In years past, I feel like I’ve tried everything. Some years, students create Facebook pages or write short books all about themselves. These activities pull in vocabulary, such as colors and activities, which we’ve learned the previous year. (See some samples below.) Other years, I skip the projects and do more interactive getting-to-know-you activities like human bingo. There is NOTHING wrong with these activities! It eases students back into school while allowing them to share about themselves and learn from others. (Truthfully, I think it also eases me back into the school year.)
Using iMovie, I created a short video about my summer. Although I’ve had most of the students, they always enjoy getting to know a bit more about me. Instead of the boring PowerPoint, I thought I would play to their 21st Century brains, and I created a short movie. It was so simple to drop photos and video clips; add a little music and ¡voila!
The movie will be like any other interpretive I use in class. We’ll use the trailer as a jumping off point for vocabulary and conversation. Once we have our vocabulary, it’s the students’ turn to share about their vacations*. Students will compare their vacations and discuss their favorite parts, asking each other questions about where they were and whom they were with. As they are still novice language learners, I will provide the questions and sentence stems. My goal is to push conversation and interaction from day one.
The iMovies are complete. Overall, I would say this undertaking was a success, as it engaged the students in the use of the target language (TL), introduced them to new technology, and gave them the opportunity to share about themselves and learn about their classmates.
To begin, students drew quick pictures of the various activities they did over the summer. At this point, they did not have to worry about whether or not they knew the word in the TL; I didn’t want students limited to a few vocabulary words. They then wrote any of the words they already knew in Spanish. Their homework was to look up any of the extra words. Amazingly, all the students did their homework! We then began practice on the conversation piece – students walked around the room asking each other about summer activities. If they did not know the word being used, they had to act, draw, or to use circumlocution (use other descriptive words) to figure it out. No English allowed! Homework that night was to find pictures (online or personal) that showed summer activities. We spent the next few days in class creating the iMovies.
While the days spent making the iMovies were not chock full of TL use, I felt it was important at this early stage to have the students create their movies in class. They were instructed to use some TL, without any specifications on how much or in what way. This allowed me to gauge their comfort level with speaking versus writing, as well as the depth of what they remembered. As we showed the movies, I asked questions about the various activities. Here are a few of the videos:
| || |
- Higher engagement from students as they work with technology and share their personal interests.
- Higher retention of new vocabulary because it is personal.
- A more interesting way to share about each other.
- Differentiation is built in to the project based on students’ comfort with speaking and/or writing in the TL
A few challenges:
- Time spent making the videos is not necessarily in the TL.
- Technology malfunctions and issues waste time.
- There are too many videos to watch them all, and some students do not want their videos shared.
Overall, I felt this was a worthwhile use of “review” time. Students re-engaged with the TL in an exciting and new way, and they pushed themselves to expand their vocabularies and interests.
* We are 1-to-1 with iPads, so students will most likely create their own trailers.