Del Diseño a la Creación: Enseñanza y Aprendizaje Basados en Conceptos

La implementación del modelo de currículo y enseñanza basados en conceptos (CBCI por sus siglas en inglés) en el área de lenguas adicionales carecía de teoría y práctica que apoyaran su implementación. Este libro pone fin y da solución a esa necesidad.

Además de aterrizar y enfocar el modelo CBCI en la enseñanza de lenguas adicionales, este trabajo incluye ejemplos de planificadores, rutinas de aprendizaje, y da seguimiento minucioso a los pasos de la evaluación formativa y sumativa de las experiencias de aprendizaje y evaluación, de ahí su nombre: Del Diseño a la Creación. Del mismo modo, la variedad de recursos que lo acompañan lo convierte en un recurso difícil de comparar.

Este trabajo se produjo para apoyar a los profesores de lenguas adicionales que deseen incorporar de manera auténtica la pedagogía basada en conceptos, así como matizar sus prácticas con diversos modelos de indagación y desarrollo explícito de habilidades.  5 años de investigación, colaboración con las pioneras del modelo CBCI, y el desarrollo de pruebas en diferentes escuelas internacionales avalan este libro, el primero en su especie en el área de lenguas adicionales.

Con este trabajo, los lectores consiguen:

  • 3 ejemplos de planificadores para la enseñanza de lenguas adicionales en diferentes niveles
  • 1 ejemplo de un mapa curricular para estudiantes de 11-16 años
  • Docenas de ejemplos de estrategias que apoyan la enseñanza de lenguas basada en conceptos
  • Fotografías, audios y vídeos que demuestran maneras en que se puede implementar el modelo
  • Recursos y estrategias

Estoy agradecido con los peer reviewers del trabajo, cuyas apreciaciones aparecen enseguida.

«Sin lugar a duda se trata de una excelente obra que de forma muy amena y ágil sintetiza metodologías contemporáneas para la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de nuevas lenguas desde un marco teórico y conceptual que se corresponde con el estado del arte, abordando holísticamente las distintas dimensiones a considerar para un aprendizaje significativo y en contexto. Altamente recomendable para profesionales de la educación relacionados con la enseñanza y el acompañamiento de adquisición de lenguas extranjeras».
Dr. Fernando Ramírez Pérez

«Este libro fomenta la comprensión de elementos de teoría centrados en el aprendizaje conceptual y cómo transferir el conocimiento y llevarlo a la práctica. Está diseñado para que docentes responsables de la enseñanza y adquisición de lenguas adicionales desarrollen estrategias tangibles que logren que los alumnos sean actores centrales en el desarrollo de otra lengua. Los ejemplos que se promueven nos mantienen enfocados en la adquisición de conocimientos, la transferencia de los mismos y cómo llevar todo a la aplicación de manera que los alumnos logren vivir el idioma en contextos reales».
Diego Zaragoza Tejas

«Este libro llega justo en tiempos en los que es necesario repensar y enriquecer el concepto de currículo para que sea relevante a la realidad de nuestros alumnos. J. Rafael Ángel desmitifica la leyenda y los misterios del modelo de Enseñanza y Aprendizaje Basados en Conceptos con ejemplos concretos y detallados. Con una multitud de escenarios que ilustran el proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje de una unidad de indagación bajo los principios de la enseñanza de lenguas basada en conceptos, este libro se convierte en una importante herramienta para los profesores de lengua a nivel de secundaria o bachillerato. El autor no solo nos invita a reflexionar acerca de la creación de un currículo contextualizado en áreas de interés para los jóvenes que atienda a la relevancia de los temas de su mundo y no del mundo de los adultos, sino que nos invita a reconocer el valor de nuestra asignatura».
Dra. Glauce Serralvo

El trabajo se puede conseguir en las siguientes plataformas:

Amazon España

Amazon Francia

Amazon Países Bajos

Amazon Alemania

Amazon Polonia

Amazon.com

Posted in Approaches to teaching, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, Curriculum, Spanish By Concept | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Transfer Pathway from a vocabulary list to a Consumable Text

I am halfway through level A2 of my Dutch learning experience as I write this blog post. I am now able to take part in everyday transactions and to ask and share information about myself, people, places, and objects, as long as it’s factual. Being who I am, however, I am aware of the need I have to share impressions and opinions.

We have recently been mixing vocabulary related to goods we buy in the supermarket and features of homes we read in different advertisements to practice the perfectum tense in Dutch. This means that we have the opportunity to communicate what we have done, what we have seen, what we have asked, where we have gone, among other instances.

We have been writing small paragraphs in which we share/summarize, for example, the steps taken to host a dinner, from going shopping, to cooking, setting the table, and cleaning up. Most recently, we were asked to report the direct questions we are asked in different places, and what we respond. We are not using indirect speech yet. The intentions of the teacher are very clear- he wants us to practice the perfectum form of the verbs in as many contexts as possible.

Having succeeded in a task in which I reported what I did to prepare for a dinner to which I invited my best friends, I started thinking how I could transfer the language I employed to produce a text that has no audience, to a text that could actually be consumable. Empowered, as usual, I started crafting a blog post in which I was to inform my readers about the differences in prices in products in Belgium and Mexico.

When I finished the text, I asked my spouse to look at it and help me improve it. I concretely wanted to know

  1. If I was able to communicate a message   
  2. If the text included constructions that signaled possible translation from other languages that I speak (or even google translate)

When the time came for us to look at the text, I noticed that the conversation revolved around accuracy and the extent to which what I wrote made sense. I thought the intent of my message was clear, but as we discussed how logical some of my ideas were, I started wondering whether my message was not expressed clearly, or whether I wrote things that did were not logical. I even started writing some sentences in English to clarify what I wanted to say.

To make the story short, I lost patience and decided to abort the mission because I did not see how I was being helped.   

After a few minutes, once I have cooled off, I started thinking whether we, teachers, are sensitized to the moments when our students go from feeling empowered to feeling powerless. I started thinking about the strategies we may or may not provide our students with so that they can engage in dialogue when being helped. I was being helped, but the “help” focused on accuracy and “logic”, and I felt that what I wanted to express was not being addressed.   

I have been writing this blog since 2005. Clearly, I have vast experience to transfer from. Nevertheless, I have never written a consumable text in Dutch, so even if I possess a wide variety of skills to write blog entries with different purposes in the languages that I am fluent in, I am not able to do so in a language that I am acquiring, even when I think that I know the words and necessary structures to create one.   

The process of writing a shopping list is very different from the process of writing a text message to tell someone you are late, or from the process of filling out a form with personal information. Are we aware of the steps involved in the production of these texts? Are we aware of the decisions we make when producing one? Do we help students to write sentences that serve as declarations of facts but lack an intent for an actual audience? What is the difference from simply writing “the prices of goods are more expensive in Belgium than in Mexico” and using this statement as part of a text that aims to communicate the summary of an experience?

Evidently, I noticed something that made me conclude the above, and I want to share it. The question is, what kind of questions are necessary for a dialogue in which we focus on how we can use language to communicate different ideas? And which are the ideas that can best help to communicate the summary of the experience one lived?

After being calmed down by my reflection, I started coaching myself as if I were my own student. The following are a few thoughts and questions that shaped my second attempt:

  • Thought: I need to use only the words I have learned.
  • T: I need to avoid translating long phrases that will result in complex structures that I haven’t been taught.
  • Question: How can I say this in a different way?
  • Q: What are the ideas that make sense in this text?
  • Q: What words can I use to construct an idea that makes sense in this text?
  • Q: (After writing an idea) How can I extend this idea so that it adds to the overall message?
  • Q: Does this look like a text that someone with my language level would write?

Inevitably, I also started thinking about the steps I would need to take as a teacher if I wanted to scaffold the transfer process in a case like this. These are some of the questions that I was able to recollect:

  • Have I shown students how many different ideas can be expressed with the vocabulary we have learned?
  • Have I provided my students with mentor texts to refer to when exploring how ideas can be communicated?
  • (If I have identified mentor texts) Do the texts progressively show how to integrate facts, questions, summaries of dialogues, ways of using information in stimuli?
  • Have I prepared language stems that can help students use language with the text conventions in mind?
  • Have I prepared examples to help students see how language is used to address an audience, to communicate ideas with a specific purpose within a theme, to combine ideas?

At the end of this reflective experience, I am left with these questions:

  • How many times do we ask students what the intended message of the text they are writing is?
  • How many times do we ask them to walk us thought the work they have already done?
  • How many times do we ask students what they want to express before we give feedback?
  • How many times do we refer them to the work we have already done to continue to support independence?
  • How balance is our feedback considering meaning, message and accuracy?

Below, on the left, is a screenshot of the text about the transactions I participated in, which helped me to practice language and grammar, but which had no real audience. On the right, is the text I produced as a summary of an experience: comparing prices.

Posted in Approaches to teaching, ATL, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, IB PYP, Inquiry, Strategies | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Learning a new language alongside a group of immigrants (like me).

Taken and used with permission.

When I moved to Belgium, it was very clear to me that I wanted to learn Dutch. I could have easily joined a language institute, get a private tutor, or do as I did with Chinese: learn on my own and use my friends as my teachers. 

I wanted this new learning experience to have a different impact on me and, if possible, to teach me more about me as a learner and as a person, and not just as a language student. For this reason, I decided to join a Dutch class for immigrants, which is offered by the Bureau of Integration. 

Having taught languages privately, in language institutes, and in middle and high schools has made me aware of the “common look” of resources and the array of strategies teachers can use. Nonetheless, I have never taught to a group of migrants or designed learning for people whose backgrounds and learning journeys may be completely new to me. Needless to say, this opportunity would teach me about empathy, and would allow me to witness a different pedagogical skillset in the teachers. 

What can we learn from language teachers who teach immigrants?

Togetherness

The first thing I noticed in my class were the teacher’s efforts for making us feel welcome and for ensuring that we knew our names. The old-fashioned and over-orchestrated introduction drills never felt so real and so meaning-full. 

Our teacher has the gift of creating classes that feel like a discovery where, session after session, I learn something new about the people who are in a similar journey to mine, and whose traits and details nuance the image of the human being in front of me. Never before could seeing the effort that it takes to put together a statement to share how many people are part of our family felt like a present.  

Curation of the content

When our teaching placed the textbook that we’d follow on my table I, instantaneously, navigated its content and was happy to see that the resource prioritized frequency of the situations we may encounter and presented learning based on different language functions. As we continue to explore the material in the book, I could not help but reflect on the obsession many additional language curricula for middle or high school have with topics that mean little to teenagers, or situations in which they teens would rarely lead an interaction.

How nice it was to become aware that one can sign up for a library card, discount memberships, among other cases, right after the first day of class. 

Practice and transfer 

Each one of my classmates and I will be using the language we are learning in different scenarios. For this reason, I highly value the fact that we are required to apply our understanding of the language we learned in each lesson not in one obvious context, but in different ones. 

This particular learning habit reinforces my belief in concept-based language learning, and the fact that there is no reason to delay the application of specific language functions and their accompanying skills if there are cases in which we can transfer past learning to new contexts, and new and old understandings to more unusual contexts. 

Examples of the situations to which we have to transfer the language understandings and skills we develop. (Zo Gezegd 1.1 by Christine Boekenm, Els Le Page, Els Mertens and Ingrid Peeters pp59)

Pace

Time is gold- every educator knows. But every educator also knows that rushing through content as if the end of a unit was running away from us does not end well. Seeing the devotion with which our teacher stops and re-teaches what some of my classmates do not understand; witnessing how he extends or shortens instructions depending on what he sees; and the certainty he projects which I translate as “I prefer to spend 10 more minutes going through this, than realizing tomorrow that they’ve forgotten it all” is something to praise him for.

I have noticed how the pace of the class feels like one but underneath that atmosphere different layers of engagement can be sensed. While he pauses and he makes to explain or to provide more examples to some of us, the rest of the class participates in different engagements such as reading authentic documents (supermarket/store brochures, cultural programs, tickets, receipts, etc.), drills in pairs, writing from models, etc. Aside from intentionality, his planning includes a not wasting time for learning.

Strategies

Teaching a class whose students’ mother tongues include Dari, Arabic, Farsi, Romanian, Swahili and Spanish and using only the target language (Dutch) to explain is not a simple task. Not only does our teacher show awareness of the reasons why each of us makes mistakes depending on our background and skillset, but also chooses to show examples for students to see how language works and encourages to imitate, hence encouraging us to generalize. 

No question or teaching point is taken for granted or assumed. Our teacher does not assume that everyone in the class knows that Els, Aleid, or Bas are names of people; or that everyone knows where Ypres, Tielt, or Izegem are located (let alone assuming that we know they are names of towns).  His computer browser always displays a collection of tabs that he strategically organizes to show meaning in different ways and to help us make sense of our surroundings. 

Goals

A few salient traits of our teacher are his resourcefulness to use every tool at his disposal to explain, his creativity, and above all, his desire to see everyone succeed, and not to leave everyone behind. It is clear that all the learners in the class share the same goal, but this thought acquires a deeper meaning when we know the teacher is there to ensure we attain it.

My behaviors as a learner 

The choice I made to be a part of this class comes with tacit responsibilities. Dutch is a capricious language that comes up with surprises when we think we got it, so I have been practicing being a resilient learner. After all, I am responsible for my intrinsic motivation. I aim to participate in class as anyone would but try not to capitalize participation if I know the answers. I go into the class without my teacher’s hat and avoid welcoming silent questions or remarks such as: why doesn’t he… instead of….?; I think he could…. 

Most importantly, I am thankful for recognizing how a new language is empowering me to walk another corridor in my life; and how this new experience will provide me with tools that I will follow me everywhere. 

Posted in #MakeGrowthHappen, Differentiation, Reflection, Strategies, Thoughts around the world | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Developing and transferring language skills beyond the classroom

How can we ensure that learning experiences outlive the summative assessment?


How can we ensure that every component of a unit of inquiry is a living part of the culminating experience?


Why is it important to empower students to produce outcomes that will authentically be consumed by people beyond their learning community? 


I have been reflecting on the purpose of culminating learning experiences and assessments in the additional language class. I have been reflecting on how every component of a unit of inquiry could be a central part of the series of performances that help to wrap up the unit, and on the contributions of a unit of inquiry to students’. In brief, I have been striving to design engagements that show students concrete realistic scenarios where they would be demonstrating their mastery of X linguistic skills, not just a classroom-based drill.

Many could argue that in some of the culminating oral tasks I design, students prepare what they have to say and read it. But if we see how news hosts, podcasters or people who give a speech  carry out their tasks, we know there is always pre-planning and support available. 
I support the idea that for brief, 30-second transactions such as exchanging personal information or answering questions, learners need to demonstrates abilities to retrieve and be spontaneous, but for bigger tasks that require a wide set of skills, I believe the construction of the experience is much more meaningful than memorization. 


I want my students to culminate a year of learning with me and be able cite the real-world instances in which they could  engage because they either practiced that in my class or because they received examples of how that could be done. For me, this is teaching and learning that transfers, not just teaching language for superficial imitation. 

You can view an example of the interview in this link.

You can view an example of students reporting on their findings in this link.

Posted in Approaches to teaching, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, Inquiry, Multimodal texts, Strategies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Another learning routine to support the analysis of conventions

I have been involved in a pursuit to create a series of strategies that allows to meaningfully teach, retrieve and review the language of conventions. I have made it a point to design routines that allow for explicit and intentional instruction so that their integration in the learning process moves beyond regarding them as a list of vocabulary items.

This pursuit has helped me understand the importance of curating texts and choosing those whose visual and iconographic elements are abundant. Not only does this choice allows me to ensure practicing relevant vocabulary in context but extends the learning experience by providing opportunities to explore meaning of visual and iconographic elements as well the way in which they contribute to the message of the text.

In a previous entry, I shared a routine that allows students to identify a variety of elements and to mention what they express. This new routine that I have tried with success requires students to retrieve relevant conventions-related vocabulary as well as the way in which information is organized. After doing this, students mention what those decisions may represent (see image above).

These routines help students to begin and continue to understand how the choice of verb we select to explain the effects of visual and iconographic elements signify steps towards a more in-depth analysis.

I continue to believe that solely asking students to identify the type of text a sample is, who the target audience is and what the purpose of communication may be does not constitute a meaningful inquiry experience for students. This approach does not help them to develop the awareness of the smaller and previous steps that build the way towards analyzing a text.

For this reason, I will continue to devise engagements that require students to

  • Retrieve relevant vocabulary
  • Observe how visual and iconographic elements interact with one another
  • Inquire into the relationship among visual and iconographic elements and the meaning and message of the text
  • Reflect on the extent to which these elements reflect cultural aspects and further allow us to make connections.

You can download the editable slides to try this routine here.

Download an editable resource that allows you to see of this routine in action, step by step (includes guiding question).

Spanish

English

You can read about the “road to analyzing the conventions” of a text in these links.

Spanish

English

Posted in Approaches to teaching, ATL, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, Multimodal texts, Resources, Spanish By Concept, Strategies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The relationship between language and purpose of communication

It’s been years since I stopped thinking about my language units as ‘my unit about festivals’, ‘my unit about food’, etc. I’ve never been fond of having a lesson for each day of the calendar: a lesson for Valentine’s day on February 14, or a lesson about 5 de mayo on May 5. I have never understood the point. It’s not like having that class and showing students some vocabulary and sentences about the day will contribute to making them better citizens.

I have always preferred to think about how the explorations in my class adds to students’ experience as citizens. I have always made an effort to design experiences in which students will produce something that has a place in the real world. Even when students find themselves at the beginning levels of language learning, I have strived to help them see they use the language they know to create.

Asking students about what they were able to produce after a unit of inquiry and hearing a list of products that emulate communication elements of authentic texts always encourages me to keep looking for possibilities. For this reason, one of my mantras has always been: if the way I teach and explore language in a unit does not allow students to produce something that is connected to their age-appropriate reality, then it may not be worth pursuing.

I have been guiding a group of grade 6 learners for over a semester now.  We have created a very strong partnership and I enjoy seeing how the way they investigate language and find patterns in the model sentences I ask them to imitate helps them to use language without “guessing”. What makes me most proud of them is how producing text for them has also become a multimodal endeavor.

In our classes, we do not produce isolated text that will spend its last days forgotten on a notebook page or digital word processor page. They have understood and embraced the culture of drafts; they continue to learn how to respond to feedback to better communicate their ideas; and above all, they are becoming great communicators in a language that is new to them.

The image below showcases a few samples of students’ work that were produced upon studying a variety of structures with the verb “gustar” (like). We explored word form inductively and they found the connections between pronouns and word form (the word ‘conjugation’ is not a word we use in our class).

 We followed these steps:

  1. We explored a variety of examples showcasing the form for 1st person singular. This helped students follow the model and imitate the sentences.
  2. We explored a variety of examples showcasing the form for 3rd person singular. This helped students to notice differences and to imitate a different sentence pattern.
  3. We explored the structure of questions with this verb, and students were able to retrieve what they learned.
  4. We used the vocabulary of the IB LP attributes and made connections with different activities. This supported students to understand how to justify appreciations.
  5. We looked at a variety of posters: some used 1st person and some used 3rd person. Students were able to understand both.
  6. I have students 3 choices: inform, entertain, persuade, to tell me what the poster wanted to do, and to justify.    

This simple exercise helped students understand the relevance of word choice (adjectives) when producing a poster like this, and adding details linked to such adjectives enhances the message.

In order for students to achieve conceptual understandings in the language class they need to experience the construction of such understanding; they need to observe, find patterns, and apply that understanding to create messages. They need to interact with concepts as if they were ingredients in a recipe so that they know how understanding the relationship(s) among them allows them to create content for the world of the language they are learning. 

Posted in Approaches to teaching, ATL, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, Multimodal texts, Spanish By Concept, Strategies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How can we inquire into language learning through texts?

Recently I have been engaged in reflection about the language-based inquiries that take place as we address the strand “respond” in the inquiry cycle suggested in the Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction Unit Web. 

When we address the concepts in “respond”, students investigate the way language is used in a variety of texts or relevant examples that model how language is used. For this reason, some of the questions students may be answering at this point could require them to identify patterns in the decisions authors make when using language to express ideas, or in the language choices authors make to produce messages for specific audience.

In short, at this stage, becoming aware of how these texts model language is key.

I would like to share an excerpt of a unit web in which we can see the overarching generalization that grounds the unit, as well as the generalization for the strand (respond) that help to identify the conceptual relationships we want students to explore and attain at this stage.

Also, I am sharing an example of one of the resources/mentor texts that would model language for students.

These would be some valuable language learning experiences to carry out with this resource without treating it as a tool to assess understanding summatively:

  • Extract sentences that exemplify how the language of the unit is being used
  • Compare the structure of the sentences and discuss how the meaning and message are different
  • Reflect on the choices the author made when selecting modes of language to convey ideas
  • Reflect on the way different modes of languages and word choice contribute to the tone and mood of the text
  • Address the concept of ‘use’ and reflect on how structures are employed to construct ideas.  

Can you see the same opportunities I see in this text?

Posted in Approaches to teaching, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, Inquiry, Multimodal texts, Strategies, Teaching | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning Routines to Develop the Language of Conventions

As a result of the mentorship that I was lucky to receive from Dr. Gunther Kress, I started reflecting on intentional ways to explore text conventions in the language class. I wanted to find routines that would allow me to meaningfully teach the language of conventions and, at the same time, be very explicit and intentional in the way that I integrated them in the learning process without treating them as a list of vocabulary items.

I have written reflections on Developing the Language of Conventions a, how different modes of language add to the meaning of a text, and a series of suggested steps to analyze the conventions of a text. These reflections have helped me realize that solely asking students to identify the audience and the purpose of a text does not really constitute evidence of conceptual understanding. What does, however, are the steps prior to coming to that conclusion: retrieving meaning, stating meaning, establishing relationships, and interpreting connections.

For this reason, I continue to explore ways in which I can help students rehearse these vocabulary items and, at the same time, gradually engage them in developing their understanding of concepts such as text features, format, conventions, purpose, audience, and mood.

This time I would like to share a routine based on two questions: 
– What can you see in this text? (¿Qué hay en este texto?- In Spanish) and
– What does this text express? (¿Qué expresa este texto?- In Spanish).

Using these two questions every time I present a text related to the inquiry we are participating in, has helped me to ensure that students become familiar with this terminology and transfer from what they learn in Language and Literature. This routine has also helped me to help them see that knowing the meaning of key words and using word selections with purpose make us better communicators.  

Below you will find a series of slides that show how we can use the two questions above in small yet engaging activities. The resources are in English and Spanish but you can easily translate into your language as they are in PPT.

Posted in Approaches to teaching, ATL, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB MYP, Multimodal texts, Resources, Spanish By Concept | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Identifying concepts for the language-learning journey

I have been asked ‘where I get all the concepts that I state in my generalizations from’, and ‘how I know at which stage of the learning continuum to address them explicitly’. The answer for this inquiry is “The Unit Web”.

The unit web is a powerful planning instrument designed by Dr. Lynn H Erickson and further developed for process-based disciplines by Dr. Lois Lanning. The unit web we consider for concept-based language instruction includes 4 strands (understand, respond, critique, produce) which, while they are not an inquiry cycle, suggests learning habits and behaviors in which teachers and students collaborate in order to learn the language, learn through the language, and learn about the language.

As you can see in the example above, a series of concepts to focus are outlined in each strand. These are the concepts we would use to produce relevant generalizations for each strand. Once these conceptual relationships are stated, we will be able to identify which is the overarching generalization, which are the generalizations that signal the understandings that will serve as foundations for the unit (understand); which are the generalizations that reveal information about the class mindset (respond); which are the understandings that we need to quality assure before asking students to produce their final outcomes (critique); and the concepts we need to consider to assess students’ performance (produce).

The follow up comment is, “that is a lot of concepts.” And I follow up by saying, “but that is explicit and intentional learning, and not a fantasy in which we pretend to be teaching conceptually and all we do is create a statement of conceptual relationship that one cannot even investigate.” 

I have included a resource for this unit planner to show how concrete generalizations from a specific strand help to design inquiries, learning engagements. The generalization is the understanding we would like students to achieve through the inquiry we’ve designed. 

Posted in Approaches to teaching, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB DP, IB MYP, Inquiry, Resources | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Developing the Language of Conventions

Part of teaching reading includes helping students become critical thinkers about the different elements that contribute to the meaning and message of the texts they consume. Many educators believe that the vocabulary items related to texts features aka conventions do not have a place in the earlier stages of language acquisition. However, since students see these features in all the texts they interact with, isn’t it a good idea to support them to learn what they are called so that they can gradually learn their names and are able to retrieve them?

If we are to keep the ceilings high and the floors low for students to access learning, and not to offend their intellectual abilities, we need to devise ways to authentically integrate and practice the vocabulary of conventions in our lessons. Ensuring they are part of our comprehensible input routines can be a good way.

Aside from treating these terms as vocabulary items that students need to memorize, we can also expand their life and significance in a unit of inquiry. In a beginning language level class students may study the vocabulary, and then practice adding a male or female article in languages that have that concept; or adding “a” or “an” in English. A follow up activity can be qualifying them with an adjective (the symbol is red); working with comparisons (the icon is more sophisticated than the logo), and so on. Depending on the language level we teach, extensions such as the ones mentioned above can add intentionality to the development of the language of conventions. You can download a list of common conventions at the end of this post.

Also, in order to support students to learn how to talk about them, we can ensure that we provide them with exemplary sentences in context that model how these vocabulary items can be used to explain how such conventions contribute to the meaning and message of a text. The following text in Spanish illustrates an example in which the teacher capitalizes on the exploration on publicity and audience engagement to topic show students how they may use the language of conventions when analyzing the features of a text.

Inquiry is possible in early stages of the language acquisition process, as is working with conceptual explorations. The shift we need to embrace to make this happen in an intentional and explicit manner includes creating the scenarios in which we “look for something”, in which we “identify patterns” and then develop the ability to interpret relationships.

What do you think?

Posted in Approaches to teaching, Concept-Based Language Instruction, Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, IB DP, IB MYP, Multimodal texts, Spanish By Concept | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment