Social Issues Web Easy: Vol. 1 U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa

A Project Prototype by Sachiko Kamioka

published on Sep 26, 2018

Many learners of Japanese are interested in current social issues of Japan. Without advanced proficiency, however, reading Japanese newspapers is challenging and time-consuming. As result, learners resort to media in their first language and receive only limited information. Websites such as News Web Easy and NHK News Web Easier summarize selected daily news in short monographs using simple Japanese. Reading support tools such as Reading Tutor and Rikai.com enable those with low proficiency to read any text by making the meaning of each Japanese word available with a pop-up dictionary. What remains missing, however, is comprehensive, yet, easy-to-grasp information on social issues of Japan accessible to learners with intermediate proficiency via Internet. My project, "Social Issues Web Easy" aims to fill in this gap with a collection of e-booklets. The project will be implemented in an Intermediate-Low level Japanese class for graduate students in the School of Global Policy and Strategy. In each quarter, students will create an e-booklet on a selected social issue. The first quarter will focus on the social issue surrounding U.S. military presence in Okinawa. The project's target public audience, purpose, problem it intends to address, and product are summarized in the project square

Okinawa, an island of Japan consisting only 0.6% of Japan's land area, houses 74 percent of the nation's U.S. military bases. Military-related problems - jet noises, crashes, crime, and environmental degradation - have long been ignored by both countries. Even after 46 years since Okinawa's reversion to Japan and 73 years since the WWII, Okinawans are burdened in the name of national security. The first e-booklet will focus on this long-standing social issue. 

This four-to-five week project is designed for a course titled "Intermediate Japanese Language for Professional Proficiency " offered at the University of California San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy (graduate school). The course meets twice a week for eighty minutes each. This project is designed for eight-to-nine classes. 

Students learn about the issue in Okinawa through a documentary film, reading, individual research, and interviews with activists and ordinary citizens in Okinawa. A college professor in Okinawa who is a specialist in Okinawa politics and have written many books on this very topic will serve as our editor-in-chief and provide guidance as students create their booklet.

Academically, students will engage in sustained inquiry as they move towards their goal of creating a booklet that illustrates the issue comprehensibly and as they work closely with the content specialist (community partner) and hear relevant people's voices in interviews. Students will also gain pragmatic competence though preparations of interviews and email writing. Students will engage in all modes of communication in the National Standards: interpretive (watching a film and video; reading articles); interpersonal (conducting interviews and review sessions); and presentational (writing a book proposal and articles). As for the 21st Century Skills, students cultivate their critical thinking skills (reasoning; making choices; asking significant questions; analyzing and synthesizing information), collaboration skills, and technical skills through their creativework of designing, revising, and finalizing the booklet. The project also sets ESS01.02.02, ESS01.02.04, and ESS01.02.07 of the Career Pathways as goals.

Main activities are as follows: 

1. Watch a documentary film

2. Initial learning about the Okinawa issue with lecture, video, and base-reading

3. Learning about the project 

4. Individual research and sharing

5. Book proposal 

6. Feedback from editor-in-chief (a specialist as a community partner)

7. Interviews and draft-writing

8. Feedback from editor-in-chief (email and video conferencing)

9. Finalize articles and add language support

10. Create a booklet 

11. PR of the booklet

List of references can be found here.

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Learn "Easy Japanese"

Pre-viewing

Film Viewing

Launching the Project

Project Kick-off

Managing the Project

Base "Reading" Activity

Individual Research and Sharing

Booklet Proposal and Preparation for Teleconference

Feedback Session, Interviews, and Booklet Draft

Publication and Dissemination

Reflection

Assessment

Assessment of Research Presentation

Assessment of Feedback Sessions

Assessment of Booklet Articles

Assessment of Final Product

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Learn "Easy Japanese"

Over 2000 foreigners living in Japan died in the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake in 1995 and the scarcity and tardiness of information circulation were identified as the primary reason. やさしい日本("Easy Japanese") was proposed to give a faster, more effective way of communication. Students learn guidelines of composing "Easy Japanese" prior to the PBLL project as part of another unit. Though the target audience of my project is different (intermediate learners of Japanese with English language background as opposed to foreigners living in Japan), learning these guidelines will help students to compose articles for our booklet. 

 

 

 

Pre-viewing

As a pre-viewing activity for a documentary film 戦場ぬ止み (We Shall Overcome), students see images from the film and guess what the film is about.

Students learn the names of key places on two maps. 

As another pre-viewing activity, students read a handout. The handout is designed to scaffold students' learning by asking comprehension questions along with the photos of main characters in the film and a chronological table comparing the post-war history of Japan and that of Okinawa. 

Objectives: to activate one's prior knowledge; start exposing oneself with key words

Film Viewing

Day 1: 

Students watch the first half of the film, answer the comprehension questions in the handout they have read in the previous class, and check their answers.

Homework: Students receive a handout with a series of questions commonly asked about the Okinawa issue (e.g., Aren't U.S. military bases necessary to protect Japanese citizens in the time of war?; Aren't there Okinawa residents welcoming U.S. military bases because these bases create jobs for them?) and choose five questions that they are interested in most after watching half of the film. If their question is not listed, they can add it to the list.

Day 2: 

Students watch the second half of the film, answer comprehension questions in a new handout, and check their answers.

Homework: Students revisit the list of commonly-asked-questions and make changes to their top five questions if they want.They are encouraged to add their own questions.

Objectives: to emotionally engage with the topic; start asking questions about the topic

Launching the Project

Project Kick-off

The instructor asks students a series of questions designed to drive students to realize the "problem" or "question" this project is trying to address, that is Japanese language learners' limited access to Japanese-written materials to learn about social issues. Then, she shows news websites such as News Web Easy and NHK News Web Easier designed for foreigners living in Japan. She points out that while these sites provide the learners of Japanese with everyday news, there are no websites that provide them with a comprehensive, yet, easy-to-grasp information on various social issues of Japan. She proposes to create an e-booklet in each quarter on a selected social issue (and our first booklet to be on Okinawa) in hope to eventually start a website compiling these booklets. 

To visualize the end product, students see two booklets: それってどうなの?沖縄の基地の話 (Is that true?: Facts about Bases in Okinawa) and the other created by students in Prof. Nemoto's (PBLL institute alumni) students. The instructor introduces the project's community partner, Dr. Manabu Sato of the Okinawa International University, who is one of the authors of the first booklet mentioned above. Students watch a segment of his interview on Youtube and read his emails sent to me. 

Then, the class discuss possible dissemination methods. If students decide to create a promotional video ("making of our e-booklet"), they decide on a photographer to take photos of ourselves during the project.

We discuss our definition of a good booklet (consensus will be reflected in assessment rubrics) and how we evaluate the success of our project. 

Objectives: To learn and help design the project 

Managing the Project

Base "Reading" Activity

いまさら聞けない沖縄新基地建設問題7つのポイント(Seven Points of New-Military-Base-in Henoko Issue) is a short video summarizing the problem related to the construction of a new military base in Henoko into seven points. Both its content and the format (animation with narration) are suitable as a base "reading" for students. 

Before watching the video, the instructor gives mini-lecture about the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and SOFA (unequal treaty) to scaffold students' understanding. 

Students watch "Seven Points." 

Students form pairs and each pair receives two stacks of cards: one stack consisting of cards with an image taken from the video on each card and the other stack consisting of cards with a typed narration of a section of the video on each card. With partner, students match each image with the corresponding narration. 

The instructor divides the seven points mentioned in the video into the number of pairs. Each pair will be responsible for reading about different point(s). (see homework below.)

Homework: In pairs, students read the sections of their assigned "points" and help to complete a word bank in Google Doc. They are asked to talk about their assigned sections in the following class. 

Each pair orally explains their assigned "points" in front of the class. 

Objectives: To acquire background information

Technology Tips

The instructor starts a Google Doc file for a word bank and share the link to studetns from the course site. Students add words to the word bank as they do their assigned reading homework.

Individual Research and Sharing

Prior to the lesson, students have chosen five commonly-asked-questions about the Okinawa issue. The instructor shows the tabulated class results on the screen and asks students to choose two questions they would like to conduct an individual research on by making sure there will be no overlaps. Then, students are given an access to an electronic booklet それってどうなの?沖縄の基地の話 (Is That True?: Facts about Bases in Okinawa). This booklet is organized by listing 56 frequently-asked-questions and their answer. Students find the sections of the booklet that can help with their research. Additional resources may be provided if necessary.

Instructor tells students that they will give two presentations in the following classes: one presentation on Research 1 (on one of the two questions) and the other on Research 2 (on the other question). Since the booklet contains many vocabulary words beyond students' level, they are encouraged to use a reading comprehension support site such as Rikai.com and Reading Tutor. Presentation can take any format, but it needs to be done in such a way to help other students understand the presentation. 

In two classes (80 minutes each), students give their presentation.

Objectives: To conduct individual research and share findings

Booklet Proposal and Preparation for Teleconference

Homework: Students write their own idea for a booklet proposal on a large sheet of paper.  

Day 1:

Students paste their booklet proposal idea on the classroom wall in preparation for a gallery walk activity. Students walk around, read each classmate' booklet proposal idea, write three comments on a post-it, and past it on the classmate's sheet. These comments need to complete the following: ..... is effective; I wonder.....; Have you considered.....) The comments can be in English or in Japanese. 

The class discusses what we want to include in the booklet and come to a consensus. 

Divide the task of developing a booklet proposal and assign roles to each student using Google Doc.

Homework: Students finish the booklet proposal collaboratively using Google Doc. 

Day 2: 

Finish the booklet proposal and email draft addressed to Prof. Sato (editor-in-chief) in class. Send out the email.

Start preparing for a teleconference with Prof. Sato. In pairs, students prepare language for a different segment of the teleconference by paying an attention to honorifics. Then students discuss and practice interactivity (turn-taking, back-channeling) and behavior that are culturally appropriate. 

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While we are waiting for Prof. Sato to finish reviewing our booklet proposal, we will work on a different unit but will continue to prepare for the teleconference by conducting a mock interview.

Objectives: To write a convincing booklet proposal; acquire pragmatics for writing a request to the social superior and conducting a teleconference

Feedback Session, Interviews, and Booklet Draft

Students hold a teleconference with Prof. Sato to receive feedback on the booklet proposal.

After the feedback session, students discuss and decide how to adjust the booklet sections and its content. 

Once a plan is established, students identify and decide each of their roles and tasks for completing a booklet. The roles might look like the following: 

Writer (everyone): Every student writes one section (including reference).

Reader (everyone): Every student reads a classmate's article and gives feedback.

Proofreader (instructor)

Editor 

Booklet design and graphic

English version writer

Public communication

Thank-you note  

Homework 1: Students are given a week to gather necessary information (make an inquiry to their assigned community partner and conduct more research) and write a draft of their assigned section of the booklet. 

Students read each other's article and give feedback. 

Homework 2: Students finalize their draft. 

The editor finalizes a booklet draft and sends it to Prof. Sato for review.  

Objectives: to communicate with community partners in spoken and written forms using a socially and culturally appropriate manner; to revise their booklet design based on a feedback; to evaluate oral and written information for accuracy, clarity, relevance, and validity; to develop a draft of the booklet

Technology Tips

We will practice using Zoom (teleconference tool) in class so that everyone will be familiar with the tool. 

Publication and Dissemination

Students conduct a teleconference with Prof. Sato to receive feedback on the draft.

Homework 1: Students make a revision based on Prof. Sato's feedback. 

Homework 2: After receiving feedback from the classmates and the instructor, students finalize their article.  

Students work on their assigned roles and tasks to complete the booklet.  

We publish the booklet on a website.  

Send a thank-you note to collaborators 

Dissemination

We will disseminate the booklet according to our dissemination plan discussed at the project kick-off.  

Dissemination plan might include:

Social media promotion; making announcements though organizations supporitng Japanese language education in the U.S. 

Reflection

We reflect on the project and discuss what went well and what can be improved for the next time.

Assessment

Assessment of Research Presentation

Students conduct peer evaluations of research presentations using a rubric. Instructor assesses using the same rubric.

Assessment of Feedback Sessions

Students conduct peer evaluations of feedback sessions using a rubric. Instructor assesses using the same rubric.

Assessment of Booklet Articles

Students conduct peer evaluations of booklet articles using a rubric. Instructor assesses using the same rubric.

Assessment of Final Product

Each student evaluates the final product and how the project team worked together using a rubrlc. This rubric is a spring board. It will be revised by reflecting students input at the kick-off phase. 

 

Implementation Info

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