Lesson Plan

Spanish-Speaking World Current Event Project

Using VoiceThread to explore current events.
Elizabeth S.
Classroom teacher
Hawbridge School
Saxapahaw, NC
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My Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects World Languages

After completing this lesson, students will be able to discuss a current event in the Spanish-speaking world using the present and past tenses. Additionally, students will be able to give suggestions for future action using the subjunctive tense. 

World Languages
Grades 9 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

I would give this lesson flow the following timeline:
Day 1: Watch hook and complete hook activity
Day 2-3: Complete direct instruction and guided practice
Day 4-5: Complete independent practice. I think it would help to have day 4 be a Friday, in order to give students the weekend to work and then come back Monday
Day 6 (to Day 7, if needed): Wrap up 
You may also find the information for this project condensed into a student handout here

Google Drive is an incredibly helpful tool that allows students to share typed work and gives teachers space to comment on their students' progress. I will be using this in conjunction with a TED talk to spark student interest in current events and help them examine their own biases before they begin working.

This step is an example of substitution, according to the SAMR model. There is little functional change to the activity itself, but it is now accomplished through technological means. Rather than having students answer the questions on a piece of paper and watch the video on a screen as a class, they are able to independently view the video and use a Google doc  to record their answers.

This step can also be understood via Bloom's Digital Taxonomy as understanding. Students are applying some preliminary analysis (such as comparisons), but are mainly using the video to interpret and infer the best way to select their current event. The video and reflection allows students to reflect on their own biases and to question United States-based news sources. Hopefully, these questions will encourage students  to be interested in the news sources I provide for them - which they would not normally use.

Student Instructions

For this project, you to pick a current event in the Spanish-speaking world to share with your class. Before we move on to selecting the current event that interests you, please watch this short TED talk about how the news distorts the  way we see the world. To answer the following questions, please create a Google Doc using Google Drive. Make sure you share it with me!

1) In the news, we hear about the United States and Middle East much more than other parts of the world. What have you learned about the Spanish-speaking world from the news?
2) Alisa Miller states that many news bureaus have closed down their international sites. How does this influence the quality of the news you may be gathering?
3) Do you think it would be better for you to find a current event from an United States-based news firm or an international news firm? Why? 

2 Direct instruction

For this section, I will outline to students the requirements for the current events they select. While this is not nearly as interactive as other components of the project, it is a vital component to ensuring student success. In addition to the student instructions, I pulled inspiration from the PBS current events awareness site featured in this step.

If I was using this for upper-level Spanish students, these instructions would be entirely in Spanish. I left the instructions for this component and all others in English, making the project accessible to lower-level Spanish classes or just to make sure that no student misunderstands the requirements of an appropriate current event. 

This step can be seen as an example of substitution under the SAMR model. I am using the lesson plan to substitute what would normally be a time of me lecturing the students on expectation. This medium allows students to read through the instructions at their own place, which is also connected with components of Universal Design for Learning. Though I give students specific guidelines for their current events, the project is essentially open. Students are able to differentiate by selecting either events written in English or in Spanish. In this way, more advanced students can elect to read complex stories in Spanish while students who may struggle with reading can self-select articles in English. Regardless of the length of the article, students will be able to be successful in their VoiceThread created later in the project. 

Student Instructions

The world is wide open to you in selecting your current events! However, they must meet the following requirements. 

-The event must have taken place in the past year
-The event must take place in the Spanish-speaking world (including Spanish-speaking populations in the United States, Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, Spain, and Equatorial Guinea)
-The articles you find may be in Spanish or in English, but you will be discussing your topic in Spanish
-If you topic is controversial and contains delicate subject matter (such as violence or drugs), it must be pre-approved by the teacher

3 Guided Practice

Teachers, you will need to create a Collaborize Classroom discussion for your class in order to use this tool.

Collaborize Classroom is a fairly basic tool and it is free for all users. Using Collaborize Classroom, teachers are able to create discussion boards that their student are able to participate in. By allowing the students to comment on each other's project proposals, they are able to receive continual feedback and deepen their ideas. As an instructor, teachers are able to check in on their students and students are able to ask questions as they arise. 

This step is an example of ISTE Standards for Teachers 3: Model digital age work and learning. Students are provided with safe and reputable sources through which to find their current events and then are given a safe medium so that they can collaborate online.  Students are encouraged to innovate and grow via this platform.

Additionally, this step demonstrates SAMR model modification. Students are able to participate in a functionally different activity, thanks to technology, and collaborate with each other and their instructor in a unique way. While the teacher can and will provide feedback, the bulk of it will come from the students themselves.

Student Instructions

For this step, use these news sources to find a current event that interests you and that you think would be interesting to share with your classmates.

When you have found an event that is relevant, please post to our Collaborize Classroom board en español why you think your topic is relevant and interesting. Additionally, please indicate any specific points you will be focusing on. Make sure you include link to your article! 

Finally, give at least 3 of your classmates feedback and advice on their posts. Do you like their event? Why or why not? Do you find it interesting? Would you like your classmate to add or focus on any particular details? 

4 Independent practice


Teachers, you will need to obtain appropriate licenses from VoiceThread in order to use this tool.

VoiceThread is an excellent tool that allows individuals to create audiovisual presentations. Although the product does require educators to purchase licenses, it is relatively affordable. Students are able to display mastery and understanding of their topic by presenting visuals that go along with their commentary and a spoken discussion of their current event. This performative assessment allows students to simultaneously display their Spanish and critical thinking skills.

This step in my lesson plan can be understood using ISTE Standards for Teachers 2: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments. By allowing students to select the current event of their choice, they are able to explore their own individual interests and curiosities. The digital tools used in this section also allow students to be creative and promote student learning. The collaboration that VoiceThread allows is also vital to this part of the process.

I see additional connections with Universal Design for Learning concepts. VoiceThread allows students to explore diverse aspects of their topics. The ability to record and re-record commentary reduces anxiety for student who may be otherwise too nervous to speak in front of their classmates. This means that students who would normally not excel at presentations are able to access this skill in a unique way. 

Student Instructions

For this step, you will create a VoiceThread where you will discuss your current events en español (using the preterit and imperfect tenses) and provide advice for future action using the subjunctive. Make sure you include a visual on each slide. Please use the following outline for your project. Remember, though you may write a script for yourself to read, the information required for each section of slides will be an audio recording to go with the visuals:

Slide 1: Introduce yourself and your topic.
Slides 2 - 5: Give a history and outline of your current event. Where does it take place? When? Who is involved? Use the preterit and imperfect tenses in this section.
Slide 6 - 7: Why should your classmates care? What makes this event important? You may use the present tense for this section
Slides 8-9: Provide 3 recommendations for future action. For example, if your topic was deforestation in Peru, what do you think the Peruvian government should do to prevent further deforestation? Make sure you use the subjunctive for this section.
Slide 10: Conclude your presentation. 

Lastly, after you are done with your VoiceThread, you should watch at least 5 VoiceThreads created by your classmates. For at least 3 of these VoiceThreads, provide constructive feedback and questions. What do you wish your classmates had discussed further? Did you notice any issues with pronunciation? What do you think they did well?

5 Wrap-up

Google Drive
Free, Paid

By using Google Drive, students are able to create an online journal entry in this tool. This allows me, the instructor, to comment directly on their projects and ask them questions that the students can respond to. For this step, you could also give the students the option to comment on each other's work, but I opted to leave that out to give the project a more clean wrap-up.

This step demonstrates augmentation in the SAMR model.  Rather than having student just write on paper, which I would then grade and give back to them, students are able to more easily edit their work and respond to my comments. By responding to comments, students are encouraged to continue the learning process. Additionally, the journal prompt asks students to examine if and how the project has changed their perspective on news sources. With this, students are not only practicing complex Spanish structures, but also given perspectives that they will be able to use outside of the classroom.

Because the journal entry requires some higher level thinking, it is an example of evaluating in Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. Students are asked to critique their choice of topic and examine the news sources they used. I believe this is an excellent way for students to conclude a fairly intensive project and a great opportunity for them to examine their own biases and perspectives. 

Student Instructions

Please return to your own VoiceThread and read the comments left by your classmates. After reading their comments, please reflect on your learning experience in a journal entry. Please use Google Drive to create a Google Doc. You may write this entry in English. Your journal entry should be at least 15 sentences long. You do not need to answer all of these questions, but please use them for inspiration.

-What initially attracted you to your current event? Do you wish you had picked something else?
-Which do you prefer: presenting in front of the class or presenting via VoiceThread? Why?
-Has this project opened your eyes to different stories in the news?
-Do you think you will continue to use any of the news outlets you used in this project? Why or why not?
-Do you plan on continuing to follow any of the issues either or your classmates researched? Why?