It is “soapy” because the task involves a two minute segment of soap opera called “Switched at Birth”, which has deaf teenage characters in it, who use American Sign Language.
It is “slippery” because I find that one of the many parameters I have set for myself for defining the optimal online task is always eluding me. I make sure one is “in” and woosh another slips away.
As someone who avidly follows blogs who plan inspiring lessons with films, such as Film English and The Lessonstream Blog I have to admit that I could not follow their lead and take a “meaty” topic from the segment to discuss in a framework of a formed set of activities, such as a Deaf boy dating a hearing girl ( with me totally ignoring the soapy aspects of that particular hearing girl being the one who was switched a t birth with the deaf girl – boy do I dislike soap operas!). Since the mode of communication in class is Hebrew and Israeli Sign Language such a discussion wouldn’t lead to learning English…
So I prepared homework tasks related to the segment. Here are two levels, the “blue” version is the more advanced one (I had the really advanced kids write a description of the segment. We are working on description essays now). The tasks comply with the requirment that they utilize the Internet (not just Word documents posted on line) and the questions use formats that we need for their reading comprehension exams (though I gave up on defining the word “record” in simple English and just used L1). They are also short and I can safely say the topic is relevant.
The big parameter that slipped away on this one was the “Google Translate” factor. How much are they actually learning from this exercise with all the cut / paste going on?!
Yet how could this be built differently? I, myself ,have said before that graphics which make it harder for the students to copy/ paste into the translator (students have to copy things in small chunks, more chance they will pay attention to the connection between word and translation) are better. But now that I have begun using Google Forms as the means to submit homework (the students are SO pleased with how easy it is to hand in homework now!) I find myself limited with the graphic aspects.
Something always slips away…