||Action Research Diary
What Worked and Why..
The pupils were thrilled at the suggestion of making a
newsletter and produced an abundance of ideas for inclusion. They navigated the introduction of Microsoft
Publisher with great ease, but learned best when given the opportunity to click on the
tools in the tool bar. Ideally, more free
time experimenting with the package is advised. Time
was very limited in this project.
Pupils were asked to search for and bring in attractive
newsletters and magazines in any language. This
helped to point out the need to fill empty space, vary font style and size, create
dramatic interest etc.
The pupils responded avidly to the new vocabulary because
there was a greater sense of purpose attached to learning the words.
Group work was extremely effective in this module. As the groups were self-chosen friendship groups
at the start of the year, the groups have had considerable opportunity to work together at
this stage and all have reached a comfortable level of co-operation and industry. The word processing skills were previously taught
and it was wonderful to see them remember, practise and use their knowledge.
The size of four in a group worked particularly well with
this activity because of the division and variety of activities including in the last
sheets. One or two members of the group could
be preparing work away from the groups PC, composing, correcting and editing articles,
checking spellings using the dictionary, sourcing graphics on another PC etc., while the
other two members could be typing in articles. They
could alternate in this way thus ensuring every member was actively involved in all the
skills (decision making, typing).
What is Not Helping and Why..
Initially the pupils were somewhat daunted by the amount of
tools available and the workload given. The
pupils had a lot of activities to complete and as expected, needed more time.
Ideally the module would benefit from a minimum of six
lessons. Time was a huge factor during this
module. After introducing the idea in lesson
one, there should have been two lessons devoted to teaching the foreign language,
composing and correcting the pupils material and compiling articles for the newsletter. If
this were followed by two lessons preparing the document on the computer, a final lesson
could have been devoted to refining the presentation of the publications, printing and
displaying in class and in the school, presenting the material to the class, reading each
others, exchanging language and ideas. As a
teacher, I could see enormous benefits of spending at least two more 30-40 minute classes
at desktop publishing but unfortunately had to accept that the Module was over. Both the teacher and the pupils felt the Module
At this particular time in the school year, the fifth and
the sixth class have an extremely busy schedule in our school. The sixth class made their Confirmation, having
had a few disrupted weeks of practice and preparation for the confirmation, followed by a
weeks midterm break. Similarly, the
timetable for the fifth was disrupted with choir practice and the Confirmation Ceremony
itself. They also had other visitors to the
school such as the Science Works Road Show, an environmentalist project leader etc. As a result the Modern Foreign Language and ICT
lessons had to be cancelled and postponed
many times. The fifth class particularly
suffered, because of a two-week gap between lesson 3 and lesson 4.
Despite searching in the computer stores and ordering by
telephone, colour printer cartridges were impossible
to find. Apparently, a typhoon in Japan had
affected supplies of Lexmark colour cartridges. A
black and white version was printed. Having
been distracted by other events, the pupils felt quite removed from the work, lost
motivation and momentum and were not terribly interested when they finally saw their
printouts. They didnt feel enough ownership of the newsletter because they didnt
have enough time to put their own unique stamp on their work. They showed a lot less interest in the printed
version than I had hoped.
As the pupils may not have a realistic concept of the level
of foreign language knowledge required, their ideas may be too ambitious. The teacher should have a workable theme in mind
with which to guide (and influence!) the pupils decision making.
Ownership of the newsletter should rest with the pupils,
however it is difficult to strike a balance between their limited knowledge of the
language and their ideas. The level of
foreign language at this stage requires help and support from the language teacher,
especially for those in their first year of the pilot project. Given the time constraints in this project, the
teacher felt it necessary to write the majority of the content of the articles for the
children based on their oral contributions in class.
It was difficult to know whether to guide them into using a
template of a newsletter or into creating their own newsletter from scratch. It was felt that they would gain more insight into
the creation of a newsletter and the use of space by formulating their own frames and
adjusting pictures to suite. However, in
hindsight, it may have been easier to present them with a pre-formatted structure with
which to fill.
The pupils knew they were under time pressure and they
worked quickly and creatively. It was quite
amazing how much they achieved in the time given. However,
they couldnt improve their work or satisfy the aesthetic aspect of designing a
newsletter. The teacher printed out the work
at a later stage, as there was no time in the lesson.
Prior to the lesson the teacher should ascertain the general
theme being considered by the class in order to have a list of appropriate vocabulary to
hand. This can be done through informal chat
during break/lunch/yard duty, or pupils can be asked to submit written ideas after lesson
Alternatively, the teacher can dictate the theme to be
covered and have supporting material already prepared and chosen. However, the class will
participate and enjoy the activities more fully and creatively if they feel the ideas are
Photographs and images using the digital camera and scanner
can be incorporated such as the school crest and logo, a picture of the class etc. Pupils could be given an opportunity to handle the
peripheral ICT equipment and shown how to alter images when downloaded.
The newsletter could be sent to other partner schools and
other schools in Ireland learning the foreign language.
It would be wonderful to have the time to continue this module for another
month and produce another edition, with other material, perhaps in Irish etc.
This activity has tremendous potential for language
reinforcement, communication and exchange as well as creativity and fund.