My focus for the second day of the La sostenibilidad unit lessons was to help students answer ¿Qué es la sostenibilidad?. As I’m making a genuine effort to use primarily authentic resources in this unit, I was excited when I found an article from the United Nations ¿Qué es la sostenibilidad? I thought it was perfect! The title was the actual question my students would be working on that day, it was in Spanish, and I liked the tabs at the top that would make students think about things other than recycling. I thought it was important to use reading materials first because it was my hope that students would pick up vocabulary to use in our future conversations (better than just by listening to them) in our unit.
However, I knew because this was authentic – and kind of sciency to be truthful – I needed a reading activity that wasn’t focused too much on the details. I decided to do a 4 Corners Reading activity with it. I wrote the following phrases on their own sheet of paper, in a different color, and stuck them to my whiteboard:
- Aprendí que… (I learned that…)
- Ya sabía que… (I already knew that…)
- Me sorprendió… (It surprised me that…)
- Me molestó que… (It bothered me that…)
I went over the phrases before beginning. I acted them out a little, made students repeat them, and created relevant and personal questions on the spot. After I was sure students understood the phrases, I asked them to read the article on their own and find one fact or idea for each phrase. Man oh man! I’ve never received so many blank stares and doubting looks from these kiddos! I realized after a while it wasn’t working so I provided a model using the sentence, “La población mundial es de 7 mil millones” and I told them “Ya sabía la población” and I highlighted in the correct color. This helped my best and brightest and a handful of average students. My lower students looked just as lost as before.
I removed the four phrases from the board and put them in the corners. I had already planned on doing this with them, but I decided to just collect their articles and make the best orally out of what they had. I read phrases they had picked allowed and students moved around to the corresponding corner. I then asked spontaneous questions, often asking students to justify why they stood where they stood. However, I could still see their brains hurting.
The next day, for the warm-up I had comprehensible versions (but still in Spanish) of facts from the article and students had to tell me if they were true or false. We then reviewed them, but we didn’t break out the article again. This seemed to help a lot!
So what would I do differently?
- Preteach vocabulary in the article, instead of reading the article and trying to (while simultaneously reading) define the vocabulary they need.
- Have students use lingro.com and read the article online through this service, because it allows them to look up vocabulary with an instant click.
- Consider a different article altogether.
Additionally, I’m open to suggestions about what I could have done differently!