Tag Archives: 20%

A Motor, a Wedding, and Crossing the Border

Evan made a motor. It was so cool even though it didn’t work. Thomas saved money to send to his former surf instructor in Costa Rica to help pay for his upcoming wedding. Vivian taught us about different types of rice in Central America. Gerson took us through his journey from El Salvador to Colorado earlier this year.

Content for Spanish class this past month was not typical of most Spanish textbooks.

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Wolf’s karate class
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Kaitlin’s Fashion Blog

My students just finished up their 20% Time Projects. As reported in a previous post, this was my second round of projects.  Their results proved inspiring content and rich language for our class this past month.

Students chose passions and interests to investigate by which they were able to improve their Español, connect with others, and save the world.

  • Supporting nutritional organizations in Central America
  • Learning about the Bible in Spanish and reading stories from it to younger children
  • Teaching karate to Spanish Speaking students
  • Playing video games in Spanish with kids around the world
  • Studying fashion and design in Madrid
  • Skiing through Chile
  • Learning about the Spanish Guitar
  • Learning to play a song in Spanish

  

Student feedback

Wanting to know what my students thought of the project and not wanting to break into English, I sent them in the hall with another student who recorded their feedback in English. Here are a few examples of what they thought of the project.

 

My Reflection

My students’ oral proficiency in Spanish improved because I was able to provide relevant vocabulary I knew they were going to need prior to their presentations. They didn’t email me back,  it surprised me that,  and I had wanted to do… but changed my mind were common language structures we practiced and practiced before kids presented.  There are even a few more structures I’ll add to my list for next time like I could not find or I realized that Students (me included) also learned specific vocabulary tied to their topic and their interest.  This year’s group was more comfortable with sharing as we discussed and modeled delivery and design. The reading of slides was highly discouraged. I didn’t allow notecards, although a few students did bring up cards which I allowed reading the anxiety on their face. The biggest challenge for them was connecting with others.  Most students picked someone they knew or friends of friends as their connection.  I was hoping for more global connections or more specific communications with people specific to their particular passion. I get it. The concept of reaching out to strangers is difficult and even more so in a second language.  Next time I’ll spend more time on how and why to make global connections.  We’ll practice. I’ll also give more time for student-teacher 1:1 conferences so I can individually help students brainstorm connections with similar passions or interests.  This, however, is a challenge for me as class sizes seem to grow and grow but I think maybe offering online Google Hangout hours could be an option. Lastly, I’ll put a time limit (with a friendly bell) on the sharing.  Maybe something similar to a Pecha Kucha  (or shorter) because with classes of 30, it takes a while.  Some of my students felt comfortable going on and on. They were so darn cute that I didn’t have the heart to cut them off.

What successes have you had with similar type projects?

 

 

 

 

Round Two: 20% Projects in the World Language Classroom

First project turned in. Love how she spells Veinte.
First project turned in. Love how she spells Veinte.

Two years ago I first experimented with 20% Time in my DP I Spanish class.  I had just read Angela Maiers’ A Passion-Driven Classroom, we had just finished a KIVA Loan project, and being a long-time A Whole New Mind fan, I decided to give it a go. I was not clear with my expectations but I did give my students 4 guidelines. 

2011 Guidelines

  1. Explore your passion.
  2. Solve a problem.
  3. Connect with another person.
  4. Improve your Spanish.

Thankfully, my students hung in there and did the best they could with little guidance from me in terms of format and grading. It was quite messy but the results were amazing!  One day in December a student handed me a folder and said, “I’m turing in my Proyecto de Veinte Por Ciento”. The look on the other students’ faces was incredulous. Was it due they all asked? I quickly recovered from the shock myself and said something like, “it’s due when you think it’s due” and took her folder with a smile.  I wanted to model for my other students that this is the true essence of 20% time. Of course I never would have expected a student to turn something in without it being  DUE.  We made it through the year and many of the projects were outstanding. Some better than others and I’m sure some students would have preferred I had just told them what to do. We also struggled through failure which seemed to be a new concept for my students. 

A few of our favorites:

  • Using a blog to make online cookbooks in Spanish and share with students across the school.
  • Teaching local Spanish-speaking elementary students, in español, how to play Volleyball.
  • Meeting, virtually, students from Honduras to prep for a Service Learning Project taking place in Honduras and then sharing her findings.
  • Connecting with relatives and friends in Argentina to make special foods (alfajores) to sell for National Spanish Honour Society.
  • Digging deeper into a topic studied in a TOK class and then sharing her thinking with the class.
  • Asking the class to make Holiday cards (in Spanish) and donate a few bucks, then buying and wrapping gifts, and then helping deliver the cards/gifts to local Spanish-Speaking students with little financial resources.
  • Researching the perfect place (Chile o España) to spend a GAP year after high school and then sharing the results with us. She chose Chile and actually went.

I’m back at it again, two years later.  I thought the learning was so powerful that I submitted to present at ACTFL this coming November.  My proposal was accepted and I’ll now have two rounds of projects to share with other World Language Teachers. I started last week with my DP Spanish I class. Here are the first changes * in the process this round.

2013 Guidelines 

  1. Explore a passion you are interested in LEARNING* more about.
  2. Improve your Spanish.
  3. Connect with other people.
  4. Save the world in the process.*

Side note: Expect to fail a few times in the process.

I’m looking forward to sharing publicly how this round of 20% Time goes for me and my students. Please feel free to share any experience you have with giving your students 20% Time in your classes.