Let’s get INTERPERSONAL: Input to Output at All Levels – iFLT 2021 with Darcy Pippins

Blog Post by: Andrea Schweitzer

Effective teachers do not work in isolation.”  Isn’t that the truth!  I was reminded of that pearl of wisdom today by Darcy Pippins in her session titled “Let’s Get INTERPERSONAL_ Input to output at all levels

Darcy is a National Board Certified high school Spanish teacher from Norman, OK. In her presentation, she outlined her way of using compelling input from readers and other supporting resources in order to create cultural comparisons and simulated conversations.  At present, Darcy teaches levels 3, 4 and AP, but these activities can be designed to align with any unit of study for students at all levels to improve proficiency in the interpersonal and presentation modes of communication.

Both experiences were designed to prepare students for what they will encounter on the AP exam and were the result of the rich collaboration that Darcy shares with Deanna Roach, a like-minded colleague in her district.

blog image 1Essentially, they do the following:

INPUT: They take the reader (or other resource) that they are using as the backbone of a unit of study.  They then look for key areas where cultural comparisons can be drawn and also determine what sort of conversation might be inspired by it.

CULTURAL COMPARISONS – PRESENTATIONAL MODE: After spending a lot of time providing LOADS of quality comprehensible input through the book study, they create a “Comparación cultural” slide show based on a theme referenced in the book.  For example, one cultural comparison that she shared while teaching the Fluency Matters novel “Frida Kahlo” by Kristy Placido was that of “where people go to spend their free time.”

    • The initial slides showed images and labels in Spanish of different places that the teacher and students could discuss together.
    • Then came some additional questions (PQA) referring to those places: “Where do you go to spend time with family and friends?”
    • After that, they read a short reading from the teacher’s guide together as a class regarding Chapultepec Park in Mexico City.
    • Students then discussed some additional questions about their own culture in Spanish with small groups, filling out a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast them.
    • Lastly, the students were given instructions to record a voice memo on their phone or device comparing and contrasting two elements from the topic of discussion for two minutes as a means of practicing presentational speaking in a low-stress way (not in front of the class).

SIMULATED CONVERSATION – INTERPERSONAL MODE:  Again, after receiving a great deal of input through the book study and other extended activities, Darcy and Deanna set up a really cool simulated conversation that looks a lot like what will be encountered on the AP test.  They create a handout with instructions and a guiding outline of what students will hear in a recording that they prepared.

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The students receive 1 minute to look over the outline and jot down some notes for themselves.  They then hear a series of around 5 questions one at a time based on the scenario.  After each question they hear a “beep” and have 20 second to respond in Spanish to the best of their ability prior to the subsequent question being asked.  Students may use the outline and any notes they jotted down to help them.

Darcy shared the example of a simulated conversation that they created for a unit on the environment.  The scenario was that you are at the grocery store having a conversation with the checkout person.  You respond to their greeting, then you’re asked if you prefer paper or plastic for your bag and then you’re asked to explain why you picked the one you did, etc.

Darcy and Deanna kept things simple and just created to recording prompts with voice memo providing the instructions, making the “beep” sound (for the full experience!) and leaving the allotted time for students to respond before providing the next question.  Students then recorded their response using voice memo on their device while listening.

The data received in these audio recordings provide Darcy and Deanna with information on how well they are doing as teachers by hearing how well their students are speaking.  The impression I got was that these are not for high-stakes grades, but more for progress indicators.  Darcy’s examples were for her students in the upper levels, but something of this nature could easily be done for lower levels provided that students are given adequate input on the front end and that the expectations for their output are realistic (perhaps only having them respond to 2 or 3 short prompts).

These are truly well-crafted approaches to presentational and interpersonal communication… all thanks to a beautiful collaboration!  If you don’t already have a great team or a colleague who motivates and inspires you, iFLT is the perfect place to find your people.  Like Darcy said, “Effective teachers do not work in isolation.

You can find her presentation slides here: Let’s Get INTERPERSONAL_ Input to output at all levels

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