We are organising our Yr7 programme for languages a little differently this year and this has resulted in a Term 4 where students have already chosen their language for Yr8. Their choices are French, German or Japanese and the most likely scenario for Term 4 has always been that they will work on that language in a class where not everyone is learning the same language, or where the teacher who is in the room is not skilled in that language.
Essentially, we had to come up with a Term 4 'project' that students could work on independently but also be able to receive feedback. When we, as a department, were first discussing the possibility of this new structure for Yr7, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new. Now, I'm just hoping it will all work.
Inspired by a conversation with Jess McCulloch earlier in the year and more recently by her fantastic Blackline Mystery, I have been slowly trying to piece together a unit of work for the 3 languages that students will be able to work on semi-independently for about 5-6 weeks. My initial plans were to simply use edmodo: students could then join, complete tasks and use the discussion threads to ask questions. But, the more I read and explored and saw what Jess was doing, the more I realised the potential to go out on a limb and try something completely new. It may not work but hopefully we'll learn from the experience. The challenges were to make it work across all 3 languages and ensure that language learning was actually occuring.
The more I have learnt about and explored the worlds of "Alternate Reality Games", "Interactive Fiction", "Minecraft" and "Transmedia", the more I see the potential that this has, and that this would be an awesome way to learn. I am by no means an expert on the pedagogy of all of this but when I start to worry about those things, I am reminded of a tweet from Steve Collis: "so many sins are compensated for by the level of engagement". For me, engagement is critical. Engagement is the first step in finding a passion for something.
So, as for Term 4, we have: characters, a storyline, a headquarters (The Bunker, more commonly known as Edmodo) which contains our 'Database' (library of links and resources) and accounts across several websites. I will try to blog more of the journey but, for the moment, this is where our Term 4 jorney begins for the students...
Next, they will receive an email.