15 October 2014

Genius Hour Agenda 3: Reflection

Absolutely everything students do for Genius Hour, beginning to end, goes on our class passion blog. Now they're not writing blog posts from the start, unless of course you count making a list of words related to their topic. At the beginning, we are in research mode--or the "collect" phase of the Genius Hour process-- so the early posts are mostly embedding other people's words, demonstrating Novice Low reading skills like recognition. After collecting a quorum of resources that demonstrate the vocabulary in context, though, it is time to reflect.

Now, Genius Hour is but once a week the way I do it, though you could take your "20 Time" out at the beginning or end of each day, if you prefer. The rest of the time, you are still doing what you do, so they're getting all of that valuable comprehensible input along the way. For my part, I help hit the basic verbs hard in OWLanguage-type activities and other class practices during class project time. Amy Lenord compiled a list of the following essentials that will work no matter your unit:

I think, too, you can probably express most things you want to say with maybe 10 verbs, and the focus helps novices keep their phrasing simple:
  • Hay
  • Es
  • Son
  • Tengo/tienes
  • Necesito/necesitas
  • Entiendo/entiendes
  • Quiero/quieres
  • Me gusta/te gusta
  • Creo/crees
  • Puedo/puedes
Students use these verbs along with sentence starters and semi-scripts stacked with cognates to reflect in at least 3 forms: Questions, Summary, and Discussion.

Just as in Project-Based Learning, Genius Hour demands a Driving Question to steer the project. I've found that students attempting a passion project in the target language really need to poke around and see what's available on their level before they frame their questions. The question about where dreams came from was really a fascinating one, and those looking to prepare for careers in pediatrics or forensic science are certainly valuable and ambitious...but there's not going to be a lot they can work with in the target language. So I have students form their Driving Question after they've at least pinned a few resources and scoped out some tweets, maybe found contact information for an expert or five.

Then they set a task that will demonstrate the answers to that question and, like PBL, they break the Driving Question down into need-to-know questions, smaller questions that they could answer with different sources to inform their larger questions and goals.

For summaries, I provide sentence starters tied with the kind of collecting I had them doing most recently. The sentence starters, of course, rely on those high-frequency words we use regularly in class and cognates, so my novices still only need to contribute their level-appropriate words and phrases--gleaned almost entirely from their research and established list.

Reflection 1: after collecting pins and retweets
Something interesting for the class is...
I want to know more about...
I never knew that...
Other interesting topics related to my topic are...

Reflection 2: after following Twitter accounts and finding contact information
Experts in my topic are...
Experts can help me by...
If I need more experts or information, I can...

Reflection 3: after Google searches and Diigo highlights
A pattern I've seen in my research is...
I thought that...but I learned that...
I still don't understand...because...

Reflection 4: in preparation mode
Something interesting for the class is...
When I present my topic, I want to focus on...because...
I can show the class how...works...

I like to have students form questions and summarize before discussing so they have a reference point for the discussion already scaffolded in for them. What's more, I have students do a little asynchronous discussion before actually speaking, too. I set up groups of about 4 students with similar interests (always plenty of food and music groups) so that they will perhaps have some personal vocabulary in common, and also something they care about discussing.

Students then need to review what their blogging partners have posted--since the beginning or at least since the last time they checked--and then comment on their most recent summary post. They must respond with 2 statements (Me gusta... and Quiero saber mas de...) and 1 question. Then, each person answers each response on their own summary posts.

For the synchronous conversation, we turn to Vocaroo and break out their interpersonal playbooks to semi-script the conversation ahead of time. Their conversations connect to what they've already seen on the blogs, so they're reinforcing in a different mode, but gaining fluency with speaking on their personal topics as well.

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