May Gathering: when a school topic becomes a family project

Anna Ganjalyan

For me, the 2016-2017 school-year was marked with this slogan: A School Topic is a Family Project. Media education, which comprises in itself a blog and project based teaching learning process, gives the learners an opportunity to be creative just in the first years of schooling. The family members also begin to create with the learners. When a learner comes home and says what he/she has learned at school, says something which is related to their everyday life as a live language requiring an answer to make up a dialogue, the family members are automatically involved in this dialogue. When a school topic is brought to the learner’s home in this way, the parents are no longer tutors or strict superintendents trying to check their children's knowledge and skills acquired at school. Let's begin with Grade three to give the analyses of my methodological approach.

The vocabulary of the learners of Grade 3 generally consists of the object and people names surrounding them, and the verbs denoting the actions which they do with these objects and people. For example, they learn the verb draw with the noun pencil, the verb read is learned with the noun book, and the noun toy is first used with the verb play. And who do they do these actions with? They are sure to do them with their friends, parents, brothers and sisters. These everyday and chummy topics easily move to the learners' homes and turn into pleasant family projects.

The third graders’ project of the Southern School “English at our home” caused a great liveliness in their families. The learners could speak about their family members, their flats and their toys in English in front of their parents who had their cameras turned on trying to record their children's first English speeches. Great is the inspiration in Mane Hovhannisyan's eyes when she is speaking about their flat. There is cheerfulness in Hayk and Mary's dialogue, and Gohar Barseghyan has involved her younger brother in her video film.         

We can imagine the happiness of their mother who shot the film.  People never forget the things which they loved in their childhood. Ashot Zozanyan, Irine Gyurjinyan and Alex will always remember their first English narration because the video film was shot with their favorite dog, doll, ball, piano and the yellow toy car.

During the autumn holidays I began to carry out an online translational project with the fifth graders of the Western School. The learners translated the short fairy tales composed by their younger schoolmates and published them in their blogs and the school website after I had edited them. The final result of that project was an illustrated media book of fairy tales in English and Armenian.

During the Tumanyan Days the fourth graders read and role played the English translation of the tale Black Kiddy. Then it became a family project. The learners illustrated the tale and recorded the parts of the tale characters with their family members. Luiza Yeghiazaryan with her mother and elder brother, Tigran Grigoryan with his mother, and Anahit Vermishyan with her father created their own films of the tale Black Kiddy.

This year I have introduced the topic Shopping to the fourth and fifth graders using the video lessons of the British Council. The learners began to make up their own situational dialogues on the same topic. This became a project in their homes. In the result of this project the learners with their parents, brothers and sisters created video films of role play games. Here are some of them:

Arev Sukiassyan and Mother

Anahit Vermishyan and Father

Andre Virabyan and his Elder Brother

Seda Hovhannisyan and her Elder Brother

There were some learners whose family members don’t know English, and they had to find creative solutions. For example, Elen Hovannisyan speaks to herself in different clothes and hairstyle. It is a real Rodari approach.

A similar solution has been found by Karina Manukyan.

Mariam Koroghlyan  and Angelina Simonyan have found their Rodari solutions by making their dolls speak.

Eva Sahradyan invited her friends to her place and made her video film with the her parents' support.

Inspired by the learners' inspiration I made a video lesson on the topic Shopping in which I show what teaching materials and methods of teaching I use. I have received a letter of appreciation from Addeh Hovassapian, projects manager of the British Council in Yerevan. Taking into account the expert's opinion and following Lucine Bush's advice, the head of the foreign languages department of the ED Complex, I have made up my mind to create a series of such video lessons with my students in the period of May-June and during the 2017-2018 school year.

In conclusion, I may say that the primary school learner's internal motivation gets bigger when a school topic turns into a role play game and then it is taken home and it finally becomes a family project. 

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