Maybe I keep too many plates spinning, and if I narrowed my focus, I wouldn't have so many questions to answer.
I just don't see any plates I'm willing to set down, though.
Still, I figure if I have all of the questions written out, I can at least consult them at some point during each week (preferably well before I have to, you know, actually do the lessons), and thereby make the whole overwhelming alphabet soup at least a little more ordered.
PBL QuestionsSome questions I need to answer to keep projects moving forward. I firmly believe everything we do should somehow lead up to a real, concrete communicative situation some time before the end of the course. So here's what I consider to make that happen:
- What is the next step in the project?
- What do we need to discuss to move forward with the project?
- What can they read/listen to introduce the topic?
- What can they read/listen to expand on the topic?
- Where and how do they need to pause and reflect?
Students need a purpose, and they need confidence in their ability to accomplish that purpose with the language at their disposal. So I have to break down interpretation and discussion in such a way that I KNOW the majority of them can handle it with almost no trouble.
- How can I break down instructions in comprehensible language?
- What essential verbs can they use with this?
- What yes/no questions can I ask?
- What open-ended questions can I ask?
- Can they understand the text, or should I break it down PQA style?
I want them collaborating whenever possible, and engaged even when there's something they simply have to get from me. I could really add all of Part II of Teach Like a Pirate here, but I think these help whittle it down a little.
- What can they discuss in groups?
- What can they create in groups?
- What excuses for movement can be built in?
- Is there a tech tool that could make this easier/more interesting?
- How can I get a quick read to see if everyone's with me?
Interactive notebooks help organize and focus my planning as well as providing something solid students can return to when they have questions.
- What previous notes can help with the task at hand?
- Is there any new information (vocabulary, texts, structures) they need in their notes to refer to later?
- Are there any patterns of errors I need to reinforce with notes?
- What should those notes look like?
- Can they do something active with the notes?
Now, with my current Spanish II/III class, I have an extra layer of questions to work in--fortunately I have a planning period right before that class to tweak earlier lessons to accommodate.
- Is there something Spanish III/native speakers don't need to be doing?
- What could they do together or independently instead?
- How much time will they have to work without my help?
- What do they need to have in front of them to be able to work without me?
- Can they prepare something Spanish II would benefit from interpreting?
There are some more questions I've been wrestling with since our most recent #LangChat on assessment. I haven't been doing a very thorough job even using authentic texts as windows this year or even sticking to any kind of cultural reflection. I still want to do more with the self/community/world lenses, but really I need to make sure I stop and ask these questions:
- What does this have to do with culture (product? practice? perspective?)?
- How can this prepare them to reflect on their own goals/identity?
- How can this connect them to the broader world?
- How can this help them observe and appreciate cultural differences?
- How can they express their observations and connections?
Phew. That's a lot of questions, and a lot of precariously spinning plates. I hope if I ask myself these questions often enough and explicitly enough that I eventually won't have to process them separately.