Month: August 2014

VFF: Promoting Student Autonomy

Virginia International University’s School of Education welcomes all to join us for the September event in our Voices from the Field speaker series: a presentation entitled “Promoting Student Autonomy.” In this first talk of the Fall semester, our distinguished guest speaker, Dr. Heather Weger, will discuss how authentic, task-based activities can scaffold learning in multi-level classes.

  • Date: Thursday, September 11, 2014
  • Time: 2:00 PM  – 3:00 PM
  • Location: Waples Mill Conference Room
    11200 Waples Mill Road, #360, Fairfax, VA  22030

Description of Talk

When educators find themselves faced with a classroom full of learners possessing a variety of skills, interests, and goals, they may ask:

  • How can I individualize activities to provide both sufficient scaffolding and appropriate challenges for students at different levels of ability?
  • How can I ensure that tasks will be stimulating and motivating for all students?
  • Give the myriad demands on my time, how can I do this efficiently?

In this session, drawing on principles of student autonomy, authentic materials, and task-based learning, the presenter will outline two media-based projects (one written, one oral) that educators can use to scaffold, challenge, and inspire students toward the development of content-area knowledge, skills, and level-appropriate language use.

Dr. Heather Weger

Speaker Bio

Dr. Heather Weger is a Senior Instructor for the Center for Language Education and Development at Georgetown University. With a PhD in Applied Linguistics and over 10 years of English teaching experience in the US and abroad, she promotes a task-based, integrated-skills approach to teaching academic English skills for international students. She is passionate about curriculum and assessment design as well as facilitating language teacher education opportunities. She has combined these passions through her work as a consultant for the Universidad del Norte in Colombia, and by pursuing an active research agenda into individual differences in language acquisition, student motivation in formal classroom settings, and adult learners’ constructions of their identities.


This event is open to all VIU students, staff, and faculty, as well as members of the surrounding community.

To learn more about participating in Voices from the Field, please contact Mr. Kevin Martin at, follow us on social media @SEDatVIU and @TESOLVIU, and visit the School of Education’s website at


Education Students Visit Historic Schoolhouse

Field Trip to the Vale Schoolhouse

By Elif Sigindere Omur

The Summer II EDUC 500: “Introduction to Education and Educational Research” class visited the Vale Schoolhouse on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 along with Dr. Rebecca Sachs and Dr. Jillian Wendt. Members of the Vale Club and Friends of the Vale Schoolhouse, Liz Jones and Chris Leichweis, hosted the visit and shared their expertise. It was a wonderful experience for all of us. We had the opportunity to see how education was approached in the past in Fairfax County.

Students attended the school from the surrounding Oakton, VA area from 1884-1931. The schoolhouse consisted of just two rooms—one room for primary students and one room for secondary students—with two doors for entry into the main area of the schoolhouse. One door was used for girls while the other one was for boys. During class, girls were typically seated on one side of each room while boys sat on the other. Class was started by ringing a bell, which towered over the schoolhouse and could be rung from indoors. The schoolhouse was heated by a small pot-bellied stove. Students were required to provide wood for heating the school in the cold winter months.

Elif Sigindere Omur is a first-year graduate student in the Master of Education program at VIU. More information on the Vale Schoolhouse can be found at Additional information about the School of Education can be found at