08 October 2015

School Comparisons: a novice Spanish IPA

The goal for this IPA is not just to measure performance, but also to find the right resource to inspire my students to inspire others.

Here's how.

Finding the right infograph

I can find SO MANY AUTHENTIC INFOGRAPHS that my students can understand halfway through their first semester of Spanish! What I have a hard time finding is something that really allows them to flex their proficiency/performance muscles.
Find this infograph and more on my
school infographs Pinterest board

For example, my kids would feel SUPER confident if I gave them this infograph to interpret.

I'd say they easily know 90% of those words and could probably figure out another 5% at least. However. We decided back when we began discussing proficiency week 1 that they should be aiming for Novice High performance the second six weeks of the semester. Even if they interpreted 100% of that infograph, they would still only be at N2 MAX on the AAPPL scales--not a sentence in sight!

Then there's this infograph:

Find this infograph and more on my Útiles escolares Pinterest board
Plenty of words my kiddos could pick out, sentences galore, and my heritage speakers--who have to demonstrate at least intermediate proficiency--could probably get some fascinating cultural insights about how school and school supplies are viewed in Colombia (which, incidentally, is where the supplies we are collecting for our current project will be headed!)

However, I'm also looking for sentences my novices have a prayer to piece together to get to N4 or at least N3. Lots of cognates and familiar words, but I'm still not so sure my little novices could grasp enough to string together any complete sentences here.

I want them to push themselves, but I also want them to have a chance to succeed! And really, even the numbers don't help because of the intricacy of the vocabulary and the cultural background necessary to grasp the difference between different types of stores.

So I kept digging through my Pinterest boards to find something that was both easy enough and hard enough--for novices AND native speakers. And I found this.

Infograph from wwwhat's new

Interpretive Reading

There was a time that past tense paralyzed me, and I thought that my Spanish I and II students could never handle a verb form they hadn't thoroughly studied beforehand. But here I am slipping in the imperfect tense with full confidence they will be able to use what they know about antes and tiene to fill in some gaps!

What's more is the infograph is housed within a brief blog post that will allow my heritage speakers to expand on their interpretation and demonstrate intermediate skills!

Because this is an interpretive reading exercise, I will use pretty much the same format as with the activities IPA earlier in the semester.

Interpersonal Conversation

The goal for this "school" unit is ultimately to help a struggling school in Colombia with some of their material needs. Therefore the conversation will revolve around not so much what was versus what is as it will around what is versus what will be--with the help of our planned shipments.
Find a partner and RECORD A 1-3 MINUTE DISCUSSION IN SPANISH about what school activities are like at La Laja--or at least what you imagine they are like based on what you know about the resources available to them. 
Find out from your partner how he/she WANTS to help the students at La Laja and how school activities CAN change if his/her plan works. 

Presentational Writing

Going over the Classroom Question reactions after each IPA really helps me get a bead on what needs to happen with the IPA structure to make the kiddos feel more confident on the next one. Coming up with stuff to talk about was still a bit of an issue after the last IPA, but coming up with stuff to write about was problematic for even more of my baby parrots. FORTUNATELY, a recent Saturday Sequel #LangChat gave me the PERFECT communicative endgame for this whole unit: a call to action

See, we have a blog to record our progress on the project, but if all goes well, maybe we can use it to inspire others to help out too! So rather than the capstone of the project being the shipment itself, it would be an invitation to others to carry on what's been started!

So they will sketch a draft for their own comparison infograph (paper seems like a good idea for expediency...plus there has been a little Google T******** temptation going on). BUT instead of comparing antes and ahora, they will compare what the kids at La Laja can do now and what they are GOING to be able to do when our class sends them supplies!
On a piece of paper, sketch a draft of your OWN comparison infograph to inspire others to help schools like La Laja. (NOTE: artistic talent is not part of the grade--but I should be able to get an idea of what you're going for). Instead of comparing the past and the present, compare La Laja NOW with what La Laja is GOING to be like after they receive the shipments from our class. 
 I may also have the young ones try out Seesaw to submit photos of their sketches if there's time--that way we can quickly pick out the ideas we want to develop to help spread the word!

04 October 2015

Interactive Notebook Page: School Supplies

Ayudando Ando sent me a list of over 50 things that the rural mountain school they sponsored needs:

Of course we couldn't get all 50+ things on the list (much less ship them). But we could use that list as a starting point for our project. And as a perfect excuse for authentic interpretation.

So I printed copies of the supply list to be included in students' interactive notebooks, and it takes up basically the whole page. This is not a problem though, because there will be no translation (or t********** as I like to call it) in our interactive notebooks at all this year. I mean, yes, we have English, say on the Performance and Proficiency page. However, research shows that L2 to L1 connections are some of the weakest ways to store new L2 vocabulary.

Therefore, we're falling back on two of Sexton's Strategies for Vocabulary Retention: Connections and Visuals to learn the vocabulary needed to discuss what we'll send--or won't send--to Colombia.


We all know that new information must be linked to prior knowledge in order to stick in our brains. So sorting the original list into what we should and should not send requires my little language learners to use what they know about the qualities of these items.

It also helps to go over a few no-nos before they begin sorting:

This way we can discuss whether something es buena idea or es mala idea WITH reasons in the target language (that are mostly cognates), thus making still MORE connections.

You can have them complete this quietly on their own, discuss in small groups, or go over familiar vocabulary together as a class. As they do so, they sort the new vocabulary by highlighting:

Highlight all of the vocabulary that you recognize from the list in either yellow or orange:
  • yellow = you recognize the vocabulary and think it would be a GOOD idea to ship to Colombia
  • orange = you recognize the vocabulary and think it would be a BAD idea to ship to Colombia
Then after you look up the remaining words, highlight the rest in pink or green:
  • pink = word you looked up that's a good idea
  • green = word you looked up that's a bad idea

But how will they be looking up these unknown words? Even WordReference would be L2-L1, and therefore less than ideal...


Here's where Google Classroom, Google Images, and Google Drawings come in handy. The following assignment gets posted to Classroom:
Pick 15 of the remaining words to look up that you think might be GOOD items to send to Colombia--but you are NOT using Google T******** or WordReference this time! 
Use images.google.com to search the vocabulary!  
Compile the 15 words you find into a Google Drawing collage.
Then when the collages are completed, small groups use their collages to negotiate what is buena or mala for final pink/green highlighting, using the no-nos to frame their discussion! Connections galore!


Finally, after each student has been able to form his or her own connections with the vocabulary, I give them my condensed list of recommendations for what we can send. I narrow the list down to 25 items and then split them into six groups (clothing, fun, student, teacher, classroom, school) with no more than six items in each for them to copy onto the blank facing page--still with no L1!

After this stage, they get to split up and specialize: what do you want to work on to send to Colombia? So the groups that want to collect ropa donations can leave cartulina in their passive vocabulary and focus on getting zapatos into active vocabulary.