Saturday, January 2, 2010

"So, what do you do in Spanish class?" (2 of 2)

Different kinds of activities and their educational value

This is a messy kind of post.  It's the blog post equivalent of tearing everything out of your closet and shelves and throwing it in heaps on your bed and on the floor, as you install a new closet shelving system and re-organize everything you've just been cramming anywhere they'd fit for the last 3 1/2 years.

The heaps I'm going to try to throw things in look like this:
A.)  Kind of activity.  These, hopefully, will be broad descriptions of the sorts of things we do in Spanish class.  Refinements to come as necessary.
B.)  Chunk, chew, or check?  Are these activities' primary value as a tool for presenting new information (chunk), as a way of processing or practicing information (chew), or as an assessment tool (check)?  This is directly from Kathleen Kryza's work on co-teaching (and, indirectly, differentiated instruction) with our ISD, and thus probably from one of the several books written by Kryza, Duncan, and Stevens.
C.) Outcome, engagement, and materials.  These are 3 of the 6 qualities from the last blog post.  The others are less activity-specific, so I shouldn't need to include them for each activity.

A.) PAIRED and SMALL-GROUP SPEAKING ACTIVITIES.  Examples: Information-gap activities, interviews, ask-and-answer sessions, etc.
Initial thoughts:  This is the kind of activity where my thinking most needs clarification.  I do these spontaneously all the time, and so they're probably the least structured.
B.) Chew [check].  Done with each other, they're definitely chew activities.  So they require some prep work first; namely, how and why to say what they're to be saying.
C.)  Outcome:  Students will have the experience of performing the communicative task.  In addition, some will result in new content knowledge, others will have a written element to them.  In the tasks that have no written or drawn component, an oral checkout of some kind becomes necessary.
Engagement:  Students are speaking in Spanish, trying out new words, asking questions, writing information as it becomes available or necessary.
Materials:  Teacher-provided handouts, self-generated information, paper, pencil, etc.

2A.) WRITING CONVERSATIONS.  Examples--passing notes, threaded on-line discussions (i.e., Moodle), instant messaging, text messages. 
Initial thoughts:  I have never, to my shame, done one of the technologically based activities.  The reasons for this include a lot of bad reasons involving time management and my capacity for building online classes. 
B.)  Chew (check).  Just like spoken conversations, these are mostly a chance for students to mount up on their new vocabulary and take it out for a test drive.  It can also be used as a formative assessment--I would hesitate to use it as a summative assessment, though.

More of this in a future post.  I know it says 2 of 2 in the title, and need to be getting on with my day, but I'm not done with the topic, so more to come.

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