After working on Genius Hour projects in class, I have found many tools online useful like Pinterest as well as websites aimed at teachers. Pinterest is where I first saw frequent use of ukuleles in the classroom (as opposed to recorders or a cappella singing); so far, even teachers with no prior musical knowledge have had a blast with the idea and enjoy learning together with students. Ukulele is not difficult to learn in a short period of time if one is willing to practice often. A resource shared in class, called Seesaw, also proved to be an extremely useful tool for my Genius Hour Project. On the class blog, I can share goals with the students as well as post helpful resources that will help students increase skill with both Japanese language and ukulele. There are many links that can be connected to both subjects.
Currently, my plan is to form a lesson plan based on state standards for learning a foreign language. In these standards, there are multiple themed units (usually sorted by chapters) that should make it easy to find a song that can be related to subject material. One example I used for beginners was called “The Elephant Song.” While this would be useful to use in an animal-themed unit, it also contains a grammar structure that would be essential for students to learn (how to describe someone’s physical appearance). Keeping the song in mind, it should be an easy task to substitute words in the song with vocabulary learned during class so that they can form new, original sentences.
On my Seesaw blog, I have outlined a basic weekly lesson plan that will describe more specifically how the ukulele will go along with each unit (that can be found here). For example, if the class were to learn a song such as “The Greetings Song” (or “Aisatsu no Uta”), several of Georgia Performance Standards would be covered:
MLLIP1A: The students exchange simple spoken and written information in the target language,utilizing cultural references where appropriate. The students:
A. Use basic greetings, farewells, and expressions of courtesy, in both oral and
MLLINT1D: The students demonstrate understanding of simple spoken and written language presented through a variety of media in the target language and based on topics such as self, family, school, etc. The students:
Demonstrate Novice-Mid proficiency in listening, viewing and reading
MLLP2: The students present brief, rehearsed material in the target language, such as
dialogues, skits, poetry, and songs. The students:
A. Demonstrate Novice-Mid proficiency in pronunciation and intonation when
presenting rehearsed material.
B. Demonstrate comprehension of rehearsed material.
After perusing Twitter for more information, I came across this testimonial from a music teacher who incorporated the ukulele into her classroom. If these results could also be translated into the world language classroom, there would be endless possibilities to succeed with ukulele in JSL classes.
Here are some helpful Twitter accounts and hashtags!
@KemushiJP, @MaggieSensei, @AkoKitamura
#kanji, #hiragana, #ukulele, #Nihongo, #Japaneseforkids, #LearnJapanese