13 October 2014

In-Depth Inquiry in the TL: Classmate Surveys


In-depth inquiry is key to Project-Based Learning, according to the Buck Institute for Education, but in-depth inquiry is tricky in a novice language class striving for ACTFL's recommended 90%. I, for one, have my novices do a lot of research with infographs, which you really can't beat for novice authentic input. However, for depth from a novice-appropriate non-native source, look no further than the shining faces before you.

Your students are sources: of opinions, perspectives, ideas...of starting points, really.

Now, explaining how to use Google Forms may take up all of your allotted 10% English for the day (and then some), although I suppose you could use a bunch of gestures and aquis and luegos, if you must. But having students form questions to obtain information from classmates.

Types of questions classmates can help with at the beginning of a project:
  • preferences - to help steer projects in a productive direction 
  • resources - to figure out what they'll need to get projects off the ground--and what they won't 
  • habits - to connect projects to students' daily lives 
  • suggestions - to improve on existing ideas and plans 
  • knowledge - to establish a baseline or popular perception 

Preview questionsI had students write their questions in their interactive notebooks first (and then on a Doc on Google Classroom too), primarily to make sure that they were comprehensible and correctish, to steer them back toward familiar constructions and away from dictionary dependence.

Revise questionsWe hadn't really done anything with forms explicitly yet, so I had them revise their submitted questions with s's, after reviewing vas, eres, and puedes, which we'd seen multiple times.

Predict answers
At first I let students choose loosey-goosey "text" responses, but then as students started taking each other's surveys, they really had no idea what their classmates were looking for. And after all, I make them anticipate responses in their interpersonal playbooks, so it's only logical to do the same in this context, to require multiple choice responses. I mean, this is going to become scaffolding for conversation, so it's useful to establish the vocabulary too. An "other" blank option is not a bad idea, though.

Give hints
Students should give an overview in their survey description of what their group is trying to do. For our Plan Verde unit, I suggested pulling back in the -mos ending we focused on for Driving Questions the week prior to say Queremos reciclar/reducir/reutilizar [material] por/con ... A little glossing might be in order, too, since different groups function from different vocabulary (the plastic group, for example, had no idea what bombillas were, or that they weren't necessarily explosive).

Test drive 
It would have been wise to have students try the surveys on group members before surveying the rest of the class, then maybe explain how--or IF--they can actually use the information they collect that way. If they can't, then, of course, they revise their surveys before posting them to Google Classroom (or your LMS of choice) for all to take.

Discuss results
After classmates have taken the surveys, then group members pull up their respective spreadsheets (I have each group member do their own survey, even if there's overlap because repeat ALL the input!) and talk about what they have and how they can use it. All they really need is their original questions, their results, and some memorized phrases about what the information "indica que necesitamos hacer" and perhaps de acuerdo and maybe sí, pero...

Hint: I still recommend students include ONE text response question, for names. That way everyone can "get credit," and it sets the stage for follow-up discussion!

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