The first workshop I had the pleasure of attending at this year’s AQIFGA conference was presented by Michelle Robinson and Julie Salomon of Western Quebec School Board, called: Les TICs au service de L’autonomie en FLS, roughly translated as ICT in service of autonomy in French Second Language.
Essentially, their workshop was organized around the presentation of three tools they have been experimenting with to help the learners in their classrooms develop autonomous learning practices. Too often, learners wait for teachers to supply them with the answers…why? because this is how it has always been! In particular in adult education centres, this type of learning and teaching is becoming less and less relevant. Classrooms are beginning to look more and more like this:
So teachers are looking for ways to keep the learning environment of their classrooms relevant in the face of this continuously evolving picture.
What Julie and Michelle are experimenting with in their French second language classrooms is creating an online resource center of videos, activities, and explanations of basic, key concepts that their learners can access whenever needed – both in the classroom and outside of the classroom.
So far, they have used Popplet – an online mind mapping tool – to organize resources around ‘La phrase de base’ (basic sentence structure); Padlet – an online bulletin board – to organize multiple resources for second language learning, including their Popplet resource and videos they created to support their students as they learn French; and Quizzlet – an online quiz making tool – to provide their learners with multiple ways to practice what they learn.
What I would like to highlight were some comments Julie and Michelle made in conversation with the participants about student use of the tools:
You can’t just create resources online and expect learners to use them – and to use them in the way that you expect! Technology use needs to be modeled. They both spoke about the need to model how to look for information and solve problems in relation to what learners are working on. As students worked on creating sentences in French, for example, it was important for the teachers to show them explicitly how to use the online resources they compiled to help them in their tasks.
A common thread of teacher conversations is about learner autonomy and what I love about this project is that Julie and Michelle are teaching learners how to become autonomous and not merely hoping for it to happen.
The tools that Julie and Michelle create are in constant evolution as they use them with their students and as they receive feedback from their students as to what works more, what works less. Here is how their collection of resources looks at the moment: