07 March 2015

Alphabet Soup Units, part 1: Entry Events (TLAP + PBL)

Entry Events are the first step in my Alphabet Soup unit model, which combines Project-Based Learning (PBL), Target Language instruction (TL), Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), Integrated Performance Asessments (IPA), ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL), and Teaching Like a Pirate (TLAP).

This process gives my units a clearer vision of where as well as solid ways to support progress in BOTH students' proficiency AND authentic projects. I will be breaking down each step in the process on my Alphabet Soup page.


The Entry Event step in Buck Institute for Education's PBL model is almost synonymous with Dave Burgess' TLAP "What's in It for Me?" hooks.

Basically you present students with a problem in such a way that they'd buy tickets to see. 

Paul Sandrock counsels in The Keys to Assessing Language Performance from ACTFL that "the assessment mechanism must come as close as possible to that authentic use" (1). So you set up a driving question that makes students want and NEED to pay attention. After all, Dave Burgess reminds us, "If you can't explain why someone should pay attention to what you're saying, maybe you shouldn't be saying it."


Introduce the Audience
The Real-World Application Hook
  • How can I show my students why learning this content is important in the real world?
  • How will they possibly apply this in their life?
  • Can they create something real that will allow them to interact with the world in an authentic way?
For my first Alphabet Soup unit, my cute big kids got Padlets full of cute little kids speaking Spanish and making duck faces that they had to inspire to read in Spanish. High schoolers--my high schoolers at least--will do almost anything to impress little kids. Plus it lowers the affective filter knowing they probably know more than their audience, and it's a great excuse to make my big kids stick to familiar vocabulary--for the little ones, of course.

Hint: if you don't have elementary Spanish programs in your area, try middle school, ELL, or Skype!


Dive into Different Approaches
The Student-Directed Hook
  • How can I provide opportunities for autonomy and choice?
  • Can I allow student interest to dictate our direction and learning while still covering what we need to address?
Sr. Burgess says he tries "to position each lesson so students can personalize the material and apply it to their world." When trying to guide novice language learners, however, their personalization options are limited by their proficiency, so it is especially important to model possibilities for ways students can personalize the material.

I may brainstorm possible solutions with the students (though I'm careful to come in with some possibilities to build on), but stations can be another way to get students to approach the problem from different angles. For example, for my second Alphabet Soup unit, I set up a station for each event of the language competition we'll be competing in to help them decide how they want to bring home the hardware.

After we have our options on the table, I have the young ones split up according to the type of approach they would like to take. For the amiguitos unit, they either went with writing their own book, a book trailer, or curating a list. For the competition, they can focus on the poetry recitation, the skit, the song, or the trivia. Of course I know their groups are not purely PBL-motivated, but PBL is also about Voice and Choice, right? Plus my teacher evaluation rubric tells me I'm supposed to be helping them form their own groups--you know, how the Real World works.


In sum, you need four things to pull off a quality entry event PIRATE style:

  1. a problem kids care about
  2. an audience kids care about
  3. an attention-grabbing introduction to the problem
  4. and scaffolding to make their answers their own

If you've got all of those, you're ready to get started.

Look out for the next Alphabet Soup post on Storytime: TPRS + IPA.

No comments:

Post a Comment