ILPG- An Update

It has been a while since I have made a post, but in the meantime many things have been happening in the project and at my school. We have had a Hiragana Competition, Culture Day, action team meetings, arranged and held interviews for an English teacher for our sister school village for 2020, added a couple of new items to our broadcast and of course done quite a fair bit of reflecting on the year so far. There are many other things which I am sure I have forgotten right now, but I am sure they will come back to me.

Japanese Culture Day

Japanese Culture day at our school was held on Wednesday November the 13th. The action team and I spent the morning preparing and practising their activities so that they could feel secure and confident running their sessions. It was a challenge for me relinquishing some control over the activities, but I had confidence in my team and knew how hard they had been preparing for it. In our preparation for the day we brainstormed events that they liked from previous Culture days and also what we could do with some of the items already made and available for us to use. We were also limited in our time options, with each of the team members wanting to be in charge of a group we ended up with 5 groups which meant 20min group rotations.

The activities they chose to do were great for the time frame we had and we had lots of good feedback about the timing. This year we made the decision to invite parents and families to attend, this was to help foster some positive interactions with Japanese culture and language with the greater school community. Beside the fun activities that the team ran and organised, we also had a special guest performer, Jarrod Hoare. I had seen one of his performances at a JLTASA (Japanese Language Teachers of South Australia) conference and thought it would be a fun and unique addition to our day.

Check out his website here:

He was fantastic and the laughter throughout the room and the smiles on the kids (and adults) faces was wonderful and well worth it. His conversations with the students about Language advocacy and Japanese in particular was very timely and important to our school at the moment. With a large focus and push to make Japanese more integral in our school’s daily culture. He was even able to convince myself and another staff member to demonstrate some impromptu Rakugo after watching his performances. I will have to say now that while it was fun, I probably won’t be switching from teaching to pursue a comedy career quite yet. We finished the session with a Q&A from some of our enthralled students, which didn’t fail to bring smiles.

These were the activities that the team planned:

Pokemon catch! – We had a bunch of laminated pokemon characters from a previous year (it was a scavenger hunt for the younger class involving a pokedex) so the girls immediately thought of spiking them into the ground and trying to ‘catch’ them. We planned to get some small balls and paint them to look like Pokeballs. The balls were only $1 from Target in the sports section and we already had the paint and sharpies at school which made this a very cheap activity. The team set rules for the activity, each player had three shots to try and catch a Pokemon and for each one they hit they earned a sticker for their team/group. From feedback in the discussion at the end of the day this was by far one of the favourite activities and got parent involvement also!

Jankenpon and the Evolution Game- Earlier in the Term our school had some students participate in a Hiragana competition with other schools in our region. One of the activities at the competition was the ‘Evolution game’ featuring Pokemon. A member of our team was a part of the competition and enjoyed the game so much that she wanted to include it as part of our Culture day festivities. We discussed how some of the other students know how to play the game as we have played it as a class in the lead up to the competition and some students would have never played it before. Let alone play the Japanese version of rock, paper, scissors with the phrasings. It was decided that a member of the action team would create an introduction PowerPoint teaching how to play Jankenpon (rock paper scissors) and then the group would go outside to play Evolution. We already had the instructions for the game laminated from the competition preparation. This was another well received activity and very easy to organise and run.

Onigiri Action- A staff member at our school is a whiz with Japanese dishes and kindly offered to volunteer her time to help run an Onigiri making activity with the team. Onigiri is a rice ball that is often filled with things such as umeboshi (pickled plum) and fish and can be seen in many Japanese Convenience stores and lunch boxes. I had learned that there was an event called ‘Onigiri Action’ that coincided with our Culture day, so after talking with the team about it we decided it would be perfect to tie it in with our day. You can learn more about the wonderful work that the program does by visiting their website:

Guess What’s in the Box- A game that was widely popular at one of the last Culture Days I facilitated was a student-created game called What’s in the Box. Items were placed into a box and participants took turns putting their hands in to feel the item. Then they could look at a sheet of possible items in both Japanese and English and had to try and use the Japanese word. If they were correct, then they earned a sticker for their team. It was a very cute activity and from what I saw, lot’s of fun too.

(photo to be sourced and added later)

Japanese Lesson- The fifth activity that the team arranged for the day was a Japanese lesson. Realising they only had 20mins to deliver their lesson the team decided to focus on basic Hiragana sounds ’あいうえお’ and some greetings such as こんにちは and さようなら. Two team members created a PowerPoint for the lesson using a relatively new medium to our school ‘Office 365 Online’. They loved being able to work on it at the same time and whenever they wanted. The girls found mnemonics to remember the characters and confirmed with me which ones I use in my lessons to make sure there was a connection. The lesson ended up being recognition and speaking practice, with some writing practice on the mini whiteboards also. They did an awesome job with this activity.

Student Voice

One of the main reasons our school was awarded the grant, was our desire and commitment to make student voice a priority in our Japanese Innovative Program. I have of course thought about student voice as a teacher before, but I have not explicitly taught it and knew that it was an area I needed to work on. This program has been a perfect opportunity for me to learn a new area and hopefully equip my team with some great life skills. I have been using the AC leaders resource – Student Voice Audit Cards to help with this process and as part of our Action team meetings.

I would appreciate any other resources relating to building student voice and also ways to track it’s improvement in my school. So please forward/comment any great things you find!

The Broadcast

We have made some slow progress to the content at the broadcast, as we are still finding our feet and working out how we want it to look and how it will be used. At our Pupil Free Day on Monday this week, we had some great discussions about how it may look in 2020 and what ways would make it easier for teachers and staff to facilitate in their daily practice and in the schools daily routine. The aim of the program is not solely for in the classroom, but also to eventually reach families in our community and then even our sister school. Our official goal is to Embed interaction and understanding of Japanese Language and Culture in Every classroom, Every day with Every learner.

Next Steps

I have been collating permission forms from staff and students that are currently involved in our Innovative Japanese Program to guarantee that they will have consent to be in the research paper. Most forms have come back which is fantastic, as we have an upcoming meeting with our research team where we hope to get some base line data and interviews collected.

I also need to get onto sending the photos of our fantastic onigiri from our Culture Day event to ‘Onigiri Action’, I think it will be nice to get the team together to send off the photos so they continue to have ownership and pride in what we have achieved.

I have set up student accounts to the private part of the Seesaw broadcast for class teachers to let their students use when interacting with the prompts and stimulus that has been posted; in our Week 0 planning session next year we are going to run an information session about the program an set some clear actionable goals as a school. We are also planning an information session with the staff and the research team.

We have an upcoming Skype with our sister school tomorrow morning, which we hope to do some great conversations around questions that both our school has set and our sister school has organised. I will try to record what I can, which I hope will become part of our broadcast also.

読んで下さってありがとう (Thanks for reading)

Until next time! またね

ILPG- Joint Planning

This week I was thankful that another teacher at our site was given some extra time to do some planning with me for our Innovative Japanese Program.

We set aside a couple of hours to work out what she is doing with her class in the next few weeks and how we can link that to our Japanese Broadcast. We decided on the topic of seasons as it opened up opportunities for discussion around weather also.

(One of our prompts)

It didn’t take long to get an idea from that theme, we decided that by starting with photos of the seasons, we would be able to get a variety of responses and reactions. We looked up photos from Japan and tried to incorporate photos from our sister schools village where possible. (Note: next year I will try and take lots of photos and videos that we can use for future broadcasts)


I had a chat with her at the end of our session around what she hoped to get from this experience both for herself and the students in her class and how she felt about the whole process. It was very valuable for me and I hope valuable insight also for our research team.

Prompts for the broadcast

These are the season specific prompts we came up with:

We decided a collage of images for each season, and just the name of the season in romaji(Roman alphabet), Hiragana and kanji would be enough for discussion and inspiration for responses.

Training and development

After our planning meeting I decided it would be perfect to use these prompts as an example at a staff meeting PD I was facilitating about Seesaw. One part of the training was going to focus on an activities feature anyway so I thought, why not make it link to the Japanese Broadcast.

We are still nutting out how the broadcast will work and the general practicality, but through using an app that our community is already using and that allows us to post a range of media and then have comments available it is a good fit for us as we trial and navigate our way through this program.

The activity I got the teachers to do was look at the picture of the four seasons and respond with a digital brainstorm of how they think their students could respond to this prompt. They had a range of ideas which was great to see. Hopefully that helps them feel more comfortable and confident to use the broadcast with their class.

(I’ll add the pictures of their brainstorms here later)

Instant result

The teacher I worked with to make the prompt has already had her class try and discuss one of the prompts we made and I have included their comment on the broadcast (Seesaw app):

Banksia discussed these images. At first we thought it could be in China or Japan. Student E pointed out the arch and we talked about how we have one here at school too. We then decided that this must be pictures from Japan. We discussed what the word ‘fuyu’ might mean – maybe snow? We talked about how we don’t have snow here in Sandy Creek during winter, but some parts of Australia do..

Next steps

Hopefully each class can start bringing the broadcast into their weekly routines this term. We set a goal for at least one interaction a week and I highlighted that interacting in some way with the material is the main goal. Whether it is a discussion as a class, commenting on the post, creating a question to comment on the post (thus creating a new opportunity for interaction for others or themselves to respond to in future sessions), drawing a picture inspired by the original post, writing a description of what they see in English and maybe even Japanese or both!

Follow up

I would like to check in with staff at a staff meeting at the end of the term to see how they have gone and collect some of their evidence (recordings of discussions, work samples etc) to see what results there are. I reassured them that not everything has to be in Japanese. The goal is that by the end of next year everyone will be interacting with it and use more Japanese but as we start out, just making connections and giving ownership and voice to students through creation and interaction with the broadcasts is more then enough.

ILPG- Updates and progress

Since the last post, things at our site have been progressively busy. However it has also been a very productive time. We had a successful visit from our sister school earlier in the term and have been able to build up quite a bank of resources that can be used in future broadcasts for our program.

Some of the examples of things we have collected:



-interviews with the Japanese students and staff in Japanese, the more complex ones will need to be transcribed and translated

-interviews with our students

-recordings of classroom interactions

-Group feedback interview from sister school (which needs to be transcribed and translated also)

(Photo will be inserted here)

Among these awesome resources, we have also seen a glint of enthusiasm and passion in the community arise from this experience. We have had two staff members opt in to try and do some team-planning with me and create some content for their class and the ‘broadcast’. We have also had staff increase their use of Japanese in their daily interactions and their positivity is encouraging others to do the same.

Pre-empting the visit to Japan next year, students have also become more motivated to practice their alphabets (Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji) in order to understand more next year. We have the Japanese culture and language section in the library which looks beautiful thanks to our dedicated Librarian.

(Photo will be inserted here)

I have been wanting to track how many things are borrowed from the Japanese section to see if this number increases by the end of next year. The section is still developing, and while it will soon have the flashcards available to borrow; I have been noting down students names and what they have borrowed from the classroom until it is up and running on the system. Very exciting to see some students keen to practice and with just having borrowed items for one day I can already see vast leaps in improvement in their understanding and recognition.

Another thing that has come from this is that I have had students asking for extra lessons with me so that they can improve. This shows they are keen to get Japanese in their lives more which is very promising for the future of our innovative language program.

(Photo will be inserted here)


Together with my Principal, during the holidays we met with our fabulous team of researchers to discuss our project and begin setting some goals. We clarified our expectations and it was a very valuable time for discussion. One result of this meeting was that we agreed to have the team visit our site in the future to discuss the project and what it means for our site with the rest of our staff. We have a whole group ILPG planning day coming up early next month which will be quite informative and it will be great to see what the other 4 sites have been doing with their programs.

(Photo will be inserted here)


We have the ipads mostly set up and ready for basic use in the Japanese room, although we have not yet been able to configure them to make updating and installing new apps more convenient and appropriate. After a technology meeting this morning it looks like we will be able to incorporate this into a program that the school is already working with; which is completely and utterly fantastic news! As you may have noticed I am a huge fan of digital technology and by making it easier to use and update I am sure more staff will be willing and busting to get their hands on the more reliable technology.

(Photo will be inserted here)

Action Team

Since the term has been quite busy, we have not been able to meet as much as I had hoped. However the team has been working on completing smaller jobs. Two members of the team worked exceptionally hard to record interviews during the visit week with their microphones. They asked questions in Japanese and English and we have collected the audio files for our records. The Japanese interviews (as mentioned earlier) will need to be transcribed and translated for the trickier language components. They will become great resources for authentic listening material though.

(Photo will be inserted here)

The team also helped sort through the many photos and videos from the week and have each chosen their favourite 4 to write two sentences about. These photos and sentences will be displayed in the school for everyone to see. We are planning on using these photos in the ‘broadcast’ also. For example: when looking at one of the photos, the caption prompt will say “What can you tell us about this photo in Japanese or English?” they can use words or sentences in Japanese to describe things in the picture or they can share their thoughts in English, or they could even do both! I am very eager to see the results from these posts. My prediction is that most will begin with English responses, but I am hoping that the more we interact with these items the number of responses in Japanese might increase also.

読んで下さってありがとう (Thanks for reading)

Until next time! またね

ILPG- Getting ready for the first challenge

The first challenge that the Japanese Action Team decided to hold is a self-introduction challenge. The idea is that each day parents/staff/students can approach the designated team member for the day and complete a simple introduction in Japanese.

To help everyone prepare for this, the team created a simple video talking about the challenge and how to do it.

In order to actually host the challenge and get it working, we needed to first create the video that classes would be watching during the week and that community members could access. As we are still working on the iPads being fully set up and ready we used my apple device and the app iMovie to create our first video.

Leading up to the challenge starting, each team member had their own role in getting it prepared. We had one team member create the write up and description for the school newsletter, another creating the challenge cards and all of them practising their own self-introductions to use in our challenge conversations. All team members also got to have a practice with their new microphones so that they could be confident in recording their interactions during the challenge week.

Each member has their own microphone colour, stamp and lanyard that they are using to challenges and other IJP (Innovative Japanese Program) activities that we need them for. The pencil case type lanyards were purchases from a local store here in Adelaide called Kawaii $2.80. It is a great place to get Japanese resources and snacks.

On top of their ‘kits’, I have also been able to finally organise their Action Team badges that they can wear to make it easier for students/staff/parents to know they can use their Japanese with them.

We are in the early stages of the challenge and have had some successful participation already which is fantastic. Hopefully we can get some more resources added to the blog/site soon to start building up the digital library/broadcast that we are hoping for.

ILPG- Setting up iPads

All of our devices are now cataloged and ready to go, which is very exciting. The look on the Action teams faces when they saw all of the technology sitting in our office was priceless.

It took a good couple of hours, but at least 4 of the student iPads are updated and ready to go with a few starter apps.

The most time consuming part has been setting up the iPads to have exactly the same layout and app order. Ideally we would have liked to use Configurator 2 which is installed on the iMac in the office, however it does not seem to be the most user friendly so we are back onto the manual update/install track.

Following on from the iPad audit that the Japanese student action team completed on our older iPads, I installed some of their recommended apps and some new ones that I have recently learned about. I will be getting the team to take another look at the app selection and find out their thoughts.

I will make a post about the different apps we are starting with on the devices, and how I have decided to set the layout like. Over the course of the program this will probably change with feedback from both the team and other students.

There are about 6 more iPads to set up and update, and of course screen protectors and cases need to be sorted out before the students start using them in lessons and creating our content.

読んで下さってありがとう (Thanks for reading)

Until next time! またね