Paper Airplanes & Jigsaw Puzzles

Image I may have mentioned that my school district does not particularly want us to use social media with our students.  The district promotes engaging students with technology, but then severely limits anything that involves communication.  The world language classroom is all about communication, so this attitude can be quite problematic.  So what is a teacher to do?

I recently attended awesome leadership training facilitated by my coordinator, Greta Lundgaard, in which we reflected and commented on each other’s reflections Twitter-style.  We each wrote a short reflection and then passed our papers around the room, mimicking Twitter.  Yesterday, I decided to do a similar activity in my class.

Using one of my Twitter accounts, I posted an opinion on public transportation in Buenos Aires–an opinion with which I accurately felt the students would disagree.  I then took a screen shot and made it into a work sheet.  In class, I told the students to imagine they were perusing twitter and happened upon my tweet.  They wrote a short response.  Then, they made paper airplanes and sent them flying through the room.  Everyone grabbed a new plane, read the conversation thread, and wrote an additional response.  Then we sent the planes flying again.  Students ended up commenting 3 times before receiving their original planes back.  Then, in small groups/pairs, students shared the comments and their personal opinions.

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Next, we went into one of my school’s collaboration spaces and participated in a reading jigsaw activity using sorting pencils.  I divided up a challenging authentic article about one aspect of transportation in Buenos Aires into 5 groups.  The 6th group (I have classes of 33 students and did not want humongous groups) had an info graphic on the topic.  Students first were paired by number and read their segment of the article.  They came up with a title for that section and bulleted out important points that supported the title.  They were allowed to use Spanglish because I would rather them take the time to figure out what something meant than simple lift entire phrases from the article without having a clue what they are writing.  After 10 minutes, students regrouped by color and each person shared the information s/he learned.  Some groups did not have every section covered.  When this happened, I would find a representative from another group to come share the necessary information.

Finally, I handed out post-it notes to each student.  This post-it was a ticket to re-enter the class.  The students had to write 2-3 sentences in Spanish about the most important thing they learned today–it had to be new information–and why they felt it was important.

On Monday, we will start class with impromptu speeches about various aspects of transportation in Buenos Aires.  That is, unless we have the ice day all my students are expecting :).

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