Marymount Academy International – Learning without knowing you are learning
By: Sharman Yarnell – Montreal Times
How to teach students in an imaginative and meaningful way. How to get them interested in what you are trying to get across to them. And once that interest is achieved, how to maintain it. How to get kids waking up in the morning and looking forward to class! Problems that have beset teachers since day one.
One teacher at Marymount Academy International came up with a super idea, not only to get her students involved in the process of learning, but to work together and have fun. Having fun while learning…that’s the secret!
Ms. Laurianne Smolla is the french teacher at Marymount and she came up with an innovative way to grab the attention of her students and…keep it.
She also achieved her goal of getting them to speak french!
“The students were so enthusiastic to do Le journal de Jack (last year) and learned so much, I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to do a fun project while learning french. The great thing about it is they did not even notice that they were learning french. That’s why I think it is important to create great projects where they can learn, even without knowing it!”
This year she took it a step further. Her goal was to have her students work and enjoy working in their second language. To that end, she invited director, Patrice Laliberte, to join her for a few months to do a video workshop in class. The students learned to write, film, work with sound and edit their work. Oh, and they did some acting as well. The result was a mini-series for the web called ISOLATION.
How did they come upon the idea? They were mulling over different ideas for a storyline when Laliberte arrived at the school after having a “vision” on the bus, at which point ISOLATION was born. All other plans were dropped and a science fiction web series was created, consisting of four episodes approximately five minutes long.
All the work with Labiberte was done entirely in french – although the video is bilingual.
ISOLATION – What happens when students end up in detention after school and when that detention is over, they discover their world drastically changed. (Remember Lord of the Flies?) The students cannot leave the school because of occurrences taking place beyond the doors. They are confined, locked in. How do the kids work together, overcome language and cultural differences? How do they deal with everyday living – food, communication and especially, the emotional upheaval they find themselves in? Do they argue, fight? Can they make it work in their small world behind the school doors?
Perhaps life does imitate art – or perhaps it is the other way around.
On May 30, with great anticipation, the students of Marymount filed into assembly to take part in the Red Carpet Gala of ISOLATION. Media and members of the EMSB were there to witness the results of months of trial, tribulation and success. With great pride all the students involved were given small Oscars for their efforts and hard work.
Will any of the students become filmmakers or actors? You never know. One thing is certain, though, whatever they do in life, they will look back over time and remember they had a french teacher who took them beyond the four walls and chalk board of a class room and taught them french in a progressive way!
Once again Marymount Academy International lives up to the words – Marymount Academy International, A World of Possibilities.