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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers
Preguntando Preguntas (Asking Questions)

Students will be able to identify, use, and create closed and open-ended questions in order to conduct an interview.

Students will practice questioning what they read, debate an issue, and prepare a list of questions that will help them to conduct a quality interview.

1. pregunta cerrada (closed-ended question): a question that has only one brief answer.

2. pregunta abierta (open-ended question): a question that forces the person answering to elaborate, explain or justify what they are saying.

1. (10 minutes) Teacher asks students when they use questions, and a list is created on the board. Then, the teacher explains that we will begin a series of lessons on questioning with the eventual goal of writing a profile about someone based on an interview. To get started, we'll take a look at 2 articles: one that used interviews and one that didn't use interviews to make a point.

2. (10 minutes) Students will divide into 2 large groups to read an article on the topic of gay marriage, (an issue many of my students had been debating informally). Group 1 reads a pro-gay marriage article, Group 2 reads an anti-gay marriage editorial. Both articles were genuine articles from a Colombian and a Honduran national newspaper.

3. (20 minutes) After reading individually, students on either side of the issue debate which article proved its point better, and which side of the debate they are on. After the debate, the teacher explains that the article which used interviews to get many sides of the issue presents a more worldly view of the topic than the one-sided editorial. Next, students work in pairs to complete a graphic organizer shaped like a clock divided into 12 sections. In each section of the clock, they must ask a question they have for the author or people in the article. Students should not have too much difficulty with this, especially after debating the issue. The teacher walks around the class and assists students in writing their questions.

4. (15 minutes) Each pair must choose one of their questions to write on a large piece of chart paper on the board. After all questions are up, the teacher introduces the definitions of "closed and open-ended questions," which students write down in their notes. Then, for each question on the chart paper, we have a vote deciding whether or not it's a closed or open-ended question.

5. (5 minutes) Students then go through their own set of questions and determine if each question is open or closed.

6. (20 minutes) In order to practice the use of closed and open-ended questions, students will, in their same 2-person group, conduct mini-interviews based on one of the following situations: 1) 9-1-1 emergency call. One person is the caller; the other is the 911 operator. The operator asks and writes down 3 closed questions and 3 open questions which the caller answers (both verbally and in writing). 2) Dating service: One person is the desperate single, the other is the dating service representative. The representative asks and writes down 3 closed questions and three open questions, which the desperate single answers (both verbally and written). For both situations, students switch roles, from interviewer to interviewee.

Activities: (both described above)
1) Read newspaper article and create questions for the author or people in the article.

2) Conduct mini 911 or dating service interview.

In the next classes, students will decide as a class, three main areas they want to focus on in their interviews of real people. They will conduct the interviews, write a profile, and then create a class newsletter for distribution to Spanish speaking members of the school.

Write 3 topics you would want to question somebody about. Write one closed and one open-ended question for each topic that you could use if you were interviewing someone.

Students turn in their mini-interview transcripts, with questions labeled closed or open-ended so the teacher can assess understanding.

Standards Addressed:
Standard 1. Listen Speak Read and Write in the native language for information and understanding. c. Determine the need for more important information for clarification d. Select and limit topics for informational writing e. Use paraphrase and quotation in order to communicate information effectively.

Standard 3. Listen Speak Read and Write in the native language for critical analysis and evaluation. a. Recognize and acknowledge various perspectives on issues of local, national, and world concern. c. Articulate one or more perspectives in the primary language to summarize arguments on different sides of issues.

My students are all fluent 11th grade Spanish speakers who vary in their confidence to use Spanish at school. Because they can speak and understand Spanish with confidence, this lesson/unit on questioning allows them to use their strong skills to help improve their reading and writing skills. The class has a huge range of abilities regarding reading and writing, so I like to pair people up, or put them in small heterogeneous groups so they can help each other with difficult vocabulary, spelling, etc.

Overall Value:
My favorite part about the lesson is that students not only get to learn how to better question what they read, or who they are interviewing, but they also get to debate a controversial topic. Thus, they were more engaged and willing to read and write (which they really resist!) They also liked the idea that the work was leading towards an interview they would actually get to conduct and publish for the school. In the end, my students chose the 3 topics of: 1) Lunch (the food, the overcrowding in the cafeteria, the lack of daylight, the long lines, the fights, etc). 2) Teen health (violence, gangs, sex, drugs). 3) Current events (the war in Iraq, the building of the West-Side stadium in Manhattan, etc). Their newsletter turned into a great document of opinions people in their community (parents, brothers, friends, teachers, community workers) have on these topics.

Teacher Tips:
I chose the topic of gay marriage for my articles because this particular class had already been talking about it. If your students would be more engaged by something else, search for an issue that will catch their interest. I found both of my articles at on-line newspaper sites using the internet.

Created by:
Joel Key  
Location: Bronx High School
for Visual Arts
Grade: high school
Subject: Native Spanish Lang.
About: Joel Key is a first year Spanish teacher in the Bronx, New York. He teaches introductory Spanish and Heritage/Native Spanish Language classes to 10th and 11th graders. His school functions on a 110 minute block schedule, so this lesson plan could take 1-2 days.

If you have any questions regarding this activity, please contact joeldequito@hotmail.com 



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