Differentiated Communication Tasks


Among the internet’s greatest resources for language teachers interested in comprehensible input is Laura Sexton. Her blog PBL in the TL has given me a lot of inspiration. My recent implementation of PUEDOS stems from a blog she wrote

I started using PUEDOS at the beginning of my Spanish 2, 3 and 4 classes the past two weeks. Now I can sit back and reflect on their power and feel encouraged about the potential for increased communication happening student-to-student in the classroom. Students are given a sheet with 10 communication tasks; varying in complexity and skill. I appreciated the template for these proficiency tasks provided by AATSPSC keynote speaker Alanna Breen and used this to help me develop communication tasks related to the content and skills I was trying to develop within our units.

Puedos

I allot the first 5 to 8 minutes of class for 5 consecutive days for the completion of PUEDOS. The goal is to prove that you can do as many different communication tasks as possible (Puedo hacerlo). Each student must get a classmate to assess whether or not they can do the task. I asked the students to be critical and helpful and to really be sure that the student could complete the task confidently before signing off.

During PUEDO time, students interact with each other in the target language; listening, responding and helping each other successfully complete communication tasks. I would also float around the room, listening and occasionally assessing a student’s ability to complete a task as well.

After five days I collected the sheets to see how the students did. When I collected them, I would spot check and ask students to complete a task that they had indicated that they could do. This helped keep them accountable for the learning and also cautioned classmates to be honest in their assessments of each other. If they didn’t feel confident that Riley could do it when I asked him–don’t tell him that he can do it (No, lo siento no puedes).

I loved using this at the beginning of class because it just blasted the room with a sea of Spanish sounds and communication and helped set the tone for an enriching and engaging experience. Since each student could only sign off twice on a paper, it forced interaction between students that normally don’t interact. The repetitive nature of it was nice and it allowed for a lot of individualization. Certain students were stronger in some of the tasks than in others and benefited from hearing, or “testing”, another student. I also was able to witness great examples of collaborative learning and students helping each other out. One girl told a student that she didn’t think he could do it yet and then followed up with a great explanation of why and suggestions of how he could improve and practice.

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For Spanish 2 and 3, I did use these PUEDOS as a general summative assessment in interpersonal communication. I don’t know if I always will but I did for our first implementation. I love the fact that I can customize these tasks to address Unit specific objectives or extensions. Spanish 3 recently completed PUEDOS while working on the first half of “La Llorona de Mazatlan” by Katie Baker and some of the PUEDO tasks really helped comprehension and connection of the material.

I look forward to more engaging communication tasks like this and am so proud of my students and their ability to communicate with each other on a daily basis.

Read Laura Sexton’s Blog on Differentiated Social Warm-ups here.

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Redesigned Syllabus for 2017-2018


Each year I tinker and improve the class syllabus I give to my Spanish students. I’ve gone extremely detailed and very visual. This year I’ve really focused on: What is the information I need to make sure my students and parents know?

During the last school year I made a change to standards based grading on a 4 point scale. I communicated expectations and explained that to everyone last year but felt that same information was worth clarifying in this year’s syllabus as well.

This year’s version of my syllabus was created on Canva. I like the way that it looks and the practicality of being able to download it as a PDF. Makes it easy to send and easy to print if need be. It’s not as flashy or interactive as my Thinglink syllabus of 2015 but I’m ok with that. After the first day, I’m quite certain no one went back to those Thinglink links anyway.

The key to creating any syllabus is being very clear about your course and your expectations. Does anyone else love redesigning syllabi as much as me?