Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Lesson Ideas and Tips for Language Teachers using Scratch, Minecraft and more!

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to share a Saturday morning Zoom webinar (for me in Oklahoma) with language teachers in the United Kingdom, as part of a webinar series hosted by the Association for Language Learning’s All London Branch. The title of my webinar presentation was, “Lesson Ideas and Tips for Language Teachers using Scratch, Minecraft and more!,” and the recorded video on YouTube is 1 hour, 12 minutes long. The webinar description was:

Dr. Wes Fryer will share a variety of lesson strategies and instructional ideas for language teachers in this engaging webinar. These will include ideas for using block based programming in “Scratch” for student-created ‘dialog projects,’ using the free platform “Loom” for Movie Talks, and using for creating labeled house designs. In addition, ideas for using Minecraft Education Edition for language design and scavenger hunt projects, and techniques for creating and sharing simple “finger puppet dialog projects” will be highlighted.

A TiLT Webinar with Dr Wes Fryer: Lesson Ideas and Tips for Language Teachers using Scratch, Minecraft and more! (21 April 2021)

My presentation slides include links to all the resources and student project examples I shared in the webinar. Many thanks to Joe Dale (@joedale) who setup and facilitated this webinar sharing opportunity!

Because of a variety of factors including the COVID-19 global pandemic, its social distancing requirements for us in schools, and a faculty member on maternity leave at the start of the school year, I was asked to teach two sections of introductory Spanish to our 5th graders in addition to 5th and 6th grade media literacy classes last fall. Although it was certainly challenging, I REALLY enjoyed the opportunity to teach Spanish for the first time! Our outgoing world languages chair was my classroom next-door-neighbor in 2019-20, as well as office mate, and had recommended me to our division chair (middle school principal) as someone who could teach Spanish classes in a pinch. I studied and lived in Mexico City on a Fulbright Scholarship during 1992-93 following my graduation from the US Air Force Academy, and had studied Spanish both in college (it was my minor) and in high school. I certainly don’t think I’d do well as a Spanish teacher (from a grammar perspective) in higher grade levels, but as an introductory class I think I did OK.

What was so fun, for both me and my students, was teaching content area skills and knowledge through a variety of technology-integrated instructional strategies. I know my students had a lot of fun with the activities we did together, and one of the primary goals for this 5th grade class is to encourage students to enjoy language learning and want to learn more. At the end of 5th grade, students choose whether they will study Spanish or French in 6th grade. Hopefully some of my students will choose Spanish! They are actually in the midst of casting those votes right now, and I’m eager to learn the results!

I am SO thankful to our current middle school world languages department chair, Lynn Robertson, who really “took me under her wing” this fall and helped me create engaging and fun lessons for my Spanish students. Introducing me to the pedagogy of “Comprehensible Input” (CI) was fantastic and so transformative for me. I don’t anticipate teaching Spanish again, but I certainly will continue (as an instructional coach at our school) helping teachers and students use platforms like Scratch and Minecraft Education to develop and create engaging projects to “show what they know with media!”

If you have any questions about any of the lessons or lesson ideas I shared in this April 2021 webinar, please let me know by reaching out on Twitter (I’m @wfryer) or via a comment below. You can alternatively use my electronic contact form.

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