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.
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
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 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, andI 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 orI 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?
My students in DP Spanish I were reading a book that mentioned a student attending a school Singapore. Most of my kids asked, “¿Dónde está Singapore?”. Normal response for kids living in the US… A few more questions came up. So, we decided to send letters to kids in Singapore to have our questions answered. This connects well with WL standards. We started writing letters (typing) when we realized we should just share the letter/doc with the students in Singapore. A much faster option and we could include pictures and links. My students are NEW to a GAFE environment so the logging in, share settings, and creating links took a bit to sort out.
Here is the doc we used to choose a buddy and post our letter. Our sister class in Singapore did the same and added their letters to the doc in response to what my students had first written. We also need a short intro so a few students made a short video introducing our school and our class.
The minute we had officially shared all our letters students wanted to know when we would hear something from our new friends. They asked everyday if I had received the letters so they could read them. The power of connecting with someone on something personal is so powerful. They were hooked.
Upon reading their new friends’ letters they immediately judged the Spanish level of their friends and had lots of cool comments.
Wow, my girl is smart. Her Spanish is amazing.
Cool, we take the same classes.
She saw Maroon Five!
He likes to ski, too.
I cannot believe how many languages he speaks.
We used butcher paper to share out a bit what we had learned from our friends.
My students want to continue to communicate with their friends in Asia. They originally said they wanted to Skype with their new friends but most were nervous about their Spanish ability and more were just nervous to meet someone new. So, we are going answer their questions, react to what they wrote, ask more questions and share more about our lives. We will do this by making a video. The video will give us a chance to alter the Spanish audio if needed. We can add subtitles as well. Lastly, closer to the end of the school year, we will hold a few Hangout Sessions where students can jump in and meet their friends. We are always open, however, to any idea our school in Singapore may have on the process.