30 November 2016

Fuegos: Ignite lite for Spanish I finals

Ignite talks are short and fast. They're like Pecha Kucha, with 20 carefully timed images, but they're even shorter.

I mean, yeah, you can rehearse and rehearse (and rehearse) an ignite talk to time it perfectly  (and that's actually a good option for kiddos just breaking out of Novice Land), but everything that comes out of your mouth has to come out of your head.

Not off a card or a screen.

My wise amiga Sra. Hawkins says it's hard to fill up the 20 seconds in Pecha Kucha in your native language, so my plan is to go with the 15 seconds. And because it's hard to hold five solid minutes of anything in your head in high school, I want to cut the slides back to 10. That's 2 1/2 minutes in the target language.

My kids can do that.

I want this to be an opportunity for reflection, some metacognition in the ol' L2. So I've come up with a list of suggested topics I know they can talk about--and that might benefit next year's kiddos:

  • What you can do in Spanish now
  • What not to do in Spanish I
  • Problems you can have in Spanish I
  • What helps you learn Spanish
  • How Spanish helps you
  • How you like to use Spanish
  • How you are going to use Spanish in the future
I also tried to think of some more project-specific ones to, to tap into more topical language:

  • How Spanish I is like a game
  • How Spanish I can be more like a game
  • How to use games to learn skills
  • What you need to know about Hispanics in the U.S
  • How to find ideas for a good product
  • How to make a good product
  • How not to make a good product
  • How to make a good presentation for your product
  • How to attract Hispanic consumers to your product
  • How to communicate with people in your group
I would also be really interested in what students could come up with, but they would have to be able to have a discussion with me--in Spanish--about what they want their topic to be and what they are actually able to say about it--in Spanish. I'm all for it if they can come up with something cool and useful that's actually, you know, within their powers!

Now for someone who has disavowed presentational Spanish at the novice level, this whole "exam" is definitely incomplete. I could easily get presentational writing in there by having them writing and revising what they plan to say, and we can add the interpersonal with a quick 2 1/2 minute Q&A on their topic to fill out the rest of their five minutes, as I've done in final presentations past.

The reading and writing are a little trickier to work in, but I think I can edit together some of the post-product-presentation interviews with our guest "investors" for the listening, and I might go the personalized route once again with the reading section once I have their topics, picking out blogs and infographs and whatever I can find that would tie in with what they plan to present.

Can you think of any other topics you would like to hear at the end of Spanish I?

23 November 2016

#ACTFL16 Tidbits

I came to ACTFL 2016 with a conference path set for Everything Interpersonal, having had various students freeze up, blank out, and even two start crying during the interpersonal part of the most recent IPA--in spite of low-stress strategies that worked the last two IPAs--just hours before I boarded the plane to Boston.

Perhaps it is the curse of the hyper-connected educator, but I did not walk away from this conference in a haze of hope and renewed vigor to take on teaching.

I suspect it's because I get cool ideas from the coolest people all the time, so I don't have to wait for November for my brain to be full like I used to. I kind of exist in a perpetual state of mind half-blown every time Amy Lenord or Wendy Farabaugh or Annabelle Allen--not to mention the dozens of other pedagogical geniuses on my blog roll and the #langchat feed--adds a new post.

I've developed a tolerance for brilliance, I think.

And yet I'm generally still able to walk away from each session I attend with something I can use in my class. So here are a few tidbits I picked up from a few cool people who shared at this year's convention.

Given my conference path, you'd better believe I was front and center (well, side) for this former ToY's spontaneous session. Three things I want to try that might help my kiddos just feel more ready before assessment time:

  • Conversation Carousel, or ask-ask-trade
    I've used questions on cards before, but something as simple as using answers on the back to cue their partners is a valuable skill. Also instead of writing extra questions on the card, switching cards with someone else is a way to practice asking more questions without having to come up with them all yourself!
  • Cootie Catcher Questions
    A sense of play could surely lighten things up for my kiddos, and what better way than bringing back the origami fortune teller of our youth--just with Spanish questions?
  • Class Greeter QuestionsMy kids already can't leave my room without looking me in the eye and saying adiós--like they physically can't anymore. How much of a stretch would it be to add an entry question and set up a rotation of askers?

I confess I mostly go to PBL sessions for networking and finding My People (which, mission accomplished in this one). But it was also cool just to see how simple starting to plan a unit really could be with this organizer:

Also, I've used Mixbook for creating children's books in the past, but did you know Storybird has a fundraiser form letter? Could be a good tie in with our school supply project!

Mostly this session gave me some ideas on how to scaffold reflection. I think requiring regular video blogs where students NOT reading what they're saying is specifically part of the grade could help kiddos get more comfy being on the spot. I also like the idea of not grading the first version of the vlog and providing mini-lessons on problem patterns I observed, then grading the redo. Even if actual changes are tiny the second time around, it's more low-stakes practice before the big moment.

(UNcon by Sr. Anderson)

Sr. Geisel helping me see Snapchat as a video editing tool instead of social media just made SO MUCH SENSE. Really low-stakes, familiar and fun context to get kids talking without fear! (Plus I had super fun snapping buddies!)

Everyone knows I love an infograph, and surveys have been some of my more successful speaking opportunities this semester, so  why not follow up with graphs with titles that actually reflect CONCLUSIONS students can draw from the surveys! Sentence titles for the infographs can also promote moving up ye olde proficiency scale!

AND how cute and easy would it be to let people respond to survey questions with Legos, upload a picture of Lego bar graphs to Seesaw and just title them there? Could be a great first day fun station activity before kids CAN respond in sentences to just have some Solo cups with target language questions where kiddos can plop in a colored lego to represent their response--with cognate-rich questions, even "silent period" kiddos could engage!

Face time with your PLN is always a great takeaway too

Now, tidbits weren't all I got from ACTFL this year, and in fact I got some burning questions answered with some thorough and engaging demonstrations in three other sessions I attended. I do have a little cogitating to do about those sessions and how they can keep my kids from bursting into tears when we talk, but check out this Storify of some #ACTFL16 highlight tweets to get a preview of what I'm pondering and a few more more tidbits from all of my sessions.