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: http://www.jarrodhoare.com/
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: https://onigiri-action.com/en/
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.
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!
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.
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