Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Monuments & Mysteries: An Innovative Jigsaw In Language Education

At Northwest High School, AP Spanish teacher Ginger Cline is doing more than teaching a language. She works hard to truly connect her students to the cultures of the people who speak the target language -- that takes intentionality and innovation. Fortunately for her students, she is committed to both.

In addition to language, culture can be found in the stories told and monuments recognized. Whether a globally-celebrated landmark or simply a local treasure, monuments hold meaning, and by learning about them we can learn more about the culture and ideas that they represent. That said, it would be impossible to teach every student about every meaningful monument across Spanish-speaking cultures. That’s why for this assignment Mrs. Cline put a few engaging twists on a tried and true method -- the jigsaw method.

The traditional jigsaw method works like a puzzle. First, students take on the role of investigator and teacher; they work in small groups to understand and become experts on a part of the overall collection of information before then teaching their small part to their peers. Even though students are initially only responsible for learning and teaching one part, through the presentations at the end, all students have the exposure to and opportunity to learn all of the material. Because students have become experts on part of the information with the purpose of teaching others, this process gives students ownership in their learning.

screen grab of Padlet
But more than exposure, Mrs. Cline also wanted her students to create and to have a cross-class collection of student-created resources that they could look back on for this information. That required some creativity on her part. Here is what they did:

Students selected a monument they were interested in and were tasked with creating a screencast about that monument in their target language (Spanish) that both introduced the monument and explained the story behind it. Then, students shared their screencasts on a collaborative Padlet. By having students create screencasts in their target language, Mrs. Cline was able to assess each student’s language learning through an authentic product.

Preview of a Bingo Board created by Mrs. ClineThe next step was to bring the learning together. Through Padlet all students could access and watch each video, but Mrs. Cline motivated them to do so by creating BINGO boards based on the videos students created. Playing BINGO together not only ensured that students would watch the videos, but that students’ had an authentic audience in their peers. Students could also see the relevancy in their purpose for creating -- knowing someone will see your work and find value in it makes learning more meaningful.

Mrs. Cline’s Mysteries and Monument Bingo is a reminder that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be innovative, but you do have to push the boundaries of tradition. She started with an established, sound teaching strategy -- she kept the most valuable parts and then skillfully integrated technology to create a deeper and more meaningful learning experience for her students.

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