Now we start creating a unit! A strong unit plan will make your lesson planning life much easier. I enjoy working with other teachers to create these, so we will do one together here.
After my ELL research, I learned about the Newcomers Academy. This is set up to acclimate non-native students to the American classroom. Several of my colleagues have created a “Survival” mini-unit at the beginning of the year. Let’s use that as our common unit to create together. Here we go!!!
Can Do Statements
What can they do at the end of the unit?
First we need to write student-friendly “Can do” goals for all the modes and skills. Keep in mind that there should be an input goal that matches each output goal. Also remember the proficiency level. Novice mid students are using words and phrases. They can list items and recognize more than they can produce.
What cultural topics will you use to teach?
This is where you excite them! Culture can be anything authentic like videos, songs, tweets, magazines, ads, pictures, etc.
What words are crucial to the unit?
This list could be huge, but we don’t want to overwhelm them. Keep focused on the “function.” For example, if a goal is “I can say what I need for class,” the the most important words are “I need.” Then students can pick the vocabulary that is important to them. Now, I will include the important words they need to recognize for my class (paper, binder, pencil, marker).
Yes. This is important too. Some think that proficiency-based teaching throws this out completely, false. There is nothing wrong with sprinkling in appropriate grammar, just don’t grade them on it. Some units only have the first person singular conjugations (I) as a grammar point. I wait until students ask about a grammar detail before I teach it. So when someone asks “Why does that have a “o” on it?”, I will explain it in 5 minutes or less and then move on. Some get it, some don’t. At a higher proficiency level it will make a difference, but not at the novice level.
Kara–LOVE how you said this: “At a higher proficiency level it will make a difference, but not at the novice level.” Such a perfect way of stating that accuracy at the Novice and even at the Intermediate level is all about the message–was it communicated clearly or not? Plenty of time later to work on the details of grammatical accuracy later which DOES work itself out over time with hearing and seeing it correctly provided and finally NOTICING the errors and being inclined to fix them.
Thank you guys so much for your timely post as I’m re-working my Spanish III class. I don’t have a large department to work with, so I’m leaning on your examples for feedback. I’m excited to see how a more proficiency based curriculum will work out as my “Can Do” statements all refer to proficiency at the intermediate level. I hope it will help the students see that perfection is not the expectation.
Our level 3 is still in the development stages.some of it is on our site: https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=28f7c805d5a3213d&sc=documents&wa=wsignin1.0&sa=343767067&id=28F7C805D5A3213D%21154
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to “bump up” the proficiency level on any of our activities. I mainly teach 1 and 2, so I do not work with intermediate skills as much as I should. Next year I’m teaching ESL and I’m thinking I need to work on intermediate and some advanced activities.
Thank you so much for this series! I am entering my third of teaching, yet it will be my third move from schools (1st HS, then K-5, now 8th grade). At every level I have been the “department” and curriculum development has been my responsibility.
With your insightful series, I’m confident this will be my best year yet. I can’t wait to share what I come up with and I’d appreciate your feedback.
Welcome! And good luck with your new classes! It gets easier every year. 🙂
I’m trying to be openminded about not grading grammar, but I’m struggling to understand how you grade accurate communication. Are you saying that accurate grammar is just higher up on the prof rubric and that at lower levels, being expected to know how to spell a word or conjugate a verb accurately is not as important as it is in a later year of language? Please help me understand!