16 February 2018

Strategies for Reading and Self-Improvement

I had a choice.

In theory my students have been working on one self-improvement goal since the snow days in January. In practice not so much. The cool thing is that they can totally express to me in Spanish "No he cambiado" perfectly clearly and explain how they need their goal, but they don't like it.

So. I could accept the scripts where students confessed to making zero improvement over the last month of the "Mejor Yo" unit, or I could keep pushing them to grow before sending them on to the recording phase for the public service announcement. I mean, the goal of the project IS to help other people who have the same habits they want to change, and I suppose knowing what doesn't work is not a BAD thing. But really they hadn't answered the question: How can I change one habit to improve my life?

Now I've been tuning into the PBLL training from NFLRC lately, and I got a really helpful tip for phrasing the Driving Questions that put this quandary into perspective for me. The recommended BIE format never quite did it for me, but Cherice Montgomery suggested this format:

  • Collaborate with...
  • to investigate...
  • and develop a...
So. We are collaborating with other Spanish students across the country to investigate strategies for self-improvement and develop a video to help teenagers make positive changes.

That means we have to keep investigating, right? Or else what we develop really won't help teenagers make positive changes!

So I started googling around (like ya do) and came across "10 increíbles apps para mejorar tus hábitos." Not only did it have 10 new ways my kids could try again to get on track with their goals, but it was using structures we had been practicing with, like perfect tense and, well, nosotros forms!

I decided to set the interpretation up in five phases:

  1. Highlight all of the words you understand. I want to A) emphasize what they DO know and B) literally, physically see where any unanticipated gaps might be. For this, I just gave them the two intro paragraphs.
  2. Make a list of 10 new words with your partner. I had them discuss they word that they had NOT highlighted, fill in some gaps for each other, and write up to 10 words they thought would be useful on little whiteboards.
  3. Chorally interpret the intro and respond. Basically I'd read a phrase at a time, have them say it in English (a la CI Liftoff), pause to repeat a whole sentence and say ¿Cierto o falso? with a thumbs up/thumbs down. Let me just say: there was a lot of nodding and agreement. Of course sometimes I suspected some playing-along nodding, so I'd add some follow-up questions for specific students here and there.
  4. Jot down new words to use. Students pasted down their highlighted paragraphs in their cuadernos, and on the blank page opposite, I had them write down 2-5 words they thought might come in handy revising their scripts or on the next Writing AAPPL Bite. During the choral interpretation/response, I filled in any gaps they weren't able to themselves, and I could see several of them wanted ALL the new vocabulary.
  5. Circuito--pass the app. I had split up all 10 app descriptions into little card sets to give to each group. Each group member took 2 cards and read over both, deciding which they liked better (either because they understood it better or they liked its features better). The one they liked less, they passed to their left, and they just kept going until they had seen all the apps. This took about 5 minutes all told, but I think in the future I would make them hold on and compare each pair for at least 60 seconds.
After all of this interpretation, we debriefed, and I told them I would postpone the video due date if they agreed to try out one of those apps for a week. Though there were some whines, most really did seem to like the idea. We did find out a few of those apps have since gone defunct (also, I don't know how I feel about them contacting an ACTUAL coach beyond the classroom with Coach.me), but we discussed as a class who wanted each app and why, so they were able to at least find something with  characteristics that appealed to them, ie hecho para mi telefono or puedo usar la app en mi computadora or me gustan las alarmas  or no me gustan las alarmas, pero necesito.

All in all, so far I'm glad I decided to keep pushing them to improve. I think there's some real potential for growth in their personal habits because of this extra step. However I have already seen some definite growth in their interpretation skills just today!

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