Adventures in Project Based Learning in the World Language Classroom: Day 2

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September 2022 – 

Project Based Learning in my Spanish Classroom Day 2 has arrived! Day 1 went well (you can read about it here!) and we’re moving on! One thing I didn’t mention in Day 1 is why this journey has been so difficult for me as a teacher that believes in and uses ADI (acquisition driven instruction) and CI (comprehensible input) methods. One big reason that this has been difficult is that the END GOAL of PBL is for students to have created a public facing product that is open to public critique and / or use. The investigative elements of PBL align very well with ADI / CI in my opinion. My students do quite a bit of investigating problems and culture in my classroom – reading, reading, and more reading. And we even do a decent amount of discussion in my upper levels (once they have the language to do so) about what they have investigated. The pivotal point for me is the public facing product. See – in CI / ADI teaching we believe that errors are appropriate for growth and learning. That we don’t necessarily need “perfect” products or to correct “less than perfect” products for messages / communication to happen. BUT with PBL my students need a public facing final product that they care about and that meets the “hierarchy” of an important enough audience for them to have buy in. For all of those things to exist together – it’s been a struggle. That’s why I’v decided on a final PBL piece of the novel. My students will give each other multiple feedback cycles and I will ultimately make edits for final products. This was my happy medium for CI / ADI and a public facing product that we will all be proud of. 

So Day 2 – For Day 2 Students got back together with their partners and investigated what physical qualities of books are attractive to them. Things like length, chapter breakdowns, glossing of words, artwork, layout, & more. Students combined their results from Day 1 on ideas of topics with their Day 2 ideas for physical layouts to prepare their first presentation on Day 3. 

Another pivotal piece of PBL is area experts. This is something that I strongly believe needs to happen for students to have complete buy in and to have a truly investigative learning experience. Today we had our first expert! The students wrote questions about books / book writing they wanted to know the answers to and we sent them off to several authors. The amazing Jim Wooldridge (AKA Señor Wooly) not only sent us back some phenomenal answers, but he also sent some images to help explain feedback and the importance of revisions. This was AMAZING to watch students see. For them to see and hear someone who’s work they adore show 6 cycles of revisions for 1 page truly put it into perspective for them why they should take things slow and solicit lots and lots and lots of feedback. Jim also talked a lot about how telling your own story is important – whether others are interested in it or not. Telling your story in your way and being true to who you are matters a lot more than people agreeing with you. And I couldn’t have said it better myself! 

So here’s to wrapping up Day 2… we aren’t having Day 3 for a few weeks. But check back soon to see how our next expert interviews on Day 3 & the student presentation of ideas & feedback cycle goes!

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