributes” that a well-designed WebQuest should include: an introduction, a task, information sources, a description of the process, guidance on how information should be organized, and a conclusion.
When I revised my Puerto Rico WebQuest with two of my critical friends, we found that it had the six critical attributes and that it was developmentally appropriate for my high school students.
The introduction was clear and promoted critical thinking. Students were asked to find and gather the most relevant information about Puerto Rico that would be appealing to a traveler.
The tasks were to complete a brochure, and concept map and a reflective essay. These tasks gave students opportunities for collaboration, discussion among group members, and hands on activities.
I also revised the design and how it was delivered to students. Students were motivated, interacting, and curious. I also observed that the Websites selected were relevant to the project and were helping students to gather information in an organized manner. There were plenty of opportunities for interaction, discussion, and collaboration.
Learning a second language can be very difficult if students are not motivated. The use of WebQuests in the Spanish classroom can help learners to make the connection between the new language and their own. Authentic materials presented through WebQuests are valuable resources for Spanish teachers to incorporate in their daily lessons. WebQuests provide opportunities for students to experience authentic language and cultural practices in a real hands-on approach. This is beneficial to the students’ development of cultural awareness. Moreover, researchers expressed that WebQuests, used effectively, can increase students engagement, learning, and motivation. The WebQuests approach is a classroom technique that utilizes technology and can be used in any academic subject. In the Spanish classroom the WebQuest approach can empower and motivate students to learn the language. They will be able to make connections between their mother language and the targeted language using the WebQuest approach. When students understand other culture practices, learning a second language makes more sense to them. As a result their motivation and their Spanish language skills will improve and/or increase.
ARP Students Reflections
John Ocasio wrote:
I really like this web quest project, it let me get to learn things I never knew about Puerto Rico. I have visited my family out there and I still didn’t gain as much information as I did during this project. We had so much information to learn and gain from over the web. There is lots more information to learn about Puerto Rico, and I can say that I learned lots of it, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it, and gain more information on my cultural background.
Vincent DeMarco wrote:
I am happy to have joined this class, it is very entertaining and the teacher is great. This essay is directed towards the facts and information I have learned during the first 9 weeks of Spanish class. It is also, a reflection on Puerto Rico, and the government, terrain qualities, and the culture of its people. First, I will explain the synthesis of factual knowledge gained, next will be the comparison and contrast of cultural traditions in Puerto Rico and the United States. Finally, in this essay I will finish of with a personal reflection on the impact of knowledge and cultural understanding gained...
Annie Nickoloff wrote:
Using webquest made finding reliable information very convenient. My group divided the information to different members, and I had the responsibility of researching Puerto Rican culture and history. I learned about different events and the dates they occurred, including Columbus finding Puerto Rico on his second voyage, slaves being brought there, the deadly hurricanes that have occurred on the island. Also, I learned about the times Puerto Rico began to emigrate to the United States to look for better jobs, and when famous presidents have visited the island. Many important events have happened in Puerto Rico's history. Puerto Rican culture is very diverse and interesting. The architecture found on the island is Spanish, and there are a few world heritage sites, one of which was used as a fort to protect Spaniards from attacks of cannibalistic tribes. Puerto Rican food includes coffee, soup, chicken, and Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer. Sports are popular in Puerto Rico- baseball is probably the most popular. There are also many areas for tourist activities, including fishing, sailing, biking, hiking...
Using webquest, I found all of my information very easily. There are a lot of things that webquest helped me with for my report. I learned about Puerto Rico’s physical geography, history, culture, people, government, economy, money, music and national flag. I also learned that Puerto Rico is very cultural. The climate in Puerto Rico is very warm. Puerto Rico consists of many rainforests, deserts, grasslands, beaches, caves, oceans and freshwater rivers. Its physical regions have the interior being very mountainous and the outer edge is quite smooth and sandy. Puerto Rican history has taught me all the customs of living they go by. I have had the opportunity to observe and take notes on their culture...
I am grateful that I had to opportunity to study Puerto Rico and it’s culture. I learned a lot from this report. When I look into my studies, I can appreciate them a little more. This knowledge has impacted me because I have more respect for Puerto Rican customs. I will look different into my studies. Thank you for letting me experience this. I am forever grateful...
Xing Dong wrote:
The impact of the knowledge and cultural understanding gained varies on what information. I do remember some facts due to aggravating repetitiveness. But stuff that I only read once online I do not remember at all. I know the culture in Puerto is much more complex than ours. Some would say colourful. Some Puerto Rican customs may seem absurd to us, but to them it’d be rude not to. The people there are very welcoming. I think I learned more facts (e.t. capital, government, currency) than cultural things like greetings and manners...
World Language Standards
Señora Layport's Website
Amherst Steele High School
450 Washington Street Amherst, OH 44001-1552