One of the best decisions I made this semester was to try La Persona Especial/La estrella del día in Spanish 2. When I first started it I was doing all kinds of duplicate work, but I’ve managed to streamline the process since then. Today I want to share in detail how I execute La Persona Especial, how I assess it, and the steps I take to make it fair for all students.
Many students are reluctant to get up in front of the class, but I’ve found a few strategies that have been working well to persuade some students.
- Ask them. Asking them while we do our warm up or the day before gives students a chance to consent without feeling the pressure of an audience and also gives them a chance to prepare – both mentally, or by looking over their Estrella handout we filled out the first week of class. I also throw in some carrots – C’mon, I know you’re going to do a great job. Please? I really need to do an interview today. I’d love to hear from you. And it’s a ONE HUNDRED in the grade book? Pleeeeeeassee? After their interview, I make sure to congratulate them individually and tell them how well they did.
- Let them take a buddy. If they like, I let a friend sit next to them and whisper translations in their ear. I’ve also done paired interviews – two students go up together, sit in my chairs (the stool/my rolly desk chair – it makes them feel special :)), and take turns answering questions.
During the interviews, I use this slide show I adapted slightly from Kara Jacobs (one of my new year’s resolutions is to use more resources from Kara. She’s an inspiration!). I change it slightly every few weeks, sometimes to try to elicit new and more interesting details, or just to work in a few questions to reinforce vocab from our current unit. I stand at the front and question and click through the slides, or I ask a student to click through the slides and I stand at the back (this helps with classroom management). I set up a secretary on my desktop computer to take notes in a google doc (I have my secretarias trained now and they do great, I just come back and edit when they finish, which is much less work than typing it all myself for two different classes on my planning period). The google doc is embedded on my class website and updates instantly. So if you’re absent, no excuse — all the info is posted online!
I usually do two or three interviews a week, and do a “People Quiz” every other Friday. Before each new interview I review previous interviews. A couple different options:
- High prep: I used to make slide shows for each person with a picture. This worked well – I would ask the questions, students respond chorally, and then I show the answer on the slide show, but making these was too much work, so I stopped.
- Medium prep: Sometimes, I copy the interview information into another google doc and delete details. So I project a list with things like Le gusta la película ____________. I ask questions and students respond chorally.
- Lazy: I run through the questions slide show linked above and just ask the questions. Students respond chorally.
I think the high prep option gets the best results, but the benefit is marginal enough not to merit the extra work. If only I had a student assistance….alas, I do not, so it’s the
lazy low prep option for now.
Once I have all the interviews done that are going to be on the quiz (usually 4), I copy and paste all the information into a new google doc. I use the “Sorted Paragraph” add-on to alphabetize (aka scramble) the sentences and number them. I divide students into groups and project the statements on the board, and students decide in their groups which person (or people) each statement describes. I have them trade papers to grade, and give out stickers to every group who got a 100. Here’s the one I used today. I do this activity in two classes, and both are included in the doc. The sneaky part? This becomes my question bank. I copy and paste into a word document, delete vague statements until I’m down to 33 (the magical number that fits on one page), format, and print. DONE.
This week I tried another pre-quiz review strategy that was really fun. Yesterday I printed out the bios for each of the four stars. Students were divided into groups and given one bio and piece of white paper. On their paper, I asked them to draw a visual representation of their assigned persona especial. I posted the finished drawings on the wall for students to view/admire, and then scanned them on my planning period (I discovered my copier will let me scan multiple pages through the top feeder slot and will save as a PDF on a flash drive. EASY PEASY). I projected the scanned drawings today and used that as the base for my oral review. So fun!