11 December 2016

Back to the Drawing Board: #ACTFL16 strategies

After iFLT this summer, I was ready to sprint back to the drawing board. I needed a good solid month to just sketch, doodle, redraw EVERYTYHING.

I got a week. And two completely new preps complete with two completely new LMS platforms.

So this year has been a bit of an unoutlined mess.

Now more recently, there were about three #ACTFL16 presentations that got me feeling that drawing board itch again, almost like iFLT. These were NOT tidbits I could try out Monday or sprinkle in in those moments when a few extra minutes magically appear before class ends. I have had to stop and ponder the innerworkings of my whole philosphy of teaching and language to find where these fit into, you know, EVERYTHING.

I mean, I could just whip out a random one-word image on a whim, or immediately abandon my current the IPA structure and AAPPL rubrics that my Spanish I kids have come to depend on, and dive right into a complete reformatting with Talk-Read-Talk-Write and TALK rubrics. But then I know I would be heaping on another helping of that same drifting chaos feeling that has made this semester seem so off already.

So here's a little doodling on how these strategies are starting to fit into my philosophy.

I've been intrigued by the one-word image since I saw Grant Boulanger and his imaginary Pikachu at #iFLT16. I didn't quite grasp how it worked at the time, but there is nothing quite like actually doing the activity to figure out it's inner-workings. Instead of actually doing it and creating the horse that Haiyun Lu tasked us with, I dragged my partner along analyzing how it was supposed to work. We figured out how the questions would go, and then got to hear other people's examples, so it was like we, you know, actually followed directions.

Now what I've been turning over and over in my head is how I can exploit this strategy in a PBL context. There have got to be certain words or types of words that could help equip students with language they'll need to use for their research or presentation, nouns that can enhance students' active vocabularies for researching, collaborating, creating, or presenting. The nouns themselves don't have to be what I'm trying to shoehorn into their active vocabulary--they probably should be recognizable words that students already understand so that I can come up with questions they can A) understand and B) actually answer.

It could be something like premio or guerrero to start the discussion on Classcraft privileges and characters. Maybe something like ejercicio or tiempo libre (that's kind a a compound word, right?) to get into the self-improvement unit or ayuda to get into the product pitch unit.

Of course this will involve further sketching and shading--like some actual questions I could ask to flesh out the "image." So expect more doodling on that topic.

Amy Lenord had piqued my curiosity about Talk Read Talk Write several months ago, but it was another concept I couldn't wrap my brain around until I was IN it. Having experienced it from the student end in Greta Lundgaard's session, I felt a lot more confident in my ability to inflict it on my kids--in a meaningful way.

Since ACTFL, I've been thinking about using this format to replace IPAs. I like how the process consists of two conversations instead of just one, and I think it could take a little pressure off the conversation side of assessment that led to tears almost immediately preceding my flight to Boston. And starting with a sort of philosophical question to set up the text could make the conversations more interesting to have to begin with and give the young ones a chance to warm up their mouths and brains before it's for the proverbial money.

Now Sra. Lundgaard also recommended Talk Read Talk Write as a once-in-a-great-while type activity, but after the IPA-induced tears, I was already thinking it might be time to apply my less-is-more philosophy to the number of assessments instead of relying on the reduced point values (10% instead of 20% of the grade for each) to reduce stress, so having just one TRTW scenario each grading period--maybe between the middle and the end--could also actually give them time to relax a little between assessments.

Since this summer's LangCamp book chats--and probably before--I've been fascinated by the idea of Rebecca Blouwolff's interpersonal bootcamp and the TALK rubric. Once again, I had to feel it to get it, even if I was the pretend teacher in the scenario instead of the student.

I have to say that one of the most powerful revelations for me in the session was Mme. Blouwolff's class setup for this assessment, and I really think it lends itself well to IPA (or TRTW) functioning--a way to take the front-of-the room pressure off, get more conversation done at once, and generally keep the class functioning!

I'm also contemplating a break from my beloved AAPPL rubrics because of this session--at least for interpersonal mode. On the one hand, I do want to have some sort of consistent evaluation with the N1-I5 scale. But on the other, I think "Target language use, Accuracy on specific structures, Listening and responding appropriately to peers, and Kindness in being an equal and inclusive conversation partner" are a lot more descriptive and provide more thorough scaffolding for meaningful interpersonal engagement. So I may end up using this as a pre-assessment assessment, kind of like an interpersonal "bridge quiz," as my genius grad school amiga (and SC Spanish ToY!) Sra. Stephanie always recommends.

So as you can see, my drawing board is still in a bit of an upheaval, but I will be doing more doodling throughout break.

And I will have a draft before Spanish II begins in January!

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