02 February 2014

Pick a College in the Target Language

I believe that simple resource curation and evaluation are among the most useful skills for 21st century learners to practice. Curation and evaluation are also valuable ways to exercise interpretive reading and listening for a real-world purpose in the world language classroom. Using key words to search provides context, maybe even visuals, for vocabulary, and deciding which sources they actually want is a good way to focus on finding the main idea of an authentic text.

And what is a more relevant goal-oriented research project than helping a senior find a college?

My early college seniors have another year before they have to worry about where they'll go for a four-year degree, but really they've already been in college for nearly four years. I forgot that meant that they really haven't had to shop university websites before, like other kids at their level (even though I definitely walked the first class I tried the university unit with through the schemas of college sites).

We talked about relevant vocabulary I'd found on college sites in Spanish before, and they used their knowledge of college topics and cognates to figure out the relevant terms, and then we used actual websites in Spanish to take advantage of context clues to figure out the few remaining.

From there, each student decided which were the three most important factors for her (I get a lot of all-girl classes, don't I?) in deciding where she'd consider going. Here are the most important factors they named from most popular to least:
  • Scholarships
  • Majors (specifically medical ones)
  • Location--Find the address at the bottom of the page and plug it into Google Maps. 
  • Requirements
  • Courses offered
  • Foreign students/population
  • Buildings
I'm having the girls attempt curation and evaluation in a variety of ways (some similar to how I'm approaching research for Genius Hour):


  • Curation: Google "universidad" and a country they're interested to find college web sites; link interesting ones on a ThingLink map (caution: while you can share these, simultaneous editing is not a given--had to just put links in Schoology assignment comments). I think I'll have them use words for their priorities in future Googles too. Bonus discovery: southern Spain's linguistic heritage is a big deal, so some "universidades" are universitat, a la Catalan.
  • Evaluation: Students check out 3 colleges from the ThingLink map/Schoology list that they think they might like. I made a Google Doc template chart for each to track the names of the universities, homepage link, and information related to each to jot and/or copy/paste information related to her top 3 priorities. One student thought the assignment was terrible because she discovered only one she checked out even had the dentistry major she was interested. Me, that's what I wanted her to find!
  • Evaluation: I also put together a Voicethread of screenshots of the colleges they'd all added to the initial collective list and had them comment on each as to whether they'd like to go or not with at least one reason. (They could check the Thinglink map if the screenshot didn't provide enough information).
  • Evaluation: I had students write about and discuss which universities they liked and decide which they liked most. I grouped the students based on their level (it's a mixed II/III class), and most had one person with a gotta-have-it university. So groups checked out that university's webpage, seeing if they could find their priorities. One group decided they could not find interesting enough activities, so they switched to another in the same country.
  • Curation: Then, thanks to inspiration from Pilar Munday, I set the kiddos loose on web.stagram.com/search to find photos of their chosen university. It was a great Friday afternoon activity, and I really liked how some simple key words opened some relevant everyday culture to them. Their ultimate goal is to create a recruitment video for their university of choice, so they promptly decided they needed to make some shared Pinterest boards to pick out their favorite photos among the hundreds with their university tags. It was also kind of cool coming across universities with their own accounts.
It looks like the interpersonal will be the next step, as I've also contacted the girls' universities of choice via Twitter to see if we could arrange a Skype with a student from their school, and two of them have responded already and referred me to the proper contacts! As always, the international real-world connection has my kids kind of pumped (plus a "bonus" option for their videos was real testimonials from real students, so they're happy to have the opportunity provided in class).

While it's true that this class remains pretty insistent that they want to stay in North Carolina for school, I think they'll at least start seeing study abroad as a possibility for them. After all, as Steve Jobs said, "People don't know what they want until you show it to them."

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