Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Visual Discovery: Part 2

In my last post I talked about using a social studies History Alive technique, Visual Discovery, as a way of introducing culture and history.  In that entry I went over the whole process, which is obviously a little time intensive.  I've been playing around with the idea of an abbreviated version for lower level classes.

Here's an overview of how I hope to incorporate Visual Discovery even in German 1:

  1. Preview Question
  2. Show an Image, students analyze it with groups
  3. Take notes related to the image using a graphic organizer
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 for multiple images
  5. Processing / Assessment piece

You'll notice that this is almost the same process as the full version.  The difference will be in the level of complexity at each stage, particularly with the processing/assessment piece and with the complexity of the topic.  The previous example dealt with East Germany - a topic that can lead to a lot of discussion and has a lot of gray areas - whereas the example I'm going to discuss today requires less depth to get the point across.

Example Two: German Schools and Classrooms
When I introduce students to vocabulary relating to classroom objects, I usually show them pictures from German classrooms.  It usually surprises students to see that something that's so common place in both cultures can be both so similar and so different.  Because this is a German 1 topic, the visuals are a great way to show cultural differences in a way that still allows for 90% Target Language in class.

Preview Question:
"Was findet man in einem Klassenzimmer?"

Notice that this is a much simpler preview question than for the East Germany lesson.  It's a very straight forward question that all students should be able to come up with an answer for, even if it's just reciting words from their vocab list.  

After coming up with a list as a class, discuss what types of classes you'd usually find these items in (Mathematik vs Biologie).  Then try to narrow down the list to "Was braucht man in einem Klassenzimmer?"

Image Analysis:
The images you choose are still an important part of the lesson.  Instead of picking the action or dramatic shots that worked well with the East Germany lesson, the goal is to find images that illustrate the main cultural points you want to discuss.  

Remember, with each image you'll be following three steps: 
  1. Gather Evidence (1-2 words)
  2. Interpret evidence (full sentence, "I think... because...)
  3. Speculate (motivations - this ties back into the preview question)
Here's an example of one of the images I've chosen for this lesson:

Remember to pose questions for each stage.  Sample questions might be...

Gathering Evidence:

  1. How many people are in the picture?
  2. Describe the people you see (age, gender, clothing).
  3. What objects do you see (we'll have already discussed Schulranzen in this lesson)?
Interpreting Evidence:
  1. When do you think this picture was taken (season, time of day)?
  2. Discuss how you think the children feel (happy, sad, nervous, etc).
  3. Who is the woman?

Making Hypotheses from Evidence:
(Identify the objects as Schultüten first)

  1. What do you think is inside the Schultüten?
  2. Why do you think the students have Schultüten?

If you're looking for examples of how to structure your questions in each level of analysis, click here.

I already mentioned this in the earlier post, but please note: As students give their answers - and this is for ALL stages - students need to reference what exactly in the picture helped them make the inference.  If you emphasize this process with your lower levels, by the time they get to German 3/4 and do something like the East Germany lesson, they'll be ready to take on the challenge of analyzing those images effectively.

Because this process can be time-consuming, even at this level, you may not want to do the image analysis for each "main image."  It may make more sense to do it for some of them, but for others you might want to jump right into the note taking.

Taking Notes:
For this lesson, there are 11 different aspects of German schools I want to discuss with my students.  I picked 11 main images - one for each topic - and then other images to support the main one.  I plan to go through the image analysis (as described above) for the main images, then use the supporting images as part of the notes process.

Here's how it would look for the Schultüten section:

If you'd like the entire Power Point (includes both the "main images" and the supporting ones), click here.

As students are going through the process of analyzing images and then learning about the cultural differences, they complete a graphic organizer.  The one I created for this topic is very straightforward.  I included the topic, the "main image," and left room for note-taking.

If you're interested in the notes worksheet to go along with the Power Point, click here.

The point of the Processing is to serve as a form of either formative or summative assessment.  It doesn't have to be a standard "quiz" or "test" - in fact it can often replace that part of your unit.  Notes are completely allowed.

For this lesson, there are two main Processing pieces I plan to use.  The first is a basic exit ticket - students will just need to answer the question with one detail they learned about.  This is an easy way to end the lesson and give them time to think.

The next day in class, I plan on having students work in groups to create a Venn Diagram comparing American and German schools.

Obviously this example is for a different activity, but I like the idea!
Then as the final assessment piece, I'll have students respond to ONE of the following prompts:
Option 1: Letter Home   You're living as a foreign exchange student in Germany.  Write a letter home to your friends/family about the school you're visiting.  Include details about where you're staying and the specific ways your host school is different (or similar) to your school.
Option 2: Classroom Re-Design  There's a foreign exchange student coming from Germany.  You've been asked to help them feel more at home by re-designing one of the classrooms in your school to look more like a German classroom.  Draw a before and after picture of the classroom.  Be sure to include five captions that detail specific changes you made and why.

The idea of using Visual Discovery to introduce culture has gotten me really pumped for the school year - I hope it'll be a way to engage students in the Target Language while getting them to think critically about the world around them.

- Frau Leonard

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