Project Based Learning / PBL is growing in popularity. A lot of schools are recognizing that students often feel more engaged and more a part of their learning process when they are engaged and involved in activities like projects. One key element of PBL is that it’s authentic for students and that the outcome of the project has an audience. These elements are said to give students motivation for high quality performance on the project and lead to higher learning and retention.
PBL / Project Based Learning is something that I have recently taken on in my World Language / Spanish Classroom as it has become a school requirement for students to complete a PBL in each class, each semester. For the 22-23 school year, did a PBL project with my 8th graders surrounding researching and writing a novel that was “missing” from our classroom library. You can read about that project here! The project was overall a success. Students completed a needs assessment and then fulfilled a need – serving their classmates and future classmates. Students also present on their novels to parents / community members to see which books the parents / community would fund for the library.
But this Spanish PBL project would not work in my lower level classes. I needed something that I could implement in my lower level Spanish 2 class for the 23-24 school year. So I began thinking about what students genuinely care about, what service they could provide the community, and where those two things met within the Spanish language abilities of my students. And there was born my National Parks in Spanish Speaking Countries Unit. This unit combines things many of my students love into one – project based – unit.
The goal of the PBL project in this unit is for students to plan a trip to a National Park in a Spanish Speaking country. Students would then take their research and combine the projects into something that would be presented to the community for them to use for travel purposes (ie. a blog, website, brochure that showed different price points for trips to different countries from their home destination). During the unit, students would read a collection of 21 readings about different national parks, the park geography, their offerings, the cost, etc. to build their research for the project. Teachers could even take this further and have students debate about which park is best based on these factors.
The amazing thing about this Spanish PBL unit is that it is also incredibly cross curricular! Our school is really pushing STEAM integration and cross curricular topics in all classes for the 23-24 school year. So this unit covers science with physical geography and landforms, cost calculations brings in math, physical education brings in the activity portion, and social studies with maps and timelines. By the end of this unit students will have a solid understanding of a national park in each Spanish, be able to map the parks (and therefore the Spanish speaking countries), create a timeline of park creation, list background knowledge for national parks, interact with directional words and phrases, and create a project planning a trip to a national park accounting for weather, packing lists, activities to do, and costs.
If you’re looking for a PBL Unit for Novice High to Intermediate Low students – check out this National Parks Unit!