Today, outside the library as everyone rushed to see their electives assignments on the library doors, one of my Spanish II students approached me. He told me that he has learned more Spanish in the past two days of class than he has ever learned before. "I don't really know what you're doing, but keep it up, Profe."
I don't fully believe him because
a. I know his teacher from last year and she teaches them tons of material! ;
b. it's the first week of school and we've forgotten how much work we put in last year;
c. he's one of those really sweet kids who says really nice things to help other people feel good.
That being said, this is an amazing compliment. More importantly, this means my crazy scheme might actually have a shot at some semblance of success. The basic plan is three-fold:
1. Speak only in Spanish (even though they are only in their second year). This quarter is Spanglish, next quarter they get five English words a day, and Spring Semester it's allll español.
2. The students teach themselves the grammatical material, both in and out of class, however they see fit for their personal learning style. I have divided all of the grammar learning standards for this year and divided them up by week and off they go! We do reinforcement activities in class. It is the fundamental concept of a flipped-classroom, except I don't ever explicitly teach them unless they ask specific questions.
3. When we're not studying in class or reinforcing grammar, we will be building an open-source online textbook for other students of Spanish. Not like a normal textbook, though. In addition to compiling all of the resources they find useful (Youtube videos, songs, web sites, news articles, animated GIFs, etc), we'll be using embedded VoiceThreads to facilitate communication and interaction with other learners.This way it is less of a textbook that just happens to be online but an online language forum (perhaps like LiveMocha but less uniform?) that is created entirely by and for students. Students aren't allowed to use technology in the classroom until the week after next, but we're already chomping at the bit.
In summary, I think the reason that he feels he is learning so much is because he is doing all the learning. This sounds rather simplistic, so I will restate: instead of being given the information, he is actively gathering, processing and learning according to his own individual wants and needs, instead of the style and constraint of the teacher.
I think I might just do as he suggests and keep it up.