Japanese classes are taught by Mrs. Kazuko Stone via distance learning to several different school districts. Currently there are four students from three different districts enrolled in Japanese II. Enrollment changes each year.
The students are in 9th through 12th grades. They are highly motivated to learn the language since the course is elective. The class setting and computer availability differ from school to school.
The class meets every day for 45 minutes. The students and the teacher have interactive communication every day.
In "Japanese for Communication," a model for curriculum development created by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, teaching culture is valued as much as teaching the language itself. The goal in teaching culture is to create empathy through shared experience. Instruction must focus on cultural similarities as much as cultural differences. The goal is to teach cultural study skills and attitudes. Our project goal aligns with this goal. Through this project students will compare and analyze researched information from the both cultures, for bias and accuracy, and they will apply their knowledge of past events to current events such as the economy, current conflicts, business and education.
The goal of this project also aligns with the state standards for technology. Students will use internet to do research, will use e-mail to communicate with experts, and will create web pages and videos to represent their display.
In order to incorporate the students' presentations into the Foreign Language Festival, the project will be conducted not only by the students of the Japanese language but also by the students of French and German. These languages are also taught via distance learning. The corroboration of the students and teachers of the three languages will take place.
The subject areas in the curriculum covered in this project are foreign language/culture, social studies, language arts, art and technology.
The project will be conducted through the students' own direction under the teachers' guidance. The project will involve students and teachers from America, Japan, France and Germany, and experts from both inside and outside the community.
In the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Stone and her students will discuss the decision process that lead to dropping atomic bombs on Japan. The month of August has the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs and the end of the war in the Pacific. First students will research and analyze the opinions and options of different government officials, military personnel and scientists. They will use internet and/or the library for researching. Web sites they might use are A-Bomb WWW Museum, Atomic Bomb: Decision, The City of Hiroshima Home Page: Atomic Bomb and Peace and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Then they will discuss the interpretation of the decision to drop the bombs, their agreement or disagreement, and their reason in writing. The students will share their writings. Mrs. Stone will then present her collection of materials such as photographs and brochures from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the taped TV program of atomic bombs from Japan. Then students will be asked whether they have changed their interpretation since they wrote the essay. They discuss why and why not. The students are asked think about the impact of knowing the view points from both sides. The students will start brain storming other historical events that are taught with bias and the methods of getting information and different view points. The teacher challenges the students to plan a project of researching and comparing different view points of view of a certain historical event, and to present the results in a display at the Foreign Language Festival.
The students choose a historical event that they want to research. They are allowed to work individually or in groups. They conduct the research through internet and/or library. They contact experts and museum personnel by e-mail. They communicate with other students in the target country by e-mail. Other students in the target culture provide the information on how they have been taught and told about a certain historical event by teachers, parents and media. The teacher provides students with resources and contact addresses if they need. Periodically the students share what they have found so far among each other. During the majority of the course, the students will not be able to be flexibly grouped, as they are located at different schools and are already in small groups of one to four. But they visit the studio and go on field trips several times during the year, and may work in different groups at that time. Also, they will come together for the Language Festival and may be flexibly grouped then. The teacher gives an opportunity of engaged learning and observes the students' progress. The students compare and analyze the interpretation of view points.
Several sites for cultural information and current events are available. Nipponia covers current events and life style of Japan. The Japan Forum allows them to post photos and information about their daily life, as well as learn about life in Japan. They will compare that to their own life style. They can link to these from their web page.
A challenge to the students is how to incorporate the gathered information into a presentable display of their choice. The students are given an opportunity to consult with the teacher and the classmates. Some students may write a play and practice a performance. Some may write a poem. Some may make video tapes. Some may create web pages. Some may invite experts in the community as guest speakers.
Ms. Chris Rogers, Program Coordinator for the distance learning service, will assist with technical problems, research, e-mail and displays. She will help with the web pages, video recording and other technical aspects. Also, other program staff will be available to help with production aspects. Both Stone Sensai and Ms. Rogers will facilitate student learning, and be co-learners along with the students, in addition to learning from them.
The students will display the results of their research at the Foreign Language Festival. The entire school, parents and anyone who is interested in the event are welcomed at the Foreign Language Festival. The results of the project are displayed in the forms of play,s poems, arts, videos, and web pages. Those who are not able to come to the festival can see the displays in web pages.
As an ongoing project, the students can chose a different historical event or chose a different country. Also the results of the students' research are shared. Then the students apply their knowledge to current events such as the economy, current conflicts, business and education.