One thing that makes working at Google extra cool, besides the unlimited food, coffee and "stress releasing" toys such as a ping pong table or a rock wall, is the fact that Googlers get to use 20% of their time to work on a project of their choice. There is a great video that quickly describes how they manage this process.
One teacher embraced 20% time in their 10th grade English class. Below is a short video that describes the process in the words of the students. Is this something you would consider doing?
I've been considering using it in my French 4/AP class. Because use of the target language is such a critical component of standards-based, communicative instruction, I am not currently considering using 20% at lower levels of language study because the students don't have the language proficiency necessary to take on such open-ended projects. Until they are in French 4/AP, most students are functioning at stage 1 (memorized chunks and phrases) and aren't yet able to consistently, accurately, and spontaneously break apart and recombine chunks to create new and original language items.Because I would want to have the same kind of journaling and reporting out (and product creation) that this other teacher implemented, I need to do it in a class where they are able to work more freely with the language.
In addition to what this teacher notes, I would also add the following to their weekly journal (which would be online and in French):
What new questions do you have based on the work/exploration you did this week? How will you go about finding answers for those questions? What are your next steps for next week?
Wow Nicole, that is great! I definitely think it would be a good project for your upper level students. What are some example projects you envision them taking on? Have you ever used Google Hangouts or Skype to bring students from different countries together to communicate?
Yes, I have used Skype, but not with France or Belgium because of the time difference. My students have spoken to student in Quebec. We also correspond regularly with villages in French-speaking Africa, but the ones we work with don't have Internet. I'm hoping to establish some ongoing communication and projects with schools in Haiti and/or Tahiti because Ty ate also only a three-hour time difference.