This tenth featured post in A Series of Classroom Connections comes to us from the French classroom of Joanna Porvin at Brownell Middle School.
Introductory language curriculum focuses on the expressions necessary for day-to-day conversations. These topics require a greater context to fully engage learners. The virtual post card project expands students’ knowledge of the communities where their target language is spoken, provides practical skills for future real-life travel, and activates the imagination.
What time is it?
In our classroom, telling time is a bridge to explore the French and Spanish-speaking worlds. Students, who have already completed an introductory geography unit, compare the time in our community to the times in target-language countries and catalog the differences in time zones. Students are encouraged to make far-reaching geographical choices.
Traditionally, students relied on an interactive time map to complete this task. While the website does function in Safari, the “mouse over” navigation is clumsy on an iPad and thus limits students’ ability to explore the map and easily access multiple cities within one country. However, the team behind the website has designed a free app, World Clock – Time Zones, which provides greater functionality, including an interactive map among other rich features. (The premium upgrade option for the app eliminates advertisements for an additional $1.99; the interactive map does not work in the free version.)
What’s the weather like?
Studying the weather can also be an opportunity to explore the world and even to build skills for future travel. In this web-based activity, students use international websites like this one in Spanish and this one in French to get weather information from various locations in their target-language countries.
Students set the default display of temperature information to Celsius and make a prediction of what the equivalent temperature would be in Fahrenheit before selecting the conversion feature. Our goal is to be in the ballpark so that we could answer the question, “Do we need a sweater or a bathing suit?” At the end of the activity, students compare strategies for approximating Celsius temperatures and we brainstorm mental math shortcuts.
Putting It All Together
At the conclusion of these two activities, students work in teams to create ‘virtual postcards.’ Each mini-presentation features time and weather information for both their home country and the region they are ‘visiting.’ Students are also asked to select a visual to illustrate the location.
Students use screencaptures on the iPad saved to the camera roll to create visuals for time. For these examples, students reset the default clocks built into the World Clock feature of the iOS Clock App. Students then save screen captures from the websites used in the above weather activity. Finally, they select a photograph from the Internet to represent their destination.
Virtual Post Card Samples
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