Language Sensei

Thoughts on The Journey of Teaching Languages

November 9, 2016
by leesensei
2 Comments

Talk, Stand, Switch….Developing Independent “Mixing” Skills

In my classes we do a lot of talking with different partners, often gathering information from them to use in class. Whether it is Yr1 finding out how often their classmates eat their favourite foods, or Yr4 creating and sharing their own stories, I ask my students (in a given period of time) to talk to a number of people. But…I hate being the timer. I hate having to direct my students “New partner please…”. I want to build in their capacity to meet, talk, and then ‘move on’. In the interest of building a class community also want to have them work with/talk to students they might not normally speak to. So I have been experimenting with what I call “Talk, Stand, Switch”.

Basically I set out the challenge – how many I would like them to try to talk with in the time period given (they know that there is no maximum – they keep going until time is up.)Then I tell them – when your pair is finished stand –  look around the room – and get a new partner from the others that are also standing.  Students move to the ‘open person’ – even if they don’t know them. They may work with someone who is weaker or stronger than them and that brings helping/circumlocution skills into play.

I used this yesterday with my Yr1’s as they spoke with each other for 22 minutes (!) in the TL discussing food preferences. Yes I had to do some guiding “Sam, Janie looks like she needs a partner!” However the majority of students moved easily to the ‘open person’. It was great – and many of them on their “How Did That Go?” rubric written response commented on how nice it was to meet new people.

It’s a simple thing – but I hope it builds the expectation in class that we work with ‘everyone’….that our class community is a safe place to risk, try and learn…

Colleen

October 28, 2016
by leesensei
2 Comments

In Defense of the “Flashcard” Or “Yes I Use Them….!”

sentence cardsI notice flashcards talking some ‘heat’ on #langchat these days. “Not communicative”, “no real purpose for learning” etc. say the tweets. Mention the word in a tweet and watch your feed light up. Well…I like ’em. Yup I do. I use them a lot in my classes. I have flashcards sets for almost every unit in my Year 1 and 2 classes. However it is how and when I choose to use them that makes me okay with that…

Generally my flashcards do not use English and they are not electronic. They are a picture and another one with the word in the Target Language. Sometimes they are pictures only.  They are based on our ‘base’ vocabulary that I think we all should know. They are based on images we have used in class – the ones on the board as we told a story and introduced new vocabulary. If there is a key one we all want we add it.  Note – I have the classic solo-review flashcards on my Quizlet site (okay I don’t have the paid version for images – one day maybe).

The flashcards are never the purpose of the lesson that day. They are a warm-up, a 10 minute review, or a tool to a more communicative activity. They are not for ‘teaching’ – they are for short bursts of practice or review of something students have already encountered. My students always use them in class with a partner. Okay – sometimes I throw in one or two new words – they like to ‘find’ out things and its a backwards way to add 1 or 2 new words to the mix.

I use them many ways.  We use them in a ‘classic’  match the picture/word activity. Sometimes we play ‘grab the card’ with the pictures only (I call out the word – first one to grab it gets it) Other times we shuffle the whole deck – see the word-give the English; see the picture-give the Target Language. Always done as a pair…never in a ‘memorize this’ as an individual drill way.

But I have extended this – I use them for my novices as they get used to making sentences – essentially using visuals to create as they practice particular structures. We have used the pictures to create stories (always allow them to add 2 hand-drawn ones to spice up their story) and this becomes a story-relating activity. I have used this with student-generated flashcards for example in my Yr 4 class – and it became a 50 minute TL presentational/interpersonal experience.

I am convinced that we need to offer students a chance to learn in many ways. Some students learn visually and for some the kinetic flip of the card helps.  If we are working on something, and it involves vocabulary and they are trying to add it to their repertoire this is one way to do that.  I am convinced that they like to feel some confidence that they are learning and this is one way, and only one small way, to show them they are. “I know this” is a powerful inner statement. And working with a partner on these means that they have another person to support them (or to help find the word with).  It is a way to reinforce that does not involve a written worksheet – and this oral ‘worksheet’ is effective for them. No it does not appeal to all. No we will not be having a test on this ‘list’ of words. Yes we will be using these words in class in interpersonal and presentational activities. Every year I ask students “What is something that you found helpful/beneficial in class? What is something we did/use that helps you learn?” and it shocks me the number that say “the flashcards we use”.

So…there…I’ve said it. I like flashcards…

Do you use them in your classes…and if so…how?

Colleen

October 21, 2016
by leesensei
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Why My Year1’s Don’t Know The Word For “Homework” (They DO Know The Word “Preparation”)

img_0798The issue of ‘homework’ is big with teachers. What is homework? Should it be assigned? What about ‘choice’ homework? What about ‘no homework’ policies? I’ve had an ongoing ‘wrestle’ with this issue as well. I have hated the negativity around the word. I’ve watched kids struggle in their first year of high school with the mounds of math homework assigned. I don’t want to ‘assign’  a lot of work and, as far as I am concerned if you can show understanding/mastery on question 4, why do you have to do 20 more? Long ago I made the decision to not have them do homework for homework’s sake. But….

I do see a role in work that is not done in class but will be used in class – for class activities etc. Work that students do so that we can use our class time really using the language effectively for communication. So this year I made a change. I banished the word ‘homework’ from my room. Because, really it isn’t homework for me. What it is is ‘next day preparation’ (in my TL I choose to use the word “junbi”/じゅんび). I’m asking you the student to get something ready to be used the next day in class. It may be a self-generated piece showing understanding of the concept (like a ‘Sketch & Share‘), it may be watching a video a la a ‘flipped lesson’. It may be any number of things that will be used in class. But what it is not – is homework.

So I’ve erased that portion of my board that used to be titled ‘homework’ and put up the word ‘preparation’. In my class outlines I removed the word and replaced with ‘next day preparation’. In student monitor speeches (it’s a Japanese way to start a class) they no longer mention if there was homework but now say “we had things to prepare for today’s class”. It is all designed to instill in the students that what they do outside of class is important for what we do inside the classroom. That they have a role in how the class functions. That they also have a job to do in preparing to learn. They may not have something to prepare for every day, but when they do it needs to be done for their role in class to proceed as effectively as possible.

My students know that if they have not completed their preparation (and it happens to everyone once in a while), they are to see me prior to class to explain this and offer a solution as to when I will see the work done. I know that this ‘shift’ to preparing and away from ‘homework’ is starting when a young Gr 9 looked at me and said “Sensei, I don’t have my junbi for today…may I show it to you at lunch?”

It is my vow that my students will never know the word for homework….but they will know that they have things to do to help prepare for the class….

Thoughts?

Colleen

October 19, 2016
by leesensei
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Pre-Bell: The Short Vocabulary Video Intro/Review…

First off we don’t have bells in our school. But we do have time when students are in the room prior to class starting and I want to use this time to set the environment for learning. This year with my Year1’s I have started experimenting with a video to either reinforce or introduce a concept.

Today this involved the idea of counting how many people there are. We use it a lot in our “What Is Your Family Like? What Are Japanese Families Like?” unit. It’s a pretty simple and easy concept. Instead of embedding it in a story to introduce…I chose a more ‘direct’ visual approach. I searched YouTube for a video – ‘counting people in Japanese‘ and found a fun one including visuals, subtitles and an annoyingly catchy tune. Note that, due to wifi unreliability I download the video from Youtube. Then, I put the video into Quicktime (or a similar program) and set it to play on a loop. As students entered it played, over and over, and when we were ready to begin I asked the class, in the Target Language, “How many people at this table?”. They all responded. We went around with variations and then extended it to “How many people in your family?”…done…easily, in context, and without my direct teaching of it. We went on to use the information in class activities. As they finished up some ‘next day preparation’ I played the audio on a loop as well….Finally prior to leaving I asked them to tell their partner how you said “one person” or “two people” in Japanese. All could…

Another example – Days of the month – which in Japanese involve a variety of special words for the days 1-10, 14, 20 and 24. I want them to be able to say their own birthday but at least to recognize a classmates date of birth when they hear it. So I found a wacky video made by some students in Australia. Again it played on a loop…Again we used it afterwards via audio to reinforce.

Instead of vocabulary you could use a commercial or other short piece of video that highlights a particular language concept. I looped a small scene from the drama we watch yesterday in order to pull out the phrase related to ‘intend to do’. There are a wealth of videos out there for almost any topic in almost every language (I do find that it is vocabulary that is most prevalent). This is by no means the only way that students will encounter these words/concepts as we will use them in embedded readings and more activities. But it is a quick way to introduce and/or reinforce…and hopefully engage…

Colleen

PS – The day after the ‘counting people’ video I put it on at the start of class again. And what happened? Singing. Yes – almost the whole class singing the song…then I turned off the projector and they sang with the song audio…then I turned off the audio and they sang. Finally they counted with their partner…I’m off looking for more ‘quick hit’ videos!

October 9, 2016
by leesensei
0 comments

Who Is The Focus? From “Centre Stage” to “Coaching Corner”…

file000981898347I’ve worked a lot to “re-orient” my teaching over the past few years. This is not just in the ‘way’ I teach, the ‘how’ of assessment and the ‘what’ of the new content of my courses. There’s another way I have signaled my change in teaching and that is in the physical set-up of my room. It began with the seating – when I realized that I could talk all day about communication, but if I didn’t support my students by creating the environment then I was really just that – all talk. So I changed the seating and have not regretted a day since I did.

There has been another issue in my class – my ‘computer’ working desk. Before I go further we have limited wi-fi and are not a 1:1 school. I am tied to using my laptop computer/LCD in a traditional classroom setting. And I am further tied down by where my ‘screen’ was located. In that traditional place, smack dab in the centre of the room. Smack dab in the middle of the white boards. And that put me smack dab in the middle of all of the action. I have been increasingly uncomfortable with this; with all of the student desks oriented so that they could see me in the middle. I’m trying to get out of the way of my student’s learning. I’m trying to minimize the time that I am front and centre. I’m trying to model that I am the ‘coach’ and what coach makes it all about them?

Finally I could stand it no more. We have a new principal this year and I am grateful that he really ‘gets’ that we are in changing times. So I went to him and said that I was tired of being in the middle of the action. And that I wanted to make a physical gesture to my students that they are the focus – not me. My principal got right on it with a simple work order and faster than both of us imagined the change was made. room

I am so pleased with my ‘new’ setup. I have way more board space to put up information that students need. The room is actually more ‘roomy’ because the computer desk is no longer the physically there. But most importantly I no longer have to be in the middle. I’m now really the coach in the corner (Canadians – no Don Cherry references please!).

We can talk a lot about our philosophy of teaching. But I also think it is also the physical setup changes that hammer home to students that ‘things are different’ here.

Colleen

September 20, 2016
by leesensei
11 Comments

“I’m not doing enough!!!!” Learning to Say “Yes I Am…”

Source: Morguefile.com

Oh I love Twitter and #langchat. It has revolutionized my teaching. Really it has. It has challenged me, helped me and sometimes (okay more than sometimes) pushed me to ‘stretch’. But with growth comes, I’ll be frank, panic. Sometimes I feel very very inadequate compared to what other people are sharing/advocating/leading on #langchat. Sometimes I feel like there are not enough hours in the day to ‘change everything’. Sometimes I feel that I am not doing “enough”. That some teachers are way ahead of me in how they teach. That some teachers appear to “know” when I don’t.

And then I have to sit back and take stock. This is a pep talk for me. This is to tell myself that I am adapting and changing because I am inspired to. That I am shifting away from the textbook, am writing my own CI stories, am attempting to add TPRS to my teaching, am working on more formative feedback and more. This is me doing all this BUT I also need to have a life. I need to sleep. I need to make time for my husband, family and friends. I need to be a person.

Could I be doing ‘more’? Yes. Quite frankly I could rewrite everything and never sleep. But I can’t. I know that I am not at my best when I am tired and stressed. I know that my classes are not at their optimal learning when their teacher is worried more about ‘how’ we are doing something and not why.

So this is for me remember. The fact that I am worried about not ‘changing’ my practice for the better means I am actually changing my practice for the better. If I wasn’t worried, if I didn’t question the why/how of my teaching, if I didn’t make any changes then to me that would be a sign of ‘no-growth’. I know I am not that…so, to me the panicked person, I say:

“It’s okay not to be ‘all that’ right now….Remember the adage that slow and steady wins the race? Well that’s okay for you as you grow your teaching!”

So I will continue to share and be inspired by my amazing #langchat colleagues. But I will also take time and not panic if I think I’m not doing ‘enough’. And maybe you’ll realize that that’s okay for you too!

Yours in change – but “I can have a life change”,

Colleen

August 10, 2016
by leesensei
0 comments

Evolving Teaching – Evolving ‘Outline’…

Teaching is a constant work in progress – as I have repeatedly said “I’m busier in my 20th+ year than I thought I’d be”. And as my teaching evolves so does how I present information about my course on the first day. A few years ago I started using an ‘infographic’ style of presentation. This year, spurred on by #langchat colleagues Wendy Farabaugh and Kris Climer – I have used Piktochart to create an outline that is as updated in look as it is in reflecting my teaching. What does it provide for students?

part 1Class Information – Basics at the start about the course, who the teacher is and how to contact me/connect with the website. I don’t have Google Voice (not in Canada) but if I did my number would be there too! I don’t use Twitter or Instagram with students at this point but there’s always room to add that on if I decide it would be useful!

What We Will Do? – For my absolute rookies it’s a summary of the various unit “I can’s” that they will work to master (eg. You will learn to ask about/tell about …). For my more senior students I use this as a quick introduction to the types/focus of the units we will experience – each with an integrated task at then end of the unit.

japanese-12-2 copy2Our Focus – Why you are here – what you can expect that class will be about. In my case it is about communicating. I want to establish that we will be working on communication skills of various types at all times. I also want them to know both making errors and not understanding someone are natural parts of the process of learning/using a language.

There are also gentle reminders of the ‘rules’ in the room – purposeful phone use, getting help, missing class and more. Quick and easy and quite honestly they all could probably tell me what they are any way!

How Are Our Tasks Organized? – Straight up – I may not use the ACTFL modes as you do. This is my japanese-12-2 copy3first year, first dip into organizing tasks into a more meaningful way. I got tired of the 4 skills (read/write/listen/speak) and decided to use a modified form of the mode descriptions. My biggest deviation is probably in the interpretive but I am willing to be a little ‘loose’ on that as I work to implement this way of ‘grouping’ my tasks.

What? No “Homework”?! – No, I banished that word. What is homework? I don’t assign ‘homework’? What I do assign is something that will be needed for next day’s class. So I have changed the wording to “Next Day Preparation”. Why? Because if I choose to assign something that’s what it is – something I need a student to do to use in the next class. (I sense a future dedicated post on this to come!)

japanese-12-2.png 4Evaluation – How Well Am I Meeting Expectations? – Okay this is what they all care about. I have blogged extensively on going to descriptors in my gradebook. It has taken a lot of tweaking and editing. What you see here is my latest iteration of both describing the descriptors and then ‘how’ I translate them into our school-required percentages. I wanted just ‘one line’ for each major descriptor and selected what I usually find myself saying when I quickly remind students, throughout the semester, what they describe.

What Isn’t There? – Proficiency descriptors. Okay we talk about them a lot, a lot on #langchat. I’m just not convinced at this point that it’s a ‘driver’ for student engagement. That is, I’m not sure I want them on my outline as they are more of a ‘where are you now’ snapshot of progress. In some ways I think they are more of a classroom thing than an outline one. Feel free to disagree…

I also add in an FAQ section (answers to the typical ‘any questions?’ question) and my ‘digital use contract’ (borrowed with permission from Amy Lenord). You can see the entire outline here!

I have 3.5 weeks left until I return to the classroom (yes Sept 6!) but, as the updated outline shows, I’m looking forward to a new year of their, and my, learning….

Colleen

PS – the ‘cute’ pictures? From my favourite free Japanese-themed site Irasutoya!

 

June 27, 2016
by leesensei
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The Year End – What Was, What Wasn’t, What Will Be…

side-viewLike Seuss’ “Horton Hears A Who” I am saying “I’m still here!”. With 2 days left it’s time to sit and reflect for a bit on the past year. It was a year in which I dove off the deep end in terms of changing how I reported progress, re-examined what was key in my class and looked to enlighten my students as to ‘why’ we were doing things to hopefully involve them more in their learning. So on to the ‘was’, the ‘wasn’t’ and, looking ahead, the ‘will be’.

What Was:

More Formative Assessment – I was less about the ‘marks for if you’re getting it’ and more about the formative assessment. I don’t know as yet if it worked for my students? Did the more ‘casual’ less grade-based pressure work? I think it worked in letting them give themselves permission to take their time in acquiring a skill – that is in knowing that if they didn’t get ‘it’ right away that was okay. I employed more pop ‘check-ins’ and more self-generated language (not worksheets) to provide formative feedback. This will continue.

Purposeful Learning/Intentions – I tried to let my students ‘in on the why’ this year. That is I purposely, and in English, put the intentions of a major activity – and sometimes a minor one on the board. Calling their attention to the why would, I hoped, increase their commitment to an activity. I followed that up often by asking them if they met the intentions set out. At the start I put the intentions on the board but by the end of the semester I was asking them what they thought the intentions of the exercise should be. And not surprisingly they seemed to really get the why and I feel that this increased the commitment to the task and the target language.

#Forget the Fluff – Born out of my lack of planning (time-wise) I learned to really drill down to what is key in an activity/task/class. Why do we ask students to ‘make’ or ‘do’ something that is really not key to the learning outcomes. In my case it was a complete re-work of my Yr4 travel fair – stripped down to what is key I saw the best communication work yet by the students. I will continue to search out the necessary and trash the ‘fluff’ next year.

 

What Wasn’t:

‘Grade Weighting’ – Not a great year for this. It was my intention, as I told my students, that the ‘importance’ of items in a unit would be weighted towards the ‘end’ of the unit (things should build to the summative). By extension, the skills students demonstrated should count more towards the end of the class than at the start of the semester. I don’t feel that I did a good job in this – and that I didn’t up my expectations (and communicate those to the students) as well as I could have. And, as I am forced to keep a number-based gradebook, I don’t think I did a good job in weighting the items as I could have.

Planning – I must admit I lost track of time a few times. I found that I was more willing to ‘go with the class’ on what we were doing and less intent on ‘following my schedule’. As a result I took more time for units than usual (and I ask myself ‘is this a bad thing?’). I didn’t like this kind of ‘lost’ feeling I had in a unit as far as how long it should take to accomplish it. I didn’t like not having some sort of ‘timeline’ for the unit. Maybe this is a natural thing when you are changing your practice but for me, it was uncomfortable.

Guiding ‘Growth’ – I think I was good at providing an explanation for students as to where they were in meeting expectations. But what I wasn’t so good at was giving specific guidance, examples, focussed work on how to improve. I think this means more ‘samples’ of what different levels of achievement might look like. It means time spent specifically focusing on a particular skill. It means that I can’t just report how they are doing but perhaps have individual discussions during the year with students about where they are and how they can improve. Hm..

 

What Will Be:

Streamlined – I will continue to look for ways to drill down to what is key in the language work that we are doing and remove the ‘fluff’ from my units. I will ask/involve students in this process as well – what is it that they see as key?

Risk-Community-Reward – I will continue to support students in risk – by giving them the tools to be confident in their interactions, especially around the fear of not understanding or making a mistake.

Better Planned – I will try to set out a basic ‘plan’ (the number of weeks etc) for each unit to keep me on track. But if something comes up I will not be afraid to ‘deviate’ from the plan.

Achievement – I will develop a plan to effectively record and weight achievement so that the mark reflects what students can do at the end of units and the course more accurately. I will also clearly identify on my course outline what it means to be at which level of meeting expectations.

I’m sure there is much more that went well and much more to improve. But right now…I’m ready for summer!

Colleen

 

June 14, 2016
by leesensei
0 comments

“The Courage To Try” – Students Tell What They Learned In Language Class

8d4d7f0ab0b83ace80c036194be2da93My Yr4’s are just 10 days away from the end of school…and as always I am asking for them to reflect on their learning. They are a fantastic bunch of students who have worked their hearts out this semester – despite having the class at 8am. So at the end of their summative travel fair last week I asked them about their experience in class. I didn’t ask them what they learned in/about Japanese. Instead I asked them to look forward and reflect on what skills, if any, they might carry forward into the big world they are now entering. I should note that I did not prep them in any way for this nor go over with them what I wanted to hear from them. Some students just reflected on the immediate oral they had just completed. But it’s the answers of those who really reflected and thought that I find insightful. The prompt was:

“Language class teaches skills for life. One ‘life skill’ that I have developed/improved on during my classes is…….and this skill will be important for me in the future because..”

“To not panic. I’m the kind of person that stresses on being perfect…but this class has taught me how to let go of that…and to relax..because in the future things won’t always go as I plan them to go..”

“The most important are strategies for communication…diversifying how I communicate and being thoughtful of others during conversation is critical…especially in the future when I work in team situations.”

“Communication and understanding (of what is really being said) are key…I want to be a teacher and these skills will be key in dealing with students…”

“Asking for help when I need it and not being afraid to admit that I don’t know something…important in the future so I won’t be afraid to ask for input – and possibly lose my job!”

“Taking risks, approaching people you don’t know and speaking comfortably ….and accepting/coping with errors will be important future communication skills”

“To explain clearly what I mean and help others in understanding – especially important if I become a boss in the future!”

“Listening carefully…”

“That speaking confidently inspires confidence in me and in how others perceive me…I may be nervous but appearing calm will help me get my point across more!”

“Being able to adapt to different situations…you never know what is going to come up!”

“To communicate more freely and in a more relaxed way with people who I don’t know well…”

And my favourite…

“The courage to try….because nothing will happen if we don’t attempt…”

So in the end..in their own words..it’s about courage, risk and communication….

#jobdone

Colleen

 

 

June 6, 2016
by leesensei
0 comments

#forgetthefluff – My Most Important Classroom “Tech Piece”? Still The Pencil…

ytpBK2ScYes.  After all this…the pencil. First up I am a big fan of technology use in classes – technology not for tech’s sake (honestly for many of us initially the LCD projector/computer combo was just a fancier overhead) but technology that integrates, and propels, learning. But there is  also a reality, one I live with everyday in my school. We lack great access to WiFi. My district isn’t a BYOD one and my school leadership (unlike others in the district) hasn’t decided to ‘go for it’ and do it anyway. It is tough to get access to the web for all via the computer labs (yes we still have these..) and mobile carts of Chromebooks are more than a wish away. Despite my district going all in with Microsoft and Office 360 they are still rolling out wireless web capacity and this is more than 2 years away. Compounding that is the issue of equality of access – as I don’t want to ask students to use parent-paid data to get information off the web via their phones. I allow students to use any kind of tech they want to record/produce notes and in my class I have a myriad of laptops, phones and paper/binders…they have the choice but as a teacher I feel incredibly limited in what I can compel students to do.

But really this is all unimportant when I look at what continues to be a valuable tool for me and my students. The pencil…here’s 3 examples why…

It Records Changing Progress/Mastery of Concepts – I’ve gone all in for grading moving from numbers to descriptors. And as such have moved on to way more formative assessments. Not as many ”for mark” quizzes but way more formative assessment such as the “pop check-in“. So I need the pencil – because students’ achievement, their mastery of things, their proficiency can be a moving target. When I am checking for mastery I always start with a ‘dot’ in the corner of the box. This says to me “I’ve seen something but it’s not quite there yet”. The student see’s either a dot or a circled part on their piece. Often I refer them to me for review, sometimes I send them to see a follow-up video and many times a student looks at it and says “I know what I wasn’t getting/missed”. When I see the piece in the mastered form I erase the dot and put in the “C” (complete) or the “M” for meets. So the pencil allows me to easily record these changes in progress…

It Allows Students To Create Their Own Practice – Yes I do worksheets – but my worksheets are mostly ‘student chooses example’ to show learning practice. From the ‘Oral Worksheet‘ to the “Sketch and Share” students are using a quick visual, linked to the concept in use, to demonstrate learning. Some students choose to use ‘clip art’ (it’s always an option) but most use an 11×17′ piece of paper and a pencil. I set the criteria I want “I need to see you show me you know the difference between the X, Y and Z use of…” and they prep a drawing on the front with matching caption on the back. The key for this is the quick use of the pencil leads to great targeted practice between students. Practice that is relevant to them because they chose what they wrote. They interact/use/talk for about 20 minutes. I get to see the writing after and it is marked for ‘completion and correctness’ – some students are great the first time, others have small changes to make. The pencil let’s them create to interact…

It Allows Students to Record What They Learn & Use That Information Later – I am very big on interactive orals – and the key to these is that students record (in English) what they learn during whatever style of fair they may be doing. This requires them to focus on clearly understanding meaning and negotiate with someone when they don’t. The pencil is used to record the information that they get. In our Yr4 Travel Fair it records details of the areas that they learn about. In the Yr 1 Club Day they are learning about possible school activities. The Yr3 School Fair replicates what actually occurs in Japan when students opt to attend different high schools. Students use a pencil to record information and, key for me, then use this information gathered in some form for their summative write. In Yr 4 the Travel Fair info becomes a long moaning complaint to a friend about a ‘boring’ tour they were dragged on. The Club Day for Yr 1 is an in-class open book write about themselves and why certain clubs appeal. The School Fair asks students to past tap knowledge on which school they want to attend because of how it relates to them. Throughout the pencil serves as both a tool to record and inform…

I’m dedicated to removing the ‘fluff’ – the non-essential – from my classes and teaching. I’ve eased back on some tech options because I realized that’s what they were – a nifty thing that had nothing to do with language learning & use. Oh I dream of the day that technology is so accessible to my students that I am not using paper and graphite…when I can truly use technology accessible for all. But until then I’m happy to sharpen my students’ knowledge via the pencil.

Colleen

 

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