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Published January 8, 2019 | French (Second Language)

The Importance of Well Thought out Pedagogical Scenarios when Using Web 2.0 Tools to Encourage Motivation

Following a presentation at the 2018 SALTISE Conference, I was happy to interview 2 French as a second language teachers who are committed to learning more about what motivates students. Sarah Anthony and Prisca Fenoglio have developed pedagogical scenarios with Web 2.0 tools to encourage motivation by inciting emotions conducive to learning, by developing creative and collaborative skills and by learning outside of the classroom. Their collaboration started in 2015 and resulted in the creation of the INNO-MOTI-VATION website.

They are interested in the Web 2.0 tools, but what truly fascinates them is how the tools can facilitate the exploration of creativity, collaboration, experiential learning and using emotions in the classroom to promote motivation and learning. They are convinced that including these 4 components in their pedagogy encourages meaningful interactions in the second language.

Eureka!

They experimented with different activities in the classroom and collected data on the students’ reactions. The focus of their first study was on how emotions play a role in motivation and learning within the context of Web 2.0 tool use. Using the same research framework, they are now looking into creativity and they plan on studying collaboration and experiential learning.

Through their research they have learned that it is not the tool itself but rather what the teacher does with it that motivates the students. According to the students, their motivation lies in whether the pedagogical scenario is meaningful and whether the tool helps with the task.

Sarah and Prisca insisted on the importance of developing a pedagogical scenario. That is an essential aspect of their research. The activity that is proposed to the students has to be well thought out. Are there steps in the process and objectives to be reached? It is not only “let’s use this tool”. There must be a thought process behind why and how teachers are using the tool.

It’s important for teachers to realise that for students a new tool is not necessarily cool. They have all of those tools and if anything a new tool is stressful. They have to learn how to use it; they have to collaborate. So the tool is hardly the goal.

Sample scenarios

12 scenarios are available in PDF format on their website. The scenarios are both in French and English. Here are 3 that worked particularly well with the students.

Mon Montréal à moi

My Montreal video project is a scenario where students create a movie about their relationship to Montreal. Here are the steps the students must complete collaboratively:

  • Talk about how they feel, describe their emotions when thinking about Montreal.
  • Chose an object that represents Montreal for them and include it in all of the scenes of the video.
  • Create a script for the movie using Etherpad (Etherpad is an online open source tool that allows people to write and edit a text collaboratively.)
  • Produce the video using the script.
  • Post their creation to the classroom’s Google+ page.
  • View all of the videos and write comments in their second language, French.
  • Vote for the 3 videos that they preferred.

The activity has been repeated several times now and with every single group it has been a success. What was most successful in the scenario? The students reacted really well to the affective component as well as the creative aspects of the scenario. The feedback that the teachers obtained from the data demonstrates that the students enjoyed the opportunity to bond that the activity afforded. Indeed, this scenario brought the students closer together in the teams and in the class because they shared and saw what others liked.

Sarah and Prisca’s goal for this scenario is not limited to the learning objectives related to language acquisition but also includes the competencies that the students develop in order to collaborate and be creative. The students may not perceive the importance of these competencies, as they are not knowledge. However the teachers understand the necessity for the students to develop know-how as well as life skills and include cross-curriculum competencies in all of their scenarios.

Clickolage

In some scenarios they used digital tools to create new types of activities whereas in others, the tools were used only to support activities that are commonly done in class. Some scenarios are very elaborate while others are very simple, such as the activity where the students were asked to use Pinterest.

Many second language teachers are faced with the challenge of students reading or memorising their entire oral presentations. Sarah and Prisca wondered if there was a tool they could use to help the students improve their presentation skills. The use of Pinterest, an image-based application (very little text and mostly pictures), was recommended as a visual aid during oral presentations. Pinterest turned out to be a very useful pedagogical tool to support an activity that already existed in class.

Pinterest used as a visual aid during an oral presentation (Source)

Posters & advertisements: from observation to linguistic VoiceThread

Another scenario required the students to walk around the city and take photos of posters or advertisements in their second language that had an interesting turn of phrase or words that they didn’t understand. The students then compared their findings, chose 1 poster or advertisement and used VoiceThread, which allows users to leave text, voice or video comments on various media. Students created a collaborative VoiceThread to comment on the photo they chose to work on and explained the vocabulary or expression that was of interest to them. Padlet was used to host their work and students were asked to give feedback on each other’s work.

Teachers learn a lot through small failures. Trying various activities allows teachers to see what works, what promotes learning, what motivates students, how to use tools in a way that is productive.

Sharing resources

Along with the scenarios available on their website there is an evolving bibliography of interest to people who would like to read up on the subjects of motivation, creativity and affects. Also, a tab presents the results of their watch on technological developments in education.

Sarah and Prisca would like to share their resources and are working on creating a community of practice. Cégep teachers are invited to use and adapt the scenarios that appear on their website. Sarah and Prisca would love to hear your thoughts on their scenarios or any of your own creative ideas in the comment section below.

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