29 February 2016

Language Festival Competition: Two Projects, One Plan

The problem I have had with the the Language Festival unit in the past is keeping it communication-based and in the target language.

I mean, sure, we can win first place at a competition based exclusively on the presentational mode if we discuss and plan and research in English. And we can double our hardware take with some superficial planning routines built in like we did last year. But most of the planning still seemed to happen in the L1.

The problem I have in planning the communication is producing two completely different end-products but maintaining some semblance of coordination, some common language and procedures to synchronize progress as much as possible.

So how can I keep two projects on the same plan?

All together

The first thing the kiddos have got to do is decide: Will they act or sing?

Right now, early Google Classroom Question results are skewing heavily toward the song. But we are NOT going down without a skit! So I think I need to whet their whistles to facilitate the decision-making process.

Last year I used a subtitled video of the skit my first class to win first place put together for an IPA. To tell the truth, though, the vocabulary is a little above my little Spanish 2s' level, So I considered doing the same for our crowd-pleaser on Latin American monster stories from last year. However, the language is too simple for this year's group to be able to earn Intermediate--which is the goal this grading period.
¡El Chupacabra ataca!

So instead, I whipped up a little Nearpod for students to respond to both of last year's prize-winning performances, plus a fill-in-the-blank cloze activity with last year's skit script so we can work on a scene per day.

They'll need a little vocabulary about how to prepare a performance, so I picked out some words from a WikiHow article on exactly that, translated the judging criteria for our competition, and aligned them where I could. Then I scrambled up the criteria for the kiddos to sort and came up with six sentence starters for steps each group would have to take.

Group decisions

Then come the competition-specific decisions: what will the song be? What will the skit topic be?

Guitars beat kazoos any day though.
Because of our extensive work with coros this year and last, we don't need sampling stations to select our song. Right now it's between "Conexión espiritual", "Yo no fui", and "Te mueves tú" on the Classroom Question--with the right instruments, we could maybe even make it a medley (never underestimate the power of the kazoo).

As for the skit topic, another Classroom Question indicated most rather liked the superheroes idea I got from @alenord during a #langchat not too long ago. We still need a cultural angle, though. (Capitán Latinoamérica auditions? Cocinar con héroes?) We only got honorable mention when they tried to pick something topical that didn't really capture them, so it'll have to be good.

I want the whole class to have input, though, before we split up. When the group picks a song you hate, it dampens the joy of the experience. Best to go in with eyes wide open.


After much mental tossing and turning, I came up with six steps both groups could share, only with slight variations:

  1. Select (song or topic)
  2. Split up (by verse or scene)
  3. Interpret (lyrics or cultural information--research)
  4. Plan (your scene or your choreography)

5 and 6, though, are completely the same:

5. Collect/create props & costumes
6. Rehearse--alone, in groups, and all together

I will also still want to do a few whole-group activities, like a TPRS story and laying out our calendar. After the first rehearsal, a coaching vocabulary session will be the key to giving performance feedback without resorting to the L1. Plus we will probably have to have group progress discussions once a week, wherein I pull out scene/verse groups one by one to talk with me (a la Sra. Rhodes) while others rehearse.

Then they should have everything they need to succeed in the target language.

Now not only will each group have a solid plan to put on the best performance possible come festival time, but they will also be able to increase in their interpretive and interpersonal proficiency as they do so.


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