Learning and unlearning

board workMy year 9s are fierce learners. I can learn and unlearn with them all the time and we have it down to an art form now. We’ll learn something and get good at it then I’ll change the goal posts and expectations and we’ll relearn. In the process we are all learning. 31 students and I have partnered to make a learning conglomerate of impressive proportions. I have taught them about presentations as well as French. We like a challenge. They have taught me to go back out to the front of my class and play to an audience of willing learners who are not at all passive. They want to engage and interact all the time. I have taught them the importance and value of listening and taking it all in. The last assignments I have constructed for them are to test their capacity to be strong, independent, learners . We have created a complex text to introduce ourselves. It is one of the most important things you have to learn in a language. You have to be good at introducing yourself. The text we constructed was based on all we had learnt this year. They have loaded it onto the LMS so I can mark it and they have been invited to read it out to me so I can hear them and help them. I now want them so make a video.

“So we just video ourselves saying the text?
“We make a character or use Puppet Pals and record our voices over the animation?
“What then?”
” I want a video where you showcase presenting yourself and your French in your best light. People won’t know you. Make a video that lets people know you.”
“Can we use a Teddy Bear?”
“Can you? Is it your video or my video?”
“Tell us what you want.”
” I want a video where you speak French and present yourself and introduce yourself in a grand way to the world.”

There was a lot of silence and they fiddled on their iPads. “Can we put pictures in it?”
“Do you want to put pictures in it?”

More silence and some drifted off into the online language learning programme we have and showed me how well they were doing.

The next lesson I came in and suggested we do a group brainstorm about what would make a great video if we were going to present ourselves to the world in French. What they came up with in 10 minutes demonstrated how in touch they are with the online video world. Having a “mad intro” and then a “mad outro” was something which immediately set their imaginations on fire. They were trawling through all the videos they’d seen with cool beginnings and endings. The fact they used mad and then invented the word outro to match intro was interesting and fun. Their language. It was now their work. They suggested jokes and memes but also very valuable things like clear voices and syncing text and images. Now they all got it. They had unlearned worrying about what the teacher wanted and learned they could create a unique, original video with the text we had constructed.

questionsOur language work this week was on questions. French questions are more complex and more varied than in English. We had to unlearn our English to take the French  into our heads and mouths. I spent 2 lessons looking at different ways of asking a question but we had started with the questioning words and built up from that. Today was the third lesson. My starter sample question is at the top and in 10 minutes they had 9 other variations on that question which just came out of their mouths. We had unlearnt worrying about if we made a mistake and learned to have a go. We learned that when we got stuck someone finished it off for us. We learned we were pretty clever really and unlearned we were only year 9s.


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