In Chinese 4, we began our year with a brief review unit before diving into a topic with a mission for students to explore themselves. We began our Passions unit with class discussion each day, acquiring a little more relevant grammar and vocabulary to articulate what drives our students’ free time in deeper and deeper ways.
We consumed all different types of media on the topic of passions, from newspaper articles to short films to television advertisements. After we were able to understand how to express ourselves on this topic, we moved on to discuss where passions come from. We asked big and esoteric questions such as, “From where do our motivations originate? What is deliberate practice? What happens when we lose motivation? And what separates a passion from a hobby?” The conversations and essays that ensued would leave the Chinese 3 version of each student so proud of themselves for surpassing their limits and speaking in the abstract for the first time.
For the first step in the scaffolding of our project, I tasked students to use their new language skills to make a short, comprehensive film about their passion. The film would need to include a showcase of their passion, their motivation behind that passion, its origination in their life and the passion’s sustained significance. With the short time line I gave them to produce the film and the oral presentation that would accompany it, they made wonderful videos for us all to enjoy.
Engaging in multimedia can be tricky for a teacher to assign. It looks beautiful but the final product doesn’t always demonstrate the level of any particular student. Each assignment must therefore be crafted and nurtured in a way that allows each student to truly express themselves from where they are at any given time. This assignment was our training ground for what was to come. Part two of this project put their capacity as a Chinese speaker, a filmmaker, and a teammate to the test.
Students left part one of this project not only with a new appreciation of their peers, but a deeper understanding of what goes into anyone’s practice, and the decision-making process perpetually involved with deciding to continue to love something every day.