Link to Waking up in Japan slideshow video.

目を覚ます   |   めをさます   |   me o samasu

Japanese expression: to open one’s eyes, to become enlightened

You have woken up in Japan and suddenly find that you are an expert on one aspect of Japanese life. Your friends and family are coming to visit and you will be sharing your expertise with them, so that they can enjoy it too.

In a small group, you will:

  1. choose a topic and research it carefully

  2. develop a group presentation to share your knowledge

  3. show us your expertise!

Watch Waking up in Japan to get inspired (text version and attributions).

Work through the sections below to complete your task. When you have finished, we would like your feedback so we can improve the resource. Please complete this short survey.

Get organised

Post-it note: Make things happen, together

Form a project group of 3–4 students. Together, discuss the following questions.

  • What do you think you will be doing in this project?

  • What are two benefits of collaborating in a group on this project?

  • How will you make sure you work as a team?


Complete these steps to help get your collaborative work started.

Set up a shared folder for example on Google Drive or Office 365. One group member should create the folder and then share it with the others, and your teacher.

Store all the documents and other files for your project in the shared folder. All group members can view and contribute to the content anytime, anywhere. In your shared work space, your group can:

  • brainstorm ideas together

  • record roles and responsibilities

  • develop a project schedule to keep on track

  • type research notes in a shared document

  • comment on each other’s work

  • reflect on how your project is going

  • record all information sources

  • store images, audio or video for the group’s presentation.

Discuss ways you can use and organise your shared work space during the project.

To make conversations fair, respectful and useful, it’s good to develop some guidelines around how you talk and listen to each other.

Brainstorming ideas, making group decisions, and resolving differences of opinion need a range of conversation skills. These might include:

  • stay focussed

  • ask questions

  • ensure everyone gets a turn

  • make connections

  • listen carefully

  • clarify meaning.

Create a shared document in your collaborative work space and record your group’s guidelines for good collaborative conversations. Use the suggestions above and add your own ideas.

Successful group work means that everyone contributes.

  • Everybody must have at least one job and will probably take on several. Sometimes a role can be shared.

  • Roles may change and new jobs will arise, for example, after the group decides on how to present their topic.

Check out some roles and responsibilities.

  • What tasks will your group assign now?

  • What tasks should be assigned before starting your research?

  • What roles might be needed as you develop your group presentation?

Upload the team roles template (.docx 122kB) to your shared work space and record the roles and responsibilities for each member of your group. View team roles example (.docx 122kB) for more ideas.

Update your team roles document as needed during the project.

By now, you should have set up a shared work space, adopted discussion guidelines, developed an initial list of roles and assigned responsibilities.

How has your group gone so far?

  • What have you done well?

  • What could you do better? How?

Record your responses in a shared document in your collaborative work space. You could use Sway or One Note.

Add to this evaluation at key points in the project. This gives you a chance to improve as you go along. You may want to include a journal of the team’s processes, including a photo record of your work at various stages.

You might also keep a personal learning log.

At the end of the project, your audience will evaluate your presentation. You will also review your performance and reflect on your learning. This can help you do things even better next time.


The three topic areas below contain 21 suggested topics you could explore. Visit each area and check them out. Decide on the topic your group will investigate and then go to the Research tab to start your investigation.

Link to Traditional topics
Link to Sport topics
Link to Music and entertainment topics
Music & entertainment
Images (all adapted): © Joe Baz (CC BY 2.0), Kevin and Oleg Sklyanchuk (both CC BY-NC 2.0)
Japanese woman in traditional dress studying a piece of paper in her hands and holding a calligraphy brush
Ukiyo-e woodblock print

What do you already know about your topic? What do you want or need to know?

  • Brainstorm ideas in your group.
    Consider the who, what, when, where, why and how of your topic. This might include its background and history.

  • Write research questions that address all the things you want to find out.

  • Divide the research questions among your group members.

  • Use the research guide to help successfully complete your investigation.

Want to go deeper?

Be a language detective

Male character from a Kabuki theatre production in 1794: he is leaning forward with a downturned mouth, arched eyebrows and black hair pulled back in traditional style; he is wearing a striped kimono and his fingers are splayed out
Ukiyo-e woodblock print

This activity is for Year 7–8 students.

Make a list of Japanese words associated with your topic. The words might relate to:

  • clothing worn or equipment used

  • techniques and/or other actions carried out

  • associated objects, people, places, or history.

List at least five key Japanese words and learn how to pronounce them.

All group members should practise writing and saying the words.

Conduct an interview

tablet with the word 'interview' in Japanese and English.

This activity is for Year 9–10 students.

Conduct a written or spoken interview with a Japanese speaker about your topic. The person doesn’t need to be an expert.

  1. Prepare at least 5 interview questions. Write your questions in Japanese.

  2. Both the question and the responses must be in Japanese.

  3. Your interview can be a written exchange (for example, via email) or a face-to-face meeting. One or more group members may ask the questions.

  4. Remember to ask permission if you want to record a face-to-face interview.

Post-it note: How did we do?

Report back to the group when everyone has finished their investigation.

  • Tell the other members of the group what you learnt.

    • Use the information you recorded as a prompt.

    • If you researched in pairs, decide how you will share the report.

  • Get feedback from the group.

    • Can other members summarise the key information?

    • Does anyone have questions? If so, can you answer them?

    • Has your research question has been answered? If not, what’s missing?

After all reports have been made, use the questions below to:

  • evaluate how you worked as a group

  • start thinking about your presentation.

  • How did you work as a group? What did you do well together? What could have been done better?

  • Is information recorded in your own words and have sources been documented?

  • Does your group know its topic? Are you ready to show your expertise?

  • How could you present your topic to your audience? (Take a look at the next Present section.)


It’s time to start preparing your presentation. You can make a digital report (such as a video or slideshow), a live report (such as a hands-on demonstration), or a combination of live and digital reports. Whatever format you choose to develop:

  • keep to a 10–15 minute presentation (unless otherwise agreed with your teacher)

  • address the who, what, when, where, why and how of your topic

  • include your Japanese topic words (Years 7–8) or interview (Years 9–10)

  • show us your expertise!

Dress rehearsal: Show your fellow class members. Ask them to evaluate your presentation. They could use a form that your group creates. See the Evaluate section.

Your audience: Present your expertise to your friends and family at a school event.

Preparation is the key to success. So, plan thoroughly before starting to develop your presentation.

In your group:

  • decide how best to present your expertise — see the tab Looking for ideas?

  • discuss the Tips for success and keep these tips in mind as you work

  • review your research and decide what information to include in your presentation

  • decide how to include your topic key words (Years 7–8) or interview (Years 9–10)

  • develop the idea for your presentation—you could storyboard it

  • make a list of what you need to do to make the presentation

  • assign tasks and roles to group members.

All organised? Everyone knows what to do? OK, time to start creating.

Below are some ideas for creating an interesting presentation. You could include one or more idea. Remember to consider your topic and audience, and the skills and qualities of group members.

A sumo wrestler
© Jmills74 (adapted),
CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Make a diary (video, blog entries or slideshow) to explain … .

  • Record a how-to video about … .

  • Record (as a video, blog entries or slideshow) a day in the life of … .

  • Create a television advertisement promoting … .

  • Make a documentary-style news report on … .

  • Do a hands-on demonstration of … .

  • Teach a lesson in … .

  • Construct a model of … .

  • Make a costume (or draw a pattern) worn by a … .

  • Dress as a … .

  • Make an illustrated Japanese-language list with audio to demonstrate pronunciation … .

The following ideas address specific topics. You may be able to adapt them for your own topic.

Anime character
© Kasuga~commonswiki,
CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Produce a short play to demonstrate Kabuki or Noh theatre styles.

  • Teach a JPop dance or a dance that your group creates in the JPop style.

  • Compose or review a JPop song.

  • Present one or more characters in an Anime series you create. Give an overview of the series and act out some parts.

  • Hold a parade of Anime hairstyles, make-up or fashion.

  • Draw a poster displaying Manga, or draw or write your own short Manga.

Below are some tips to help you prepare and deliver a successful presentation. Expand each tip for more information.

  • Plan your presentation and check everyone understands and agrees with the plan before you start.

  • Make sure you have enough time to finish the presentation, including all props.

  • Write scripts for live presentations.

  • Check that all the equipment you need is available.

  • Allow time to review and edit your work.

  • Brainstorm a list of the jobs that need to be done. Add to the list if you think of more tasks later.

  • Everyone in your group should have one or more tasks to do.

  • Consider the skills and strengths of each team member when assigning tasks.

  • As a group, check that everyone is on track.

  • Don’t be scared to ask for help. Discussing problems with team mates can help you find solutions.

  • Do at least three complete run-throughs of everybody’s parts of the presentation so you feel comfortable and prepared for the whole show.

  • Do a full rehearsal, including with equipment and props.

  • Double-check that you know how to use all the digital and other equipment that is in your show.

  • Even if you are reading part of your presentation off a script or screen, you still need to look up at your audience and make sure they can see and hear you.

  • If you have a smile on your face while you are presenting, you will feel better about your show, and the audience will feel the same way.



Evaluate the success of your presentation. You could ask your audience to complete one of the following:

  • a feedback form that you create

  • a quiz you create to find out what they learnt.

Collect the feedback or quiz results and analyse the responses. What did your audience think of your presentation? What suggestions did they make? Together write a review of your presentation based on the feedback or quiz results.

Exploring a Japanese topic:

  • What have you learned about the topic that you didn’t know before?

  • What was successful about your group’s presentation?

  • What is one way you could improve the presentation?


  • Name the best thing about collaborating with others to research and present your topic.

  • Name the most challenging thing about collaborating with others in this project.

  • What did you learn about yourself as you worked with others?

If you maintained your own learning log, record your reflections there.

Information for teachers

This resource supports students studying the 100-hour mandatory Stage 4 or 100/200 elective Stage 5 Japanese courses. It also supports student-centred, project-based collaborative learning using Google Apps for Education, Office 365 and other online tools.

Students work collaboratively to research a topic of cultural interest in Japan and make a presentation (digital and/or face-to-face) that demonstrates their learning. They investigate key Japanese words (Stage 4) and conduct a Japanese Q&A interview (Stage 5) related to their chosen topic. The suggested duration is 2–3 weeks.

This resource addresses the NSW Japanese K–10 Syllabus (2003). It could be adapted to other modern languages (by changing the content/topic areas and suggested resources) without affecting targeted outcomes.

Key learning outcomes relate to the objective, Moving Between Cultures: Students will develop knowledge of the culture of Japanese-speaking communities and an understanding of the interdependence of language and culture, thereby encouraging reflection on their own cultural heritage.

Stage 4:

  • 4.MBC.1 demonstrates understanding of the interdependence of language and culture

  • 4.MBC.2 demonstrates knowledge of key features of the culture of Japanese-speaking communities

Stage 5:

  • 5.MBC.1 explores the interdependence of language and culture in a range of texts and contexts

  • 5.MBC.2 identifies and explains aspects of the culture of Japanese-speaking communities in texts.

Teachers are encouraged to provide opportunities for students to engage with the objective, Using Language (UL.1, listening and responding, UL.2 reading and responding, UL.3 speaking, UL.4 writing) through topic vocabulary (Stage 4) and a Japanese-language interview (Stage 5) as relevant to the topic chosen by the group.

The topic menu includes suggested themes and topics from the Years 7–10 Scope and Sequence for Languages, such as home and neighbourhood, travel and transport, youth culture, food, music, sports and hobbies, and leisure time.

Waking up in Japan provides opportunities to address cross-curriculum content:

Cross-curriculum content area Opportunities in Waking up in Japan
Indigenous perspectives
  • Suggested topic areas include the study of Ainu and Ryuukuu peoples, the First People of Japan. If adapting this resource for other languages, teachers are encouraged to retain an indigenous perspective in the topic list.

  • Students have opportunities to engage with ICT throughout this project, from working collaboratively to plan, organise and assess their group work, to researching their chosen topic, to creating and communicating their ideas and information in a presentation.

  • Students engage with literacy in the core language-using component of the main task.

  • Suggested topic areas provide opportunities to engage with numeracy, including travel/transport (time, distance) and shopping (money).

Personal and social capability
  • Students work in teams to effectively collaborate on planning their group work, and researching and developing a presentation to communicate their ideas. They will respond to challenging situations constructively, including interacting confidently and with empathy in social situations and functioning within the ‘real world’.

  • Students have the opportunity to assess and adapt their individual and collaborative skills for learning with increasing independence and effectiveness.

Work and enterprise
  • Students have an opportunity to explore ‘a day in the life of…’.

  • They develop work-related knowledge, skills and understanding through a variety of experiences and develop values and attitudes about work environments including working in groups, oral and written skills, safe work conditions, and rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

This project targets 21st century learning skills including the following.

Skill Guiding questions
  • Do learners have shared responsibility for a joint outcome and make substantive decisions together?

  • Is their work interdependent?

Knowledge construction
  • Are learners required to engage in meaningful knowledge construction?

  • Do learners actively work to interpret, synthesize or evaluate new information?

  • Is learning demonstrated or applied in a new context?

  • Is knowledge construction interdisciplinary?

Skilful communication
  • Does the learning activity require coherent communication using a range of forms, providing supporting evidence?

  • Do learners design and produce substantive, multi-modal communication for a particular audience?

  • Do learners reflect and use the process of learning to improve their communication?

The article What is co-operative learning: More than just working in groups identifies five key elements that differentiate cooperative learning from simply putting students into groups: positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, interpersonal and small group social skills, and group processing.

Ensure that students practise good digital citizenship by attributing information sources and use of third-party material. This includes providing correct attribution and copyright information for images.

Useful links

Digital Citizenship for schools

Creative Commons Australia

Below are teaching ideas relating to each section of Waking up in Japan.

Explain that the Japanese title, 目を覚ます (me wo samasu), is a 表現 (hyougen — Japanese expression) means ‘to open one’s eyes’ or ‘to become enlightened’.

Ask students to read the scenario and suggest how the Japanese title relates to their task.

Hold a quick class brainstorm about aspects of Japanese life that they could be expert in. Watch the video Waking up in Japan for stimulus and have students identity as many of the activities, topics or themes as they can.

Let students know:

  • how long they will have to research and develop their presentations (allow at least 2–3 weeks)

  • when the presentation is due, how long it should be and who their audience will be
    The resource asks students to hold a dress rehearsal in class and then present to parents and friends at a school event. Alternatively, the audience could be their classmates, or another class or school group

  • how you want them to work through the resource.
    Classes that need more support could begin each stage together. If groups work at their own pace, review the next three sections and highlight important points before they start.

Decide how to group students. For example, do students choose their own groups, are groups randomly assigned (such as picking group numbers from a hat), or do you assign members to ensure a mix of ability and learning styles?

Give groups about 6 minutes to discuss the three questions on the screen (What do you think you will be doing in this project? What are two benefits of collaborating in a group on this project? How will you make sure you work as a team?). Groups could pool their ideas in a class discussion.

Highlight that this is a group task: team members will work together to research and to prepare and present the demonstration of their learning. You may like to share and discuss the following chart with students.

(Text version – Rules of engagement for online collaboration)

Students work through the four teamwork activities, beginning with setting up a shared work space. These steps are important to students establishing a collaborative and constructive working group. At the end, students should have a shared workspace that contains:

  • discussion guidelines

  • a roles and responsibilities document

  • an evaluation document.

Ensure each group gives you access to their workspace so you can monitor progress and support students as needed.

Coordinate the research task of this project with the school librarian.

Hold a class discussion on information skills before students being their research. The research guide in the resource follows the steps in Information skills in the schools. Discuss the issue of copyright (see the ‘Organise’ step). Remind them to keep a record of information sources and acknowledge third-party material used in final presentations.

Ensure students in Years 7–8 are aware that they should investigate key Japanese words related to their topic.

Ensure students in Years 9–10 are aware that they should conduct a Japanese Q&A interview related to their chosen topic.

  • Brainstorm who to approach for the interview.
    This might include community members, sister schools, video conference partners, other students of Japanese in Australia. The person does not need to be a topic expert.

  • Encourage students to provide questions in advance for face-to-face interviews.

There is a wide array of tools that students can use to prepare and present their demonstration of learning. You might ask students to use tools they already have access to or are familiar with. Limiting the choice of tools to 3–4 options may also assist students who need more direction.

Technology rubrics for any classroom is a resource that provides guidelines for assessing digital student work in a variety of modes and media. Use these alongside your regular content and syllabus focussed outcomes.

Stage 4 students might produce a simple video diary or blog-based record of their learning. They should to be able to explain and demonstrate the key elements of their topic.

Stage 5 students are expected to show more evidence of reflection and evaluation of their learning. They should deliver a more sophisticated explanation and demonstration of their chosen topic, including reflecting on how they discovered material and developed their presentation.

This resource might be adapted to produce assessment tasks for Stage 6 students in Preliminary and HSC courses.

Presentations could include one or more of the following components:

For Moving Between Cultures outcomes (mandatory task):

  • a digital creation that records each group’s learning activity and investigation (for example, a video diary, how-to video, blog, Sway presentation)

  • hands-on demonstration based around a tangible artefact or showing the group’s learning. This is especially appropriate for groups that choose a practical activity, sport or handicraft for their topic area.

For Using Language outcomes:

  • Basic (Year 7–8) – a written or video/audio glossary of key Japanese vocabulary items that are associated with the group’s chosen topic. For example, if the topic is shinkansen, explain terms such as eki, kippu, mado-seki, shuppatsu-suru.

  • Extension (Year 9–10) – evidence of interaction in Japanese with other learners and speakers of Japanese to find out more about their topic. The resource suggests this is a Q&A interview in Japanese, either in written or audio/video form.

Evaluating and reflecting on the learning content and the learning process is a critical part of 21st century education and is encouraged throughout this resource.

The Evaluate section addresses both audience evaluation and reflecting on one’s own learning. Introduce this section before student presentations so groups have time to make an audience feedback form or quiz if appropriate.

Audience feedback

Forms and quizzes should be short and simple to respond to. Some suggestions for the feedback form are provided. The whole class could use the same feedback form.

Have students complete a peer evaluation as part of the dress rehearsal (or final performance if the class is the intended audience). Download and adapt this peer evaluation – sample (.docx 121kB) or use one of your own.

Reflect on your own learning

Use the questions provided for student self-reflection or devise your own.

In Get organised, the resource suggests students keep a learning log during the project. Follow your regular reflection or journaling routines, or guide students to use online tools to capture their thoughts.

As the teacher you also may like reflect on how you might improve on the delivery of this project. What have you learned about embedding 21st century skills into a learning experience?

The preliminary draft of Waking up in Japan was trialled in a number of Japanese classes in New South Wales Department of Education schools. Below, one teacher shares his experiences.

During Weeks 7–9 of Term 4, I road-tested an early ‘beta’ version of this Collaboratus resource with five Year 7–8 classes doing the Stage 4 Mandatory Japanese course.

As I write this, my Stage 5 elective classes in Years 9 and 10 are also preparing their own presentations.

I am delighted to say that the results from this unit of work exceeded my expectations, with my students producing a wide variety of fun and engaging presentations based around their interest groups.

The ‘Overview’ page was particularly successful, with students grasping quickly and easily the main gist of what they were expected to achieve. The video on the Overview page quickly encouraged and inspired the students to get started.

The ‘Instructions to Students’ section [now Get organised] helped them to get organised in their groups.

Students enjoyed choosing from among the many topic options, and I am pleased to say that among my classes there was a wide variety of different topics chosen among all the groups.

Results ran the gamut from digital creations to hands-on practical demonstrations.

Examples of work created by different student groups included:

  • A two-minute Sumou ‘documentary’ that interspersed action shots with linguistic and factual information about Sumou tournaments, diet and training, and including key sumou terms such as ‘yokozuna’.

  • One group taught the whole class a J-pop dance from the girl-band Perfume!

  • An anime hairstyle fashion parade, where the group styled each other’s hair after a range of anime characters and explained details of the character’s name and anime series.

  • Students drew their own new Manga character, named it and wrote it into a short new Manga comic-strip.

  • Students made a ‘suit’ of Kendo armour and demonstrated the key Kendou strikes, along with the Japanese words for various actions and equipment.

  • Students demonstrated the key actions and elements of a sumou bout, with key words (such as ‘East’ and ‘West’).

  • Students demonstrated the actions and correct posture for drawing a Kyuudou bow.

What was especially pleasing is that students took seriously the work of being language detectives. Every group included new Japanese vocabulary items in their presentation, and taught the class the meaning and importance of those words, with pronunciation practice and usage demonstrated in the presentation.

Most of the presentations included both elements of digital creations and practical/hands-on materials. It was a mandatory component of the presentation that students created and presented a digital presentation on the Smartboard. However most groups also opted to add an element of practical demonstration or hands-on ‘how-to’ style activities for the class to try together.

In my case, this is how the presentations unfolded over two full weeks for Stage 4 Learners:

Lesson 1: Present the main task, students self-organise into groups and select topics.

Lessons 2-4: Students prepared their work in class working on computers and practical creations.

Lesson 5: Students did some warm-up and then each group presented.

The unit of work could be extended to occupy 3–4 weeks of a learning program by encouraging students to engage in a greater depth of inquiry, linguistic interaction and cultural exploration in the Looking For Ideas? section.

Student feedback

Do you enjoy independent projects?

  • almost all students responded ‘Yes’.

What did you like about doing this task?

  • working together in groups

  • the collaborative aspect

  • we were allowed to be creative

  • we all worked together and ACTUALLY LEARNED things about the topic

  • I enjoyed the freedom and time we had on this task. And we had a lot of choice we could pick from

  • it uses computers and we get to create our own design

What was difficult about this task?

  • everyone working and changing the work

  • agreeing on things, mainly what to put all our research into and how exactly to do it

  • I however found the freedom difficult as well. We didn’t really know what bases we had to cover and what answer we needed to answer. Maybe if we were given some exact questions and assigned work

  • it was hard to upload the video

This resource has been developed by a collaborative team of writers to support the department's Rural and Remote Blueprint for Action.


Deborah Moore, Japanese teacher, Armidale High School

Merc Goldstein, Japanese teacher, Glen Innes High School

Carol McMahon, teacher quality advisor, Educational services team, Goonellabah Office

Janelle Byrne, Japanese language officer, Secondary education, Learning and teaching directorate, Sydney.

Margaret Benfield, learning design officer, Learning systems, Learning and business systems directorate, Sydney

Educators are encouraged to write their own Collaboratus resource and share with colleagues.

For more information see the Collaboratus: resource model and look for the Collaboratus template in Google Sites (DoE only).