start the semester with passion projects. I end the semester with passion projects.
It brings a sort of unity to the whole semester and gives kids a sense of relevance, of purpose for the whole studying Spanish thing.
Now this does mean a little extra tap dancing on my part, especially at finals time, and especially if I'm going to ensure that the materials I'm using are appropriate and accurately reflect my students' actual progress.
1. Make a master list of general topics
First you've got to narrow down the topics, group them under umbrella topics where you can incorporate a little something for everyone.
2. Sort students' research
It really helps to go through their infographs they Pinned on their passion and maybe sort them into your own Pinterest boards you could share with potential helpers. Plus it refreshes you on what they know and gives you an idea for directions you could take the questions. For now, I just have all of the semester's passion infographs collected on this one Pinterest board, and I just collected the links to email:
Follow Laura Sexton - PBL in the TL's board Passion infographs 2015 on Pinterest.
3. Create a list of questions
From those topics and infographs, come up with some questions that will hit on what they've researched and actually like. Work in specifics where you can if they have an actual favorite singer, TV show, or vehicle type in mind--but that doesn't have to be every question. You can still work in a lot of basic vocabulary otherwise.
Here are some questions I have for the topics that I still need takers for (if you see one you could handle, comment, tweet me, email me, whateva! Showtime is next week!)
4. Enlist amigos
Then you've got to find some helpers. They should be fluent, but they don't have to be native speakers, not for novices. Intermediates who are ready for native speakers could just go ahead and use already existing authentic videos that you don't need to create. PS, they don't need to be experts either. They can just use the infographs to "brush up" or play clueless so they can "learn"!
I've found #langchat on Twitter and a Facebook group called Spanish Teachers in the US are the best places to find new helper amigos, but grad school buddies were also key resources.
PPS, I'm still looking for help!
5. Make recording arrangements
Now you have two choices: set up times to do Hangouts on Air with your helper amigos OR send them the questions so they can just make the videos for you.
I thought seeing my adorable visage would help lower my students' affective filter--you know, something familiar (and, of course, gorgeous in every way). I also thought that including questions would be ideal input to get them thinking about what they want to ask in their presentations. And also more familiarness (I know that's not a word, but I like it).
HOWEVER, if I just send the questions for my amigos to read into the conversation, I think my kiddos can do without the extra Sextonian decoration. Seeing a face, gestures, though--that's crucial stuff for baby parrots--otherwise I'd just set up a Google Voice system!
6. Collect and publish recordings
I sometimes go the Pinterest route when collecting videos, but since I'm using Hangouts for a lot of these, I've started a YouTube playlist (fortunately Chromebooks don't block such things from my account at school). I just move my Hangout on Air videos to the playlist and upload the videos my amigos send, and then post it to Classroom!
7. Set up task
Now, I can't get as detailed with all of these different videos as I did on other listening IPAs. That's where I draw the line on how much I have to do. BUT these are THE summative listening interpretation activity. And they're personally tailored to the kids' interests. I think it's fair to let them just pick out what they need, knowing it's on their topics. So the Google Doc looks basically like it did for the first reading IPA (plus the extra emphasis on supporting details for my budding-and-or-blossoming intermediates).
AND they get the whole playlist to choose from--as long as they indicate the video topic/title. The idea is to get them as comfortable as possible. So whatever they feel like they can handle, they've got something that fits their ability level, and they to feel like they have at least that much control in their own assessment.
Mind you, I shall be very disappointed if some of these videos I've gone to great pains to arrange go unused, but I daresay they'll still be useful to have around for future practice. So I am still getting something useful to help my students!
If you have any other ideas on how to streamline this process--or if I can include you in my conversation playlist--please drop me a line!