30 January 2014

Genius Hour Agenda, part 2: Research

Once basic project-specific vocabulary is established, students can dig into the research, into some authentic resources about their passion. Now remember, our job is to modify the task, not the text, so if we start students off with some low-intensity texts like Pinterest pins and tweets to ease them into productive approaches to interpreting broader authentic texts.

I'm still updating my Trello board with instructions,  Linguafolio standards (or at least communication mode color coding), and other guidelines to help students choose their tasks. For the first few Fridays I'll be dictating which "card" they do, but eventually I hope to just designate a phase to focus on for the week and let them choose. Before I can do that, though, I want to make sure they understand how to use each to their advantage.

Pinterest board
I like to start with Pinterest because of the natural brevity of the text in a pin plus the added visual context. I'll have students create a board of probably 20 pins in Spanish (not Portuguese, not Italian), at least 10 of which need to have links in Spanish attached (the pictures were nice, but left some kids high and dry come interpretation time). They're doing simple interpretation tasks just by selecting their pins!

Retweets
I've already had Spanish I set up their class Twitter accounts so they can search key terms again, this time with less assistance from visuals, though the texts themselves will still be short enough for novice consumption. Again, by just selecting tweets they can understand that align with their interests, they're interpreting text. What's more, they're finding potential contacts for later because of the social side of this particular resource. I'm having them collect these retweets with Storify to post to the class blog, too.

Google/Diigo list setup
Pinterest and Twitter are not 100% guaranteed founts of knowledge, but Google will almost never fail you, at least in Spanish. They've done some simple curation with the Pinterest boards and Storify stories, but with Diigo they can branch out into a wider variety of sources, things that aren't supremely pinnable or able to be captured in 140 characters. Still, when they google, I'm advising my novices to add "infografia" to half of their searches so they have the benefit of visual clues with fewer words. For the rest of their searches, we've discussed finding texts with familiar words, cognates, visuals, familiar formats, and fewer words.

When they find an infograph or other source they determine relates to their topic, I'll have them create a public Diigo list where they can collect their passion project sources from wherever. Again, the selection is its own mini-interpretation exercise, and collecting the sources with Diigo leads into the next step...

Diigo highlights/paraphrasing
They can use their pinned sites or their googled sites. Using the Diigolet tool, they can highlight a section of their site and add a note--a target language paraphrased note! I'd recommend novices just choose two important lines, no more than one sentence long--maybe less--to summarize.

Diigo gathers all of these onto their list for them! Choosing what to highlight is a valuable interpretation step because they have to cut out the stuff they don't get and focus on what they do get. Putting it in their own words is tricky--as it has always been in my English classes too--but it's something they HAVE to grasp for ALL subjects. With Diigo, they have the added benefit of having the important parts separated out and right next to their own paraphrasing for comparison!

YouTube playlist/Google video search
Once again, the searching is the interpretation at this stage, using the key words to find something they can use. YouTube is blocked at my school, so I had to find a new way to find videos. Ideally, students could search and make a playlist to peruse later, but there's no harm in finding videos on Vimeo or other sites to add to the old Diigo list for analysis and reflection later. I will give students the option of doing both, if they want to play with their passion topic outside of class, but overall, I'm looking for them to find three videos they could use.

Ivoox.com podcasts
All of Ivoox's podcasts are in Spanish! No, they are not especially novice friendly, but like with the text searches, I emphasize finding just a relevant title and a 1-minute portion where they can pick out key words. (I have students turn in the time frame where the understandable part is, too.) Add, say, two of these puppies to the Diigo list, and you're set!

Diigo summaries
Once students have dipped their toes into a variety of authentic resource pools, thus gaining exposure to common vocabulary in a variety of forms and on a variety of related topics, then we begin the analysis. They would just write one or two sentences that give the gist of the linked source, be it article or video. I'll ask that students summarize at least three written texts and at least two audio/video sources (because, let's face it: even with rewind, the audio is more challenging input).

For the novices, the emphasis is on simply picking out main ideas, maybe the author's attitude toward the topic, if only +/- (intermediates will have to add a supporting detail or two). Students can add notes to the overall sources instead of just highlighted portions, once again, adding to the one-stop value of their lists and making finding what they want to use later that much easier!

Repeats
I want to encourage students to return to any of the strategies that A) they liked or B) need more work on. They could possibly add 10 pins, find 10 more tweets, Google 10 more articles or 3 more videos or podcasts. Or they could make 5 more highlights on any of the articles or 3 more summaries.

After they've attempted each of the other approaches, of course.

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