Discovery - Communication - Learning
Last week, we finished a mini research project with the 7th grade students. The topic was Schools Around The World. It culminated in each student teaching a group of new friends about the country she had researched. It took 4 classes to complete and was very satisfying to see the students take full advantage of the opportunity to take charge of their own learning.
We started this project by having the students make their own groups. In these groups they chose a country and then wrote six questions they had about school life or the education system in that country. These were the most important components to the success of this project, in my opinion. By allowing the students to choose their own groups they were able to work with people they are comfortable with, as well as have the confidence to hold each other accountable. I also believe that working with people they are close to makes it easier for them to speak frankly and help correct mistakes. Having the students choose the country by themselves and writing their own questions to research allowed them the opportunity to engage fully in the activity and be in charge of their own learning. It also gave us a natural way of thinking critically about the topic and the potential differences between Japan and other places. The final goal of teaching other students about the country they researched meant they had a lot more invested in this project.
I truly believe that two of the key ingredients to success in learning are discovery, and communication. I strive to see these in every English lesson I prepare. I think it’s important for activities to be as student-led as possible while allowing everyone the chance to experiment, take risks and find their own English voice.