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Rainbow Bubbles

"Teachers draw out student thinking through carefully chosen questions and tasks and attend closely to what students do and say. They consider and check alternative interpretations of student ideas and methods. Teachers are attentive to how students might hear their questions and to how students communicate their own thinking. Teachers use what they learn about students to guide instructional decisions and surface ideas that benefit other students."

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Eliciting & Interpreting Student Thinking

Mini-lesson "-quiera" Compound Words

(October 2023)

Spanish 4 class studied the presidential election process in Ecuador and South America. As part of their coursework, they were given a reading comprehension task focused on the role of social media in important events like this one. The task was to read about how the candidates use Meta (Facebook and Instagram) to promote their presidential campaigns, followed by a question-and-answer assignment based on the story. The students will also be required to research the candidates to provide more detailed answers to some questions.

After completing this mini-lesson, the students can use compound words ending in "-quiera" that in English corresponds to the words whatever, whichever, wherever, whenever, and whoever, to express uncertainty or doubt about the outcome of a situation, event, or question. This will be particularly useful in one upcoming assignment centered on the ongoing electoral process in Ecuador that has not yet produced a final result. While they are in the writing activity,  I will perform one-on-one interviews in a separate place with the students to elicit their understanding of the use of words ending in “-quiera”, following questions prepared to prompt the response of their responses necessary to interpret their thinking. 

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​Mini-lesson Plan and Presentation

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Strengths of the Eliciting Students Thinking Interview: 

  • During my review of the content, I prepared clear follow-up questions that helped me explore most of the core ideas discussed in the lesson.  These questions enabled me to guide the student towards deeper thinking about the usage of the subjunctive mode. One such question was, "How do we form the subjunctive from the verb in its infinitive form?" By asking this question, I made the student explain the process of forming the subjunctive from the indicative form of a verb and provided me with correct examples of when and how to use it. The student's answers were complemented with the compound words of the lesson, which showed me her learning process. I also asked the student follow-up questions such as, "Do you remember the endings of the subjunctive for the infinitive verbs ending in -ar, -er, and -ir?" and "When we have doubt or do not know the outcome of a situation, what words can we use in conjunction with the subjunctive?" These questions gave the student an opportunity to provide me with precise examples in Spanish of situations in which the use of subjunctive and compound words is expected. Her answers showed me that she had a thorough understanding of the lesson and knew how and where to apply that knowledge. 

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  • In my interactions with students, I always maintain a smooth and comfortable tone of voice and body language to make them feel at ease while answering my questions, and I was able to establish a connection with students and their abilities and thought processes. It is usual for modern language students to feel concerned about their pronunciation, and I understand that. I make it a point to have such "judgment-free" interactions with the students to make the learning process more approachable and less intimidating for them. The student is relaxed when answering my questions, which is ideal for the eliciting process.


  • Using a friendly tone of voice, a casual introduction, and starting with a "thank you" phrase during one-on-one interactions with students has been beneficial in creating a proper feedback environment. This comfortable setting approach helps the students relax and recall their knowledge when responding, allowing me to connect with them to evaluate the core ideas of my teaching through my questions and to gauge the level of understanding of the class.


Evidence of Interaction with Students

Eliciting and Interpreting Student Thinking Area of Opportunity 

  • I need to improve in preparing a good launching of open-ended initial questions focused primarily on ideas. The question I started with: 'What are the reasons or causes why we use the subjunctive in Spanish?' was insufficient. It had a limited number of possible answers, and even if a student got it right, it did not demonstrate whether they arrived at the answer through reasoning or memorization. Instead, I should have used the sentence 'Tell me about the different ways you can use the subjunctive in Spanish.' This sentence makes the student think about the options they learned and recall the information to make their explanation. Applying the CTPs can be challenging as they are written with a focus on core subjects that require deeper reasoning to apply knowledge. However, this is not always the case in language. It is natural to choose words or sentences without much thought or simply following established grammar rules. Therefore, I need to think more carefully about how to improve my launching question. I could use strategies such as finding errors in core ideas within a given sentence or sentences, or identifying patterns in a brief story to help me improve my questioning technique." 

My Growth in Eliciting and Interpreting Student Thinking

"Campaign to rescue Dogs and Cats in Cuba."

(Abril, 2024)

The AP Spanish class is currently learning about global social issues, specifically animal mistreatment and negligence. One of their recent lessons involved watching a news report on Gabriel Guerra Bianchini's awareness campaign about the prevalence of street dogs and cats in Cuba. Through his campaign, he aims to advocate for the creation of a law that will protect animal rights. The video is the news report they watched to complete the activity shown below.

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After the students completed the assigned activity independently, I wanted to evaluate their critical thinking skills regarding the actual causes of the problem in Cuba, and whether these causes apply to the rest of the world. My aim is to identify any gaps in their understanding of the lesson, particularly in relation to the mistreatment of animals and the reasons behind it. This would help me address any misconceptions in the group review of the practice and maybe enable them to take appropriate action to address the problem wherever possible.

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Eliciting and Interpreting Student Thinking Strengths 

  • The initial or launching question was open-ended and focused primarily on the problems portrayed in the campaign's news. This time, I decided to use English instead of Spanish to check for understanding because the students sometimes do not have enough vocabulary to express their thinking. This chance to respond to an open-ended launch question offers students the opportunity to share thinking beyond “known or not known.” This time, the student was able to share their understanding of the problem being exposed on the news, even though she could not remember that the street animal problem in Cuba also includes cats.

  • The follow-up questions that were prepared for the students were clear and explored most of the ideas they had studied for the unit. These ideas included society's neglect and lack of responsibility, but mostly the lack of money. The students were expected to identify these problems in the video. During the discussion, when I asked the student about her thoughts on the main reason for the problem, she did not hesitate to say that "it is mainly a problem in poor countries", which was the answer I was looking for. She then brought up the communist economic system in Cuba, which gave me another opportunity to explore her thinking by asking if the problem was only present in those countries. However, she was able to adjust her thinking and conclude that it is not only in communist countries, "but in poor cities."

  • I received enough evidence from the student's answers to conclude that they understood the relationship between the lack of resources, specifically money, and the mistreatment and neglect of animals worldwide. This was the expected outcome for the lesson and served me as preparation for the follow-up group discussion to go over the practice assigned.

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