Project-Based Learning in the Target Language Making language learning real, relevant, right now PBL, PBLL, Spanish, foreign language, world language, projects, units, lessons, class UA-59956679-1

Libros para Amiguitos Novice Mid IPA #1

Published by SraSpanglish on

My students are trying to inspire eight-year-olds to read in Spanish, and I’m trying to help my students increase their target language proficiency at the same time. So early in the unit, I wanted to set up a sort of IPA pre-test to establish where they are just starting the semester, so I tried to set up a procedure that would inspire them in their quest to inspire their amiguitos.

Selecting Materials
I really used the best text for interpreting before we got to the IPA as sort of a practice to provide exposure to the AAPPL evaluation system that I would be applying to their IPAs. This infograph has it all, and a great place to start discussion.

Then again, groups will actually need a little more detail and, well, actual books to get their project off the ground. So since la Biblioteca Publica de Soria has been kind enough to catalogue 420 of their Novedades infantil on Pinterest, I thought we’d start there!.

Now I have been carefully referring back to Mme. Shepard’s 8 Steps as I create this first IPA, but I have diverged some in the interest of time and simplicity. Plus I want to do one more round of IPA this grading period, and I have a few good videos selected that might help groups evaluate the choices they’ve made and perhaps make their approach to the problem/Driving Question even more inspiring for our amiguitos.

So my kiddos have been through the process now, and I’ve made some adjustments according to what I got from them (hint–10 book descriptions is way too many and more than you need to diagnose proficiency levels).

Interpretive Reading

1. List the titles of 5 books from the Pinterest board that you would like to share with your amiguitos.

  • This step allows students to choose from among the 420 pins those that are appropriate for their own level, which pins they CAN understand. It’s also kind of a placeholder so they remember which ones they were talking about.

2. List >2 words/phrases/sentences in Spanish you understood from each pin description (>10 total).

  • This step helps ME narrow down what they’re talking about so I can match up their interpretations and see if they REALLY understand it or just think they do.

3. Now write all of the words/phrases/sentences you wrote for step 2 in English.

  • Once again, this allows me to see if their interpretation matches up in reality. I’d set #2 and #3 up as a two-column table in the future to give my scrolling finger a break. I bolded words here that did not match the original and commented on words that looked suspicious.
4. Explain in a sentence or two in English why you chose each book (>5 sentences).
  • This helps show if kids are beginning to break into intermediate territory by capturing the main idea and reaffirms how much kids are getting from visuals and prior knowledge. It also connects the IPA back to the PBL purpose.
    Interpersonal Speaking
    I suggest limiting the recording to 2 or 3 minutes–most groups could show their proficiency in that time. I also allowed up to 2 do-overs in the allotted 20 minutes to try and keep production spontaneous.

    1. Take turns listing books from the Pinterest board that you LIKE for your amiguitos.
    • IPAs are even newer to them than they are to me, so I emphasized “essential verbs” that they could use in their questions/responses and let them refer to their previous list and the Pinterest board itself, as well as their Verbos Esenciales cheat sheet.

    2. Describe what IS good for your amiguitos about those books.

    • Again, emphasizing familiar words to encouraging what they know. I had to spell out explicitly that they cannot look up anything–it must all come from the pins or their brains. We discussed circumlocution strategies like pointing to the pins or even doodling if need be.

    3. Explain what you WANT to do with the book or if you HAVE ideas for other books.

    • This hits the rest of the verbs that I emphasized with our TPRS story, “Libros son buenos” to do a little of that prior knowledge activation, but also to give those breaking into intermediate territory a chance to strut their stuff.
      Presentational Writing
      Create a survey (>5 questions in Spanish, preferably multiple choice) in Google Forms for your amiguitos to determine which books they would like best. Incorporate titles and descriptions related to the books in different questions.

      • They kept asking how many questions they had to do when I didn’t put a number, so 5 seemed reasonable. Even if they had 5 “te gusta” questions, they could still potentially get up to N2 level if they had more complex phrases as multiple choice answers. On the other hand, if they had complex sentences and left the questions open-ended, they could still show almost intermediate proficiency by, say, summarizing the book and their opinion/experience with similar books. We will, however, probably revise them to make sure they’re amiguito-friendly and maybe combine different members’ versions before actually sending them.
      So far, evaluation has been pretty smooth, and the few kids who were dissatisfied with their evaluations have the option of 1) waiting for the next one to balance it out or 2) seeing me before or after school or during our school’s special “Academic Hour” on Friday to get a new task (to ensure spontaneity). I think the young ones are satisfied with the grading scale (A=N3 or higher, B=N2, C=N1) and the goal to bump it up a notch each grading period (ie A=N4 second 6 weeks, IL third 6 weeks). 
      Me, I’m enjoying giving them credit for what they CAN do.


      Laura Sexton is a passion-driven, project-based language educator in Gastonia, North Carolina. She loves sharing Ideas for integrating Project-Based Learning in the world language classroom, including example projects, lessons, assessment tips, driving questions, and reflection.


      Enid Lopez · June 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Grading is so difficult and so not black and white. Can you shed light on how you you came up with your 10 point scale? Is the 10 point scale trying to balance out the disparity that exists in the regular A,B,C,D ….F scale, which is balanced until it gets to the F, with a 40 point difference? I want to be fair and seem to fall short every year. I feel that my mind is in the right place but I know I keep assigning grades without a real focus: class work, quiz, test, final, etc. (Need to find a system that matches what I should do with what my district requires)
      Thanks lady,

      Laura Sexton · June 9, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      10-point is officially the legal default for NC: 10 AND 9 = A, 8=B, 7=C, 6=D, 5=F (not automatically 0)

      Comments are closed.