For this final project, I feel fortunate to have been able to collaborate with Carl (art teacher) and Naho (counselor). The process of creating the unit combining art, guidance and Japanese was an exciting time. Working in the elementary program where students run through a 6-day cycle to include the many “specials” such as PE, music, library, art, guidance and Japanese, this cross curricular project allows students to interpret and apply their learning in a broader sense.
The cross-curricular approach is a win-win situation. The students can increase their exposure time to the topic of emotions, approach emotions from different angles and make greater connections, and hopefully deepen their overall understanding. We as educators, learn more about each other’ s programs and also benefit from understanding the what knowledge and common experiences students bring to the classroom.
Start with the end first…
Here is a little on Backwards Design (please note the easy to understand visuals)
The main idea behind the backwards design model centers on the design process beginning with identifying the desired results and then “working backwards” to develop instruction. Since I joined the group after the art and guidance section of the unit had been pretty much solidified, it was initially more of a challenge to engage the backwards design. In the end, I wanted students to use the vocabulary to communicate. One possibility I thought of was to have the students interpreting the photos taken using Voicethread. My initial thoughts were students could view the photos that were previously taken in art and then make a comment in Japanese. Visualizing what students might be able to produce orally, I started to realize that students would not be able to produce much language. What they produced via Voicethread probably would not have been very communicative and applicable to the students’ own lives. I also thought of the idea of using the Wiki (Wikispaces.com) and including Japanese there. Again, the students would possibly write down the word and a sentence or two and that would be the end of it.
While I thought that I wanted to use the Voicethread to have students use their Japanese speaking skills, I later realized that I actually wanted the students to have a communicative dialogue with one of their peers. What would students be able to use with one of their friends? As a result of talking with one of my colleagues more experienced with Voicethread, I was asked the questions…
- What do you want the kids to be able to do?
- Who do you want the final product to be viewed by?
- How do you want feedback to be given? Oral?, written?
I was told that asking these questions first make the end product and selection of the proper software, website, or application easier to select. Yes, this is Understanding by Design. If we want to know what we want the students to do in the end, we can then plan the lessons that need to occur in order for the students to be successful.
This is what I thought the students might be able to use an example.
A:うわあ、うれしい！(Yeah, I’m so happy.)
B:どうしたの？ (What happened?)
Aひゃくえんをみつけた。(I found 100 yen.)
A: どうしたの？(What’s the matter?)
B: さびしい。友達がアメリカに帰りました。(I’m sad. My friend went back to the US.)
A: だいじょうぶ。(Are you ok?)
Students could use the example dialogues, or work on substituting or adding to the dialogue according to individual level.
Once they had decided on a dialogue, they would work on completing a simple storyboard for the project.
storyboard example 1
Storyboard example 2
Also, I would give students a brief introduction to using iMovie with the iPad 2. I would use a simple Apple movie demo in Japanese, and also have students view the movie demo in English to enhance their understanding. Using these resources and guiding the pairs with some ways to individualize their videos, would help produce short, communicative examples that students could share with their classmates. Best of all, they could practice the language from the examples and have a greater chance of being able to apply it to a real-life situation in the future.
All in all, it was fun collaborating with Naho and Carl. I definitely learned more working with my team members than if I had worked alone on the project.