George Lucas Educational Foundation


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Hola a todos! I'm a mathematics teacher in a brand new wall-to-wall PBL school and we are starting up our World Language program next year. Lucky me, I'm also the only one certified to teach Spanish! I have NO idea where to get resources from for classroom instruction, or how to start implementing PBL into the Spanish classroom. I'm loving what I'm doing with PBL in my math classroom, but I can't see a direct translation from Math to Spanish in PBL development. Any resources, books, websites, blogs, PBL sources, or anything of the like would be amazing! Muchas gracias :) Sra. Kristen Zack

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Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Saludos Kirsten! No te sientas sola! You aren't alone. In WL it feels very much like a pioneering effort. I do have some suggestions for you, however.

1) There is a book of research on PBL in WL. It is called Project-Based Second and Foreign Language Education: Past, Present, and Future. It is available in print still on, as well as elsewhere. It is rather academic, but worthwhile.

2) I have started a wiki for PBL in WL =
You are welcome to join. It is a beginning site, and I am building it as I can. Over time, I hope to have a set of projects for novice, intermediate and advanced fluency targets, as well as resources for further inquiry.

3) This summer, I am doing a several days workshop on PBL in WL at UC Santa Barbara with the CLTA (CA Language Teachers Association). The info for that workshop will come out in a few weeks, and I will post the info here.

4) A two days workshop is planned for PBL World in Napa, CA this June as well. That will be led by Lauren Scheller at BIE (I may lend a hand, but will be there for sure). You will see that info here:

5) Keep looking here at Edutopia as well. I hope to have posts regularly as soon as I finish my National Board Renewal work in about two weeks time.

In the meantime, here are a couple ideas...
a) Our driving questions often revolve around a culturally embedded concept. For example, my French 1 students are working on a menu project right now. Our driving questions are: What foods are commonly served in one of the 55 French speaking countries of the world (each group picks one country to research)? How are their meals served? What are the ingredients? How are addresses written in the target country? What currency is used int he target country? How are prices listed on menus in the target country?

b) The project involves creating a menu for a restaurant in the target country which serves the food of that country, including prices, categories, and all other info which should be included on a menu.

c) The presentation involves doing a speech as the owner of the restaurant in which the students explain what is on the menu, in French, of course.

d) Students present to each other in small groups, after having guided each other along the way in creating the menus. There are rubrics for oral and written language, as well as for the four C's.

There is more, but serves as an example to help illustrate the idea. Teachers who are fond of TPRS include story telling as part of projects. I love adding in a story to help give the comprehensible input for the story. In this case, I tell a story of a young man living in Quebec who wants to open his own cafe with a friend, and they have to decide what to serve.

Who else has some ideas for PBL in WL projects? Feel free to add to the conversation! In the meantime, keep in touch, Kirsten! PBL in WL is a lot of fun.


Ms. Zack's picture
Ms. Zack
Math Teacher @ a Project Based Learning Charter High School Brighton, MI

Thanks Don! I'll be looking into those resources over Spring break. It's exciting to pioneer the World Language department at a new school, none-the-less a PBL World Language Department! I appreciate the support!

Caryn Pernu's picture
Caryn Pernu
Director of Program Strategies, National Youth Leadership Council

I've seen a number of great service-learning projects involving world languages--creating school welcome kits in a variety of languages, storytelling and sing-alongs at daycares and community centers, neighborhood cultural celebrations and health fairs with displays in multiple languages. We also work a lot with counterparts in Latin America through the Ibero-American Service-Learning Network, and facilitated students in Colorado working with students in Argentina on teen driver safety campaigns in their local communities.

Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

Great ideas Caryn! Thanks for the input.

Keep us posted Kirsten! We will look forward to hearing how your planning goes. This is a great space for collaboration.


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