Friday, March 14, 2014

Speed Dating - Spanish Style!

It's Friday and the second to last period of the day when my Spanish 4 Honors class walks in. You would think that they would be out of energy and exhausted from the week they had. Despite these odds, I had just the right activity to get them engaged and prepared for the Interpersonal Common Assessment that awaits them next week. Once the activity began, the energy was so high and contagious that I ran to get my department head so she could see what was going on. It's one of those classes that makes all the struggles of being a teacher worthwhile.

Let me back track a little before I explain the activity itself. Next week, the students have their Interpersonal Common Assessment which the department will use to make sure that our students are meeting the targets we have set for them. This is the prompt for all Spanish 4 Honors classes. Of course, the students have been anxious about it all week.
  • In pairs, you will have a conversation for 2 to 3 minutes in which you discuss current environmental problems that concern you and your partner (endangered animals, climate change, energy, contamination, etc). Each   partner should speak for an equal amount of time. You will discuss the problem, your thoughts/impressions about it, and your recommendations for the future.
  • You might answer the following questions-but you are not limited to-: What problem are you the most concerned about? What happened and/or what is happening? What do you think should be done about it? What will the world be like in the future?
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and feel free to correct yourself. You must speak spontaneously, ask and answer questions. It is a conversation that will be filmed and you can’t use any notes.

As I thought about how I was going to prepare them, I came up with the idea of speed dating - Spanish style! First, we moved the chairs to face each other. Then, I told them that one student was to remain in his/her seat while the opposing student rotated. This allowed for maximum number of pairings because I want the students to be able to talk with anyone in their class and not just their best friend or the person closest to them. It forced them to use communicative strategies to get their point across. While they were talking, I was able to walk around to make sure they stayed on task. 

The unit we are on has covered a lot of themes. First, we started by learning animals. Then, we talked about how climate change and other environmental diasters are causing them to go extinct. The students each made a poster saying what needs to be done to prevent the extinction of an animal from Latin America since it's so sad for them to lose their wonderful biodiversity which is what makes them so special. Also, we talked about various environmental problems in Latin America in regards to climate change and energy and discussed the possible solutions to these issues. Finally, the students wrote a formal letter to the President in regards to the existence of zoos. The class was divided in two - half writing in support of zoos and the other half opposing them. I did that on purpose because it made for an easy debate since the topic is so controversial.

Their prompt reflects everything that we have covered in the unit and gives the students the liberty to discuss the topic they feel the strongest about. To practice, we started the "speed dating" with endangered animals. They talked with three different people for 2 minutes each. Then, they spoke about contamination. After, alternative energy. Finally, they discussed zoos.

Speed dating - Spanish style!
4 topics X 3 partners = 12 pairs 
12 pairs X 2 minutes each = 24 minutes of spontaneous Spanish at the intermediate level!!!!

I could tell by their faces and body language that it was a success, but I asked them anyways - Do you feel prepared for the Common Assessment? I got a resounding "Sí!!".

It is always a challenge stepping out of your comfort zone with something new, but the results will speak for themselves next week. 

Feliz viernes a todos!!