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Origami & The Language Experience Approach

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'Origami 3/365' photo (c) 2012, Cali4beach - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In the Language Experience Approach, students do an activity and then used the shared experience to develop a group written description of what just happened, as well as using it as a good speaking, listening, and reading opportunity. It’s a great language learning activity.

Making origami can be a good task for students to do, with students either all doing the same thing or choosing different ones.

We’re very fortunate, since Johnny Doolittle, an art teacher at our school, gives up his free period each year to spend two days with my class of English Language Learners to teach us origami. Afterwards, Beginners write about what we did, and Intermediates in my Geography class do it as part of our studying Japan (see The Best Sites For Learning About Japan, which includes links to good sites on the history of origami).

Of course, you don’t have to have an art teacher show your students how to do it — their are plenty of online sites. The Origami Club, I think, may be the best site on the web for origami instructions. Both a diagram and animation is provided for each model, and they’re divided into leveled activities.

Today was the first day of our origami lessons, and you can see the video of our efforts below. Tomorrow, Mr. Doolittle will show us how to make the most famous origami creation (which we studied as part of our Japan unit) — paper cranes.

UPDATE:

Here’s our video from the second day, and here is a comment from Mr. Doolittle sharing other suggestions for teachers who want to try this:

From John Doolittle:

The instructions I use are from:

http://www.origami-fun.com/

I like the way the site is laid out. Their printable instructions are fairly easy to follow. I’ve been able to work them all out… except the “rose,” which only two of my past students have ever been able to do… after studying the youtube video.
I’m sorry to say I have ruined many fine pieces of paper in failing to complete the “rose!”

I would definitely advise teachers to make the origami model themselves before trying it with a class full of students, but it is a fun activity, and I love doing it with your students, Larry!

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks Larry, I’m flattered!

    The instructions I use are from:

    http://www.origami-fun.com/

    I like the way the site is laid out. Their printable instructions are fairly easy to follow. I’ve been able to work them all out… except the “rose,” which only two of my past students have ever been able to do… after studying the youtube video.
    I’m sorry to say I have ruined many fine pieces of paper in failing to complete the “rose!”

    I would definitely advise teachers to make the origami model themselves before trying it with a class full of students, but it is a fun activity, and I love doing it with your students, Larry!

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