Nobuko Kuroda is in her second year at DePaul and is seeking a master’s in Bilingual-Bicultural Education as well as her K-12 teaching licensure in Japanese and ESL endorsement.
What motivated you to come to DePaul?
After graduating from Soka University of America, which Daisaku Ikeda established, I worked as a Japanese Language Fellow at Union College in Schenectady, New York for a year. Until then I had never considered becoming a teacher, but this position helped me discover a passion for teaching and the joy of sharing a foreign language and culture with others. Because of this positive experience, I decided to become a Japanese teacher. Then I learned that DePaul had recently opened the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education and that courses were being offered on Makiguchi and Ikeda’s educational philosophies, which are referred to as “soka (value-creating) education.” I decided to come to DePaul because as a graduate of Soka University of America, I wanted to learn more about soka education and become an educator who can apply it in my classroom.
Note: soka, or “value-creating,” education was first theorized by Japanese elementary schoolteacher and principal, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), and expanded in application by Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928).
What is your favorite course?
The faculty of the BBE program (Dr. Soltero, Dr. Goulah, and Dr. Park-Johnson) are all amazing and I love all courses I have taken with them! However, BBE 510: Special Topics in Language Education and Culture with Dr. Goulah was especially eye-opening! In this course, I learned about digital literacies/multiliteracies and value-creating pedagogy among other themes, and how to incorporate them into our classroom practices.
What kind of project did you do? What did you gain from it?
For “Fieldwork Mobile Project,” we had to create a multimodal project that incorporates digital literacies and value-creating pedagogy based on MPI (Model Performance Indicator). Dr. Goulah encouraged us to use apps and websites to “create” something rather than just “consume” information through those mediums.
For my project, I decided to create a video commercial of a prefecture in Japan using iMovie with my student. Because I did my project in a Japanese as Foreign Language Classroom, I modified the MPI for a Japanese language learner. My student LOVED creating the video! She had never used iMovie until this project, but I was amazed by how quickly she learned to navigate the program, and soon she started teaching me features I didn’t know about! My student was able to gain technological skills while learning Japanese at the same time! She was very engaged and enjoyed the process. She kept saying, “I’m so creative!” and we were very proud of our product.
Through this project, I was able to combine digital literacy and soka education and put them into practice while aligning with state standards and MPI. This was my first attempt to employ digital literacies in my classroom, and it inspired me to think beyond traditional approaches to language teaching and explore new possibilities in engaging my students. I learned a lot from my classmates as well. For example, my classmates shared how they used Instagram, Twitter, and websites to create memes, comic strips, magazines, etc. in various subjects and I can’t wait to try them in my classroom! I want to continue to create engaging and meaningful, value-creating projects based on what I learned in this class.