La Guerra Civil Española- PBLL Style: Comprensible Input Meets Inquiry-based Learning!
For those of you Spanish teacher history buffs, I want to say that I am totally a novice when it comes to teaching the Spanish Civil war. Many years ago, I did a Guernica unit for my 7th-grade students (materials coming soon!), and we did not take a deep dive into the Spanish Civil war. This year, I am teaching Spanish 4, and our school is embarking on a PBLL curriculum; I choose the revive that old unit. This will be a two-part blog post; the first part lays the groundwork for the unit, building content knowledge and engagement in project-based learning, and second post dives into the Guernica and the PBL inquiry-action component, all in Español! Here is my story.
Shifting Approach to Teaching Language
I’d like to echo Spanish Mama’s sentiment when she stated in a previous blog post that her philosophy of teaching was “evolving” )check out her post here.) This has definitely become my story this year. With 90-minute block classes and the consistent flow of research pumping through the veins of language teaching community, it wasn’t long before I got a transfusion myself. Teaching this unit has given me more insight into language acquisition, conceptual and inquiry-based learning. Although all of those components are not covered in this post (next one for sure), I’d like to share some activities that really helped my students connect with the content through the medium of language.
Mi granito de arena
Now, there are many great teachers who do bang-up jobs on presenting the Spanish Civil War and Guernica. You may want to check out Kristy Plácido‘s blog, as she has some really nice stuff. I am just adding to the corpus of work that has been done already. That said, with this unit, I really changed the way I engaged students.
Learning about history inquiry-based style in a CI classroom
Instead of providing students with a reading on aspects of the Spanish Civil War, I decided to let them research these aspects on their own. It was simple:
- Listed 8 different topics related to the conflict
- Curated a few websites in English
- Assigned student groups
- Did a mini-lesson on how to research in English and convey information in basic Spanish
Throw Reciprocal teaching into the mix!
The pictures above posters students creating posters for gaining a preliminary knowledge about the Spanish Civil War. This was my introductory activity (opposed to doing a scavenger hunt, short reading even a video- all of which are good). The goal was to create an information highway class from which students could be informed of various causes and players of the Spanish Civil War (The PBL final component will in the next post, this is just the beginning)
This was just an
introductory activity and they put so much
heart and soul into it!
Comprehensible Input Meets Inquiry-based Learning
Hack: Instead of giving students something to read and take notes on, they each became experts on an aspect of the war.
- Students presented to the class (repetition, recycling)
For the presentations, we made a list of expressions (most teachers have great lists they give to students). I noticed that each group looked at the board and chose an expression or lead-in that vibed well with their presentation.
- Students circulated, looked at the board and collected the information.
Click here for the note taking document
We viewed this video in English after the introduction activity. Although this was not in the target language, I filled in gaps for students who were learning this for the first time.
Spanish Civil War Gallery and Reciprocal Teaching
After working on the “Teaching Boards” I had students present to class. This was not for a grade, but more of a formative assessment check-in. After presenting, students displayed their boards around the class, they were given the note-taking document below, and they went around taking notes on each of the aspects of the Spanish Civil War. Again, this was their incursion into the unit. We’d begin officially after this.
I have been working at my new school for about 2.5 years now. I used to teach MYP IB Spanish grades 6-8 for 10 years. Teaching at a high school was very challenging in the beginning. The 90 minute block periods- were another challenge. I share this because we don’t really have textbooks and I have had to create the curriculum from scratch. One of the challenges I have had in the past was making sure everything aligned, the vocabulary was part of the reading (I started writing my own novels and other modified informational texts to satisfy the inner writer in me). This unit, I can saw, without a shadow of a doubt, had a high degree of aligned. Having a bit of time prior to the unit, I was able to:
- Identify resources need for the unit. For this unit, I actually wrote some material a few years ago, but since we subscribe to Mary Glasgow, I used their reading and video on the Spanish Civil War. If you go to their website, you can get up to 4 free downloads. It is an extremely well- resourced site. We based most of our curriculum off the plethora of resources.
- Design summative assessments
- Identify words and concepts necessary for understanding the Spanish Civil War
- Create vocabulary lists
- Create games with the vocabulary (see my
- Matamoscas PPT and paired activity)
Resource Central (Freebies)
This free packet includes:
- Vocabulary sheet
- Paired students interview using the vocabulary words
- Sentence writing activity
- Student inquiry-activity
- Note-taking activity for “Inquiry-gallery”
Multiple Exposures to Vocabulary Promotes Acquisition
I am reading the book Language Teacher Toolkit by Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti. It is a great book with lots of insight on strategies for teaching a world language. One of the premises of learning a language is multiple exposures, repeated exposure to vocabulary and structures. This is no secret as the Comprehensible Input theory, community, and practitioners all laud this concept. In their book, they make the case for multiple exposures and what happens on a neurological level. Repeated exposure allows the brain, as they stated (page 59) to make viable connections. Words are associated with memorable moments. The activities implemented in this activity did just that. I saw a marked improvement in vocabulary production during speaking tasks and writing task related to the unit.
For this unit, the video provided two assessments: Listening and Writing.
This is still an ongoing unit, but I have managed to administer two assessments, both on which students performed really well. I accredit their performance to the “multiple exposure” model and the inquiry-based style of learning that hooked them from the beginning. After the initial research, they were speaking like experts and was able to build shared background knowledge (all working together).
Additional resources for teaching Spanish Civil War:
Propoganda Lesson on the Spanish Civil War (I saw this later, looks really good).
La hija del sastre– check out fluency matters.com (we have this book, and I like it. This year, we did not get to engage due to our school’s PBL mandates).
Time in Between on Neflix (I have materials for the first episode, will be included in the next post)
The student action-inquiry PBLL product will be addressed in the next few posts. The next post to this unit will be, Guernica.
Here is what is trending….