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My first go at Digital Collaboration

My Senior Spanish class is a composite class, not only I teach multiple levels, I also teach different qualifications. I have 16 students in 4 levels. Cambridge AS and A Level and NCEA L2 and L3.
Finding tasks for all of us to work together is a real challenge, so generally i focus on the core knowledge and skills that they need to develop. This tends to be quite repetitive and mostly individual work.
So a few weeks ago I asked my students how they felt about what we were doing. They said that even though they were mastering the skills (they didn't use those terms!) the work was too repetitive and they needed more ¨fun¨ activities.
Reflecting on this and the approach of the ITL research to 21st Century learning, I decided to try to create and collaborative task, where they had to negotiate knowledge in order to create a new product. However, the task had to be ¨real'world¨'like and still appeal to the age group. Thats is when I thought about a Dragons Den scenario.


I created the task in Classroom and left it to them to organise themselves and decide how to work. They had two lessons of 1 h to prepare. The Dragons would be two advanced semi'native speakers. They will listen to the 3 minute presentations, ask questions and decide on the winner.
Half way through the task I asked for their feedback. I explained that one of my main concerns when teaching them is to be able to pack in all that knowledge that they need for the examinations and i needed to know if they feel that they were learning with this task or it was just a ¨cool¨ task. Their answers surprised me. They said that by having to read real articles or watch real YouTube videos they needed to push their language and also they learnt new vocabulary related to the topic. Also, because they had to put together their pitch, they were practising their writing.
Some students argued that most of the interaction was in English rather than Spanish. I noted the comment and reflected on our own task in the MindLab. Most of the transactional negotiation around the task was done in everyday English¨ rather than technical. So I said that at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter in what language you think and negotiate as long as your reference material is accessed in Spanish and the final product is in that language too. I also mentioned that it would be preferable to have those discussions in Spanish )and some students were able to, but it would have constituted a barrier for most of them.


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