Tuesday, February 17, 2015

IB Unit Planning / Los Baker van a Perú

Image taken from: http://teacherknowledge.net/cohort2/?p=128
Warning: This turned into a much larger post than I had intended and maybe serves as a better reflection on unit planning than a sharing of resources and/or ideas.

My school is IB which, in part, means that our curricular units have to be centered around a "Statement of Inquiry" that we explore and connect back to throughout the unit. Because most of my units are centered around a novel (TPRS readers) and are taught for the sole purpose of facilitating language acquisition among low to mid novice learners, the IB aspects of unit planning have, prior to now, largely taken backseat in my curriculum planning. Previously, the following two questions: "Is this useful vocabulary for my students to know?" and "Is this the most effective way to teach and assess acquisition?" were my guiding questions for everything I did in the classroom. However, I've found that with the increasing emphasis on IB throughout our school and the recent mandate that Spanish 2 align it's curriculum with French 2 (still not convinced about the benefit of this but that's another blog post...) that I better jump on the bandwagon in a major way. Luckily for me, there is nothing incompatible with how I've been curriculum planning and the IB framework for developing units. And, while it does create more work for the teacher, I believe it also makes the units more rich and interesting for students. Below is a quick outline of how I develop IB units using the TPRS novels in the classroom:

1. Read the novel! Obvious but indispensable first step.

2. Pull out the major themes/topics of each chapter and the novel as a whole.

3. Develop a "Statement of Inquiry" based on the topics of the text.

4. Decide the assessment criteria (in non-IB speak this just means determining which skills- reading, writing, speaking, listening- you will be focusing on throughout the unit. IB recommends focusing on no more than two at a time and this, along with the emphasis on summative assessments, has long been problematic for me. Again, another blog post.) and develop a unit assessment. I am currently using ACTFL's Integrated Performance Assessments as a model for summative assessment tasks.

5. Stockpile as many authentic resources as possible (Pinterest is a great place to do this) related to the topics (Statement of Inquiry) and aligned to the assessment criteria.

6. Write & Incorporate individual lessons within the curricular unit that allow students to explore these themes.

For our current unit, we are reading "Los Baker van a Perú." From the novel, I've pulled out the following topics of interest:

  • Do opposites get along better? 
  • Do people behave differently at school than they do at home? 
  • Watching television in a different country. 
  • Is it important to speak the language of a country you are visiting? 
  • Eating in a different country. 
  • Is history important?
  • Do adults and teenagers have different interests when traveling? 
  • Is visiting museums while traveling important? 
  • The importance of the potato to Peruvian society. 
  • Las líneas Nasca. 
  • Cuzco & Incan Civilization. 
  • Altitude Sickness. 
  • Bad Luck. 

From the above topics, I developed this Statement of Inquiry:

When we travel we can increase our cultural understanding by observing and respecting the social patterns and traditions of the country we are visiting.

The next step was to determine the assessment criteria. For this unit I decided to focus on three. (This goes against the IB recommendation of focusing on only two criteria but for longer units I feel confident that I can incorporate all three effectively.) For the Interpretive Task, Criterion A: Comprehending Spoken & Visual Text.  For the Interpersonal Task, Criterion C: Communicating in Response to Spoken, Written & Visual Text. And finally, for the Presentational Task, Criterion D: Using Language in Spoken & Written Form.

Once the Statement of Inquiry and Assessment Tasks were taken care of, I began to stockpile authentic resources. I really wanted to be careful that these resources were aligned to the assessment criteria and provided and opportunity for incorporating the Statement of Inquiry into the day to day lesson plans. Below is an example of a video (aligned to Criterion A) that I used both to practice listening comprehension and to incorporate the Statement of Inquiry.  The first part of the video is very fast but the second part is slower and more comprehensible. (I uploaded it from a downloaded video but you can find the original here).

Now, how to turn this into a lesson plan? I wanted the lesson to model the assessment criteria I had chosen. That is to say, I wanted the lesson to have an interpretive, interpersonal and presentational component.

I started with a simple warm up: ¿Cómo se define «un viajero»? ¿Cómo se define «un turista»?

Then I developed a comprehension guide for the video. I tried to use vocabulary structures from the unit but without repeating the exact vocab used in the video. The idea being that students would have to comprehend what they heard not just listen for key words within the video. Still a work in progress.

Next, in pairs of two, students completed the questionnaire in order to determine if they were "más turista" or "más viajero." (Questionnaire adapted from original  by Federico Escudero Álverez on Todoele.)Students shared out from this activity, explaining both their own results and those of their partners.

Finally, before leaving, I asked students to complete a "Think, Pair, Share" activity with the following questions:

¿A dónde llevarías un turista en nuestra ciudad? ¿A dónde llevarías un viajero?

Then I used equity cards to call on three or four students and have them respond to the question. Done and on to the next authentic resource!

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