28 February 2015

Free PD: Twitter Takeaways from #SWCOLT15 and #FLENJ15

I attended two amazing conferences this weekend without getting out of bed! (I mean, I got up for lunch and all, but you get my point.)

While there is no substitute for absorbing the good will and affection of people you admire and hope to emulate, there is something to be said for getting those people to distill the best parts of what they're learning when you can't all be together!

As the kids say, MAD PROPS to @dr_dmd (Monsieur California ToY), @tmsaue1 (Herr Keynote Speaker), and @miprofeAP (Señora ACTFL ToY) for keeping the rest of us looped in on a lot of the good stuff at SWCOLT 15.

Here's what I've gleaned so far:
Thomas Sauer makes us angry with questions without answers, Don Doehla inspires authentic learning with PBL, brain-based learning and growth mindset

Looks like I'll have more learning to do tomorrow too!
Almost missed some great ideas on airtight lessons from Laura Terrill! Thanks to Herr Sauer, the awesome Sra. Parker and Madame la nouvelle ToY de ACTFL Naditz I didn't!

Now, more PROPZZ for @L_Scheller_BIE and @SrtaNRodriguez--even tweeting from her OWN session (which I desperately wish I was in) for filling us in on FLENJ 15.

Here's what I got out of the #FLENJ15 tweets:
Silvia Tolisano brings the world to you, Noemi Rodriguez breaks down movie talk procedures, Kathy Stotler encourages authentic and appropriate interpretation, Dana Pilla gets what's coming to her, and Stephen Krashen talks turkey on motivation

Now, my own regional conference is next week! But, alas, between ACTFL 14 and readying for my first trip to Peru in June (yay Sister Cities!), my travel funds are taxed to their limits.

So Carmen and Clarissa, I'm counting on you guys for more free PD!

25 February 2015

Muy talentoso: a PBL/TCI story

It's almost time to gear up for the Lenoir-Rhyne Language Festival! In Spanish I last year, my kiddos selected two songs, developed dances and costumes, created maracas with water bottles and duct tape, and performed a mashup of "La Bamba" and "Danza Kuduro." They also got a lot of great ideas on what they wanted to do this year.

Since they are wise old Spanish II students now, I'm opening up the dance floor, so to speak. There are four different competitions at the festival:
  • poetry recitation
  • cultural bee
  • song
  • skit
I'm working on a stations-based entry event to give them a taste of each before they choose their event, but in the meantime, I want to reinforce some essential verbs (puede, hace, and hay) and vocabulary they'll need to discuss their plans.

I had a hard time finding my twist on the competition topic, but I think I got it (think: America's Got Talent) And I finally managed to stick to my One Word when I wrote the story! Also, I think I'm getting the hang of setting up enough freedom through simple questioning a la Martina Bex (I think seeing Mme Wendy's example helped me grasp the simple approach a lot better too).

So once again, I made a story form to preview the story and get some student input, especially since I think I finally got the story structured in such a way that there is room for fun suggestions.

Also: I had students print it out before they left today, in case we actually get 8" of snow instead of 8" of rain. That's right: story form snow day plan!

I think I'm getting the hang of the storyasking, and if you don't believe me, check out my previous TPRS/TCI attempts:
Mucha basura
El mejor invento
Libros son buenos

18 February 2015

We Don't Need Another Hero

Teachers don't need another hero,
but we do need teacher leaders. (Tina Turner photo)
"...Or you can close the door and subvert."

This was one of the options that was offered in my Methods of Teaching High School English class over a decade ago. It seemed like kind of a heroic option at the time, kind of romantic, being a maverick (before that became political code) doing what you believed in, status quo be...darned.

Truthfully, it might be a route I'd consider if I hadn't been empowered by becoming a department of one halfway through my career. I mean, I'm not above a little subversion here and there, don't get me wrong. But the closing the door. It's just not an option anymore.

I remember being a little freaked at the prospect of Bill Gates invading my classroom with galvanic bracelets on every kid to monitor engagement a few years back. I mean, dang! Let me do my job! On the other hand, I myself have all but required students to record me in action so they can use my target language instructions on e-portfolios. So Big Brother and I, we have a sort of on-again-off-again thing when it comes to my classroom.

But for teachers? Mi clase es su clase.

For those three years of National Board strife, what I wouldn't have given to see ONE NBCT language teacher in action--ONE! I was doing everything wrong, but I had no idea how to do it right! The last language teacher's class I got to sit in on then was one trying to show me how classroom management was done. Oh, her kids were quiet. Quiet and glassy-eyed going over conjugation drills.

So if anyone can learn from my mistakes--or my successes--take what you can and welcome!

Teachers need to be teacher leaders because sometimes we all need to be led. We need to help each other fill in the gaps, to understand what we're missing. We don't need some golden Freedom Writer who can do no wrong to light our way. We need to see how to get back up from people who HAVE gotten back up. It is as important to keep going, to lead by example for our colleagues as it is for our students. We are in the same boat, and we can count on people who are swabbing the same decks.

Now I have been fortunate to find a district where teacher leaders are recognized and offered opportunities to be more and do more--and to return the favor to their colleagues. How great is it to have an excuse to get together with some of the finest minds around to talk turkey and play with cool toys? But we don't just take our toys to our rooms and close the door. We gather tools that we can share with our students and our colleagues back home--and ideas on how to share them.

I personally am of the opinion that all teachers who care about the direction of education and the kids in front of us each day, we all must be teacher leaders. In fact, we must OPEN the door and subvert. We must share what works and how to make things better every chance we get! And we must do this not with guns a-blazing, but with open minds and open hearts. We must observe the needs we can see in our own schools and collect data to shed light on those needs--and listen before we propose plans of attack. We must share our successes and reflect on failures and be as open as possible about both!

In fact, we need to be like this dancing guy:

Teachers, we don't need another hero, but we do need to keep moving forward, and we need each other--we need dancing guys--to do it.

Leadership also means collaboration with great minds, and it was a privilege and a joy to work with other Pinnacle leaders @@thomasson_engl@jkylewood, and @JaclynLeaTant  (who needs to get on Twitter more) to answer Shark's questions!

15 February 2015

Chewing Your Battles

Students need nourishment, and they rely on us to provide
time, techniques, and sustenance 
their budding palates can handle
In my quest to include everything as a baby teacher, I made it impossible to keep up with...well, anything. I constantly bit off more than I could chew instructionally speaking. And goodness knows if couldn't chew it with my baby teacher teeth, my poor little students' gums certainly were no match for all of the assessments and activities and "content" I was trying to cram down their throats.

I made it impossible for me to keep up with grades and impossible for them to ever really LEARN anything. If I put it on their plate, they were supposed to magically absorb it, however it is that stuff gets digested. I fed them. It was up to them to eat it, right? But then my paperwork would pile up like dirty dishes as I just kept serving more and more.

The Battlefield
Now I have always been of the Choose-Your-Battles school of pedagogy, but what I haven't always been is careful with the battles I chose. As I reach teacherly adolescence, however, I have started to learn to pick what is important--what is really important--and to cover those battles from every angle I could. No more throwing myself into grandiose unit plans because I can and because it looks like fun to me. Man, when I think of the WEEKS and MONTHS of my life wasted wondering why my idea of fun never really seemed to be fun when it came to execution...

Well, "no more" is a bit optimistic. I mean, I did it again just this school year. I was all gung ho about Film & Lit last semester, and I really kept the precise students I would have in front of me in mind when I was dreaming up the texts we'd use. But still, when they were right there, right in front of me, I was still trying to test new strategies without SEEING the sources of my students' struggle. 

There is, it seems, such a thing as relying too much on theory and research and too little on those young people sharing the same room with you daily.

Hunger and Portion Sizes
"What are you doing?" My principal was all but tapping her foot at me like an impatient parent waiting for the kid to clean up the mud she'd been warned not to track into the house a thousand times. "What are you doing with them that you have got to STOP?" 

I stared around blankly a moment, not seeing any mud.

But then it appeared.

Research says we need to offer students choice, autonomy, a reason to buy in to what we're selling, and I had spent the last two years with the same group of kids, baffled as to why the heaping helpings of this all-powerful panacea didn't seem to be solving anything. I was frustrated, they were frustrated, and we were all still hungry.

As a Spanglish teacher, I have often found ways that my English teaching background could inform and improve my Spanish teaching, but this time it worked in reverse. In that moment of parental principal scolding, my language acquisition training smacked me upside the head. It was their affective filter! If there is anyone out there who honestly believes that second languages are the only discipline where lack of confidence or acceptance can throw up mental blocks, then I have news for you. 

These high school seniors were not gulping down the platefuls of choice I laid out before them because they didn't believe they could do it

That final project to tie everything together in a fun way? They weren't worried about expressing themselves creatively or getting to play instead of write: they were worried they couldn't do a video project successfully. I mean, kudos to them that they felt like they had a good shot at success with another five-page paper--and kudos to me, because that's not how they felt at the beginning of the semester! But all the fun in the world couldn't make them want to do something they couldn't handle.

When my daughter was a baby, I could have smeared the sweet potatoes she loved so much all over a steak, but she could never have swallowed the thing! Likewise my seniors simply didn't see how they could digest that project--at first.

Baby Teeth, Blenders, and Steak Knives
Since my students didn't have the confidence that they could fulfill the expectations I set before them, it fell to me to make them believe what I believed, and to cut their task up into smaller, nonthreatening bites. I knew they had been cutting teeth over the past couple of months--years, even--so I knew they could eat this steak, and that it would do them good. I also knew that they didn't know how to handle a steak knife and that I was not about to keep feeding them formula. Oh sure, formula was great when we were doing little blogging exercises when they were wise fools, but they're bigger and stronger now and need more out of a main course.

I was ready to puree that steak if I had to.

Instead, though, I just cut it for them and set deadlines for different parts of the project, like scripts for each scene, timed rehearsals, recording sessions, and editing.

See, if your students don't know how to handle a knife, there's nothing wrong with you cutting their food for them for a while so they don't choke. Of course, eventually they'll have to handle their own silverware, so be sure to work in chances for them to plan the course of their own long-term projects and collaborations. Don't spend all of your time holding a bottle when you can shop for other healthy input that they can gnaw on themselves. And give them a knife when you're sure they're ready--and you are! (My three-year-old still hands me the bread knives in restaurants, and I'm okay with that.)

So here's what we must remember when we are chewing our battles:
  1. Students need time to develop their academic teeth, so don't give them tasks they're not equipped to handle.
  2. Give students the chance to try new tasks, so their development is not stunted by a lack of variety.
  3. But provide enough support--be it steak knife or blender--to ensure they get what they need from each task.
And always chew your battles wisely.

12 February 2015

EDPuzzle and Integrated Performance Assessment

My first EDPuzzle IPA mashup went pretty smoothly this week. I think it really helped students break down the listening into manageable chunks to make the overall task approachable. I'm also really glad that I chose to add in my little summary audio commentary at various intervals because students were still exposed to a speedy Spaniard, but they also had something that gave them a foothold on the task.

Now for each segment, I not only had my summary comment, I had 2 open-ended question slots: one for a question to see how well they got the main idea, and one for kids to show what they know by picking out whatever words they could hear and telling me what they mean.

First of all, this progress tracking feature is super cool:
Notice nobody was finished watching, but I could tell who hadn't even started because they weren't pink yet! So I'd saunter over, make sure their computer's starting right, they followed the log-in instructions...and that they're not trying to do last Monday's homework instead. If you have multiple choice questions, it'll even tell you how well they're doing on this page: HelpGood, or Excellent! 

Then after the assessment is complete, the grading's pretty simple.
Check out how it collapses the ones you've graded! And you have all of the answers to the same question together for quick comparison!

There's a comment spot under each answer, and then you click the check mark if the answer is good, the X if it's not. This is tricky, since I'm grading IPAs holistically using the AAPPL interpretive rubric. Do I put a check mark only if they reach the desired level? Do I put an X if they interpret anything at all inaccurately?

I decided since the rubric is really where the grade will be, then the X should only communicate if A) they didn't tell me what the words they listed actually MEAN in English to prove they UNDERSTOOD or B) they were WAY off with their interpretation or missing essential components of it. Aside from that, I jotted a note or two in the comment to explain the problem if they were close or to clarify false cognates, i.e. lectura.
As for the time to grade, it took me a little half an hour to go through each question and list of things they understood by the second class, and then around another half hour to compare to the rubric. Notice how once I did grade them, it sorted them into HelpGood, or Excellent! for me. With my quick color-coded analysis, I guessed the "Good" would be my N1s (since I did give them a check mark if they weren't WRONG) and those in the 92% range within  Excellent! would be my N2s.  To evaluate more carefully, I did go ahead and click on their breakdowns--which are SUPER cool:
Notice how you can see how many times they rewatched! This will come in handy when we start breaking intermediate ground! The "Next Student" button above their breakdown was also a godsend.

I looked at my notes where I had indicated problems as well as the frequency of phrases and sentences in their responses (HINT: definitely make note of how many phrases/sentences you see when you are commenting) and compared to the AAPPL rubric for the final analysis. Overall, the color coding was not terribly accurate for my purposes, as most of the 92's were actually N1 (though one was N3), and several of the 100s were N2.

Everyone (who didn't have computer issues) was able to answer all 6 questions for a 2-minute video --plus maybe another minute of my audio commentary--within an hour. Some finished as quickly as 30 minutes in (HINT: this is where personal goal and portfolio assignments come in handy, so they can keep productive while they wait for their project partners for the interpersonal step.) In retrospect, I think 6 questions was a bit much for the first attempt for novices, and along with my audio comments, it really stretched out the video to a longer text than they are prepared to deal with efficiently, so I might aim for 1 1/2 minutes and 4 questions next time.

I have also asked the PHENOMENAL EDPuzzle staff how students could potentially display their answers for their e-portfolios. A screenshot of their results might do for now, but how cool would it be if the answers could show at the different intervals just like they did when they were answering the questions? Fast-forwarding and skipping would be essential for display purposes, though.

One thing I know for sure from this assessment, though, is we need to do more listening exercises with authentic texts. Even my Novice Highs and Intermediates were a bit blown away by the accent and the speed. I did not have nearly as many kids consistently Novice Mid as I would have liked at the end of the first 6 weeks, but I think I could also increase their success by selecting the IPA video before writing the unit TPRS story to make sure that essential vocabulary is also repeated several times in my voice--and their voice--too.

10 February 2015

Coro Roulette Process: Novice High/Intermediate Bellringer

My students will be singing songs from our coro starters for years to come (some proved today they still have "1977" stuck in their head from over a year ago!) The activity has proven to be hands-down THE most popular part of Spanish class, but it needed a little reworking to build proficiency beyond the Novice Mid level.

I have decided to mix up how I group the ruleta for each week. Last week I picked 3 songs from Mexican artists, making sure I got un cantante, una cantante, and un grupo. This week, I picked 3 groups (one all-female, one all male, and one mixed) from three different countries. Next week it's all Spain, the week after--guy singers from around the world, and so on and so forth with different countries, female singers, and probably another group week and an international collaborations week (Enrique, anybody?).

Of course the foremost rule is catchiness, and beyond that, enough familiar vocabulary. Otherwise it breaks down like this:
  • one country: boy, girl, group
  • three countries: boy, girl, OR group

I make three a handout for students and SMARTboard slides for each week. The first slide has the 3 lyrics, 3 titles, and 3 artists' names:
I substituted country clipart for screenshots from the video for artists this week, but I'm still trying to think of other ways to fit both.

The second just involves changing out the artists' pictures/names each week:
I've included some ideas for sentence starters for the Describe, Responde, and Decide portions of the conversation to get them warmed up, at least the first few times around, and then I keep tally of the votes at the top.

Finally, I have an instruction page for the line-by-line interpretation/presentation. 

So far we've only used AdobeVoice--which is free and AMAZING--to make mini videos, but in the future, I hope to do some app smashing, perhaps with Toondoo and Chatterpix or maybe a VoiceThread with videos of their different steps (I KNOW! Videos in VOICETHREAD! Who knew?) and lines sung in comments.

For the student handout, I leave blanks for artist, title, and country. There's also some space for making notes on unfamiliar vocabulary, room to write a descriptor (list of good/neutral/bad adjectives provided) for each element of the song (rhythm, melody, lyrics, topic, feeling, instruments).  

There are also boxes for Day 2 to write down opinions and Day 3 to write down a summary. 
Then I just swap out the chorus lyrics each week--though I have toyed with the idea of putting screenshots of the videos at the top, too.

Procedure Day-by-Day

Day 1: Describe
  • Listen to each chorus, placing the title and the artist with the right lyrics 
  • Highlight ALL familiar vocabulary in each, make notes on remaining words needed to interpret 
  • Describe each by element of each chorus (using descriptors provided on the worksheet): 

Day 2: Discuss
  • Describe your favorite to your partner giving at least one reason. 
  • Respond to your partner's choice (with agreement/disagreement plus a different reason) 
  • Decide on which chorus your group will vote for and write down 2 reasons 
  • Each group voices their vote and must give a unique reason for their vote to be counted. 
  • Listen to the winning coro together and repeat with class 

Day 3: Present
  • Listen to the winning coro together and repeat with class 
  • Summarize the overall meaning 
  • Create a recording that includes a visual demonstration of the meaning (video, storyboard, dance steps)

08 February 2015

Libros para Amiguitos: Novice Mid/High IPA #2

I assessed my students' proficiency in interpretive reading, interpersonal speaking, and presentational writing earlier in the semester with their first Integrated Performance Assessment. I think we're all feeling pretty good about their reading about now (although some need a little work on their portfolio evidence still), so I'm switching out reading for listening, which was one factor that made my hunt for authentic resources a little trickier. The other factor was the stage where they are in their project.

Selecting Materials
At this point, after a solid week of working on their projects with whatever book/books they're using, it would be pretty unfair to introduce my kiddos to find even more perfect books. However, it would help to make sure that they're including what kids need to succeed in learning to read in Spanish. Finding a video on that topic was tricky, and especially one with level-appropriate language in small enough chunks. I went through several, but landed on this one:

Interpretive Listening
I'm especially excited about the listening component this time, because during our last app smackdown for Pinnacle, my amiga Shelley introduced us to EDPuzzle--the perfect tool for demonstrating listening comprehension! Not only can I insert questions throughout the video, so the listening task is divided appropriately for my novices, but I could add audio notes too to help differentiate for those barely in the Novice Mid range, so I could differentiate a bit guarantee that everyone would have something in Spanish they could piece together, while still being exposed to language from a native speaker for native speakers!

I posted six questions using EDPuzzle (whose support staff is AMAZING by the way--ask and ye shall receive--even on the weekend!) at key junctures throughout the video and also a spot to list words and phrases students were able to catch--either from my audio notes or the speaker. (I DO love how the IPA format gives credit for what you know, rather than penalizing for not reading minds!) We'll review the differences between levels we discussed with interpretive reading beforehand so students will remember to string together as much as they can. The last question also kind of ties together the overall meaning, for those aiming for Novice High or Intermediate Low this time.

Interpersonal Speaking/Listening
As before, students will be submitting 1-3 minute videos of them talking with their partners about what they interpreted and relating it to their own projects. (Still emphasizing recommended Essential Verbs too)

1. With your partner, explain one tip Consuelo Cuevas says you CAN do that will make kids LIKE books.
2. Explain if you HAVE this element in your project already or what you WANT to do to incorporate it.
3. Express agreement with your partner's ideas or other suggestions you CAN do.

Presentational Writing
Think about how you want your final product for the Amiguitos project to end up. Create an ad (in Canva or Google Drawings) to convince parents how your completed project CAN help their children WANT to read.

I'm eager to see how EDPuzzle works for them and to see how they have progressed in the last couple of weeks, so of course I'll update soon!

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.

03 February 2015

Magic in Making Do: Collaborating close by

"Nothing up my sleeve! And..presto!"
I thought there could be nothing more magical for my students than real-time video chats with real live teenagers in Spain and Argentina. School schedules and time zones actually create more distance than geography these days, however, so sometimes we have to make do.

Maybe it's with an elementary school down the road. Maybe it's just between the class that meets before lunch and the class that meets after after. I mean, first and third period is not exactly a Meeting of Two Worlds type experience.

But there is still magic.

Mixed-Class Groups
I really like letting students choose their groups for PBL projects. I want kiddos to come together based on a shared vision. I mean, I know the end-product is not their sole criterion in selecting partners, and may actually factor in very little. But by letting kids choose who they work with, they already have a sort of built-in agreement that they WILL get along with these people, if only because they can all agree they want to make a music video. Or if it's because they are already planning to make their future kids go to the same pre-schools decades from now. Either way, I get buy-in.

I have a neat new wrinkle to this approach this semester too. As an early college, we got a seat time waiver for our kiddos, so Fridays are reserved for remediation, volunteering, and general enrichment. I get my Spanish II kiddos for 3 hours most Fridays! Sometimes we're out in the community, and my science amigo has cool stuff he wants them to do too, so it's not 3 hours of PURE Spanish delight, but it's cool. And it means we have time for groups from both classes to meet almost weekly.

But what to do the rest of the week?

Amigo E-mails
I've not had great luck with contracts in the past, mostly because things change. Things come up that neither the kiddos nor I would have thought of because they're blazing new trails, for goodness' sake. SO the mixed groups are kind of a blessing in that in order to progress, group members constantly HAVE to update each other to move forward. So they have to acknowledge each other's progress, apprise their compadres of their own progress and future plans, and make any requests in writing.

"linking rings" from johnny_automatic on openclipart.org
After trying a "just e-mail everyone and CC me" approach, I decided to create one email for all to respond to. If I were starting over, I'd send it with the instructions, but as it is, I took all of the CC'ed emails, pasted them in one email, and did the highlighting trick I picked up from Colleen (spelling, form, wrong word) to send them all under a uniform subject line with all group members' names I could find easily in my inbox--just be sure everyone hits REPLY ALL!

I'm also having each group submit one product a day each period. They decided their products early in the process, and made sure they had at least one interpersonal product, one presentational speaking product, and one presentational writing product (and maybe an interpretive product if the task required). Now, I made a Google Classroom assignment for the first product, but then a confused kiddo had a random idea that seemed even better: attach the product to the update e-mail! Maximum sharing!

Elementary Spanish Partners
We've worked ESL classes before and elementary amigos in Colombia before, and my Big Mature High School Kids are always in love with the little ones. And they feel a lot more confident dealing with people that are more inclined to worship than judge them. It was a stroke of pure luck that my amiga is close enough to arrange a field trip to really seal the public audience deal at the end of our Amiguitos reading project. And while her kiddos are still learning the language rather than mini Target Culture emissaries, this is proving even MORE useful for my novices too! Now not only can I discourage dictionary and translator dependence, there's a very real reason to stick to familiar vocabulary! They really have to reinforce their OWN knowledge to be understood, whether it's in their intro videos or VoiceThread surveys! They're learning more about their own learning by being sensitive to their amiguitos'!