What I LOVE about the interview process of the activity:
- I get to know my students sooner and better. Real images of them and things that matter to them are very powerful! It's helped me feel more connected to students and to remember the information about them than in previous years.
- Seeing the pictures of the students, their families, and their interests is really fun! I get a chance to see former students sometimes, future students and it introduces me to students parents.
- It gives students control and flexibility to share what they are comfortable sharing because the prompt is flexible. Some students share pictures of parents, others don't, some have pictures of grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc. It helps me get to know their families and their family dynamic as well.
- Over time, we build vocabulary about family members, descriptive words, pets, sports and activities, and more but in a natural, interesting way that is student-centered and personalized to them.
- Sometimes some funny stories naturally come out of the pictures too that make the interviews entertaining as well. It seems that pets make a good point of departure for funny stories about their personalities or actions.
- I can tailor the questions to the ability level of the students and since we repeat the topic I can add more details and complexity to the interview over time. Whereas one student was answering me practically in complete sentences on day another student was equally successful answering with one word answers.
After the interview, I use the Write and Discuss activity that I learned about from Tina Hargaden and Ben Slavic's Year One book. After the interview is complete, either the same day or the next day. we look at the pictures and complete a write up about the person of the day. To do this I will ask either the student directly: What is your name? How old are you? etc. or ask the class about the student and get a choral response. At first the process is slower and I prompt more in English. Now that we have done more though, I am able to prompt with more Spanish and ask some of the questions at a faster rate of speech as we do the Write and Discuss activity. The goals of the Write and Discuss are to create the child's biography of what they shared with the class and model how to write about oneself. I am noticing that since it is repetitive students are getting more comfortable with the more common sentences we use about name, age, family members, pets, activities, etc. and the Write and Discuss process is beginning to go faster. I am starting to ask a few grammatical questions as they are relevant to the conversation and writing down what I hear from students even if it is wrong and then asking/guiding students to help make corrections as there are students who are noticing parts of the sentence that are inaccurate. I do think that the trickiest part of this process is making sure that students know expectations for listening and that they are reminded of those expectations/the value of the activities periodically as needed. I continually work with students to help them have concrete ideas on how to focus in on the text. Here are some ideas I have suggested to them and that I continue to remind students of:
- Ask students to try and anticipate how to say the expression before I write it or before someone else says it
- Talk about the difference between reading the word and "seeing/recognizing" it versus really looking at the word for its spelling and accents
- Ask students to read what is being written on the screen closely- How is it spelled? Are there accents? Can they predict those things before I type them?
- Discuss the connection between reading closely and how that will help them write more accurately when they are asked to write about themselves independently
- Offer the opportunity for them to write the text we are writing independently or write it down at their seat if they want/need that extra focus
Another great thing about this process is that over time you collect many student biographies. When we are done with the process, everyone will have their own pictures and biography. You then have all sorts of texts about students that are familiar to one another. Up to this point, I have not done many extension activities with the texts when they are written, but there are endless possibilities there for someone who would want to. I have had the students read the biography of the student aloud to one another for reading and supported speaking/pronunciation practice. I have used the pictures as a way to give a quick formative True/False listening assessments. Recently, I also used two of texts for a reading comprehension test which worked very well. Here is the first test I gave. I have four 7th grade classes and I picked two texts that I thought would work together with more interesting content. Students were able to perform well because the text type was familiar to them.