I have been dabbling with personalised learning in my Extended French classrooms since our last Cohort 21 meeting in Movember. Things have been good but I was happy to read in Garth’s post around personalised learning that too much of it and it could lead to fragmentation, which is exactly what happened to me.
I am the type of person who likes to try things by jumping in with both feet, but I am also a very reflective educator. So in jumping into the world of personalised learning, I have had some ups and downs, and many “Aha!” moments. Because my courses are skill-based, it is easy to accommodate the interests of students. To this end, I tried a 1 topic = 18 topics with my Gr. 10/11 Extended French split class which was introduced by my Curriculum Leader David Krocker. This approach had nearly immediate buy-in, especially given a 20 minute reflective walk on a crisp autumn day. However the students had difficulty breaking their topics into narrower focuses – which is a skill I took for granted. The act of questioning and being curious, the act of thinking about thinking was lost. That said, the first task was a simple straight forward Rick Mercer style rant – explaining what their topic was, why people should be interested and their personal experience with said topic. Overall, it was a good launch but after a few weeks and exploring in depth they bored of their topics and craved something new! I did have one instance of plagiarism during the first task which was disappointing due to the nature of the unit.
With my Advanced Placement class we did one activity using Google Moderator, for which I provided two topics under the sub-theme of Moral Choices from the AP curriculum and students were offered the chance to choose and offer their own topics of interest under said sub-theme. In the end our topics included The Death Penalty, Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning. They were asked to create 3 questions relating to the topic within their groups, and to do their best to answer them. They shared these resources via www.diigo.com, which if things continue as they are, will become a very useful resource for any teacher who teachers Advanced Placement French; as we are adding resources almost daily! My one major disappointment was that Google translated all the French to English on Moderator.
In all of my courses, I challenge students to think about their learning. I consistently ask them to reflect on the practices they are following to ensure they are progressing as French speakers, and they continually revamp their action plans to achieve their goals of French fluidity, and even fluency. As students become more self-aware and have a better understanding of their own learning, I am planning to move toward a unit where students will choose their own adventures every week. These adventures will be based on the themes and sub-themes of the AP Curriculum.
Google Moderator – Students will choose and/or add topics of interest that fit with the given sub-theme. As a group they can determine how their topic fits within the Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings of the unit and what they need to do.
Diigo – All of the resources will be shared via Diigo with our AP Group, and we will continue to contribute to the French language sources on the site.
Wordle – Students will create appropriate lexicons or vocab lists by identifying either words they do not understand or ones they feel demonstrate an advanced vocabulary. I will also look into textisbeautiful for work over 5000 characters.
Google Docs – Students will complete their presentations using a Google Doc, for which they can use the comment feature to collaborate in real time, even if they are unable to be in class. They are expected to share it with me, so I can check in and offer feedback when I have time to read their work.
I will follow up with student learning using a Google Form as a self-assessment, reflection and feedback tool.
Grammar Corner – a spin on Coach’s Corner minus the belligerence where I will find/create videos of particular grammar structures that would help their communication skills given the tasks offered. The video will outline the utilisation, formation and real life scenario of appropriate use. I hope to create/find a video for all grammar concepts for all of my courses by the fall of 2013. These videos could be viewed before class as is done in a Reverse Classroom Model, or even made by the students.
Voicethread / Understoodit / Prezi / Video / Round Table / Digital Poster – Students can present their findings in a variety of different ways with the focus on communication, reading, writing and listening. However, one often forgotten skill in languages is the art of interacting. Therefore one of the focuses will be based on asking big questions, and breaking off into smaller groups to discuss presentations or continuing to create new threads of discussion via Voicethread.