Learning a second language requires as much practice time with the language as possible. For second language learners, it can be truly overwhelming to try to squeeze all of your language learning into the few hours allotted for it during class-time. Now you (or your students :) can expand your learning to whenever it is convenient to you by subscribing to the YouTube Channel, French Help…Whenever!
For the better part of a year I have been involved with a project spearheaded by Marc-Andre Lalande, Pedagogical Consultant with the RECIT Provincial Service for FGA (Huh? Basically he is the consultant for technology and pedagogical renewal in the adult education sector of Quebec’s English public education system). I am incredibly fortunate to be able to collaborate with awesome educators from around Quebec as we create learning capsules for French second language students in adult education (or anyone else who wants to use them).
One of the best things about the project is that, as we are working on video capsules to help our adult learners, we are learning so much ourselves! We are stretching our knowledge about second language learning and in so doing we will be better equipped to help our students succeed.
Our first video capsule – Frenchlation by Karine Bellefeuille-Ward and Véronique Bernard – is now live and new videos will be available on a regular basis, so stay tuned!
I am very happy to see this project come to life!
Yesterday, a student asked me this question: “Are Jews and white people the same thing?”
I started with a no, because there are black Jews, there are brown Jews. But there are a lot of white Jews.
“So, is it just their religion that makes them different from white people?”
I thought…and said, maybe. A lot of people don’t like what is different from them. There is actually a word for when people really don’t like Jews, it’s called Anti-Semitism.
He summed up our conversation with, “Racism sucks”.
And then this morning, I read this article in the New York Times:
Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools: Pine Bush, N.Y., School District Faces Accusations of Anti-Semitism
A high school graduate remembers:
“He recalled that around the time of the Jewish holidays, teachers would ask if there were Jewish students in the class. “I learned very, very quickly not to raise my hand,” he said.”
I have a vivid memory from my own childhood of a friend, in a burst of anger, telling me that us dirty Jews were all alike. We must have been 9 or 10.
Just as vividly, I remember glimpses of indigo numbers sliding back and forth under my great-aunt’s sleeve as she raised her wine glass at Passover each year.
Now, we do the Passover seder in our family, and we gather for Rosh Hashanah and Chanukah, and we respect Yom Kipur, but we don’t go to synagogue, we aren’t kosher, and we don’t focus on Israel. But we are definitely Jewish.
As a young child, I remember asking my mother a similar question. A question about what makes us Jewish. Her response had something to do with how Hitler wouldn’t have cared how religious we were. We’d still have gone to the camps.
So, were Jews involved in the atrocities that have rained down on Native peoples since (in this part of the world) roughly the 16th century? (Because I think that is where that question came from)
I don’t know.
But this question has me thinking about identity, hate, care, history, and my students.
They still keep me thinking and questioning.
I saw this image floating around twitter this morning and it pretty much sums up what I think about technology and learning.
We don’t want to use technology for the sake of having a fancy, shiny tool to bedazzle our audience into learning. Like THAT’S going to work. An iPad is not going to instantly transform a lesson that doesn’t connect with our learners into one that does. Really, it won’t. If we try to do that, we’ll probably end up supporting the notion that it just adds another distraction to our learners because it will offer them another way to divert their attention from the same thing they weren’t connecting with in the first place.
So, allow students to use an iPad if it makes sense. But not to dress up an old lesson.
The why or when to use it is really contextual. Creating, connecting, practicing, researching…these are all good reasons to want your learners to have access to an iPad. But the real questions lie around what you are expecting your learners to create, connect with, practice, and research. Does it have meaning for them?
Do they care?
And, ultimately, do you?
A number of years ago I listened to Thomas King as he gave the keynote address at a teacher’s convention. He said something along the lines of – “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are…We are responsible not only for the stories we tell but for those we choose to believe.”
So what do these stories tell us about their storytellers?
And which do you choose to believe? Remember. Only you are responsible for that.
Watch this video and ask yourself: Do I know this teacher? Am I this teacher?
And then ask: How can I guide or be guided through the shift towards improved student-learning?
In the video I say that the answer is simple – just shift a la ‘just do it’ mentality but in reality the shift is not as simple as all that. If it were, I’d like to think we would all naturally make shifts as they are needed.
No teacher wants their students to fail, to be bored, to drift away. So something is keeping us doing things that are not working for most of the people in our care. We tend to point towards outside factors – students getting younger (in Adult Ed in Quebec we are getting more and more students between 16 and 24 ever since they (re)started a new streaming type of programming in the high schools), too much technology, larger class sizes, too much administrivia, lack of instructional material, multi-level classes… – over which we have little to no control and get angry about it. I love how Sheryl writes: What makes you most angry about education? Guess what? That isn’t the problem. in Break Down, Rebuild, Start Fresh. She advocates for focusing on those things over which we do have control and sharing our successes with others.
We. We have control over the climate in our classrooms.
We can choose to remain angry or complacent and teach the way we have always been teaching and then becoming even more angry or complacent as it continues to not work for the majority of our students and for us.
We can choose to make a shift and then to seek out the guidance we may need to help us in that choice.
We can choose happiness and success over anger and complacency. Really. We can.
Have you started this shift in your own practice? How?
Have you guided someone through a shift? How?