All of that being said, this week was time for me to move my students from one context within a unit to another. We have previously been discussing the benefits of traveling, but now we have to narrow our focus a bit to talk about how to plan travel. The thing I had to realize a couple of years ago is that since I teach 9th and 10th graders, I cannot assume they know the steps of planning a trip. They are the sheep in all of their travel experiences, and their parents or other adults in their lives are the shepherds, so I have to present that planning process to them.
My first step was to create a vocabulary scramble activity in which I typed up a TL list of all the traveling prep and planning details I could think of. You can take a look at part of that list in the photo gallery below. I cut it up and scrambled the slips for groups of my students to re-organize together. As you can imagine, my goal here was to have them read, make sense of what they are reading, and order the steps, but my real motives were to have to force them to re-read and re-consider the information on the strips, and even more sneakily to force them to ask me about a few of the less than comprehensible words like "escoger" or "maleta" which wound up being the words most of the groups needed help with. This provided me with an opportunity to circumlocute for them. Once they felt they had a logical order to those travel prep steps, they were instructed to snap a pic with their smart devices for later use.
An important thing to note about this activity is that I am not really concerned with the accuracy of the order of their lists at all. People do things in different orders all the time, but I am concerned with logic, so I walked around the room and looked over their lists without trying to control the outcome of their lists. I only intervened when I saw a lack of logic. I would then pull that strip out or point to it and asked (using TL), "Is this in the right order? What other step is this connected to?" By doing this, I have now forced the group in question to re-read again to look for a better, more logical place in their list. So, they are continually having to re-read and re-consider the same content over and over again, without feeling like I am making them re-read something they have already seen before.
The next step in the lesson was for my students to process the vocabulary they interpreted in the Scramble activity. So, I gave them the Vocabulary Scramble Follow Up sheet to provide an opportunity to draw their attention again to important words and to have them gather their own understanding on paper for their own study later. I know this looks like I am giving a list, but look again. This is more about purpose than function. This activity is not about defining words for them, but about forcing them to attend to words they might not have paid attention to, capturing the meaning they are making in their heads and giving me evidence of what that meaning is. This particular activity is easier than others because it is so comprehensible, but it works well with all types of words. Sometimes I use it for words they wouldn't notice or consider otherwise, but that aren't core vocabulary or that might be great self-selected vocabulary if they pay attention to it. Doing so helps them become stronger readers. As an accountability piece, I often follow this up a few days later with a reading check during which students read similar statements in a cloze passage and have to complete with the words I had them attend to earlier chosen from a word bank or multiple choice options or in a vocabulary check where I ask them to build their own sentences or paragraphs using words from a word bank. To close out the follow up activity, I allow them to confirm with me or ask me about words they are less confident about. I don't always go over every single word with them, but I ask them about what questions they have or what clarifications they need.
Since I am not teaching any new structures in this unit, I can move my students to output activities faster, so I had them do some writing using these new words, but in a way that they had control over which words are the most relevant to them. The honors were asked to write a story and the regular level 2 students were asked to write sentences. Their stories will come a little later. I like to use writings like these for peer-to-peer assessment with deconstructed rubrics in which students are only asked to assess one or two criteria. I like to use either the task completion, vocabulary use, or comprehensibility portions of the rubrics or a pairing of them. You can see an example of how I do this in the gallery below.
An additional step to this lesson will be the use of Structured Input to have students review the past tense within the context of travel preparations. I only have a draft of this so far, but you can see. One final step might be to have students interview their parents or a family friend about a trip they planned to ask about how they got ready, and then have them use that information to either explain to each other in Spanish or write about how that person prepared for their trip. I am not sure yet about this final part.
To tie this all together, you can see that what started as an activity to unscramble vocabulary based upon my students interpreting comprehensible input becomes a multi-layered lesson. I am constantly thinking what is the first step of this lesson and trying to find the most logical pathway forward in their minds so that the acquisition seems relatively easy and logical to them. Plus, each activity in the process of presenting and processing vocabulary us purposeful which is very different from how I taught years ago. Nothing serves as a filler unless we are talking about a brain break, and even that serves a cognitive purpose. As I close this blog post I am laughing at myself because it started as just a post on the Vocabulary Scramble, but it has turned into a post on an entire 1-2 day lesson! I guess this is evidence about how mindful we have to be now as world language educators and why everything we plan for our students has to make progress forward towards the proficiency goals we have set for our students.
Happy Coaching, friends!