A PBL Approach to Teaching World Languages

January 18, 2015

A few months ago we ran our first ever “Raise Your Hand” best practices contest, and had three winning entries. Here’s one of them, submitted by Rosario Sánchez Gómez of the Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, MA. Rosario writes:

I integrate Project-Based Learning (PBL) in my courses as one of my teaching approaches. In these projects, students are in the driver’s seat, collaborating to produce high quality work that is the answer to a challenge or driving question. It is through their own work that they learn and practice the content.

In order to keep academic rigor and a structured collaboration throughout the project, it is indispensable to provide students with a carefully and visually presented design of instructions, goals, benchmarks, and rubrics — as well as a place for students to post content, feedback, and a final product.

Haiku Learning’s pages and content blocks make it easy for teachers to design an experience for students and navigate easily through it. The results are students who are actively engaged, exploring challenges in a communication-based curriculum.

Ultimately, students are the ones creating, collaborating, thinking critically, managing time, and acquiring a deeper knowledge.

Anatomy of the Project

A project I use every year in my AP class is one where students in pairs have the freedom to create a two-to-three minute video where they need to use all the subjunctive tenses in Spanish.


The Subjunctives project is organized
as a subpage to Grammar. Each
subpage of the project covers
the Intro, Examples,
Tutorials, Step by Step, and Awards.


I dedicate five subpages to the design of the project under a Main Grammar page of my website.

  • Page 1: A clear description of the project, a strict calendar of deadlines, and a very detailed rubric guide the students about expectations.
  • Page 2: The three best examples from the previous year are embedded.
  • Page 3: The necessary video tutorials on the technologies students are required to use are embedded.
  • Page 4: Students post their progress as they move forward using Haiku Learning’s WikiProjects (idea, storyboard, final video). They also give each other feedback in a discussion thread. As a final step, they do an individual oral reflection through an embedded Flipgrid video.
  • Page 5: There is an embedded anonymous survey from Google forms decorated with Oscar statues where students vote for best use of the subjunctive, best use of Spanish in general, best script, best special effects, best acting and best movie.

The whole process goes on without a hitch making the student experience with the use of the “feared” subjunctive a memorable and practical one!



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