Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Writing Authentically Beyond the Walls of the Classroom

There are so many great ways to integrate technology into our teaching to motivate our students to communicate authentically and to interact with students beyond the walls of our classroom. While participating in this TLLP project, I wondered about opportunities for our students to authentically read and write to students outside of the walls of the classroom.

Immediately, I thought about authentic 'can-do' statements that I wanted to focus on and design tasks.
  • I can introduce myself.
  • I can talk about my preferences.
  • I can ask and answer simple questions.
The next step, was to choose a technology platform. I had been using Seesaw: The Learning Journal, for quite some time, so I decided to use this platform to connect with a different class in a different school. I called up a friend who was also a Core French teacher in a different school to see if she wanted to tackle my idea together. She immediately saw my vision and we were both very excited at the possibililites for our students to authentically communicate with each other.

We created a classroom called "On Gazouille" for both of our grade 7/8 students and "Parlons Ensemble"for our grade 5/6 students.  We then added our students into each Seesaw classroom.

Now we had around 50 students in each class. We had the settings set so that students could see each other's posts as well comment. One of the many great things about Seesaw is that students can leave written comments as well as oral comments to each other's posts.

Different Authentic Written Activities:

1. In the beginning, students had to post an simple introduction of themselves. Once they posted, students had to read each other's posts and leave follow up questions, which they would then answer in return.

2. My students really liked movies, so I decided to create a Movie Bracket similar to a March Madness Bracket. Together with my students, we chose 16 movies that they enjoyed watching. Every period, we would post two movies using Pic Collage. Students had to state which movie they would prefer watching and why. The next day, students had to read the responses and tally the responses. The winner of the Movie Battle would move to the next round.

3. Since the Movie bracket was so popular, we decided to do a similar activity comparingFrench music. Again, every period, two songs were posted by a variety of Francophone artists. As a class, we would listen to the two songs and students had to state which song they liked and why. Students then had over 50 authentic written samples to read!

4. School Tour. As an introduction activity, our grade 5/6 students wanted to give the other class a tour of our school. Students had a choice of what media they wanted to use, however, most students chose iMovie or Shadow Puppet. Students created a school tour and labelled common areas they wanted to share (la gymnase, le bureau, la classe, le carrefour d'apprentissage, etc). Not only did this reinforce vocabulary, students had fun going around the school creating their tour.

5. Our grade 5/6 students explored giving and listening to directions using maps. First, we choose a common map that both of our classes would reference during this activity.  I would suggest using a map of your school, the map of your community, Google maps of a Francophone area or creating a map using Minecraft. Students wrote directions of how to get from Point A to Point B, without writing the name of the destination. Clues were left for the other students to read. Students then had to leave the answer of the clue for the original author to verify at a later time. Not only did students complete this task in writing, they also left oral instructions for students to listen.

6. Leading into the summer, our students engaged in answering Would You Rather statements. Students brainstormed pictures of activities they were looking forward to doing over the summer. Using Pic Collage, they created Would You Rather questions for each other. Following the same pattern, students would state their preference giving a reason why. At this point in the year, students were able to give at least two reasons and looked forward to the responses they would get from the other school.

Moving Forward

I do look forward to continuing using Seesaw to authentically communicate beyond the walls of the classroom. Looking into this coming year, rather than just partner with 1 other school, I look forward to using the BLOG feature of Seesaw to communicate with more schools.

Stay tuned...check out Twitter and following me @CorrieJP for links to authentic writing provocations. I hope to interact with your students this year!

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