28 January 2015

Libros para Amiguitos Novice Mid IPA #1

I really used the best text for interpreting before we got to the IPA as sort of a practice to provide exposure to the AAPPL evaluation system that I would be applying to their IPAs. This infograph has it all, and a great place to start discussion.

Then again, groups will actually need a little more detail and, well, actual books to get their Amiguitos project off the ground. So since la Biblioteca Publica de Soria has been kind enough to catalogue 420 of their Novedades infantil on Pinterest, I thought we'd start there!.

Now I have been carefully referring back to Mme. Shepard's 8 Steps as I create this first IPA, but I have diverged some in the interest of time and simplicity. Plus I want to do one more round of IPA this grading period, and I have a few good videos selected that might help groups evaluate the choices they've made and perhaps make their approach to the problem/Driving Question even more inspiring for our amiguitos.

So my kiddos have been through the process now, and I've made some adjustments according to what I got from them (hint--10 book descriptions is way too many and more than you need to diagnose proficiency levels).

Interpretive Reading

1. List the titles of 5 books from the Pinterest board that you would like to share with your amiguitos.
  • This step allows students to choose from among the 420 pins those that are appropriate for their own level, which pins they CAN understand. It's also kind of a placeholder so they remember which ones they were talking about.
2. List >2 words/phrases/sentences in Spanish you understood from each pin description (>10 total).
  • This step helps ME narrow down what they're talking about so I can match up their interpretations and see if they REALLY understand it or just think they do.
3. Now write all of the words/phrases/sentences you wrote for step 2 in English.
  • Once again, this allows me to see if their interpretation matches up in reality. I'd set #2 and #3 up as a two-column table in the future to give my scrolling finger a break. I bolded words here that did not match the original and commented on words that looked suspicious.
4. Explain in a sentence or two in English why you chose each book (>5 sentences).
  • This helps show if kids are beginning to break into intermediate territory by capturing the main idea and reaffirms how much kids are getting from visuals and prior knowledge. It also connects the IPA back to the PBL purpose.

Interpersonal Speaking
I suggest limiting the recording to 2 or 3 minutes--most groups could show their proficiency in that time. I also allowed up to 2 do-overs in the allotted 20 minutes to try and keep production spontaneous.

1. Take turns listing books from the Pinterest board that you LIKE for your amiguitos.
  • IPAs are even newer to them than they are to me, so I emphasized "essential verbs" that they could use in their questions/responses and let them refer to their previous list and the Pinterest board itself, as well as their Verbos Esenciales cheat sheet.
2. Describe what IS good for your amiguitos about those books.
  • Again, emphasizing familiar words to encouraging what they know. I had to spell out explicitly that they cannot look up anything--it must all come from the pins or their brains. We discussed circumlocution strategies like pointing to the pins or even doodling if need be.
3. Explain what you WANT to do with the book or if you HAVE ideas for other books.
  • This hits the rest of the verbs that I emphasized with our TPRS story, "Libros son buenos" to do a little of that prior knowledge activation, but also to give those breaking into intermediate territory a chance to strut their stuff.

Presentational Writing
Create a survey (>5 questions in Spanish, preferably multiple choice) in Google Forms for your amiguitos to determine which books they would like best. Incorporate titles and descriptions related to the books in different questions.

  • They kept asking how many questions they had to do when I didn't put a number, so 5 seemed reasonable. Even if they had 5 "te gusta" questions, they could still potentially get up to N2 level if they had more complex phrases as multiple choice answers. On the other hand, if they had complex sentences and left the questions open-ended, they could still show almost intermediate proficiency by, say, summarizing the book and their opinion/experience with similar books. We will, however, probably revise them to make sure they're amiguito-friendly and maybe combine different members' versions before actually sending them.
So far, evaluation has been pretty smooth, and the few kids who were dissatisfied with their evaluations have the option of 1) waiting for the next one to balance it out or 2) seeing me before or after school or during our school's special "Academic Hour" on Friday to get a new task (to ensure spontaneity). I think the young ones are satisfied with the grading scale (A=N3 or higher, B=N2, C=N1) and the goal to bump it up a notch each grading period (ie A=N4 second 6 weeks, IL third 6 weeks). 

Me, I'm enjoying giving them credit for what they CAN do.

22 January 2015

#Teach2Teach Question 1: Wiggle Room

My advice for new teachers comes down to two words: Wiggle. Room.

My spiritual guide/idol Amy Lenord has started something with #Teach2teach that all new teachers need: real answers from real veterans. The first question from the padawans is about how we balance teaching and planning.

I gotta agree when Amy says
the quick answer is that this is a constant struggle that every teacher deals with every day of the school year. The longer answer is more connected to each teacher's personality, style, strengths and weaknesses.
Wiggle Room in your obligations
She's totally right. My other amiga/hero/spirit animal, Sara-Elizabeth says to stop over-planning and put your sanity first, but I had the opposite problem when I started, I think. Actually I didn't really know how to put my sanity first, but it wasn't balancing the workload that was killing me--it was suddenly being a Grown Up. I'm more like Amy with "the style and temperament of an artist." I mean, Amy describes choosing "anything remotely creative" over the mundane stuff, and me, I spent a lot of my first year making bookmarks out of poster board, contact paper, post-it tabs, and printed quotes for every kid's birthday, I could have benefited from more actual planning. What I needed was Wiggle Room. I boxed myself in giving birthday presents at all--it's not like I had the same 25 kids all year, much less all day. I needed to take on tasks that didn't unravel if I missed one kid or one day.

Wiggle Room in your units
Some newer PLN amigas, Sra. Wienhold and  Mme Farabaugh recommend planning entire units rather than day-to-day, and I gotta concur. I've tried it both ways and every way in between. You need the way in between--the one with the Wiggle Room. When I went day-to-day, I missed a lot of big picture opportunities and sometimes skimped in places I shouldn't have. When I planned whole units perfectly (there were maybe 2), getting off track started making me a cardiac arrest candidate way too early.

No, I say have an overview, with some specific targets in place from the beginning, and start designating "deliverables" (like my fancy new jargon?) day by day. Flesh it out as you go, and leave room to adjust. You know, Wiggle Room.

Wiggle Room for yourself
Yet another sage that inspires me almost daily, Colleen says
As you evolve as a teacher you will change, grow, alter your outlook. You will probably not be satisfied with how you are doing things now…and will need to spend time planning changes. If/when you do – make sure you do them incrementally.
So remember--Wiggle Room in your obligations, Wiggle Room in your unit plans, and Wiggle Room for YOURSELF. Leave yourself room to grow--and wiggle--and expect change. A local non-world-language amiga sent me this article on reflection, and I think it sums up a sound process for how to do just that for yourself.

21 January 2015

Interpreting the AAPPL Interpretive Rubric (Novice)

I have been hyperconscious of my targets since the SWCOLT presentation at  ACTFL '14. The Benny Hill music with the moving targets really hit home what I had been asking of students with past incarnations of portfolios and learning objectives. So I'm spending extra time to make sure students see where they're going an how to get there, providing models for them to compare to rubrics themselves.

Now they'll have a page in their interactive notebooks of sorted examples of interpretation from their own class matched up with criteria. Here's how.

Last week, I gave students an infograph to analyze and just pick out what they could understand as a sort of practice for IPA procedures for the interpretive phase as well as preparation for our Amiguitos project. They listed the English meaning of any words, phrases, or sentences that they thought they could understand, in addition to listing clues they used, the main idea as they understood it, and supporting details.

I made a Padlet wall of the samples for each class (I started trying to make textboxes in Word, then remembered they're much easier to adjust on this fabulous interactive tool). I also made a SMARTboard page for easy highlighting for me and printed the PNG version for their notebooks. (Look out--you may have to weed out bullet points that mess up your careful arrangement).

I then picked out descriptors for each level from AAPPl's interpretive reading/listening rubric to help the class classify the samples. We focused on determining novice levels 1) because this is the third week of Spanish II, for crying out loud and 2) because the amount of words strung together really isn't what separates Novices from Intermediates, just novices from other novices. We highlighted N1 yellow, N2 orange, N3 pink, and let N4+ speak for itself.

After students highlighted multiple samples for each category, they cut out one they thought best represented each level to paste into their interactive notebooks with descriptors from the rubric.