11 April 2016

Field Trip Talk: Can-Do Conversation Checklists

Whether you're going to a Mexican restaurant (we are) or participating in a foreign language competition (that too) or taking your kids on a mile-long walk with water jugs (#squadgoals), students can always engage in a little interpersonal exchange, as well as a little presentational reflection.

Last year I tried to make the field trip an IPA. That was a bit much.

So this year I decided to focus more on the width of the proficiency cone than the height, so to speak, and focus on ACTFL Can-Do statements instead of AAPPL rubrics.


1. Group Can-Dos

First I took the Novice Mid and Novice High speaking Can-Dos (I have every confidence that the two whole students who've shown they're ready to demonstrate intermediate in their portfolios will be able to figure out what they need to do to meet their objectives--there is plenty of overlap), and I grouped them into phases of conversation:

  • Making Friends
  • The Field Trip Experience
  • Keeping in Touch

2. Sort prepared list of relevant questions

Preguntas para hacer amigos
Then I prepared a list of possible questions that would fulfill those Can-Dos, scrambled 'em up, and had the kiddos sort them into the three aforementioned Can-Do groups (before I let them see my groups, and definitely before they glued the questions into their notebooks).

We took the sorting pretty quickly to get in more rehearsal time, but if I had started the process sooner--say before spring break--we would have spent more time discussing what questions went where and why, perhaps with a Nearpod breakdown of each category.

3. Check the checklist

Then I gave them a master list of questions they could take with them--with ALL of the Can-Dos in their Can-Do categories and ALL of the questions.

In English.

I had them go through the list without their notes and star the questions they thought they could say in Spanish. Then we compared to their notes and went through the English list as they repeated the Spanish version of the question after me.

4. Practice with the checklist

We'll be doing a cross between "speed friending" a Sra.Toth's Yellow Brick Road (without the yellow bricks, probably). My kiddos will line up with some of the kiddos an amiga from another school is bringing and talk to each kid they can for 60 seconds, getting as many questions in as they can.

So we practiced our own speed friending. And then we'll practice with partners. And then we'll practice with different questions. And then we'll practice with different scenarios. And then we'll practice some more.

But they can only look at the English list they've starred up, so they have to produce the L2 off the top of their heads--BUT they can focus on what they're confident with OR what they need to work on.

5. Collect evidence

When it comes to portfolios, one of those essential Spanish class sentences that is right up there with "¿Cómo se dice?" and "¿Puedo usar el baño?" has got to be "¿Puedo grabar?" These will be quick 60-second, three-question recordings that they can edit together or delete entirely after they've gotten what they needed. And, just to keep things 

Adapting the questions

I designed festival-specific questions, but really you can substitute experience-specific details for the parts I bolded in each:
  1. ¿Cuál es la mejor parte del festival (de trabajar en un restaurante/ para ti?
  2. ¿Qué acto es el mejor del festival?
  3. ¿Qué parte del festival no te gusta y por qué?
  4. ¿Cómo preparan una presentación como su acto?
  5. ¿Qué parte de su presentación es la más difícil?
  6. ¿Qué has aprendido de otros actos aquí en el festival?
  7. ¿Cómo haces tu baile?
So the bold details could be switched out for the restaurant--or water walk--scenarios like this:
  1. trabajar en un restaurante
    tener acceso fácil a agua todo el tiempo
  2. plato en el restaurante
    uso de agua en tu casa
  3. trabajar en un restaurante
    caminar para agua
  4. tu plato favorito
    para usar agua para bañar o cocinar en países sin acceso en la casa
  5. trabajo
    no tener acceso al agua en casa
  6. empleados en el restaurante
    la caminata con agua
  7. trabajo normalmente
    para ayudar a personas sin acceso al agua

This way if someone A) doesn't get enough evidence for the next round of portfolios during speed friending, or B) is feeling friendly, or C) has a particularly cruel Spanish teacher watching their every mouthful at the restaurant making sure they're maintaining the target language, they can simply use the same format and vary their details. Voila!

Presentational Follow-up

I also took the Novice Mid and High writing Can-Dos and mashed them up into two sets of reflective assignments from which the young ones may choose, depending on their current portfolio levels.

Novice Mids will label a map of the campus where we'll be competing with things that happened at the festival. Novice Highs (and the small handful of intermediates) will write brief thank you cards to their group members, naming contributions each one offered in the whole process. If you can't get your hands on a map of your field trip zone, have them make it! And in any good field trip, there will be someone who deserves a thank you note, right?

But the critical part that everyone will have to do--Novice OR Intermediate--is write up what they learned for the next generation. They will write a letter that includes:
  • what they have done that helped them prepare
  • qualities they have observed in winning (or losing) acts at the festival
  • recommendations for next year’s group to prepare
For non-competitive field trips, I would recommend recording simple observations and how they lined up with their expectations before the trip, but the rest is pretty much the same.

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