12 April 2015

Project Conferences: True TL Collaboration

Groups of 10-15 students had positive, productive conversations before break, conversations lasting fifteen minutes or more in the target language.

What's more is the conversations affirmed good feelings among collaborators and kept the conversation positive and the energy controlled and calm.

I had been out sick most of the week before (curse you, tree pollen!) and had gotten some pretty frustrated emails about one group's progress in particular--some in the target language, and some not. By the end of this first conversation after my return, they were a team once again! Why? My money's on the restraint they had to exercise to express themselves in Spanish (they do say we're more reasonable in our second language anyway).

Now, there were some things we didn't get to in the TL in class, and even with lyric and skit rehearsals in Spanish, we were still probably only at 80% target language, but I was squealing with delight internally each time a different student piped up with a "Me gusta también, pero..." and agreement--or eager dissent--rippled around the faces at the table (the eyebrows were awesome--they were DYING to speak Spanish!).

I had an outline for the class discussion--taken, of course, from our Verbos Esenciales list--and allowed students to jot notes to themselves on index cards about what they wanted to say about each.
  • Me gusta
  • Quiero
  • Necesitamos
  • Podemos
Notice we're still starting with the buttering up. Always start with the buttering up. That probably helped as much as the L2 restraint. I think it helped the flow, too, to get some como-se-dices out of the way ahead of time, and with follow-up questions and peer responses, it meant the conversation was still only semi-scripted. Also, there was a little improvisation after one group got all into responding to each other, and we had to sort of skip quiero and conflate necesitamos and podemos.

Responses were required though.

At our Caldwell Early College study visit last year, one of the leaders tracked our big group Paideia discussion with a sort of circle chart, and that was really cool. It was tough even with my tiny classes last year, though, so I opted instead to create a new class on ClassDojo and track students' contributions that way.

Also, my kiddos were willing to contribute for points toward the privilege of changing their monsters: get this many points, and you can describe the kind of monster you want to change to!

I had previously created an extra ClassDojo class for tracking target language usage, so why not create another for group conferences? It allows me to keep behaviors separate from grades (thus helping keep grades closer to reflections actual proficiency) as well as giving me a quick--and familiar--way to monitor participation

1 comment:

  1. I love any ideas for separating behavior from academic content. And anything that actually gets kids DOING things or MAKING things is awesome in my book. Kudos-