31 March 2016

#LangCamp Live Lives!

I am going to be SUPER busy this summer. Mexico, conferences, eight-year-old's Shakespeare Camp.

I don't think I can pull off another Google Hangout series like I did last year for #LangCamp Online.

Here's what I can offer, though:

  • an online book study
  • and a FACE-TO-FACE PLANNING!


Book Study

The LangCamp Google Community is always up and running, for anyone who has questions or resources to share. Plus Mlle. Sulewski and I have got about 20 people pumped for reading Keys to Planning for Learning after a particularly invigorating #CSCTFL16 session with Laura Terrill (and then another from Donna Clementi).

Our plan is to go chapter by chapter and

  • post our questions as we go 
  • post ideas and inspirations as we go
  • set up weekly Hangouts on Thursdays for each of the 5 chapters .

Of course anyone in the Community is also welcome to start a Hangout and invite other amigos any time, for any educational topic, too, so #LangCamp Online can live on still through every #LangCamp member.



Face-to-Face

THIS is what Bethanie Drew (@lovemysummer) of Aventuras Nuevas and I have been dreaming of for YEARS! AND with the intrepid @SECottrell of Musicuentos.com to boot!!

We will have 3 days to put all of our brilliant brains together and come up with  creative and exhilirating--and EFFECTIVE!--plans for next year!
CLICK HERE to register for Camp Musicuentos Southeast!

Get more information on Kentucky and Rhode Island camps from Sra. Cottrell's site (but you know that nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the mooooorning!)

29 March 2016

What a Time to Teach Languages! [CUE Blog]

I'm excited to have been asked to contribute a language teacher's perspective on technology for the CUE Blog (thanks for the referral, Sra. Rhodes!)
Here's an excerpt:
What a time to be alive! 
The whole world is inside our classrooms every day. I like to pretend it’s me bringing it to my Spanish I and II students, but really, they’ve had it in their pocket the whole time. 
What a time to teach languages! 
There are two things any language teacher needs to do to get students to learn a language: 
  • give them a real, immediate Reason to learn it and
  • make them believe they can learn it.
Technology makes it ridiculously easy for us to do both.

See some of my tips on taking advantage of technology to connect students with an audience and providing feedback in the full post HERE!

Also check out the Spanish version HERE!

28 March 2016

Sra. Spanglish Tech Tips: Adobe Voice



What makes Adobe Voice so great is the one-press recording and the quick image search. Kids don't have to spend hours designing the perfect visual representation for their video--they pick one image from the vast clipart and/or Creative Commons stash, record, and move on to the next image/recording.

And all the while, the theme you picked has a cute musical background to make the whole thing seem super professional. AND citations for the images at the end!

What's more, kids can take their own pictures to upload, so they can use their own gestures and expressive little faces to convey their meaning. Or they can dig through their own stash of photos or even upload their own doodles with a quick snap.

There is one single, solitary drawback to this app, however, and that is that it is strictly an Apple app. If you don't have iPads in your class--or a class full of kids with their own iPhones--well, my condolences. This is about the easiest and prettiest recording app out there as far as I can see.

Well, actually, there might be one other drawback to the app, and that's the rigamarole required to set up an Adobe account to be able to export videos. But I wormed my way around that one by using my class email (it's literally an email account I set up for my class, to use for just such endeavors) to set up a class Adobe account. This route is also extra convenient for me, because it means I can access videos created with it from any iPad, whether or not they've exported it (not from my computer, though, I'm afraid.)

I've used Adobe Voice for interpretive, interpersonal, AND presentational activities, and it makes both creation and viewing that much more enjoyable.

Do you have any other ideas how to use it in the three modes? These are mine:

Interpretive

My first fling with Adobe Voice was with coro roulettes, so students could practice speaking and demonstrate their interpretation of lyrics simultaneously. They simply

  1. picked out an image to represent each line of the song, and then 
  2. recorded themselves saying the line with the appropriate image
Quick, easy, fun!


Interpersonal

This could work for conversations on any topic, but so far we've just used it for discussing songs still.
  1. You need 2 partners, each one takes a picture of himself/herself to be used when he/she talks. (I tried letting them choose one or take one--did not like the results.) They could even take 2 pictures each: a question face and an answer face (haven't tried that yet).
  2. Add slides, alternating partners' pictures.
  3. Partners take turns recording their questions and responses on their own picture slides.
It saves a lot of unnecessary dead air, allows them to relax about how they look while they're talking, and wraps the whole thing up in a nice, neat package!

Presentational

Adobe Voice has made video projects SO much easier and just plain classier! My students created inspiration videos about the changes they made in their lives with the self-improvement project in hopes of inspiring others. Whether they used their own photos or clipart, the results were really something worth sharing.

They had a lot of freedom with how they put this one together--just had to make sure they talked for one minute and kept their video to about 2 minutes.

I could also see this working nicely for the school supply drive project to inspire others to help!

25 March 2016

El Trofeo: 3 Tips for Writing an Effective TPRS Story


My students were laughing out loud and retelling this story in detail almost immediately. I can cite details from the story at any time, even weeks later, and get a giggle out of more than one kiddo every time.

This is bar none the best TPRS story I have written.

I think it worked so well because of three things:
  • limiting the personalization
  • differentiating familiar structures
  • goofy puns and props

Now, I had considered simply recycling "Muy talentoso," but I wasn't happy with the non-ending ending, and I didn't think it really hooked the kids even then. Plus these kids pretty much have puede, hace, and hay down (well, puede and hace--but we did try hay in the last story they did).

So I started my usual story writing process over, focusing on making the ending unexpected, yet funny. (trofeo, potro feo--get it???)


Personalization simplification

Everything was a whole lot easier to remember when there were only 5 elements to the story the students got to choose. I was desperate to go outside on a beautiful day when I first told the story, so I went back to having students make suggestions before it began. Gotta say pausing and using Nearpod to select during the initial telling was much more effective for maintaining engagement (if only we had wifi outside!!)

Still, students only picked

  • the progatonist's name
  • the name of the TV show
  • the type of costume he wears to win
  • the song he sings to win
That made for easy recycling during storyasking. I think they got an even bigger kick out of it this way, whether it was the class with the Grey's Anatomy theme or the class that dressed "Juan" in only a sombrero but named his dog Pantalones. (My kids are frikkin' hilarious.) It was also a lot easier for them to retell the story with fewer random details.



Different but the same

Keep an eye on TeachersPayTeachers
for an updated version of these sliders!
My kids have been trying to use tiene to form the past tense since Spanish I, so I finally decided to GIVE them ha. Back when we were working on self-improvement and reporting steps we had made towards our goals, I made cute little sliders to show how to form the past participle with all of the verbs they were using in their blog posts.

However, kids were still getting ha and tiene confused right and left. Also, several had started using "tiene a" in their writing.

See, both ha and tiene que translate roughly as "has," so the confusion is understandable. What better solution to straighten them out than CONTEXT?

In fact, to REALLY drive home the context, The whole first paragraph of the story ONLY uses ha for the fill-in verb blanks, and the whole second paragraph ONLY uses tiene que. The patterns are really easy to pick out.

Now I reinforce each structure almost every day with a Nearpod question or assignment on Classroom--and they have a quick reference for how each is supposed to work in context!


Puns and props

Pinto et al, before
 feo makeover...
way, WAY before.
My theater minor came in really handy when telling this story--I'll have to record the drama some time. I was not afraid to oversell the drama. And there is NO greater payoff than when a minute after the story has ended, a handful of students start cracking up uncontrollably at the pun you ended on.

It also didn't hurt that I had literally taped googly eyes to my son's beloved horsie Pinto--along with index card buck teeth--in order to create my "potro feo"--which I pulled out of a bag just as the judges revealed it to our unlucky contestant.

Had I felt a little less pressed for time, I totally would have kept my own kid in the dark a little longer for students to act out the story with El Potro Feo, or at least pose with him for some selfies and maybe write their reactions as if they were "Juan" or "Derek Shepherd."

With the time we do have, though, I make sure to award them Potros Bonitos for their portfolio stickers.

That's right. My Little Pony stickers.


The final product

Now I put a little extra effort into tidying up this story, so "El trofeo" is the first story I'm charging for on TeachersPayTeachers. Here's a little preview:


Hay un muchacho que se llama Juan. Juan es muy talentoso, pero nunca HA ganado un premio para sus talentos. Lo que Juan más quiere en este mundo es un trofeo. y él HA entrado en cien concursos, pero lo mejor que él HA ganado es un certificado de participación. 

Un día, Juan escucha que hay audiciones para un programa de televisión que se llama La Voz. El programa es también un concurso de talentos donde el ganador TIENE QUE demostrar múltiples talentos. No sólo TIENE QUE cantar bien, pero también TIENE QUE bailar bien y actuar bien. Pero el premio para primer lugar es un trofeo grande, entonces Juan sabe que TIENE QUE entrar en el concurso.

If you like it, you can download your own copy here, complete with title page and verb-blank key.

Or, you can try these 3 tips and see what you can come up with! Can you think of a pun reveal better than poTRO FEO?

19 March 2016

IPA: How to Win a Talent Show

An IPA can be an important part of the planning process for group PBL projects. Take for example our mission to keep our school's winning streak going at a nearby language competition. Students need to stop and think about what it takes to win, what steps they need to plan on going through in order to have a successful skit or song performance.

A goal is a dream with a plan, you know.


So once my young ones have carefully contemplated the process, they can begin to plan out their schedules leading up to the Big Day, as well as their expectations for 1) themselves and 2) each other.

So the goal of this IPA is not ONLY assessing communicative performance, but also to help them set up a framework for success in their project!


"Como ganar un show de talentos"
es.wikihow

Interpretive Reading

If you want to combine IPAs with PBL, then I highly recommend seeking out authentic texts with ADVICE. The time management IPA went pretty well, but it wasn't 100% aligned with everyone's explicit goals. This one, however, is almost exactly aligned with our project goals, and it seemed to make students' responses to the text a whole lost more engaged and purposeful.

I've also started nudging the baby parrots out of the nest with this text. No infograph for this IPA--though there are images. And beaucoups cognates and borrowed words ("Cómo ganar un show de talentos": the title says it all, really). And since I'm testing what they CAN do rather than what they CAN'T, it really doesn't matter if they read
  • Parte 1: Decide cuál será tu acto
  • Parte 2: Ensaya bastante
  • Parte 3: Prepararte para el show
  • Parte 1 + Parte 2
  • Parte 1 + Parte 3
  • Parte 2 + Parte 3
  • or all of the above
As long as they can show me that they can do what they can do more than just a couple of lucky guesses, I can evaluate their level.

And though there were some confidence issues and translator confessions, we had a good talk about what I was looking for and how pointless looking up alrededor was when they could clearly figure out everything else around it. Some have, however, requested a signal--an extra column or just highlighting the words in yellow--to show what they guessed, mostly so they can assuage some of their own anxiety over being wrong. Their brains intellectually grasp it's okay to guess, but their little hearts are still all a-tizzy when they know they could be wrong.



Interpersonal Conversation

I'm getting closer to a genuinely authentic conversation here because this time I had something they needed. I mean, I've actually been to this competition before AND brought home some hardware. So of course they need my expertise. Plus I think there are some tips in the article they definitely 1) can understand and 2) can use. So here's what I gave them in advance:


Next time, though, we're going to try a GROUP conversation. I got the idea from Sra. Toth at #CSCTFL16. I'm a little concerned about everyone being ready at once, but I think it'll be a lot more authentic sharing ideas with others working on the same project.


Presentational Writing

And now, the piece de resistance: The Group Contract. In response to all of the suggestions--from WikiHow, from me--students had to put together their expectations for their grupos. Not mine, not the judges' (though they did already have the criteria the jueces would be using in their interactive notebooks). I recommended that they include:
  • at least 3 REQUIREMENTS for participation in your group
  • at least 3 things that will PROHIBITED in your group
  • an explanation of the GOALS for your group 
  • and possible CONSEQUENCES.
(In hindsight, we should have discussed the terms prohibido, requisitos, and consecuencias ahead of time--but they're cognates, and not actually the point.)

Now, was I grading these recommendations? No. I was grading based entirely on the AAPPL rubrics. This meant that some didn't get an Intermediate score (though about 50% DID! Halfway through Spanish 2!) because they didn't demonstrate that they could write questions, but the repercussions for an incomplete contract would come later--and they would not be severe, just logical consequences through later assignments that build on this one.

That's probably what I'm most proud of, is how this IPA will continue to be a useful reference throughout the project. We'll revisit this contract and use it to scaffold not only the project, but their language skills.

And then we'll have something shiny to show for it!

14 March 2016

#CSCTFL16 Takeaways - Why and How Language Learning is Vital for Everyone

You know, if you can't make it to ACTFL, CSCTFL is definitely a solid substitute. So many of the brightest minds in language education were there to talk with and learn from, that I almost couldn't tell it wasn't the national conference! Not that all of us SCOLT, SWCOLT, and PNCFL representatives can make it every year, but it worked out nicely this time.

And it changed my whole outlook on life and language learning.



Friday

Friday morning I got to watch a fellow SCOLT amiga do her thing and persuade people to the portfolio side while my SWCOLT amiga liberated a full house from the vocabulary list. And then John DeMado BLEW. MY. MIND.

Can I make a confession? As a language teacher for the past 10 years, I have not, myself, been TOTALLY convinced of the relevance of language instruction for everyone. I mean, I thought it was GOOD, and I thought it was USEFUL. But NECESSARY?

And then DeMado demonstrated how oral language builds THE most important ability to literacy development: GUESSING. And languages are the only discipline with the
to shed light on the process




Friday Afternoon was not only an opportunity to share my own strategies on getting more out of doing less, but to absorb some higher-order thinking strategies from Carol Gaab and some dead-on TL strategies from Carrie Toth before discovering the best essential questions for language instruction I have ever seen from Laura Terrill. AND I think Michelle Kindt finally gave me what I needed to make SSR work!


Perhaps the best part of any conference, though, is after the sessions.

If ever there was any doubt in my mind that what we as language teachers do is 100% VITAL, the discussion--the debate--I was lucky enough to join in with some of my most respected colleagues sealed the deal.

What we offer as language teachers is a RESPECT that is only possible through absorbing and accepting the possibility of endless possible answers to the great questions of life. The ability to not only entertain, but admire other worldviews is something every human should be steeped in from an early age.

History classes can only do so much, but language classes help people live that openness every day.




Saturday

Saturday was full. And I mean full. There were amazing sessions happening while workshops were whirring and #LangChat was atwitter. Lisa Shepard revealed her IPA secrets, Lisa Lilley and Mira Canion energized everyone, while Mercedes Koch and Ryan Rockaitis made grading make more sense.



While I was #LangChatting, though, there were a few sessions on Saturday that made me feel like I missed out...and I didn't. The tweets were flying, so I still got some great ideas from the dedicated tweechers who were there! I got some great ideas on incorporating the interpersonal and engaging novices (from newly minted #LangChat mod and CSCTFL ToY, Sr. Boulanger!)








In later sessions, I had my tweeps there riding shotgun with me to collect great ideas on circumlocution from one of our #LangChat founders and more great ideas to develop units from Donna Clementi.





The Twitterverse got a little quieter as online homies started heading home, but there was still plenty of good stuff going on, between summer camp setup ideas, story telling, business Spanish, and standards-based grading.


Aside from my outlook-altering epiphanies about the indispensable nature of language learning, here are a few of my takeaways:


  • conduct interpersonal interviews for IPAs in small groups to make students more comfortable and elicit more natural interactions
  • make conversation about listening as much as talking, so debates aren't a fact-off
  • use FVR for 2-3 minutes to start with and "light accountability" like discussing cognates and characters afterward
  • topics aren't themes without essential questions students feel compelled to answer
  • personal stories and gossip are 65% of conversation



What did you take away from CSCTFL--or our tweets?

11 March 2016

#CSCTFL16 Less Is More: The Art of Making It Stick

Thank you to everyone who joined me--or tried to join me--this afternoon at my first Central States Conference! For those who couldn't make it (or who want to review), here are some resources, including 
  • the presentation
  • audience Nearpod responses
  • session tweets
  • and the handouts!




Check out the ideas from the audience at #CSCTFL16 here!




05 March 2016

Attack of the Translator: What is the debate REALLY about?

I thought we had an understanding.

You can use the T-word or WordReference on practice assignments, as long as you put what you look up in bold (or CAPS if it's a Blogger comment or something that doesn't allow formatting). And keep it under 10% of what you're writing. And for interpretive practice, I typically assign looking up 3-5 words, to expand their vocabulary.

But this does not apply on IPAs.

Integrated Performance Assessments are the closest thing we have to tests in Spanish class. Yes, they get "Test Grades" for each section (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational), but it's still not a right/wrong answer type of situation. Each error does not mean a point off--they get an AAPPL rubric score for each section, essentially based on how much language they can actually string together.

A translator will not improve their score.

I mean, sure, they could turn on the "Would you like to translate this page?" on the interpretive assignment, but A) I circulate as long as I can before the interpersonal part begins (which is how I caught a kid ACTUALLY DOING THIS) and B) I know I have never used the word alrededor in your presence and C) you were not able to grasp singular present tense last week, much less irregular preterite constructions.

I just want to know what they actually KNOW.

But the thought of formatting, printing, and copying every single page for every single interpretive section from here on out hurts my little environmentally sensitive heart. I guess I could set them up in a way that kids could highlight the paper instead of copying every line they understood to spare their little fingers, but oh the PAPER!

So I called on Geoff Crosson, one of the coolest teachers I've ever had the pleasure to work with. He was the first teacher I knew to go paperless, and also a teacher I know students trust.

So Sr. Crosson asked me the important question: basically, what's the translator debate about?

Control?

Learning? 

Trust? Relationships?

As with any interaction in the classroom, of course it's all of these.

Control

I'm not saying no T********* or dictionary on IPAs to exert control. But maybe they think I am. They still frantically check to make sure it's okay to guess on this or that line. I refer them to the rubric and remind them you can't be more wrong than nothing. They are supposed to focus on what they CAN do though.

So if it's an issue of control, it's an issue of their ability to control the outcomes on their assessments. Choice does not solve everything, and it clearly panics a good chunk of my kiddos this semester. I tell them to just pick out what they know, and they don't believe me. They still think every misstep is going to subtract from the all-powerful grade. (I know, I know, grades are the root of all evil, but I think they reflect reasonable expectations and actually show where the kids are inn their journey to meeting them in this case.)

A #LangChat revelation may help here: why not have an extra column for guesses? That might give them a stronger sense of control in their own interpretations, which, really, why would I deny them that? To get an accurate read, I need the lowest affective filter possible, right?


Learning

For me, that's really what this is about. Perhaps less so for the grade-obsessed, though. My problem is I can't assess their progress if I can't be certain what is actually them and what's an online algorithm. I get all excited thinking they're actually absorbing something, and then they throw in a few lines of flawless "guesses" for a section with subjunctive and imperative forms not yet even used, and you have to question the rest of it.

I suppose I could prepare a text with only terms we've used before to cut down on the doubtful areas, but 1) I swear I really do sleep and would like to continue to be able to do so, and 2) I think it's really good for them--and for me--to see how they would survive in the Real World, so I want to use authentic texts for the assessment. I want to see that they can discern what they do know from what they don't.

Plus those Real World bloggers and infographers have much cooler ideas than I could come up with, especially while focused on keeping it in baby Spanish.


Trust & Relationships

I confess things haven't been the same since my sick day. I noticed suspicious constructions in their writing and conversations when I came back, but, well, they had the prompt ahead of time, so it's possible they looked up a few things to commit to memory, right? But then I come back and see a translated page pulled up while I circulate and several suspicious guesses? This is not where I want us to be. 

I don't want to be the teacher who revels in catching cheaters. (Truth time? I've been her.) I want to know what drives a student to think they need this tool that really doesn't improve their score anyway! Do they not trust that I'll give them something they can handle? Do they not trust their own brains?

As the illustrious Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell has said before, cheating is a heart issue more than a brain issue. They're not trusting someone here.

My students know what "please see me" means on Google Classroom. Some are able to explain where and when they saw the special vocabulary, often in their passion projects or self-improvement pins. Some also try to say they looked it up for their blog, but have nary a bolded word to support their claims. Some come clean after a prod or two, but then I'm obliged to bring parents into the mix by school policy.

But is it really worth it?

If the same kids whipped out a calculator on the no-calculator section of the SAT, you can bet the College Board would set their test aflame before they were unceremoniously booted from the room. But my "tests" aren't really Tests, are they? I suppose writing tests are scored with a rubric too. So maybe I should be taking up cell phones and printing everything on paper so they're not tempted? I mean, one kid when confronted straight up said that's what they needed from me to help them resist temptation.

I think a big, BIG part of what's wrong with education today is exactly the kind of assessment that seeks to control people with outrageous restrictions designed to protect the TEST more than the learner (example: I didn't wash my hair for the GRE--I just wanted to keep my bandanna on while they had a camera trained on me for hours on end).


The bottom line is I want to know what my students know, and I have to create an environment where it's possible to find that out. Might it mean I have to kill a few acres of rainforest?

Maybe.

But what it definitely means is I have to talk with my kids, so they feel like they have control--not me, and not WordReference. So they trust that I really am grading what they CAN do and not what they can't, and that I'll give them something they actually can work with. So they can trust themselves and what they actually can do.

So that assessment is a positive part of our relationship and not a wedge between us.

01 March 2016

Inquiry-Based Learning: Teacher Homework

Participating in the Pinnacle Leaders program in my district means I have an excuse to meet with brilliant people near me at least once a month and talk educational turkey. It also means I have a set or two of iPads lying around for me and my students to play with.

Sometimes, it also means I have homework.

As you probably know, though, PBL is my jam. So when we have to read about inquiry-based learning and PBL strategies, I am on it.

As you may imagine, too, it's a little hard to impress me when it comes to PBL. Still, my Pinnacle amigos picked out some articles for our own little flipped lesson that actually offered even hard-to-please me some worthwhile insights.

Check 'em out!


What Does a 21st Century Classroom Look Like: Inquiry

I'm going to go ahead and say this is not what 21st century classrooms are going to look like until something is done about testing and Common Core math. In fact, I'm gonna hop on the impossibility bus, not for me, but for my colleagues with too many standards to fit in with proper reteaching, much less time for students to arrive at their own answers. Also the push for advanced STEM for everyone means exploring mathematical concepts it's impossible to build inquiry around without multiple field trips to NASA. The kids are having abstract concepts forced down their throats without a chance of contextualization. And we're all paying the price: " retention and use of the knowledge gained through this method can be severely wanting." I don't see my struggling kids really getting INTO a debate about the number of hamburgers needed to cross the Atlantic--Lannister references or no.

I will say, though, that this lesson is an important one--one I found out the hard way:
It is important to set some boundaries on students’ exploration. This should not serve to curb their excitement, but to enhance it. Students who know the limits and requirements feel freer to explore without worrying about doing the “wrong” thing.



A Collection of Project Based Learning End Products

I like the idea of students--and even teachers who are trying to get the hang of PBL--critiquing samples, but I've been burned before by overzealous grammarian Spanish teachers who went in and commented cruel things all over my Spanish I students' blogs. It made me a little hesitant to share, and I can totally understand why other teachers would be too. Also, I have a tendency to CONSTANTLY reinvent, so finding an example of the exact project we're doing is generally a no-go (except for the language festival!)

Audience being one of the elements the author looks for, I have to say that one is especially tricky, especially finding one that can actually show up even virtually (and, you know, speak Spanish).

Also, I question the authenticity of questions like
  • "What is theatre?"
  • "What it would it be like to be friends with a historical figure?"
  • "How can we teach others what we learned in English 7?" 
  • "Books to films"
They seem like the same old "dessert" projects in sheep's clothing and thus anti-PBL.



Inquiry in the Classroom: 7 Simple Tools To Get You Started

These are all things I desperately want to achieve in my class:
  • Teaching students to ask difficult questions
  • Fostering desire and techniques to get knowledge
  • Allowing students to take ownership of learning
  • Encouraging students to draw connections between academic lessons and their personal lives.
I'm not exactly sure how to approach the "difficult questions" thing in the target language, though, but I'm all about pinning and infograph searching in Spanish. And I'm all for tapping into their egotism as Leni Bronstein reminded me at #SCOLT16: we must use their egotism rather than try to wish it away.

I also like these steps
  • Build from what is already known about the topic--which we have to do for students to be able to understand anything they read, hear, say, or write!
  • Determine what questions to ask to start the investigation--especially key for the world language set, where anticipation is the name of the game.
  • Gather new information through research--#PinterestFTW #infografias
  • Organize and finish research, attending to differences.
  • Share what was learned through presentations--I really like Adobe Voice for capturing speaking (stay tuned for a Sra. Spanglish Tech Tips post on it!)
  • Reflect and make new inquiries (I need to work on this).
  • Take action in new steps, or in applying the newfound learning elsewhere (and this).



Geo-Literacy Projects Build Students' Understanding of Our Complex World

If interdisciplinary project-based learning is a goal for you and your students this school year, you might want to start with questions that put a premium on place.
As a Spanish teacher, I'm thinking: "OF COURSE!" And "Exactly what was wrong with me that I didn't think of this before?" 

The article gives some great examples from bicycle accidents in your own community to New Orleans neighborhoods after Katrina to finding the best location for offshore wind farms.

And how many of us language teachers have lamented our students' inability to locate even one target language country on the world map? (And how many of us can admit the didn't know how to find any countries in Central or South America until they had already started teaching Spanish? Just me? OK...)

I do have to caution, though, that while these driving questions are beyond intriguing to you and me (or, ok, just me again), it's important to know thy audience. My particular kids this year aren't all that big on bikes or renewable energy. There have been some tragic school bus accidents in our state that might get them going, though, and some knew a girl their age who was an organ donor after a tragic accident with a horse. And my licensed juniors could be hooked with a gas price debate.

I'd LOVE to pull in surveyors, scientists, and public works experts too, but that ain't gonna happen with my curriculum, most likely (community outreach on housing efforts maybe?) Story Maps, however, could be an exciting way to share information.




Voice and Choice: It’s More Than Just "What"

WHAT - Voice and Choice is NOT just about trifolds versus Google Slides presentations.

WHO -  I'm inclined to agree that students need a chance to choose their groups. Sure we're "forced" into teams sometimes as professionals, but really? We get to choose who we want in on our own projects most of the time. As far as choosing an audience, though, we in world languages are a little limited. Also, without careful coaching as to who the best audience could be, that choice can make your projects fall flat.

WHY - I would like to do more with they "why"--especially on Genius Hour/passion projects.