One of the challenges in the remote learning era is to get kids engaged with language in an authentic way. Usually we are giving them lots of input in class, but it’s hard to provide that immersive environment when students are at home. A way I’ve tried to extend my Spanish classroom in the past is by giving out a huge list of “real world” choice homework assignments for them to complete throughout the grading period.
The basic idea is to give kids a a bunch of things they can do to interact with authentic language and authentic resources in a very real way. I tried to put together a ton of no-teacher-prep, short assignments dealing with real shopping, radio, TV, retail, travel, and music websites from Spanish-speaking countries. You can steal a free a copy of the instructions and list of assignments I gave my students here, which I adapted from Sara-Elizabeth’s post on choice homework here and Creative Language Class’ post on Real World Homework here. (As someone once told me, teachers are the best “borrowers.”)
In terms of grading and choice, you can give out varying “points” for the difficulty of each assignment. A one-point assignment would be to put vocabulary Post-it notes on ten items around the house. A five-point assignment would be to make a cooking video from a recipe you got off of a Spanish-language blog. For my students, I told them they needed to turn in three points total each week. They could do three one-point assignments one week and a five-point assignment and a one-point assignment for two weeks, but they needed to average three points a week.
As I wrote in my first post on distance learning, an important thing about this type of assignment is the idea of “proof.” When I introduced Tarea en Vivo to my students, I was very upfront with them about how completing these assignments would be done on the honor system, and that I was aware some assignments would be easier to “fudge” than others. They had to write a couple of sentences about what they did and learned, and they had to provide a picture, video, or screenshot of them completing the activity (these were often super fun to see!! I usually got a kick out of them). They also could not repeat any assignment during a nine-week grading period.
Overall, Tarea en Vivo did succeed in getting my students interacting with language in a very real way, and it was always fun for me to see them engaging in real world Spanish outside of class. The drawback was that it was logistically challenging to grade, so I ended up having students be very clear with keeping track of their points explicitly in the report they turned in each week. I also wasn’t super nitpicky about grammar and vocab errors; I just graded for proficiency and completion.
Even if you don’t use Tarea en Vivo as a full-on choice homework framework, hopefully the ideas and activities presented on this list will jump start your brain on activities you can offer as enrichment while students are at home. Good luck!