Creative Lesson Planning

A Project for Community Involvement

IV. Students Learning on Their Own

Inahara Kyoko

Japanese-language Teacher (High School, the American School in Japan)

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I believe that the students gained a lot of skills through this project, one of which is thinking skills. The students went beyond the goal of just learning and using Japanese, they deepened their thinking through their project.

"We couldn't just memorize vocabulary and grammar structures and get an A. It involves much more deeper thought."
"While completing this project, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I needed to be happy for what I have."
"This project really opened my eyes to what students could do to help other people in our community, not just rely on the school's donation and charity events."

I received comments like this from nearly everyone. There are students that continue to volunteer to help Tohoku disaster victims.

Another skill that the students gained was the use of technology. Part of the school's 21st Century Education focus is the use of technology. Through this project, the students naturally had to use it. They used it in recording conversations, in video recordings of their volunteer activities, and used video in their presentations to facilitate understanding. I didn't instruct them to use this or that tool, the students used the technology that best fit their needs for their project. When the students wanted to do something that they didn't know how to do, they asked the IT staff and learned new ways of doing things. The students were employing "Backward design"* in their projects by themselves.

The project is not a project to use technology, rather the students naturally thought for themselves what technology was required for their project. It reinforced in me that technology is just a tool.

Lastly, I would like to thank the students who believed in the project, and who embraced it with all their effort and courage. In the end, I am the one who learned the most.

*Backward design
Planning a learning experience and instruction around a pre-determined desired result.

Inahara Kyoko Inahara Kyoko
Japanese-language Teacher (High School, the American School in Japan)

Ms. Inahara grapples constantly with the questions of what skills students will need when they become adult members of society and how activities in Japanese-language class can develop those skills. Regarding her role as that of a facilitator, she incorporates a variety of activities into her lessons with the aim of bringing out the students’ latent abilities.
B.A. in education, Aoyama Gakuin University. MA in education (educational administration), Aoyama Gakuin University. Served as faculty head of the Japanese-language center, Hanoi University of Technology, Vietnam. Took up current position in 1998. Coauthor of Doraemon no dokodemo Nihongo [Doraemon’s Magic Door to Japanese] (Shogakukan, 2009).

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