It’s my 4th year as a language teacher at a PYP (Primary Years Programme) school now and I’m still learning. Sure, an online course “Making the PYP happen” 3 years ago got me into this curriculum but the real learning is happening in school and through constant (re-) discussion and reflection with colleagues.
During the preparation of the Parent Information Evenings amongst others we came across the “Strands of language” in PYP (Making the PYP happen, page 73). One of the strands is:
Visual communication: viewing and presenting
Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Visual images immediately engage viewers, allowing them instant access to data. Learning to interpret this data and to understand and use different media are invaluable skills. In the area of visual communication, students will learn to:
- understand, critically analyze and communicate information and ideas through a variety of visual media
– make informed choices in their personal viewing experiences
– use appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.
In addition as one of the transdisciplinary skills I found in the same document page 22 the following:
- Viewing Interpreting and analyzing visuals and multimedia; understanding the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs; making informed choices about personal viewing experiences.
- Presenting Constructing visuals and multimedia for a range of purposes and audiences; communicating information and ideas through a variety of visual media; using appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.
I think I was kind of aware of it that there was something written in the curriculum. But on the other hand I have to admit it was not there consciously enough regarding planning, teaching and learning. The readings this week make me more aware of the importance Media Literacy. The students should have “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of forms“, because I wish them to be a “thoughtful consumer and effective citizen” (Teaching Media Literacy Yo! Are you Hip to This?). Or even more like Jerry Christopherson said:
“A visually literate person should be able to
- Interpret, understand and appreciate the meaning of visual messages;
- Communicate more effectively by applying the basic principles and concepts of visual design;
- Produce visual messages using computers and other technologies; and
- Use visual thinking to conceptualize solutions to problems.“
What does it mean for me as a teacher?
The slideshow of Terri Sallee gave me great thoughts and inspiration for my own teaching. The Unit “Cultures” in Grade 5 was a good start for me to get more aware of the importance for the students for their inquiry within the classroom and even more important for their life as a learner.
In the German advanced class we decided to integrate through a German aspect: areas of the German culture. Later as a summative assessment the students will create interview questions, speak to people from other cultures and compare between the German and the different culture. After a tuning in and brainstorm of areas of culture in general, amongst other topics the students chose to inquire more into gestures. Their question was What gestures exist in the German culture and what do they mean? My goal was to get them aware that there are same gestures but the meaning is different depending on the culture you are living in. Therefor we have to pay more attention using those gestures.
To make sure that the students have a meaningful interaction with the pictures I wanted them to follow the visible thinking routine I see, I think, I wonder. It was important for me that first each student thinks by him- or herself and then shares with the elbow partner and the whole class. The students described what they see (I see), they read the picture (I think) and they questioned the picture (I wonder).
I could have done the gestures myself. By showing pictures I had the chance to get an idea of the prior knowledge of the students. During their talks with the partner I was able to observe the conversation.
The outcome of the whole class discussion was wonderful. It is the German advanced class, all students speak German fluently but there is a variety of culture and language backgrounds. They discovered and discussed the different meaning of the certain gestures with high interest because they could relate to their personal lives.
After a great discussions I gave them choices of non-fiction texts about other gestures. They could choose what they were interested in and practice the 5 key-words-reading strategy which was one of the language foci of the unit. Of course they also good a chance to share their understanding of the text later.
So far I concentrated on viewing visuals. Later towards the end of the unit, as soon as the students are going to prepare their presentation of the interview, my and their focus will change to producing and presenting visuals. It was not so easy for me to find really good and appropriate pictures which are free for use and share. My outcome – I definitely should contribute pictures I took more often.
Anyways … I’m excited to see how the students will visualize and message their understanding and I will try to support them as best as I can.