05 February 2015

Independent PBL Time by Mode

I'm not really happy with the jigsaw model for Project-Based Learning that I instituted for our festival project and school supply drive last yer. It did not really fit those kiddos--who are now in my Spanish II classes. In retrospect, I don't think it really fit the projects, either. So instead, I think it's better this time around for everyone to work toward separate solutions for the same problem.

Once again, though, this means that I must be willing to set them free...ish.

The cross-class collaborations for the Amiguitos reading project are going pretty well (though there is still the occasional bump when someone forgets to leave the right book for their partners or share editing access to a document or copy everyone on the update email). We have an established routine that helps on multiple levels:

  • collaboration is more effective for them
  • evaluation is a little easier for me
  • and target language application is more meaningful in general

Now, I have not started tracking how much time they spend in the target language, and truth be told, we're probably in the 60% range for the PBL routine portion of the class here on Day 3. I think Day 4 we might bring out the ClassDojo monsters, or perhaps wait until after the next IPA, but I do want students to adjust to the procedures first.

The procedure
The daily process (after our ruleta de coros) is four steps:
  1. Read updates
  2. Set agenda
  3. Work on product(s)
  4. Update response
Students start off interpreting their classmates' emailed notes, which are always to use these sentence starters--in this order:
  • Me gusta...
  • Gracias por...
  • Tengo...
  • Voy a...
  • ¿Puedes...?
That way, not only do they practice those most essential of verbs, but their partners get a little buttering up and assurance of progress before getting hit with requests (in dire situations, I've decided it's OK to substitute Necesito for Me gusta/Gracias por instead of "Gracias por NADA" when nothing is sent in time for update review).

They then demonstrate comprehension of their partners' requests by posting on Google Classroom the day's objective. And then they do what they gotta do before it's their turn to update their partners.

The product
Here's where freeishdom and the modes of communication come in. First, I broke down which modes would be necessary to getting to the end products the different groups had in mind. Of course everyone needs interpersonal to make decisions, and they would all be presenting something, whether in writing or aloud, and the two really complement each other. Interpreting would be hard to work in for groups writing their own books, but reading partner updates ensure they will hit that anyway.

So for four days, I prescribed one presentational speaking, one presentational writing, and one conversation, plus one freebie for which they could submit a document or recording each day. They send it with the update email to me and their friends, and so everyone is using the language and benefitting from each other's application!

The evalution
This would all be a lot smoother if I actually took advantage of my second period planning for feedback right after the first batch of emails each day. Basically, I make sure everyone sends their 5 requisite comments and product for a "daily grade" and keep a spreadsheet of who does what each day (as pictured above) to make sure all bases are covered. I use their agenda entries to enter the mode in the spreadsheet and then check in with each group verbally--which I will be able to do in the TL soon, having established the procedure!

Then, as I go through their emails, second period or at the end of the day (or, if truth were told, often in the half hour before classes start), I check off their work as compared to the proficiency level we're aiming for. If they have enough to show they're Novice Mid level at this point, and they actually did something that fits the intended mode, check. If there's not much there, half check, or if it's the wrong mode, a half-check and then checking in with them the next day to rearrange plans.

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