Rothaí agus Acastóir

Learning and Applying Language through Design Technology

How can we make the teaching and learning of language more authentic, …more compelling? How can it be the medium that wraps around and conducts the electricity of investigation, emerging concepts, integration, and application? How can a language become part of the layers of learning, rather than a solitary activity of lesser connectivity? Combining the work deemed worthy by the learner, engaging the world of handwork with brain work, how might we tempt the synapses to enfold and express new language constructs and patterns of thinking?

Enter, Design technology…
an integration of arts and sciences…
resulting in conceptual planning, prototyping, aesthetic application, and engineering…
a catalyst for insight and innovation…
a natural context for literacy and mathematical reasoning…. and Irish language.

Design technology (children’s engineering) is an essential element in the Ren practice of “layered learning.” It is unique in school experience, a context in which children don the mantle of engineer and designer. Becoming skilled with the tools, concepts, and habits of mind of the design process, children investigate the intersection of systems (mechanical and architectural), materials science, and aesthetics to bring ideas to life. Documenting the process, from initial sketches and journal notes to final drawings and written reflections, children develop portfolios and displays that illustrate their thinking, making their thinking visible and the results public. Imagine the innovator assimilating Irish language through enthusiastic use, questions, gesture, repetition, collecting vocabulary caches, key phrases, trial and response, and determination…

This type of engagement, from interpreting the design brief to expository writing, taps multiple ways of seeing, knowing, and expressing our interaction with ideas, materials, tools, knowledge, and collaborative efforts. It can often shine a light on a child who is more reticent in more traditional forms of learning, spark the inner light of a child who has not yet found that academic passion, or challenge the child who is invigorated by the application of skills. It poses new possibilities for children who are quick to memorize with only a slim format to demonstrate conceptual understanding.
Rothai agus Acastoiri as Gaeilge

Ten Ren children were honored for their work as engineers by the North American Association for the Teachers of Celtic Languages. The children’s work was presented by Brian O’Hairt and Susan, highlighting the design challenge–wheels and axles–completely executed from design brief and construction to reflection, in IRISH! This six-hour design technology adventure was used to illustrate and explore the importance of contextualizing language in the service of other learning, using multiple ways of acquiring new vocabulary and applying it in a meaningful context.

Dúshlán: Déan meaisín a n-úsáideann ceithre roth agus dhá acastóir. Beidh sé níos mó ná bosca aráin agus níos lú ná deasc. Ádh mór!

Challenge: Make a machine with four wheels and two axles. It will be bigger than a bread box and smaller than a desk. Good luck!

We made a list of what we might need in tools, materials, and language! We recorded the Irish words and added images to help us quickly locate and learn new vocabulary. We also learned how to ask for words in Irish, using Irish! We only used gestures and Irish to make ourselves understood, much like we would if we were immersed in a culture where a new language must be learned and used! We recorded new words and phrases as they became relevant and reviewed them at the end of each hour. At the close of our project, we wrote a few sentences “as Gaeilge,” retracing a few steps in the process, the materials we used, and how we felt when we completed our challenge!

•Tools (uirlisí:) siosúr, scian, peann
•Materials (ábhair): paper (paipier), wood stick (slat adhmaid), glue (glié), paint (peint), cardboard, reel (spól), box (bosca)
•Size (méid): beag, meán, mór
•Color (dath): bán, buí, bándearg, dearg, oráiste, glas, gorm, corcra, dubh, donn, liath, airgead, óir
•Number (uimhir): amháin, dhá, trí, ceithre, cúig, sé, seacht, ocht, naoi, deich

•Verbs (order form): take/build (tóg), make/do (déan), give (tabhair), share (roinn le….), finish (críoch), begin (tosaigh), find/get (faigh), listen (éist), watch/look at this (breathnaigh ar seo, féach ar seo), see this (féic ar seo), say(abair), talk with (caint le/labhair le), tell me (inis dom), cut (gearr), draw (tarraing, dear), think (smaoinigh)

•Please: Le do thoil.
•Thank you: Go raibh maith agat.
•Excuse me: Gabh mo leiscéal.

No English , except in an emergency.
Nil aon Bearla, ach ar son géarchéim.

Say___ in Irish. Abair ___ as Gaeilge.
Say it agin. Abair arís e.

Do you want ___ ? Ar mhaith leat ___?
I want ___ . Ba mhaith liom ___.
Do you need ___? An bhfuil ___ uait?
I need a ___. Ta ___ uaim.
This is for you. Seo duit.
Ca bhfuil___? Where is ___?
Give to me, him, her___. Tabhair dom, de, di ___.