Tiering authentic text to meet the needs of all learners

As was discussed in my last post, “Tiering tasks for authentic text to meet the needs of all learners,” one way of differentiating tasks to meet the needs of all learners when interpreting authentic text, is to tier the task.  Another approach would be to tier the text.

Here are some simple steps to tiering authentic text:

  1. Look for multiple pieces of text at varying levels of difficulty or complexity on the same topic.

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 7.48.30 PM

Here are three examples on the topic of Bullying in French.  Determine which text will be for the lowest, mid, and highest tiers.

tiertext1   tiertext2

tiertext3

 

2. Decide whether you will tier the tasks as demonstrated in the previous blog post or design a generic task that will work for all three tiers like the one below:

tiertext4

 

Example scenario for tiering authentic text:

Students have a graphic organizer and one of three infographics of varying challenge levels on the topic of the physical activity level of children in Canada during a unit on healthy lifestyles in an intermediate level French class.  Students are assigned an infographic based on their readiness level or may select an infographic.  Students record information gleaned from the text on their graphic organizers.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 6.29.46 PM

activity2       activity139dc71af4d0ed6e5022147ae98d76313

Afterward, students are placed in mixed readiness groups of 3 or 4.  In their small groups, students conduct an interpersonal conversation with their peers about what they learned from the text using their graphic organizers.  Ideas acquired from group members are added to individual students’ notes on the graphic organizers.

The teacher may provide helpful phrases and/or sentence stems in the target language to students as a resource for their conversations.

  • According to the infographic…
  • It is interesting that…
  • I am surprised that…
  • Typically…
  • Generally…
  • In my opinion,…
  • Both
  • On the contrary
  • On the one hand/on the other hand

As a follow-up, student create a presentational writing product comparing their family’s level of physical activity with information from the infographics.  The students are given a blank Venn diagram graphic organizer to plan their writing.

If you’d like to explore more examples of tiered text, visit: https://www.grahnforlang.com/tiering-tasks-and-text.html

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 8.19.08 PM

For more detailed information about tiering, download the Tiering Guide below:

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.52.32 AM

Tiering tasks for authentic text to meet the needs of all learners

Aligned with the ACTFL Core Practices for World Language Learning, language educators are encouraged to “guide learners through interpreting authentic resources.” Authentic resources are created by and for the target language users, either for information or entertainment.

We have heard the phrase “Adapt the task, not the text.”  The idea behind that quote is that once we alter an authentic resource in any way, it is no longer authentic.  So, teachers are challenged to offer language learners opportunities to interpret authentic resources at the correct challenge level.  One way to accomplish that goal is through tiering.

First, think about the wide diversity of language learners in your classroom.  In any one classroom, there are students who are at varying levels of

  •  language proficiency
  • motivation and engagement
  • and comfort with the target language classroom.

They are struggling learners, reluctant learners, disengaged learners, engaged learners, enthusiastic learners, and advanced learners and their needs are diverse and varied.  Often, we assign tasks to our learners that are too difficult for some and far less challenging for others.  This can cause frustration on the part of students and impact their level of commitment and engagement in tasks.

Next, we need to anchor ourselves in the ACTFL-NCSSFL Can-Do Statements and the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners.  These descriptors give guidance on what teachers can expect their students to be able to do with text based on their proficiency level.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 6.57.31 PM

Due to this wide diversity, teachers respond to their students’ needs on a continuum.  From low challenge and high support to high challenge and low support as illustrated by the graphic below.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 5.38.05 PM

 

What are supports?

Providing support to students in the form of  models, examples, sentence frames, and task-specific target language expressions which are subsequently removed as students become more confident and independent with their learning.”

One way to meet the needs of the variety of language learners in the classroom, is through tiering.  Tiering creates opportunities for students to practice language skills toward a proficiency goal at varying levels of challenge and support based on teacher or student-identified readiness.

Some examples of supports include:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Fewer gaps in cloze activity
  • Word banks
  • Sentence starters
  • Sample responses
  • Graphic organizers
  • Question prompts

How do I create tiered tasks?

Step 1: Select the authentic text for your students to interpret.

Step 2: Create an “on level” task.

Step 3: Create a more scaffolded task for struggling learners.

Step 4: Create a more open-ended task for advanced learners.

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 5.25.12 PM

How do I decide which tier each student should be given?

  • determine the students’ readiness level based on formative data (exit tickets, classwork, performances, etc.)
  • allow students to choose their level of challenge

For more detailed information about tiering, download the Tiering Guide below:

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 11.52.32 AM

Example of tiered tasks for authentic text:  

In an intermediate level Spanish class, students have been focused on the question, “What is family?”  The teacher selects a video called “¿Qué es una familia?” which is produced by the Subsecretaría de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia – Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros – Gobierno de La Provincia de Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

The teacher creates tiered tasks for the video.  She creates

  • an “on level” worksheet that provides a word bank at the bottom,
  • a version for struggling learners that provides a word bank for each question,
  • and a more open-ended version for advanced learners and heritage speakers that provides no word banks.

Students view the video and take notes on their worksheets.  After, students are placed in mixed-readiness groups and each group receives one of the questions from the worksheet written on a large piece of chart paper.  The group records their responses for the question on the chart paper.

When time is called, student groups rotate through the other questions, reading the responses written by previous groups and adding new ideas.

Once all groups have made the full rotation, the posters are displayed around the room.  Each student selects one question on which he/she would like to create an oral presentation which they will record next class.

Tier 1:

tier1

Tier 2:

tier2

Tier 3:

tier3

More examples of tiered tasks can be found at: https://www.grahnforlang.com/tiering-tasks-and-text.html

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 7.13.33 PM

How can I learn more about tiering?

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 5.00.54 PM

http://worldlanguagetiering.weebly.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Using authentic text in guided activities

During the “guided instruction” phase of lessons, the teacher provides support and guidance through practice with new content or structures that move students toward independence with their language learning.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 10.49.37 AM

During this phase of a lesson, the students try out their new learning through tasks that are intentionally created or selected by the teacher that gradually release control to the student.

Guided activities can also serve as a context for teaching students routines or processes that will aid them in “owning” their new learning.   When interpreting authentic text, the goal of guided tasks is to increase student confidence in their ability to unlock meaning in authentic texts.

Some types of tasks a teacher may select for guided activities include:

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 10.55.32 AM Here are some examples of teachers using authentic text in guided activities:

Example 1: 

The teacher provides a copy of a poem entitled “La Vie” to students in an intermediate level French class and displays a copy on the document camera.  The teacher talks students through interpreting the text in the target language using a routine called “Text Mark Up.”  The students use colored pencils, markers or highlighters. The students mark all words in the text that they know in one color.  Then in a second color, mark all words they can guess because of their similarity to another word in the target language or as an English cognate.  Finally, students use a third color to mark words/phrases they can guess through context.

 .         la vie

The teacher uses target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce the meaning of unknown words.

The teacher asks students to work in pairs to guess the main idea of the text based on their highlighting and other text features.  The teacher records pairs’ ideas as they are shared.

Example 2: 

For an intermediate level Spanish class, the teacher selects a song by Romeo Santos called “Héroe Favorito” which demonstrates imperfect subjunctive and conditional “si” (if) clauses in context.

The teacher gives the students a copy of the lyrics.  He leads the students through unlocking the meaning of the song by having students identify words they know, words that they can guess that are cognates, and words they can guess through context.  The teacher uses target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce the meaning of unknown words.

The teacher then shows the music video for the song.

The teacher gives students a graphic organizer that lists all of the superheroes mentioned in the song.  The teacher models the first row with the class and writes the ideas on a copy of the organizer which is projected by the document camera.  The students then work in pairs to complete the organizer about each superhero based on the lyrics.  When time is called, each pair meets with another pair to share their ideas captured on their graphic organizers.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 12.40.27 PM

On the reverse side of the first organizer is one called “Somebody Wanted But So.”  The teacher chose to use this organizer as a guided activity because this is the first time students have seen this tool.  The teacher uses questioning strategies to deepen students’ comprehension of the song lyrics by collaboratively coming up with ideas for the prompts in each row.  The teacher models the process doing a “think aloud” by projecting the graphic organizer on the document camera and recording student ideas as they are offered.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 12.42.17 PM

Using the ideas gleaned on the organizer, students write a summary sentence about the song.

As a follow up activity, students create their own superhero using the prompt, “If I were a superhero, I would…” by telling what they would be called, what powers they would have, etc.

 

Basing learning centers on authentic text

Through learning centers, students have the opportunity to demonstrate independence in their language learning in all of the skills areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.   At each center, students interact with content in a variety of ways through a range of modalities.

Learning centers can also be a venue by which students interact with authentic text.  To start the process:

  1. collect authentic text (memes, quotes, infographics, comics, articles, commercials, videos, etc.) on the unit topic.
  2. decide which skill area each authentic resource logically would match (ex. a commercial for the listening station).
  3. design the task students will do at each center with the authentic text.

To vary the challenge level at each center, more than one resource or text may be available to students.  Advanced learners and heritage speakers might interact with a more challenging text and struggling learners might have a text that has more visuals or cognates.  Those choices are all based on students’ proficiency levels and their level of mastery of the content.

Here’s an example of what learning centers based on authentic text might look like:

In a novice Spanish class, the teacher has developed a set of learning centers for the students at the end of the unit around the Can-Do statement of “I can describe myself and others.”

Speaking center: Students select between two infographics about the characters in the TV show, The Big Bang Theory”, and the movie, “Monsters Inc.”  They select one character and give clues to their group members about the person.  Group members guess which character their classmate is describing.  The teacher provides a useful expressions card at the center which includes suggest sentence frames and vocabulary for students who need the support.

 

Reading center: Students read the transcript to the commercial, “Sin gol, no hay fútbol.” They list opposites they find in the transcript.  At the end, they are to tell what they think the commercial is about using their own words.  As an extension, the students watch the video.

 

sin gol wksht

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Listening center:  Students watch the music video “Somos Uno” and complete a tiered cloze activity (multiple versions where fewer or more words are missing) for it.  The extension activity is for students to create a new verse of the song using the song as a model.

somos uno

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Writing center:  Students choose to interpret one of two memes called “Soy única” and “Pequeñas Cosas.”   They use the meme as a guide to create a similar one about themselves.

 

If you are interested in learning more about implementing centers into your language classroom, a great site to visit is: http://worldlanguagecenters.weebly.com/

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 3.10.53 PM

On that site, you will find guidance on how to create, organize, manage, and implement learning centers in your classroom.

 

 

How do I incorporate authentic text into my daily lesson plans? Part 1

ACTFL, in its Core Practices for World Language Learning challenges language educators to “guide learners through interpreting authentic resources” and speaks to the implementation of tasks using authentic text that are interactive, are focused on comprehension, and include the appropriate scaffolds and support.

ACTFL Core Practices

https://www.actfl.org/guiding-principles

What do high quality lesson plans include? Activities that…

When thinking about how to embed authentic text into lesson plans, let’s first reflect on some examples of how to plan lesson activities that are high quality.  Lesson activities should…

  • be aligned with the learning goals and targets
  • have a common thread or connection
  • be engaging and relevant to students
  • provide practice in all three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, presentational).

Thinking about activity types in a lesson plan

How do authentic resources fit into my lesson plan?  Let’s begin with thinking about your lesson plan in terms of the activity types:

  1. Introductory activities

Introductory activities include warm-ups (bellringers, do now’s, etc.), lesson hooks, and introduction of new vocabulary or language structures.  It is important to note that not all introductory activities occur at the beginning of a lesson plan.  Some examples include activities or tasks that:

  • gain students’ attention
  • tap into students’ prior knowledge
  • connect new content with prior learning
  • provide input of vocabulary and structures
  • engage students in an inquiry process about new content

 Scenarios for using authentic text in introductory activities

Scenario #1:  Provide input of vocabulary

Early in a unit on the world of work and careers in a novice level French class, the teacher uses an infographic, “Les professions qui font rêver les Français,” as a lesson opener.  She chose this authentic resource due to its visual support and cognates.

The teacher asks some initial questions about the infographic.  Some sample teacher questions:

  • Who is a famous _____?
  • Who works with students? With animals?  With numbers?

The teacher asks the students to talk about the infographic with their partners.  Students are given sentence frames and conversational phrases to assist them with their partner conversations.

  • ____ percent think that a ____ is an ideal career.
  • I agree/disagree.
  • In my opinion, I think _____ is an ideal career.
  • I’d like to be a ______,
  • Really?
  • Not me.
  • My _______ is a ______.

Using the infographic, the teacher leads the class through charting the gender of the career words and drawing a symbol for each.  To extend their use of language, students practice using previously learned descriptive adjectives and school subject vocabulary with the career words.  This information is added to the charting activity.  The teacher gives the students sentence frames:

  • A _________ needs to be _____.
  • A _________ needs to be good at _______.

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 12.15.12 PMLater in the lesson, students will be introduced to additional vocabulary related to careers and will add them to their charts based on the patterns explored earlier in the lesson.

As a follow up, students create a guided writing product on a career of their choice with the help of sentence frames provided by the teacher.

Scenario #2: Gain students’ attention

The teacher of an intermediate level Spanish class selects the meme, “¡Quítamelo!” (Get off of me!) to gain students’ attention at the beginning of class.  Students are asked to do a free write about the story behind the photo.

scen intro 2

http://www.risasinmas.com/quitamelo/

The teacher gives the students guiding questions in the target language to assist them with their writing:

  • Who does the bird belong to?
  • Where did the bird come from?
  • Why is the bird on her head?
  • How does the girl feel?

Then, students are asked to share their ideas with their partners/small groups.  Small groups vote for the best description and those are shared with the whole class.

Next, students are asked to come up with alternative titles for the photo in a command form (affirmative or negative).  The teacher addresses any gaps that arise regarding placement of direct and indirect object pronouns in affirmative and negative commands which has been addressed in previous lessons.  If needed, the teacher responds by showing various examples to clarify the forms.  The teacher may also remind students of the diffrerence in placement of object pronouns in declarative statements.

As a follow-up assignment, students create their own meme using a positive or negative command form with direct and/or indirect object pronoun.

Scenario #3: Connect new content with prior learning

For a novice level Portuguese class, the teacher selects the infographic, “Pense Antes de Comer,” (Think Before You Eat) to connect prior learning of food vocabulary and numbers with the new content about healthy lifestyles and exercise.

The teacher begins by reviewing the food vocabulary from the infographic by asking questions such as:

  • Do you like ______? Who likes _______?
  • Do you eat /drink ______?

She then uses either/or questions to check for comprehension (ex. Which has more calories, a milkshake or 2 pieces of pizza?)  She asks students to act out what they think the various exercises suggested in the infographic are.

The teacher provides sentence frames to assist students working in pairs or small groups in interpreting the infographic through writing sentences in the target language:

  • ___________ have ______ calories.
  • If you want to eat ______, you have to do ______.

The teacher points out the use of the infinitives in Portuguese for “wanting to ___” and “having to ___” phrases in the target language.  The teacher asks students to apply the structure to other verbs they know.  Their ideas are recorded on the board/document camera.

The teacher challenges students to come up with a summary sentence about the infographic in the target language.  As an extension, students do research to add a row to the infographic.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we will explore ways to use authentic resources in guided practice activities.

Can my novice learners interpret authentic text?

Can my novice language learners interpret authentic text?  This is a question I have gotten quite a bit lately.  Most language educators are very comfortable with exposing intermediate and advanced level learners to authentic materials from the target language culture(s).  Their level of confidence is rooted in the fact that students at the intermediate and advanced proficiency levels, through their learning experiences, have acquired enough language and a sense for how discourse is organized in the target language to be able to handle the challenge.

But, when it comes to novice level learners, there is real hesitation.  Let’s explore some of the challenges and possible solutions to them.

  1. Do novice learners have the skills to interpret text, particularly if it contains words and phrases with which they are unfamiliar?

Novice level learners benefit from being taught routines and procedures for approaching text.  These routines should be modeled for learners as they are guided through the processes.  Some examples include:

  • using text features such as visuals, titles, and captions
  • looking for cognates
  • using context to derive meaning

2.  What can I expect novice learners to do with text?

In speaking with educators about unsuccessful attempts at having novice learners interpret authentic text, my standby response is: “Is what you were asking them to do aligned with what the ACTFL-NCSSFL Can-Do Statements and the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners tell us novices can do?”  Here’s a screenshot from the Can-Do Statements:

Screen Shot 2017-12-16 at 7.02.45 PM

When interpreting authentic text, novices can:

  • list words with which they are familiar
  • make a guess about a word that looks/sounds like one they know
  • categorize ideas into simple categories
  • write a short summary sentence describing the purpose of the text
  • answer choice questions
  • complete cloze activities
  • complete more complex tasks with modeling and sentence framing

(You can download a copy of the checklist above by clicking this link.)

When designing interpretive tasks for your novice learners, use the Can-Do statements and the bulleted list above to guide your planning.  Ensure that the tasks you are giving the students are in line with what learners at their level can do.  Asking students to demonstrate interpretive skills too far above their ability level may cause frustration, disengagement, and push back from students.  It may also perpetuate the students’ belief in their inability to read, write, and view authentic text in the target language and derive meaning from it.

3.  Where do I begin?

Start small.  Opening a class with a meme or quote that reflects the current thematic unit can be a great confidence builder.  Memes are visual and can engage students through humor and interest.  Memes and quotes can also provide an example of language structures in context.  Here are some resources for you:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 12.00.27 PM

French memes and quotes

German memes and quotes

Italian memes and quotes

Spanish memes and quotes

4. Believe that novices can interpret authentic text.

Using the ideas in this blog post, I challenge you to begin to incorporate authentic text into your lesson plans for novice level classes.  And as with all new strategies, after having implemented them, reflect on the impact the interpretive tasks using authentic text had on student learning and student engagement.

 

How do I build my students’ skills to prepare them to interpret authentic text?

As language educators, we understand the merits of exposing our students to authentic resources.  So far in this blog, our focus has been about finding, selecting, and storing authentic resources.  Now let’s turn our attention to what can we do as teachers to intentionally build skills with our students for the interpretive mode.

What do readers bring to the interpretive task?

From the Teacher’s Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction (2010) by Shrum and Glisan, they suggest the following list of what readers bring to interpretive tasks:

*Their knowledge of the target language

*Their background knowledge and world experiences

*Their knowledge of how discourse is organized

*Their ability to hold information in short-term memory

*Their ability to use a variety of strategies to help them arrive at meaning

(adapted from Shrum & Glisan, 2010, p. 183)

What are some ways I can build students’ interpretive skills?

Next, let’s consider some practical ways we can build students’ interpretive skills on a daily basis in our language classrooms:

1.Integrate authentic texts into instruction on a regular basis.

2.Provide opportunities for students to explore an authentic text in order to glean either the main idea or specific details, but without having to demonstrate an understanding of the entire text.

3.Prepare students for the task by activating their background knowledge and engaging them in anticipating the main idea of what they will read.

4.Provide students with strategies for comprehending authentic texts such as:

*Using contextual clues

*Using word families as clues to figuring out the meaning of new words

*Identifying key words that provide meaning clues

*Using titles and visuals that appear with the text as clues to meaning.

5.Use interpretive tasks as the basis for interpersonal and presentational communication.

6.Design interpretive activities that include pair and group collaboration.

7.Assist students in moving from literal comprehension (key word, main idea, and supporting detail detection) to interpretive comprehension (word and concept inferences, author/cultural perspectives, organizational principles of the text).

(ACTFL Integrated Performance Assessment Manual, 2003)

If you are interested in completing a self-assessment around the seven points above, click here.

Resources for building interpretive skills:

On my website https://www.grahnforlang.com/, I have created a page called “Addressing the Interpretive Mode.”  I have linked there many resources in multiple languages for building students’ listening, reading, and viewing skills in the target language.

A. Building students’ confidence with text

Talking about what successful language learners do will emphasize to students how not knowing every word and making mistakes are both part of the language learning process.  The image on the right (below), is a poster that gives students a protocol for encountering unknown words in their reading of authentic text.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 6.48.47 PM

There are also many resources and tools available online in multiple languages that support students’ listening, reading, and viewing skill building.  Here are a few examples below (each is hot linked to its source):

9dd07a15a23c4032a4964cac3805cb24

d1f1d237a464312ab2d748c5e895fb60

-50173338

B. Before, During and After Reading, Viewing, and Listening Activities

Mirroring the routines and processes students use in their language arts classes reinforces their interpretive skills.  Here are some examples below:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 7.03.31 PM

C. The Power of Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are handy tools to support learners as they view, listen, and/or read.  In addition, graphic organizers provide students with a visual way to organize notes and information.  In many cases, you can find graphic organizers on the web in the target language.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 7.19.48 PM

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 7.14.50 PM

D. Tech Tools for Supporting Listening, Reading and Viewing Skills

There are so many web-based applications that pair well with listening, reading, and viewing activities in the language classroom and technology-enhanced classroom activities are highly engaging to students.  Click on the image below to access the links to the various web tools.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 7.07.31 PM

Finally, almost all of the resources in this posting can be found on my Pinterest page called “Reading in World Languages.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 7.23.22 PM

SaveSave