Editor’s note: In this piece, we catch up with TIRF Trustee Jodi Crandall, Professor Emerita at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country.
This past summer and fall have been busy times for TIRF Trustee Jodi Crandall. In July, she was in Hangzhou as an invited speaker for the 2019 Global English Education China Assembly. The theme of the conference, which was sponsored by several organizations, including China Daily and TESOL International Association, was “English Education in China: A New Era, A Shared Vision.” At the request of the conference organizers, Jodi spoke on “Content-Based Instruction (CBI) and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL): Approaches and Activities for Integrating Language and Content Instruction.” The talk emphasized project-based learning, which aligned with what became a major theme of the conference: task-based (or project-based) learning. More than 2,600 English language teachers and researchers attended the three-day conference. Of special interest was the way in which each plenary speaker’s words were provided in surtitles in both languages, translating from Chinese to English or English to Chinese, and making corrections as more context and content became available through the speech. This procedure used what TIRF Trustee, Michael Carrier, said was probably a combination of automated speech recognition and machine translation.
Following the Chinese Assembly, several of the speakers spent two days in Haichang, learning about English education there. Jodi spoke to about 400 secondary school students — a real challenge – but including them in a number of activities proved to be a fascinating experience. Jodi was trying to convince them that “Learning English Can Be Interesting and Fun,” which was the title of her talk. She asked the students what they did outside of class that involved listening, speaking, reading, or writing English. Jodi’s final challenge to the students involved asking them to use their bodies to spell “ENGLISH.”
In August, Jodi worked with Anita Bright, who serves as the program coordinator for TESOL and CAEP (the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation) with a group of faculty and administrators from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. They explored some possible directions for helping all teacher education students to become better prepared to teach English learners in their classes. Anita introduced the new Standards for Initial TESOL Pre-K-12 Teacher Preparation Programs, giving the participants time to consider which of these might be integrated into the current curriculum soon and which might be better held for later; then Jodi provided some potential models for integrating these standards into their curriculum. In August, she also spent some time with six Egyptian Junior Fulbright Scholars who were at UMBC (where she formerly taught), and at their request, spent some time helping them develop potential research grant proposals.
More recently, Jodi served as a consultant for the Baltimore Secondary Literacy Improvement Community. There, she talked with teachers and administrators about ways of increasing the effectiveness of literacy instruction for English Learners (of all proficiency levels), who were having difficulty with required standardized assessments. One recommendation emerged from a five-year project she directed with two high schools and two of their feeder middle schools (with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). Its purpose was to increase attention to both reading and writing across the curriculum, to bring teachers of other disciplines to work together with English language teachers.
Recently, Jodi and one of her former doctoral students, Dr. Asli Hassan, spoke about “Using Lesson Study in Collaborative Teacher Development Across Disciplines” at the International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI) in Seville, Spain. With Lesson Study, groups of teachers engage in planning a lesson, which is then taught by one of the group members while the others observe, focusing on students and student learning. After the observation, the group reflects on the lesson and either revises it or uses insights from the observation to plan the next lesson together. While Lesson Study is usually used with teachers who share the same discipline, in the two projects discussed in this presentation, teachers from different disciplines (science, mathematics, and English) engaged in co-planning lessons that integrated content from across the disciplines.
So, although Jodi may be officially “retired,” she is still quite busy, doing what she says she loves: working with teachers, administrators, schools, and universities!