Friday, March 18, 2016

Self-Selecting Vocabulary: The Sequel

The topic of how to encourage students to create personal vocabulary for themselves has been very present for me lately.   The following is a lesson I gave last week as a part of a 6th grade unit called, Where does the world live? exploring how people live in the world, and what challenges some face, relying heavily on the book, Material World and Where Children Sleep.

Since both of these books are in English, I use them for their thought provoking and highly engaging photographs that we use in class for describing, narrating and asking questions in the TL.   In the context of this unit, I created a lesson around the following IKEA ad:

What did I do?

  • I divided up the students into groups of three, after we watched the video once.
  •  I told them that their group would eventually tell the story of the video, and asked them to think about what language they would need to tell the story of the video, and identify the gaps-or language they didn't know but would need for the task. 
  • While watching the video a 2nd time, the students individually make a list of 10 or less words they needed to look up to help them tell the story- none of the words on the list could be verbs(they're not working with conjugating verbs from infinitives). While they worked to create a list of their unknown words, I wrote recycled, conjugated verbs on the board(from previous units), like es, son, tiene, hay, va, da, lee, mira, limpia, come, invita, cambia.
  • After the 2nd viewing, the groups worked together to come up with a final list. Using, they looked up the words they would need to write the story.
  • Next, during a silent writing time, each student wrote an opening line to the story using new/recycled language. After a few minutes working by themselves, they shared their opening lines with the group. As a group, they decided how to combine/use the language for a group created opening line.  We put those up on the board, and took a vote on what would be the opening line to use for the stories.( This was an opportunity to fine tune and do a little instruction):

  • Working in a similar manner, they created the last line of the story.
  • Finally, each student wrote 2 sentences to go in between, and the group worked together to again combine language from the individuals to create the group story.
  • With the text from their stories, some of the students wanted to make a storyboard version of the video.

I treat this activity as a forum for instruction and creation. The students are creating with the language, self-selecting new vocabulary, recycling previously used language chunks and vocab(feelings, weather, activities, descriptions), and getting lessons throughout on vocab/grammar use(for example, drawing their attention to the repetition they see among sentences and asking them to co-construct the grammar rules).  This process takes 3-4 classes(FLES length), and helps to lay the foundation for their performance assessments on which they need to describe or explain by themselves.

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