For my Course 1 final project, I chose to modify the first unit taught in G6 (MYP 1) for Spanish Language Acquisition Phase 1. Being the first unit, it not only introduces the students to Spanish as a language, but it also helps the students get acquainted with key aspects of the Hispanic culture. This is a unit that I have taught, in it’s most current shape, for three years. The enduring understanding for this unit, is for students to learn that each culture creates their own patterns for social interactions and how language reflects those patterns. In this way, the students explore how in Spanish there is a marked difference between formal and informal/familiar forms of address, and how the body language matches these forms of address. Students learn how to communicate basic personal information and how to interact in social exchanges where different registers are needed.
There are two big ideas from Course 1 that moved me to modify this unit. First, how Connectivism proposes that students should be given opportunities to become curators and contributors of content, not only using information and learning ideas from others, but also creating to share knowledge and ideas with others (read my post on this topic here). As a result, I decided to include in the unit a project where students can share what they have learned about the norms and language used in social interactions in Hispanic countries to teach others. In this case, the outcome of this project will be shared with the Grade 5 students in our school who are taking Spanish (it’s an exploratory course that not all the students take, making the G6 curriculum a more structured beginning of Spanish learning). Potentially, it could also be shared with the wider community through DragonNet, our school’s Learning Management System. Through this project, the students not only have the opportunity to share their knowledge, but also to take action within our community, which is a very important aspect of an IB education.
The other key idea that moved me to modify this unit, is how through the use of digital tools we can flatten the walls of our classrooms, giving the students opportunities to meaningfully connect with other students and the wider world (read my post on global collaboration here). For this reason, I decided to revisit something I did a few years back, where I connected my students with a matching class in another international school, and they were able to email each other allowing them to practice in a real setting what they were learning in Spanish class. That previous collaboration was done for one unit only and was not documented in the unit plan. I am lucky to have worked throughout the years with various Spanish teachers, so in this way, it will be easy to find a class to connect with. In addition, I want this to become a year long project where the students will also be able to choose the medium of communication.
After considering various tools, Explain Everything is the app that the students will use to create their visual presentation for the Grade 5 students I mentioned above. I chose this tool because it allows students to use all sorts of media together, which they can easily edit, remix and annotate. The objective of this presentation is to help the Grade 5 students understand basic conversations in Spanish (greetings, introductions, “small talk” and farewells) and the difference between the formal and informal register in Spanish. The students will be able to use any of the materials we used in class, plus any others they research or create for this purpose. An essential part of this project is for students to go beyond creating a collage of resources. Instead, they will make a digital presentation with carefully selected and annotated sources, creating an interactive resource that clearly explains the language and cultural objectives for this task.
On the other hand, the students will have a choice of medium when it comes to connecting with their “pals” from the other international school. The goal for this connection, is for the students to have a real audience and purpose for communication. When I did this a couple of years ago, the students only communicated via email. This time around, I would like for the students to have choice between email and Flipgrid, as some students are not very comfortable recording themselves.
The Unit Plan
So, without further ado, here is my modified unit plan. Due to formatting issues, I couldn’t embed my unit plan in this post.