23 July 2015

Top 10: the pinnacle of Pinnacle

Ohhhh, I wanna dance with somebody
...somebody who's in my district!
Sandbox PD is the only way to go. Surround yourself with a few good brains, zero in on a few good goals, and play.

And that's just what we got to do in Pinnacle this week.

So here are my Top 10 experiences that made Pinnacle the peak of PD for me this week.

10. Infopics--who knew?
I mean, I've dabbled in infopicking here on my blog, but I had never realized how much thought would have to go into summing up a concept in one. Plus TOTALLY novice appropriate writing task! 

I don't see a whole lot of target language
happening between the cussing to figure
out the controls...but it was inquiry-based.
9. Theircraft
My son thought we were going to be building houses together and raising little blocky farm animals when he heard I learned about Minecraft and Pinnacle this year, but I never actually played it. Now I have at least navigated a little, made myself a little house with a basement, so I can share that experience with him--and assorted students now, even if I still haven't figured out a way to make it worth spending Spanish class time on.

8. SAT time
This wasn't an explicit part of Pinnacle, but it was much needed. I think my principal would forgive me knowing I'm not as enthused about my new English challenge as I was about Film & Lit and Creative Writing. SAT Prep is still exciting in that it's a challenge and I get to be with kids I've gotten to love on for three years already, but I really needed some time to sit down and talk to some math teachers and talk shop--and I got it!
"Where are the goats??" Shelly and I
were disappointed.

7. Goat island
It was cool having challenges that had us get out in parts of the district I didn't know so well, and even cooler to go with my colleagues, so we could have a little bonding time after lunch.

6. The Student Side
Whether it was trying to submit assignments on Google Classroom or teach myself about an unfamiliar concept using Blendspace, I really got some perspective on what might go through students' minds while they're going about their studently business.

It's for Communicative Pursuit.
5. Spraypainted fingernails
Rarely can I break out the paint and crafty things without fear of a preschool-sized (or Art-Club-sized) mess. Having the time and excuse to just cut up some cardboard and sponges was good for my soul.

4. Haaaaaaaave ya met Laura?
I've been preaching audience first in PBL for years (or at least year). Having middle school amigas suddenly struck with inspiration firing off an email to their Spanish colleague so we could maybe work on some projects together was a definite perk of my time this week!

3. Nearpod miss
My whole first grading period was going to be a shambles without something to replace InfuseLearning for introducing personalized vocabulary without resorting to English. I'd heard of Nearpod, but never tried it out, so seeing it from the student side was a godsend!

2. Somebody whoooooooo!
I admit I'm here 1) for the iPads and 2) for the networking. Taking selfies and making music videos with my amigas made me really feel like a part of this district!

1. Smarty pants put in my place
I'm not bragging when I say it's hard to teach me something new on the ed scene. On the one hand, I'm a little obsessive in my social media surfing, and on the other, I'm a little...hard to please when it comes to finding new tools that will actually fit with my curriculum. But they did it Day 1--WHILE putting me in my students' shoes with a fancy strategy I've been tinkering with!

I just want to wrap up with a thank you to my colleagues and our ITF guides. This has been an experience--a BUNCH of experiences--that I can use! You guys deserve a badge!

21 July 2015

What is TPaCK?

TPaCK: Three ingredients blend for masterful instruction.[image from Umpqua Dairy]

Pinnacle Personalized my Learning yesterday! I took a quiz built with a few Google Sheets formulas and Google Add-Ons (Copydown and AutoCrat), and it told me what I needed work on!

Apparently I needed work on understanding the TPaCK framework (I totally forgot it stood for Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge), so I was given a link to this TPaCK Blendspace that really cleared the concept up for me! Of course the Blendspace included assignments for me to demonstrate my comprehension: a "six-word story" with visual (above) and coming up with some lesson ideas for my content area.

Let me just say how RELIEVED I was that the world language TPaCK examples were based on ACTFL standards! So with that handy model, I went ahead and came up with something for each of the 5 "abilities" the example document broke down. Now the Blendspace assignment just called for the three TPaCK elements, but you know me: I had to add more.

Technology YouTube/SchoolTube, Pinterest
Pedagogy Learn a new exercise strategy from a Spanish Video
Content Watch a video (access and gather information)

I have a hard time seeing (ha, viewing/seeing) how or why viewing should be separate from listening, especially when novices pretty much have to have visual context to interpret, BUT how-to videos are an absolute must for self-improvement unit, and Pinterest and YouTube at least have a wealth of "mejor yo" videos!

Technology Wikipedia, Pinterest, Diigo
Pedagogy Find an article in Spanish related to your Genius Hour topic
Content Read an article e.g. encyclopedia or webpage (access and gather information)

My kiddos already use Pinterest and Diigo to research their Genius Hour projects, but this phrasing made me think about what they could do with Wikipedia! The structure is familiar to them, and they can use those familiar text features to break down what they need! Also, being able to search Wikipedia in two languages has proved a pretty useful skill for me too.

Technology Google Docs, VoiceThread, Adobe Voice, 30Hands
Pedagogy Follow along with a TPRS story and fill in the blanks with high-frequency vocabulary
Content Listen to a story (access and gather information)

Of course I've got Google Forms for storyasking previews, but what if they used Google Forms to do a quick review also? I could set up the story with images on VoiceThread, Adobe Voice, or 30Hands, which would have two advantages over just listening to me telling the story to the class:
  • building visual connections with chunks of contextualized vocabulary
  • allowing students to work at their own pace
This might work best after we have already filled in the blanks together in their interactive notebooks, especially with a varied form so students really have to listen. Listening was a big problem this year, so this could be extra practice as well as an extra quick diagnostic tool (especially if I get a hang of those Google Sheets formulas!)

Technology Skitch, Thinglink
Pedagogy Collect school supplies for donation and label (a photo) in Spanish what was included
Content Label objects (communicate information)

I'm thinking of switching the self-improvement unit to Spanish II and returning to the school supply drive unit, either with our Colombian amigos or new Peruvian connections. I mean, lists (i.e. shopping, inventory) are really more appropriate for Level 1, and it would be valuable to have the visual and emotional context of a freshly packed backpack ready to send off to South America--Skitch or Thinglink would be a nice way to show you know what you packed!

Technology VoiceThread, Adobe Voice, 30Hands
Pedagogy Choose a pop song for perfomance at the L-R Language Festival
Content Sing

This could be a way to marry the coro roulette reflection with some individual practice for the language festival. And if individuals each submit a line-by-line with visuals either on VoiceThread or an Adobe Voice or 30Hands video, then I can keep each kiddo accountable for pronunciation AND actually interpreting the lyrics.

Day 1 wrap-up 3-2-1:
3  TPaCK=Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge;
Google Forms can help automate Personalized Learning;
and you can use formulas with dollar sign anchors to do fancy things with Google Form response sheets
2 Copydown and AutoCrat!
1 What is the formula on the Personalized quiz to group our answer scores?

300 Peru Pics + Lesson Ideas

My Peru collection is complete! I have 300 photos, and I now have 300 posts on PBL in the TL! 

To celebrate, I would like to share not only my photos, which I have collected in this gallery for your viewing/selection pleasure, but also some ideas for how they might be used to further cultural inquiry.

I still plan to give taste of cultural inquiry in the first-day stations, but I'm also adding a cultural section to my Homework Choices, maybe the occasional brain break, where my vacation pictures can keep on giving.

Now, my plans for sorting my photos and linking to more information via Evernote went a little awry. Let it be known: your Evernote and IFTTT accounts have to be linked BEFORE you start posting (not halfway through your first trip to another continent. Grrr.) Also, there really needs to be an Instagram hashtag and Pinterest board IFTTT recipe. Still, I've got the gallery along with links to Iconosquare views of each hashtag search whence photos could easily be Pinned by the young ones.
Cultural Iceberg [image from OIC]

I have created additional hashtags since my return to break up some of the larger photo groups for cultural inquiry and description. For the accompanying activity ideas, I've tried to find a way to incorporate engagement with (1) communicative language and (2) elements of "Deep Culture" as depicted in The Cultural Iceberg, or at least points for comparisons and connections between target and home cultures. Apart from the signs, most of the language will have to be language the students produce in response to the photos, but there

Letreros 30
The language is already built in in most of these photos (I could not resist the toilet paper one): interpretation is a given.

The interpretation accomplished, this group is most useful for analyzing ideals (e.g. courtesy, tastiness), but also attitudes toward things like school and the environment. So these would go with two separate assignments:

  1. Create a Pinterest board called "Actitudes hacia _____" and select a topic you see reflected in at least four signs to fill in the blank. Pin at least 4 signs and explain--IN SPANISH--in your Pin descriptions what each sign indicates about Peruvian attitudes on that topic.
  2. Create a Pinterest board called "______ ideal"and select a topic you see reflected in at least four signs to fill in the blank. Pin at least 4 signs and explain--IN SPANISH--in your Pin descriptions what each sign indicates about Peruvian notions of ideal behavior, flavors, etc.

Escuela 22

There is some overlap with signs and with daily life in this category, which makes for a rich opportunity for comparison with the home culture, particularly with respect to concepts of identity for students as well as attitudes toward education. This comparison was very personal for the students experiencing it with me on the trip, and I think it could be if students imagine themselves in these photos. So this would also be an opinion assignment:

  1. Choose two photos that make you think you might like going to this school and two photos that make you think you might not like going to this school. Copy each into a Google Doc and explain--IN SPANISH--what you like in the first two and what you don't like in the last two. Summarize if you would prefer going to this school or your own and why.

Vida 29

Basically I grouped everything reflecting aspects of daily life here: religion, tradition, homes, transport, money. I'd like the reflection here to go deeper, requiring students to take pictures of their own to compare with these.

  1. Select three pictures from the group and copy them into a Google Drawing. Take three pictures in your own community that represent equivalent concepts (e.g. soles with dólares) Label each picture in Spanish and describe in Spanish a significant difference and similarity you see in each.

Mercado 20

I found two things fascinating about the markets in Peru: what was offered and how. In a different way than the menus, the market wares show ideals of flavor and diet.

  1. Plan a meal that you think someone from Peru would enjoy using ingredients from at least four different pictures. Describe your meal in Spanish as it might appear in a fancy menu.
  2. Make a shopping list of at least ten things you would like to try from the markets; explain in Spanish why you want to try them.

Comida 43

I have two kinds of food represented: traditional and "borrowed." There are also a few photos of unique preparation methods.

  1. Create a Pinterest board called "Comida americana," and pick out the photos that represent food that has crossed over from American culture. In the Pin descriptions, describe--IN SPANISH--at least one similarity between what they offer and what we offer and at least one difference.
  2. Create step-by-step instructions IN SPANISH for preparing pachamanco, with one step per photo of the process. 
  3. Create a Venn diagram in Google Drawing using at least 3 circles and at least 10 photos. Each circle should have a different ingredient or flavor in Spanish. Based on the photo descriptions, sort the 10 photos into the Venn diagram.

Platos 17

I set up an Instagram account specifically for this trip, so I HAD to take food pictures. I took a lot. I had to separate out whole meal plates (often from buffets) from the individual foodstuffs.

  1. Create a restaurant menu using 10 of the photos, describing in Spanish what is offered on each plate and how it tastes.
  2. Sort all of the photos into four columns in a Google Drawing: desayuno, almuerzo, cena, and postre. Describe in Spanish some typical elements of each meal in Peru.

Arte 39

This category is all about the ideals of beauty: what is/was pleasing to Peruvian eyes? I'd like for them to notice the differences between pre-Colombian styles and colonial styles.

  1. Copy three photos representing similar artworks into a Google Doc. Describe in Spanish what the pieces have in common and what you think this could tell you about what the culture they represent considers beautiful.
  2. Copy three photos representing DIFFERENT art styles into a Google Doc. Describe in Spanish what makes the pieces different and what you think this could tell you about what the culture(s) they represent consider(s) beautiful.

Ciudad 13

I had to divide up the really ancient sites and the everyday stuff around town--as well as the broader vistas of the cities. I saw a LOT of sites. The city shots, I think, give a nice feel for what just BEING in Peru was like. So I have one question, and I think I'd like the young ones to talk this out:

  1. Do you want to visit Peru? Create an Adobe Voice video with at least 10 of the photos describing--IN SPANISH--something you can tell about what Peru is like from each photo. Record one line plus a simple statement about whether you want to go or not with each photo.

Ruinas 32

Mostly I want them to just marvel at these views. Granted, it's much less impressive when it's not surrounding you, but I want to tap into a little creativity here too, maybe tapping into some possible societal roles:

  1. Compose a 10-line poem in Spanish about life in one of these cities. Select at least one photo and combine it with your poem.
  2. Create wanted ads in Spanish for at least 3 jobs that you imagine would need to take place in these cities.

Colonial 20

We could talk about beauty here again, but there's also something to be observed about attitudes toward death, time, and religion that shine through just based on what was preserved since this time period.

  1. Choose 10 photos to create an Adobe Voice video. For each photo describe what you see and why you think it is/was important enough in the colonial culture of Peru to still exist.

Sitios 37

We could approach this one the same way as the ciudades, but there's even more variety here.

  1. Create a tourism ad in Spanish--either a video or a poster--incorporating at least 5 photos: convince people to come to Peru.
I do hope the ones they're convincing will be themselves.

09 July 2015

Survival Spanish for Novice Conversation Abroad

I am officially unofficially a translator!
But students shouldn't have to be to communicate abroad.
Not everyone will need to describe the symbolism of an Incan king’s portrait in the Palacio del Gobierno or how two soldiers died defending the president in 1999 in the same room where they were later immortalized. I mean I did. Tour guide translating was the ultimate pop quiz, let me tell you.

But for the kids with me, I feel like it was more of a bad dream where you show up naked to the final for a class you'd never been to.

In Peru, I talked with tour guides and ten-year-olds, parents and pre-schoolers. The truth is, most of them spoke English as well as I spoke Spanish (otherwise why would they be working with tourists and hosting students from North Carolina?) But they indulged me. Me, I'm probably at least advanced in Spanish, having demonstrated my ability to carry on conversations on travel, food, gun control, early childhood educational goals, not to mention fulfilling my duties as an unofficial official tour guide interpreter. It took me almost 10 years to get here, though. My kiddos are NOT going to wait that long to be able to say something useful.

They shouldn't wait that long.

My Peru students who had taken Spanish before the trip felt completely ripped off. All they really needed when they were finally actually traveling TO a Spanish-speaking country was the ability to COMMUNICATE. One student said, "If they write down what they're saying, I'm good, I can read it, and I can write back. But talking?" Others said they could conjugate "and that's about it." Another would frequently dig around in her brain and come up with some essential verbs and cognates to put together into something comprehensible: a couple picked up on her lead by the end.

At the end of the trip, I informally surveyed my group, and every single kid agreed on one thing: they needed conversational practice.

Now, six-year-olds can get by on a few nouns and commands, buthe adolescent conversational range is somewhat more sophisticated and necessarily extends beyond Novice Low--but not necessarily much beyond novice. So based on my own impromptu schoolyard/bus ride chats--and the English classes who interviewed me to practice THEIR target language--I came up with a basic list of topics the young ones would need to be able to ask and answer questions on by the end of Spanish I to DO something in another country.

Numbers, dates, and days
The first thing just about everyone wanted to know was how long we'd been there and when we were leaving. Our kids need a good handle on those questions and possible responses.

Age and origin (and travel history)
They want to know how old you are (I guess I could have lied) and where you're from. They want to tell you how old they are and where they are from too. Everybody is looking for common ground, so they might plumb a little further to see where you've traveled and and they've traveled in hopes of finding an intersection.

My kids could find them a baño, I tell you what (although the signs all said S.S.H.H.) What they couldn't find was their way home in a taxi without a handwritten note or text from their host family. Oh, who am I kidding. I couldn't get us home, but that's my own spatial shortcomings. Or if they wanted to find the cheap llama keychains in Pisaq or the classroom where their amigos were stuck for another half hour, they were darned lucky they could usually find someone who spoke some English. Some remembered izquierda, but we had a big debate getting on the train about derecho vs. derecha (and dereche??? None of these kids were in my class.) Cuadras would probably come in handy as well as some key landmark-type vocabulary.

Seriously. Pretty much all one class wanted to ask me was, "Have you tried...?" over and over and over. They were genuinely curious and eager to encourage me to experience their favorites. They suggested restaurants but didn't get too specific beyond naming their favorite dishes (ceviche, hands down--convinced me to give it a second shot after getting really sick on it in Mexico years ago) and food styles (I never got around to trying chifa. Maybe next time.)

THIS is how REAL cultural exchange happens. And maybe a hot date 100% innocent and respectful date, who knows?

Hobbies and favorites
Travel is about making connections! Of course you have to have something to discuss on your innocent and respectful date, and of course it comes back to finding common ground. HINT: memorize your own favorites, because it's hard to think of your favorite book or movie in a foreign country. Talk about what you do when you're not in school (you know, your passion).

Now, culturally speaking I myself could have used more fluency in soles, Celsius, and kilometers, and perhaps Peruvian tipping practices. I also had to learn a little Peruvian vocabulary on the fly (there are no casacas or chompas in Mexico! Not that I needed them myself, even though it was winter...roche and chusco were completely new, too, and I finally found out that lapiceros are plumas.) Overall, though, I think I aced my two-week quiz.

And with these conversational topics, I think next year's Peru trip might at least feel like they've got their pants on during the exam.