06 March 2014

Singing for their Supper: Specialization and Group Interaction

We'll celebrate at the Mexican restaurant after the language festival whether or not we take home a trophy like last time. However, if we're going to go, we're going to go big, and we're going to put on a performance we can all be proud of.

Once the class narrowed down our choices to two songs, once again, I let students choose their specialties. I liked how that worked for grouping on our last project, but there are a few things I would do differently 1) because of the distinct nature of this project, and 2) because I am older and wiser than a month ago.

So these are the jobs I think we'll need to fill in order to impress the judges at the festival:
  • Lyrics
  • Choreography
  • Design
  • Music & tech
  • Directors
The Lyrics group will be responsible for going through our selected songs, picking out key vocabulary to teach the class to help them understand the song, deciding which lines to keep and which to replace with their own wording (nothing in the rules said they had to be unaltered songs), making sure the class understand what they're saying and how to say it, a la pronunciation coaches. 

Choreography will be responsible for learning, inventing, and adapting dances, teaching the class the steps--in Spanish--and rehearsing small groups and coordinating the performance.

Designers will decide what everyone's wearing, props to enhance the performance, and how to obtain or create them. This may or may not include the bow tied with dancers' feet in the original Bamba from Veracruz.

Music and tech will be our DJs, mixing the two songs (They chose "La Bamba" and "Danza Kuduro" by Don Omar, which...wow. Quite the selection, but it is going to be good I know.) They'll need to do a lot of coordinating with Lyrics and Choreography and will probably have to decide how many and who sings each part as well as organizing as much instrumentation as possible and rehearsing (I know MY heart would skip a beat of the first thing I heard was a Ritchie Valens riff on a real live guitar).


Directors will need to be the keepers of the vision and the go-betweens for all other groups. They will get final approval (before mine of course) on decisions from each group. They'll keep tabs on progress for group goals and overall performance coordination, making sure we have everything ready in time to put the show together and make it awesome by April 16th.

Aside from the roles being completely different for the project, I'd also like to restructure accountability measures. Previously, I had groups post daily updates on Schoology--the day's goals at the beginning of class and the day's results at the end. This was not bad, but it wasn't enough. It gave me a rough idea of what went on during class that day, but what it didn't give was A) insight into individual students' roles or B) a structure that encouraged target language usage in between.

And so, drawing inspiration from Sra. Lenord's Questions Workshop, I've decided that questioning is the key. Much like Amy's workshop and her Interpersonal Blitz, I gave students topics--music, dance, design, and lyrics, as it happens--and had them write as many questions as they could in one minute related to each topic. Now I've collected their questions, picked out the ones I, as all-wise supervisor, thought could be useful, and cleaned them up a bit. These are their models they can use to start with, if they so choose, before they start coming up with their own questions off the top of their heads.

Each day, however, each student will be responsible for turning in one of these:
They're half-sheets that have slots for 4 questions, so I figure for every 10 minutes they get to work independently, they should ask a question and get a response. They'll not only have to figure out how to phrase their questions, but who would know the answers--then get them!

We had a little test run today with about 1/3 of the class (today was supposed to be spring break--long story), and they discovered even with the "cleaned up" questions, it was tough getting classmates to understand them. In other words, there was no shortage of repetition, and they worked on using some very, very basic circumlocution like gesturing and coming up with synonymous cognates (e.g. cambiar, modificar, transformar). They reinforced relevant vocabulary, exercised interpersonal skills, AND got information they needed to proceed with the project!

I feel like I'm getting closer to establishing the procedures necessary for keeping PBL in the TL, but we'll see how this new routine pans out.

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