Tag Archive: goals

Jun 09

Course 4 week 5-Badges and the Learning Community

Google starts badges

In the following video, you can see how Google is incorporating the badging system with Google Reader.

Badging is a way to document what types of articles you have read and to help customize the Google Reader experience (at least that is what Google says).

Below is the description of badging.

Electronic badge system = scouting merit badge system?

There is some debate about how the badging system works to promote extrinsic motivation and decrease the cultivation of intrinsic motivation.  Philipp Schmid, executive director and co-founder of Peer 2 Peer University, wrote about two key points regarding the badge system in his blog post, Let’s make badges not stink:

The issue is not, “badges or no badges” The issue is how we can design badge systems that foster great learning practices. 

1 – Use badges to define roles rather than as rewards. In many learning communities users take different roles. Mitch actually mentions the importance of taking roles within a community like Scratch, but he sees roles as separate from badges. I believe that by recognizing roles – for example a mentor role – through a badge will signal to a new members of the community that mentorship is a valued practice within the community, and helps  them identify those who can help with problems and questions. And finally it may encourage users to strive to become mentors themselves. So rather than give badges as rewards they can help diffuse awareness of roles within a community.

2 – Anchor badges within community. The relationship between issuer and recipients will influence perceptions and expectations around badges. Badges that are woven into the fabric of a community of learning will be perceived less as extrinsic motivators, but as representation of core practices within the community. When the badge recipient feels ownership of the design of the badge, because she fully considers herself a member of the community that defines and issues the badge, the badge can provide an effective marker of learning pathways that help the learner to orientate herself within the landscape, and can act as a marker and pointer for new members of the community following in her steps.

In my classroom

While far from perfect, I did work on an analog version of a badge system in my classroom.  Learning Japanese can be challenging.  Student motivation can be a huge hurdle.  My challenge was, “How do you motivate/keep students motivated to take risks and put forth the effort.  This is what I came up with for use in the classroom.

Name tag (front)

Promoting the stars or badges, I explained to the students that this was a goal.  If students showed mastery of hiragana, katakana, or a certain topic, students could earn their star.  The question was not if you were going to earn your star (for the appropriate topic), but WHEN you were going to earn the star.  Those students who earned their star early on were asked to mentor and help their fellow classmates out so they too could earn their star.  While at times management of the system became a challenge, the initial structure held and the culture was established.

Since participation and speaking Japanese in class was a key trait that I wanted students to develop, students could earn stickers for their involvement with the class.  Twenty stickers collected, students would then earn their belt (a colored strip of paper) indicating their rank.  Loosely based on the karate belting system, the idea was that the more practice that you completed, the higher rank you could attain.  In general, the system allowed students to help self-monitor their classroom participation and skill level in class.

Name tag (back) Homework-side

The preparation for class and homework sheet was another way of providing individual feedback in an analog info-graphic type form.  Students could easily check with a quick glance if they had been consistent with their homework completion.  I could congratulate students for having consistent lines of stickers, or ask students about the patterns that they noticed if the homework completion was not as consistent.

Where I was

With the star system, the questions that were being answered were similar to the following:

What do we want kids to learn?  What are the goals?  What is the content?

One downside with the star system, was the focus on the content.

Where I want to be

In the future, I want to be able to connect more with the student and their needs.  It would be nice to have an independent study component where students could earn specific badges for their efforts outside of class.  For example there could be a badge for taking swim lessons in Japanese, or a badge for talking to a friend or relative in Japanese (via Skype, on the phone, or in person).

I would like to focus on student leaders/mentors and develop those roles.  With students better equipped to create useful videos that I could share with other classes, I was able to share much more between classes than I had been able to do in previous years.  While student role-models and the student ability to impact the learning of students outside of their own Japanese class was definitely apparent, I did not get to the point where I could properly recognize those students for their contributions.  Students were given feedback at times about their projects via handwritten post-it notes.

Below is the list that Stackoverflow has to offer to its users.  It is a comprehensive list with a unique angle on the badge titles.

Extensive list of badges

Representing core practices within the community

Using our current mission statement as a guide, perhaps “stars” or badges could be included for the students attaining goals or showing exemplary behavior as these type of learners:



Globally responsible
learners prepared for global responsibility

As I come to the close of one chapter and I am about to start another journey at my new school, I look forward to learning more about the core practices and beliefs of RIS.  Starting my acquisition with a new language, I may have to come up with my own personal badge system to help keep track of my language learning.  But regardless of whether or not a badge system is currently in place at my new elementary school, I am excited to become an active part of a new learning community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/06/09/course-4-week-5/

Jun 09

Course 4 week 3-Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL)

Project based learning or PBL is something that my colleague (Machi Nakamura) and I have been working to incorporate with our lessons.  While challenged by the minimum amount of contact time, PBL has helped keep students engaged and allowed for differentiation within the classroom.  A project requirements could be adjusted in order to accommodate the needs and abilities of learners on both ends of the spectrum.

Challenged Based Learning

While Challenged Based Learning is an exciting approach to learning, I see this being more applicable to older students with more sophisticated language ability.

Looking closer at the application of PBL in the language classroom, I was happily surprised to find that a Japanese language teacher won the ACTFL Teacher of the Year Award.  Yo Azama shows the viewer how he scaffolds the lesson and activities to provide meaningful practice.  Looking closer at Azama-sensei’s presentation notes, the reader can see the additional resources that support the students for their culminating project of creating a brochure and video.

Teaching Foreign Languages Library clip

When it comes to PBL in the classroom, Connie Weber who teaches in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is quoted in a Edutopia article on the importance of creating a classroom culture that is conducive to PBL.

What is essential, “is establishing the learning atmosphere, how the class feels.” Instead of generating rules with her students, she invites them to “generate tendencies, [and] positive ways to be together.”

Japanese Only

The Japanese Only sign allows students a time during class to try out their Japanese. Since the students are "forced" to speak in Japanese, mistakes are more easily forgiven..

“They (students) suggest that they want each other to be nice, honest, respectful, patient; to have integrity and perseverance; to be safe to make mistakes and safe to share their views.” She adds one more quality to the list: “It’s important to play.”

English Ok

The English Only sign allows students a chance to confirm their understanding by using English. Students who were unsure about the conversations that took place during Japanese Only time have a chance to reinforce their learning.

In the classroom, I too have found that creating the culture is key to increasing student achieve.  I strive to have my students feel…

  • safe to take risks and make mistakes without fear of what people will say
  • open enough to be able to share their personal stories in a foreign language in front of the entire class
Getting Around
One project that does get positive feedback from students is from the Getting Around Unit.  Students learn how to research train schedules and routes on the internet.  They then choose to research one travel destination near Tokyo (predetermined list with the possibility of accepting new proposals from students).  Students create a promotional poster that includes all of the relevant information (train route, entrance fees, operating hours, etc.) and then the final piece is making a field trip proposal in front of the class.

Field trip proposal poster

Telephone pizza order 

Another project that was a first this year had students “act out” the telephone pizza order in the Common Craft style.  While it was not required, I recommended for the students to try creating their “skit” in this new style.  I showed a Common Craft video (in Japanese) and then helped guide them along with the video creation process using simple story boarding, a digital camera, and Movie Maker.  The students were excited and worked hard to create a finished product that could be shared with the class and other classes.

As always, any feedback is welcome.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/06/09/course-4-week-3/

Mar 30

Key Words and Visuals-What Contributes to the Story?

First of all, thank you, Garr Reynolds for (pooping a lot) providing many resources and examples to help guide my presentation development.  Having watched Reynolds-sensei present on TEDxTokyo, reading his blog, and watching and reading other interpretations of Zen and the Art of Presentation, I know that I have just scratched the surface on how to sharpen my presentation skills.   I appreciate the material made available for access on the Internet and I find value in what is being presented as Reynolds-sensei works to bring harmony with western and eastern thinking.

Searching for other Garr Reynolds resources on the web, I stumbled upon a presentation that Garr made at Google.  I found this presentation to be more educational for me as the hour workshop provided additional resources and it allowed for dialogue with the audience.  The presentation is embedded below.

YouTube Preview Image

Trying to apply some of the teachings of Presentation Zen, I worked to simplify and refine the content of the presentation.  One take away from Garr’s Google presentation is…What is the story that you want the audience to walk away with?  Sometimes I forget about that story and go straight to listing the facts or possibly including non-essential information.  When working on revising this presentation, I made an effort to decrease the amount of text and increase the visuals focusing on what contributed to telling the story.  I have included a select number of presentation slides below.  On the left are the original slides.  On the right are the revised slides (revision still in process).




I looked at this slide and I thought that while it was informative, but a little on the bland side.






The revised slide on the right is a step in the right direction.  It shows blue skies and a “positive outlook” for the school year.  There is the healthy green of the trees and the learning environment looks fertile.  :)







The revised slide makes the kids the focus and it clearly shows the students in their restaurant role play.








Also, I decided to take the initial wording from the original slide, reduce the wording to only three key words, and include more visuals.



















Original slide







Focus on the key imagery–listening and speaking.







For this slide, I remember pretty much reading from the slide.  As mentioned by many, it is important to keep the slide simple.  If necessary, the important information can be included in a hand-out for future reading/reference.








Perhaps this is the slide with the most drastic change.  Meeting diverse needs, I ran across this picture of bamboo.  While I know that Garr presented on the lessons of bamboo in the TedxTokyo talk, I liken the bamboo to the elementary students.  Bamboo ranges from shoots to tall stalks.  Students range from first graders losing their first teeth to fifth graders bursting out of their chairs and desks.


The story behind the slide makes this slide much more interesting than the original slide.  The imagery of bamboo shooting up to the sky tells a more interesting story than the previous bullet points.

Reading over this post, I am happy with the visual results.  Compared to the original slides, I am much more moved and inspired by the revised slides.  (I am easy to please.)  This process has been good for me and I can see using this post as a future reference when I need another quick recap on how to purify my presentations.

While I understand that I still have much to improve with my presentations, I believe I have taken one small step towards presentation enlightenment.


Other Resources



Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/03/30/key-words-and-visuals-what-contributes-to-the-story/

Mar 16

My Blog-Let’s Kick it Up a Notch

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/03/16/my-blog-lets-kick-it-up-a-notch-week-1/