My son recently started playing T-ball for the first time, and at his first practice, I immediately started making parallels to the path to proficiency that we are on as teachers and as language learners ourselves.
"Let's run around and touch all of the bases!" Coach yelled. Sounds easy enough, but this simple exercise showed me just exactly how novice these T-ball players were. All at different speeds, some kids took off with twists and hops. Others stopped along the way to pick a blade of grass, or play in the dirt. A few kids ran with determination. What really struck me as Jake and one of his buddies rounded third base, was a parent yelling out, "Touch the base! Touch the base!" One little boy was happily trotting through the infield toward home plate, and skipping all of the bases. Big grin on his face, he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing, he was running near the bases, but not tagging them.
I, along with most of the parents on the sidelines, were laughing at our own children and how cute it is that most of them have no clue what they are doing yet. They are complete novices in this skill. It struck me that none of us were chastising our kids, or punishing them for not being better T-ball players. Instead, we understood that as they practice, they will become more proficient.
Also interesting to note, the coach did not sit them down and immediately start teaching them the rules of the game, or the history of the game, or even a giant framework and structure of how points are kept, etc. Instead, after a few kids successfully touched most of the bases, he broke them into groups, and sent one group to hit balls, one group to try throwing and catching, and one group to try fielding ground balls. And after only 1 practice, the kids played their very first game.
Did they know all of the rules? Nope. Were they proficient? Nope. But did they still engage in playing T-ball? Yep.
While no metaphor is perfect, this really "hit home" (couldn't help it), the idea of teaching a second language from a proficiency mindset.
Finally, in the first game, Jake had made it to second base, and another kid was up to bat. It looked like Jake would be able to make it home, so as he ran toward third, I yelled, "Keep going! Keep going!" He tagged third base and ran toward home. Then he tagged home, and took off again toward first base! He ended up rounding all of the bases a second time. "Well, I did tell him to keep going", I thought, and I didn't specify when to stop. So, as cute as it was that he ran the bases twice, it also reminded me that when we are working with novices, sometimes we don't even know exactly how much they don't know.
Today I want to share with you the kind of email that turns into a blog post. Just so that anyone who has never been featured on Voices From the Field will know how it happens. If I haven't happened to enter your classroom and take pictures of something you are doing, you can always send me an email and a few pics, and I would love to highlight you and your students' hard work. You can also invite me to come see you and your students. I know it takes an extra moment of your time, but it is such an honor to share what you are doing in your classes.
So here goes:
I just wanted to share what Rey and I have been doing at RBHS in our Spanish IV honors classes. We had our first Symposium about Mass Communication. This was a great opportunity for parents and students to see and hear their peers speak in Spanish.
For this unit, Spanish IV students investigated how technology is changing mass communication and affecting us globally. Students researched forms of mass communication and how they influence current events in Hispanic countries. In the Symposium, students had to explain in Spanish how this is relevant to our culture and other Spanish speaking countries. Attendees also saw artifacts based on students’ research portraying these differences and similarities. Attached below are the students' learning targets, rubric and photos of the event. It was such a great success, we thought we would share it with others. We are so proud of our students.
I love how the students are doing the work! That means they are doing the learning too. If we were not a proficiency-based WL program, I wonder if this would be possible? Great job Lisette and Rey! Thank you for pushing our students to produce language, to learn about culture and global issues, and to practice bilingual public speaking as well. So many skills rolled into one assignment!
At RBHS students had a very busy Day in German class and club! German 2 had a food celebration at the end of their 'I'm Hungry Unit.' Frau Buckliew and her student teacher were the waitresses. They spoke only German the whole time while experiencing authentic German food. Then after school the German club participated in the traditional Egg Blowing and Decorating.
WL students at LHS created some fantastic chalk art during their annual Chalk Day!
Pelion Middle School WL teachers have been gathering supplies for months in preparation for their International Week celebration. Students began creating their artwork this week around a global theme, and submissions will be set up for Spring Arts night and judged. We can't wait to see the results of the competition! May 1-May 4, they have organized International week. The International Club is working on organizing the activities. Students will also get a taste of international cuisine in the cafeteria that week, and participate in trivia, games and projects to raise awareness of other cultures.
LexOne WL teachers--you always go above and beyond for your students and for your profession. Thank you!
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)