October 2022 –
It’s here! Today is Day 3 / 4 of PBL in my World Language Classroom! My students have begun work on their projects and today was an expert interview day! Out of the sheer kindness of his heart – John Sifert took time from his morning plan to talk with my students about their project and about writing books. The students had a BLAST. Not only were they thrilled (and a little awestruck) to be hearing from and asking questions to the author of some of their favorite books (La isla más peligrosa & La decisión más peligrosa) but they were amazed at their takeaways and action steps for their project pieces. After the conversation with John, we had an amazing discussion about what students are going to implement in their projects and why. Here are some student takeaways from our expert interview for our PBL project:
1 – It’s okay to draft BIG ideas and outlines in English, but the writing drafts should be in Spanish. This was something I’ve been talking to students about, but hearing it from another teacher / author really helped it make sense for my students.
2 – Glossaries make books accessible for everyone. Again, something I feel I’ve said a million times, but hearing it from someone else made sense! Students started asking good questions like: Should I include “baila” and “bailan” in my glossary? and Should I include cognates in my glossary? and Should I gloss words at the bottom of pages? Wrestling with these questions is helping my students dig deeper into their thoughts and the reason behind doing things… which is helping them to do things with purpose for their PBL.
3 – High quality work matters. John does a similar project with his high schoolers and was able to show students examples of high quality work… and less quality work. The biggest “hit home” for my students was when he showed them an art sample that was done in light pencil. He showed it closer, and closer, and closer to the camera before students could finally see it. After, students and I had a discussion about what they could do differently, and would they want to read a book with images like that. Most students said that they could easily level up the artwork with outlines or color!
4 – Final products drive motivation. This is a long haul PBL, and being able to see what a final product could look like… and seeing what other students have done was so inspiring for them.
After our interview, students spent some time reviewing my feedback on their first chapter, typing up their first chapter, and starting a glossary list for their first chapter contents.
I’m so, so, so thankful for John taking the time to interview with my students. You can read from John on his blog here: Padre de cinco. You can check out his books La isla más peligrosa, La decisión más peligrosa, and Seis Nombres here from CPLI.net.