What the…..? and other classrooms sounds!

Students followed the link given on my classroom blog, but as the first student opened it, all I could hear was “What the…..?” Wondering what was wrong, I glanced at the computer screen and saw the following:-

Next comment from another student “It’s all in Japanese!” I just laughed and thought “let the learning begin”!

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by an educator from Japan, who taught English at Hokusei Gakuen University in Japan. As Interpretation was one of the upcoming topics for study, Nakao wondered whether we could create some videos on Family  or School for her students. Wondering how I could build this into my VCE IT subject where the current topic is databases, I realised that I could actually tweak things and use data from the linkup, student names etc to build a database that would be far more engaging than textbook exercises.

The procedures:-

  1. Naoko’s professor built a space for my students in their moodle learning management system.
  2. Two spaces have been setup – a forum area for discussion and another space to upload the videos.
  3. My students will upload their videos to youtube – the university professor  suggested that we make them private and has told us how. However, I think it is better to make them public as many others may also be interested in our way of life, family life, school, culture etc. Due to our isolated rural community, we are so different to many! The youtube videos will then be embedded into the moodle.
The students from Japan each added a conversation starter to the forum. Once my students worked out the English translator, they were away!
There were periods of absolute silence as they read with fascination, the comments made about life in Japan and questions asked of my students.
At other times there was lively chatter as they discussed pronunciation of names, topics shared and who was going to respond to whom.
Here are some comments that caused keen interest:-
180 million people lives in Sapporo city. What does your town look like?
Response: We have 150 people live in our town of Hawkesdale
I soppose that ski is one of the most popular sport.
Response: The closest snow fields are 6-8 hours drive away from where we live. (Most of my students have not seen snow)
I love vegetables which my grandfather makes. Especially, White Pumpkin is delicious満面の笑顔
Reaction: Australian students are intrigued about white pumpkin. We have never seen one 
Highlights:
  1. the engagement of my students
  2. their eagerness to participate and respond as best they could
  3. students  completely focused on task at hand (other times they are easily distracted with youtube, playing games etc)
  4. the discussion amongst my students that was triggered by some of the questions and comments
  5. having an expert set up the system for us in moodle – a university professor! Thank you! Using moodle and the forum is an excellent way of collaborating. Students took to it like ‘water off a duck’s back’.
  6. the learning that takes place – we are different, live in completely different environments, learn at different levels of education and yet students are so curious about each other.
  7. our mandarin Chinese teacher walked in at the stage where the screen was in Japanese text and identified many Chinese characters amongst them. He shared with the students, why they were the same.
Challenges:

  • language barriers, different terms used, completely different names!
  • using a new tool and system although they students embraced it quickly. They quickly worked out how to add images etc
  • the cultural differences and avoiding offending each other
  • I am afraid that I will mess up the moodle space if I change details etc.

3 responses to “What the…..? and other classrooms sounds!

  1. Anne
    How exciting! It’s great that your session even got cross curricular with the Chinese teacher coming in. This would be great to do with any students of any age, breaking down cross-cultural barriers will make our world smaller and our neighborhood bigger.
    Ellen

  2. I hope to be just as successful. Team India is getting ready for a calendar exchange with a school in Lithuania; Lima, of HLW Skypers is the teacher there, while I handle the Indian team. In the Indian team, Indian mothers too are participating, as they are as excited as their children.

  3. @Ellen This is really exciting. It is so much easier for me, when I do not have to worry about the platform, what to use, how to set it up and the students are really enjoying the forum aspect. It is easy and intuititive. They can upload images easily etc.
    @Sebastian, I really enjoy reading what you are doing and how absolutely wonderful that the mothers are getting involved. That is what 21st century education should be moving towards -greater partnerships with families and global partnerships.

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