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PBL-WL updates and LangCamp on Twitter

PBL-WL updates and LangCamp on Twitter

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Greetings everyone! I trust as your school year winds down, and your summer plans kick in, that you are including some time for reflection about the past year, and making some plans for the next one. I would love to hear your thoughts here on the forum! In other news... I have been building a non-collaborative wiki on PBL for WL. I am happy to hear from you, again here on the forum, about your thoughts, ideas, and comments about anything and all things connected to this on-going research. Here is the link, in case you are interested in exploring: Among the things on the wiki, I have posted a planning template for PBL-WL which I have been working on and refining, along with a few example PBL-aligned projects, primarily for French since that is what I teach. I have rubrics as well, not just for the content literacy piece, but also for digital projects and, for each of the 4 C's of 21st Century skills (communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration). These are in constant revision as I am still working on PBL for WL! Honestly, there is still a lot yet to figure out about PBL-WL. Even BIE has not yet addressed WL in PBL fully, which is why I am keen to keep in touch with them, and all my friends here at Edutopia. BIE does offer a workshop on PBL-WL, however, it sometimes does not fill up with enough participants to run it. We keep hoping! In the meantime, I am doing a workshop in Santa Barbara this summer - see the posting about opportunities for professional development this summer, here on the forum, for more information. One of the key areas for inquiry on PBL-WL is the way to keep students in Target Language - I am working on how to do that more effectively in PBL, but I don't yet have a lot to share on the matter. I will keep you posted! Another area for inquiry is addressing how PBL is just different in WL. In traditional PBL, the project itself is the final outcome of the inquiry. I don't think that is the case for us. In WL, it seems to me that the project is the means for engaging students in their own inquiry, in response to open-ended driving questions, giving students voice and choice about the way they move forward... Once the project has been completed and presented, I think we still need to do summative proficiency assessments, oral and written, and in all three modes (interpersonal, interpretive, presentational) - ideally, we would find a way to assess all 6 of these outcomes for each unit, but we all know that reality and ideal to not always intersect! Yet another point for inquiry - I have come to the conclusion that it is essential that we think of PBL-WL as an approach which extends over the several years a student takes his/her WL curriculum. It is very challenging, if not impossible to incorporate all 8 elements of BIE's model for PBL at the early novice level, if we want (and I absolutely do want) to have the students work exclusively in the target language. I seek to introduce the 8 elements one or two at a time over the course of the four years I hope students will take French in my school. I can do much more in-depth and authentic PBL-WL with intermediate to advanced level students than with novice students. I think the novice students need to grow into the full PBL-WL model over time. This seems to be working well, and keeps me on track for the 90%+ objective with the target language. And finally, at least for now... I think that many of the driving questions we have tried (me included) are not quite hitting the mark - just my opinion! I want the DQs to be open ended, real world, and much more meaningful for the target language and cultures, as well as relevant for teens, than the ones I have seen most of the time. One of the main reasons I am working on PBL-WL is because I want more enagagment from my students. I don't think they really care much about why they must learn another language from the academic perspective! When they sign up for Spanish, French, Japanese... there are some who are thinking about their graduation and university entrance requirements, to be sure. However, on the first day of school, when I ask my students why they chose French, and what they hope to accomplish and/or learn in the class, they usually say I am keen to learn to communicate with a family member in France or Canada, or they want to learn how to cook French cuisine, or they have some other real tangible personal goal. I want to make more opportunities for students to drive their own learning! So... I wonder if we can create better DQs? Perhaps something like this (a DQ I used this year with great success): "How can we, as a team of journalists, create a newspaper for teens in France, to help them learn what it means to be a teen from Québéc? What is it that makes them identify as being québécois? How do they live out their own culture?" or... "How can we, playing the role of actors in a movie and directors, producers of a movie production studio, portray the way an American teen might integrate into a French high school? How would he/she become part of a small group of friends in France?" Here is a movie one group made this year as an example. Enjoy! Cheers, Don

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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

So, I had also meant to add another paragraph, but for some reason, I am not able to edit my posts on this forum! Please bear with me - sorry!

I wanted to give a shout out to an ambitious and enthusiastic group of language teachers who have undertaken a curriculum development project this summer which they are calling #LangCamp. If you search for their hashtag on Twitter, you will find them! They also have a wiki at this link:

This group of teachers is devoting a chunk of their summer to work together via Skype, Twitter, the Wiki, Google Docs, Pinterest and Diigo to curate and develop materials for novice-advanced levels to implement next school year. The discourse has been rich, professional and centered on all learning collaboratively for the benefit of each teacher, and naturally for the students we all teach! I am excited to see the work develop, and proud to be a part of the discussions! Well done LangCamp! I wish us all a high level of success with this worthy project!!

Best wishes,

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