Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

“Why We Are Doing This?” – Intentions Set Expectations For the Interpersonal



Yr3 (Gr 11) prior to the school fair….

j12 story fair retell day intentions

Yr4 (Gr 12) prior to story re-telling day

Why are we doing this? What’s the point of doing this? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we set our students up for success especially in interpersonal activities – the ones where they are interacting without someone ‘watching’. We hand out rubrics, we talk about what we want to see in the language piece, we (may) show examples, we practice and we give feedback. But when they set out on their interpersonal oral how do we keep them ‘focussed’ on the real goal of the time? (Hint – it’s not just to get something done). This year I have been experimenting with explicit intentions – reminders we review – prior to doing the activity. I used them for recent Yr 3 and Yr 4 interpersonal oral work You can see the intentions in the photos – intentions that reflect the purpose of the activity and directly tie to the evaluation rubric elements. I reminded students about these prior to starting and then set them on their interpersonal fair activity (For Yr3 it was the school fair and Yr4 story re-telling as part of their story unit). After this kind of work I like to ask reflection questions. I’ve learned to make the link to these intentions and ask at least one reflection question that relates directly to them such as “Today I met the challenge of ____by ____.” Their responses to this were powerful as they referenced something specific and how they worked to meet it. Responses like “Today I met the challenge of quality conversation by taking the time to really listen to my partner.” or “Today I met the challenge of ensuring my partner understood me by providing help when they indicated they didn’t understand.” I’ve always had goals/purpose – intentions – in the activities I plan. But now I’ve learned that its important to communicate this to my students. And in doing so I help increase their commitment to using and working in the target language.

What ways do you help students to understand why they are doing something?





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