Following up on the news article unit, we decided to have students give mini presentations on one of the news articles. I planned this presentation with the other Spanish 3 teacher, and we both have 18 students in our classes. We decided on the set-up first. Any time I plan presentations, I really love Laura’s small group speaking assessment. In this, she emphasizes that the original students present, but then they have a conversation about the topic. In order to allow students to engage in some sort of a conversation, we divided the class into four groups of four to five students. The day of the presentation, one group only presented to one other small group. That way, the group that was listening would have a chance to speak. In a whole class, some students might never talk during the conversations. Not only would this allow for more of a conversation, and it also made for a more laid back presentation which I always try to achieve.
As we had been working with current articles during the previous parts of the unit, we used an older edition of the news. We used this set of articles which included many articles on the caravan, a rally race in Peru, the new library, the new video game from Chile and hurricane Willa. I allowed students to form their groups then choose the article that they wanted to highlight. While they were preparing the presentation, I told them to create slides around:
- Background information about the country where the article took place
- The who/what/when/why/how of the article
The group that they were presenting to had not previously read the article, so the group presenting really had to provide a lot of information to them. We started with the information from the articles, then I shared the authentic resources with them, and I had them elaborate on the presentation. The authentic resources were more accessible to this level since they had already read the articles. After they researched everything, they had to come up with 20 questions to ask the group who was listening. I encouraged them to think beyond the comprehension questions to make connections to previous units as well as personal questions that could start conversations.
Overall, the presentations went well. I was really impressed with some of the conversations that started, and two groups (of my four) were even generating questions on the fly based on their partner’s responses. I definitely had a good assessment of their speaking; however, some groups were able to start a conversation and others didn’t. I have decided a few changes that I want to make to facilitate a better conversation in the future, so that all groups can generate more of a conversation. First, I want to give students a variety of responses to questions and have them grade them using the rubric that we use for interpersonal conversation. There were still a lot of comprehension questions and giving one-word responses doesn’t demonstrate a strong proficiency and can’t start conversation. However, it is hard for students to understand that. In retrospect, I would have liked them to score the responses before the presentation to help them.
The other idea that I had to help facilitate conversation would be to have the group listening to start thinking of questions to ask the group who was presenting. While I think it is important for the group presenting to ask questions, I believe that the group listening should ask more questions to that group since they were the “experts” on the topic. I also want to incorporate this more into the tertulia presentations. It seems that if I assign a role of one group to make questions other students do not ask questions. While we are starting to get to more of the natural conversation (as much as it can be), I want to encourage more of a two-way conversation. Therefore, I should have also incorporated some lessons on how to think of strong follow-up questions before the presentation. One way I want to do this is to have ALL students create questions on an article instead of just me giving the questions. I am planning this for my upper-level students because it is more developmentally appropriate for them based on their proficiency levels.
Many teachers ask questions about how to work with articles from El Mundo in class. I believe that this project would be one option. You could also have students practice writing questions and having conversations for a few lessons then assess them on their conversation similar to my tertulia.