Monday, August 22, 2016

Exploring complex concepts in the lower levels- comprehensibly and carefully

School and Global Issues Unit 

Taking Spanish 1 to the next level, carefully and comprehensible!

 I have to say, teaching my unit: Education it's promises and plights, is one of my favorite units of all time. There is just so much meaty vocabulary, themes and lengthy conversations about everything.

 A few years ago, while teaching at an IB middle school, I really wanted to delve into big concepts. My dream was having students discuss big ideas and concepts in simple terms. Many resources were way too advanced, so collected some articles, did a bit of research and created some powerful educational texts. These texts discuss the differences in education systems around the world. It was spawned by this Pin on Pinterest: 

Education system in Finland 

We read this wonderful Pinterest article this in class, discussed the big ideas and then it hit me: 

What about education in other countries and cultures? 

It was fun and very enjoyable creating these resources. See my students samples from 7th grade below. 

In this Global Education resource, students learned about:
  1. The dangers of educating women in Taliban controlled areas 
  2. The plight of women in Afghanistan 
  3. Education Inequality in South Africa 
  4. Education in Japan  
As a result of this unit, we held our first Spanish Symposium, which really was a project-driven exhibition of education around the world (the principal kept calling it Spanish Fair, so it stuck). Students conducted the research in Spanish and presented to the community.  
The goal with comprehensible School Unit and Global issues activity resource is to  deliver complex concepts in a simplified for. mMost of the texts are written in the first person, with a few past tense words sprinkled in.

 The first couple years of teaching, I wanted to engage students hearts in  compelling topics that wrestled with or discussed in their English class. I hated that they felt that they had to "dumb" everything down when coming to Spanish class. In addition to the comprehensible input novels, we read, I also wanted to give them comprehensible input on live topics; hence the creation of this activity book.  The goal was to capture the students' energy and:
  •  Introduce to them more complex topics on a smaller scale (Global Education Piece)   
  • Contextualize their experience, the vocabulary and bring everything full circle
  • Privilege conversation 
  • Facilitate reading 
  • Promote higher order thinking skills 
  • Engage students in relevant topics such as the use of social media and bullying, but at their level 
  • Present perspectives of schooling in other countries. 

 I realized long ago that I did not have to wait until students got to a certain level of language development to teach them certain concepts. The goal with comprehensible input is to provide it within the realm of their level. I figured, if can get them to interact with similar topics and concepts they'd be exposed to in other class, but at their level, I may have something there! Digging deeper and being able to talk about real issues (and some fun things too) were my main goals.

Click here for the school unit free resource- reading and cloze-text dialogue that integrate native expressions

Click here for the Perspectives on Education around the world reference in this post. 

7th Grade Student Samples For example, my 7th graders (they were oddly more advanced then my 8th graders that year), read about plight of women in obtaining and education in the mini uni

This activity is included in the book below as well (also sold separately on TPT).  After reading about Malala and a few other girls, all in the target language, they wrote a paper comparing the experiences. Their work is attached here.
The student whose work is in the upper left-hand corner was a new student. She has come from Hawaii and had been in our school a little over a year. Although both  had some errors on their final drafts, they did a great job comparing the girl's issues in the article
We also viewed a few videos on my old blog. If you read their work you will see that they talk about a girl name Neeraj. This was one of the girls featured in the  this tab.  They might have rotated the videos, but it was eye-opening. This was one of the lessons observed by my former principal and she loved it.

Post related to revolutionizing the curriculum and classroom activities  (there are some free downloadables in the post as well). 

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