Reflecting at the end of another school year is one of my favorite things to do. I have been working hard to revamp my curriculum (so happy to have a school district and principal that gives me that freedom!) to make it have a more communicative focus. I want students to have more interest in the topics that the units cover and therefore be more interested in learning the content that goes with it. Most of my work this year was done in my Spanish 2 curriculum so this summer I am focusing on how I can build on that with a revamped Spanish 3 curriculum.
For example, in Spanish 2, we always do a unit on food (as many WL teachers do). Instead of just another boring food unit, I changed the focus to living a healthy lifestyle. This enabled students to ave a focus for choosing their own vocabulary - we did this as a class for the first time (I was inspired by Amy Lenord, but have to find a better way for this because it took almost an entire class period!). Students chose many words and activities that I never would have thought of putting on a list. It had the added benefit of having each class have different lists so the cross-class copying for practice couldn't continue. ;) We then did a variety of activities, interpretive reading with infographics. Like this one and this one. I also used this Coke commercial as a CI listening introduction to the unit.
What I found was that by changing the focus of the unit to a question - "How do you live a healthy lifestyle?" - Students naturally wanted input on vocabulary and activities. They also always had an opinion and had something to say so conversation practice came more naturally. They were at first freaked out by some of the TL activities because they didn't know every word and in some cases, couldn't even find a translation for words and had to use their brain to figure out what some words meant. The summative for this unit was open to student choice. They did a presentation about healthy lifestyle. For some this meant demonstrating how to play sports, for others, a cooking demonstration of a healthy recipe, ideas to replace junk food with healthy alternatives, etc. It turned out to be one of the best units I have ever planned and some of the best work from the students. As if I didn't know that things went better this year, my enrollment for Spanish 3 tripled for next year. Yea!
Of course, in hindsight, I realized we never talked about ordering in a restaurant and asking about items on a menu, which is something "real world" that students want to be able to do, but next year, I will make sure to add an activity to help them practice this as well.
So, with this success, the question is how to I work on the other units to make them as engaging for students? I have long wanted to change my Fairy Tale unit in Sp 3 and really need to make my Future life and decisions unit better, but how.? This is part of my summer homework.