It has been a long hiatus from my blog and I have really missed it. It’s no secret that that so much learning happens in reflection and evaluation of an experience – see Bloom’s Taxonomy for 21st Century. There are more posts that I will be writing about learning from last year, and I look forward to sharing these soon.
This happened last year, and I was sorting through my drafts but am just getting to posting it now. There were some unexpected events that transpired in my classroom which further validated that what I am doing is worthwhile. Here is what happened…
Students were asked to read Ru by Kim Thyù over the March Break as we explored aspects of identity within our unit. When they returned we explored the themes that were present in the book. Again taking advantage of Google Moderator we discussed said themes and explored them in greater detail in order to better understand the connections in the book.
Students worked in various sized groups, some working alone as they were the only ones interested in that particular topic. Students created research questions to guide their searches and were to come back to the group with their findings to help their peers to better understand the book and forge deeper connections.
The day of the presentation two groups were completely unprepared and to my surprise the rest of the group was visibly disappointed with their effort and although didn’t outwardly make the students feel badly, the two groups felt accountable for their actions. After a quick debrief after class, they refocused and were ready to present the following class and the learning continued. All of the unprepared students seem to be newly motivated and are more engaged in their learning than they had been since returning from the March break.
It wasn’t ready for this but it really was a shift in learning culture. I would love to say that from that day forward everything worked seamlessly but we still worked at it. After all a personalized learning environment is not for the faint of heart or those looking to memorize verbs for a test that will in no help them to speak a foreign language.
In a personalized environment students are forced to use authentic language, and are exposed to reading and oral comprehension, written and oral communication as well as interaction on any given day. With the challenges of limited time-on-task in learning a foreign language in school, we have to do what we can to make their time with us worthwhile.