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Classroom Course 4 Learning Landscape

Learn for real!

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Photo Credit: Mark Brannan via Compfight cc

Project-Based-Learning, Problem-Based-Learning, Inquiry-Based-Learning, Challenged-Based-learning are all pedagogical theories which all have something in common. Their approach is the real-world approach.

One of my goals for daily life teaching and learning is that it has to be authentic and meaningful for the students. As a PYP teacher, as a technology teacher, as a language teacher and as a person I don’t want to separate school from life outside of school anymore like our teachers did 20 -30 years ago. Difficult enough because often old structures and fixed mindsets are still there.

Authentic and meaningful problems, projects, inquiries, challenges motivate me as a learner and I strongly believe that this is also the case for students. Secondly I (often together with the students) always try to find a way to share our learning. Students present their learning, take some actions, give tips for our language learner (in my case), make aware of something, reflect on their learning – I don’t just want to collect the learning in the classroom or even worse just in the notebooks of the students.

Technology / the Internet as well as our local environment provide us a way to make the learning authentic and meaningful, to find projects or real problems to solve, and to challenge ourselves.

Some examples:

Grade 1 German Advanced
Unit: Fairy Tales
Learning Intention: All countries in the world have fairy tales or stories.

The students asked a non-german speaker to tell a fairy tell or story from their culture. The recorded it with vocaroo.com (fantastic tool) and then retold the story in German. Again those stories were recorded and finally shared on a world map, so everybody can listen to it. Here is the link to Märchen aus aller Welt.

Grade 1 German mother tongue level
Unit: Material Matters
Learning Intention: Materials have certain attributes for certain purposes

As a scientist the students inquired into a chosen item and looked at it with the following questions:

  1. What materials are used to produce this item?
  2. How does the item look and feel like?
  3. Why were those material chosen to produce the item?

After the research the students published the results for their results by using thinglink. Due to privacy policies I can’t publish them here. Following they were asked to show their deeper understanding by choosing a certain material for a certain purpose. Even more it would have been authentic if we had the chance to actually build something. Next year …

Grade 3 GAL 1 (German as a additional language – beginners)

At the end of the unit the students reflected on how they are learning new words. The fact that the students are beginner language learner it was definitely a meaningful and authentic reflection for them. But we wanted to go a step further and share our reflections. Students came up with the idea to create something for the blog. Finally they asked me to create a little video. They created the tips for other language learner.

Grade 4 German Advanced
Unit: Inventions continue to impact our world
Learning Intention: Deeper understanding that inventions can have a positive as well as a negative impact on our world.

The students inquired into a chosen German inventor with the following prompts:

What is the invention?
How did it improve our daily lives?
What negative impact the invention might have on our life and environment?

To share their learning outcome the students chose to film themselves with the iPads and share it by using voicethread. Following a short part of it (and I learnt how to blur the faces 😉

Grade 4 German mother tongue level
Unit: Video killed the radio star (focus in German: written communication)
Learning intention: Different kinds of written communication are used in different situations and for different purpose.

The students are surrounded by technology and they communicate in a way different way than we did at the same age. They see their parents or older siblings using devices to communicate. Inquire into written communication (using Todaysmeet for the TuningIn; using the learning Links on the Intranet to find more information about different type of written communication), attending a contest writing a letter to a hero of a children book (found on the internet), using Skype to communication with somebody who still writes a lot of letter, touches the reality of the children. They will become experts and can share their knowledge.

Sometimes I get the question: And what is the language focus of the unit? Yes, there has to be a language focus. But especially the German classes learn through using the language. On top of it, even though it is the mother tongue class the learning needs of the children are very, very diverse. Project-based, Problem-based, Inquiry-based, challenged-based learning gives me the possibility to differentiate and support individually so the learning of the language will be as meaningful and authentic as possible. Maybe it is not problem-based, project-based enough … I would love to go out of the classroom walls even more.

4 replies on “Learn for real!”

Hi Verena,

Excellent blog post! I love these examples you provided. They all definitely allow for differentiation and inquiry. It’s clear that your students have the opportunity to “learn language”, “learn through language”, and “learn about language”. I’ll share your post with the Mandarin teachers at my school and will come back to it next year when I’m teaching EAL.

Cheers,
Beth

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Hi Beth,
thanks for the positive feedback. I find examples of the classroom the most useful as well. Then you can make connections to your own classroom and give it a try almost immediately.
One question: How is it at your school with privacy issues? Do the parents agree or disagree at the beginning of the start at the school? Or do you have to ask every time? I do understand the concerns but it makes the process very complicated as well. I don’t know yet how I’ll handle this for the final project.
Have a great weekend! Verena

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Hi Verena,

Our school year in Melbourne just finished and I’m changing schools, but my Melbourne school is very concerned about privacy issues, so our blogs are locked to our school domain. This makes sharing and authentic connections impossible. I found this very frustrating to work with.
I’m moving to NIST International School in Bangkok in mid-March, and I’m hoping they are a bit more open. From what I’ve seen on the website, there’s lots of video and pictures of children. I’ll let you know once I arrive. I also have the parent perspective, as our 3.5 year old daughter will be in ELC3 there!

Cheers,
Beth

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I love the idea of “learning language”, “learning through language”, and “learning about language”. This is authentic and real. And I loved seeing your classroom and getting a sense of what learning is happening. Thanks for sharing!

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