08 August 2016

HOW and WHY? The Most Essential Essential Questions for Spanish I EVER

Spanish I is going to be one big PBL project this year, all leading up to the answers to the biggest driving question in any novice Spanish class:

Spanish: HOW and WHY?

In fact, forget "Spanish I" or even "Novice Spanish:--this is the new title for our students' first official step into language learning at my school.

I've broken this big driving question down into 5 essential questions to guide each unit along the way. I had been using three distinct questions, primarily because my district breaks semesters down into six-week grading periods, but

  1. the driving questions were too big to handle in a reasonable amount of steps for novices and
  2. my training for teaching online Spanish III course recommended 5-8 units, and I just liked how the progression worked!
So here are the questions that are going to guide my Spanish I courses this year:

Subtitle: Metacognition to the Max. This is my excuse to break out the proficiency babies and explicitly talk about modes of communication and what they mean for each kiddo in my classroom. Note the title is not "How do I WANT to use Spanish?" or "How CAN I use Spanish?" My kiddos are going to have to decide what they will actually follow through and KEEP doing with Spanish. 

So really, we're still starting with passion, but in a way that 1) allows me to introduce self-selected homework and get them well and truly enticed,  2) provides context for students to observe first-hand how input affects their language development, and 3) give me an excuse to show them all the cool things they can do with Spanish! Also, it's an excellent excuse to set up blog portfolios for documentation of their revelations.

I'm a little obsessed with Pokemon GO! My husband and I literally spend part of our date nights
taking over gyms now. It's good, clean, silly fun! I also know my students this year are largely avid gamers, so I get to tie in the Classcraft, the DuoLingo, Verba, and whatever games they're playing into awareness of what motivates them and how they can exploit that, not just to learn a language, but to learn anything new!

Call it Metacognition: The Revenge.

This question is a little situation-specific (yes, yes, I'm a big cheater who has awesome colleagues who seek me out for collaboration). However, I think it's one that A) lends itself really well to the grander scheme motivation question and B) ties in well with passions. In my opinion, the invention marketing project is easily one of the coolest things we do at my school because of the real-world applications, problem-solving, and interdisciplinariness that go into it. Not only that, but there are some highly comprehensible authentic texts out there.

Though this unit is not entirely new to my curriculum, the placement is. This will be roundabout the second six weeks--at least a month before students start on the Public Speaking portion of the project. I'm hoping to see some more targeted inventions here. This could also give us some time to get some 3-D printing action in for the product...

Here is where we begin to bring the passion together with the product with the Spanish-speaking community at large. Everyone will already have explored what resources were available in the target language on topics that interest them with Question #1. They may have even formed some marketing teams as they answered Question #2. 

Now they'll be able to connect problem-solving, market research, and community, a Spanish-speaking network, to make something cool. Basically, this is where they narrow down their passion and identify a problem to focus on. This was a WAY huge step that we just tried to smoosh into the invention marketing unit without giving it its own designated processing time.

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure that there will be any PBL-style presentations until this unit. I think most of the essential questions along the way can be answered in IPA format without necessarily seeking an outside audience to share findings with. I think that's a good thing. This way I can focus my attention on collecting community members for our grand Shark Tank proposal at the end and maybe lead up to a reflective-type IPA for the final "exam."

I have to tell you, I have spent the summer just stewing, with very little idea of where I would be headed this year. But when I got these essential questions talked out with my Pinnacle amigos last week? I knew how AND why I was going to move forward.

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