Comprehensible News

I’m just starting a project that I’ve been planning for a long time and wanted to share it with you.

Overview: My AP Spanish students will produce a newscast for lower level Spanish classes in the district.

Objective: To encourage novice Spanish learners by providing comprehensible news pertaining to local events.

The class is divided into groups of 4 (one group has 3). In each group, there is a writer, an editor, a reporter, and a producer (I will do the production role for the group with 3). Our district has Office 365, and all students already have accounts so all work is done in this platform. We will have a new broadcast every five class days (two weeks):

  • Day 1, they plan the topic in their groups and create an outline together. The writer takes the outline and uses it to write the script for the newscast in Office 365, saved in our group drive. This extends to Day 2 because the writer is given two class periods to write the script.
  • Day 3, I give each group a printed double-spaced copy of the script. As a group, they proofread and make editing marks on the page. They also make a list of all terms that will be difficult for novice Spanish students to understand (because they are not cognates or common words). The editor takes the page home and uses it to make all needed changes to the shared document. The producer takes the list home and starts finding clipart for those terms and storing it in the shared folder.
  • Day 4 is production day. We are using Touchcast on the iPad, which has a newsroom background and a teleprompter. I have a green screen that I keep in my classroom. For each group, we load the script into the teleprompter, practice, adjust the prompter speed, then record. In their groups, they watch the newscast and add in the clipart that they producer stored. *In Touchcast, they can add pop-up images to the screen during the newscast to aid in comprehension. Like when the reporter says “equipo”, a football team image pops up accompanied by the word “el equipo”. It is then posted to the Video Channel we have created in Office 365, that is accessible to all teachers and students in the district, but is not viewable by the general public.
  • Day 5 is for reflection and communicating with our audience. I have the Video channel linked to a Yammer group (in Office 365, Yammer is a lot like Facebook or Edmodo). All comments to the videos go directly to the group where our news team can respond. The news team will also post in the Yammer group, viewers what they would like us to report on next – any important games, concerts, etc coming up that we should attend?

Now, a few additional notes:

  • Instead of State Standards, our AP classes have a set of themes and contexts that they have to be proficient at discussing. They have to use that list to determine their newscast topics and keep a record of what they have covered. In this way, we are using the project to cover the required content, not deviating from it.
  • This will not take the place of regular “instruction”. Our school has a block system and I see them every other day. This means that a five-day schedule will produce a new video biweekly, more or less. Total class time spent on the video will be Day 1: 20 min, Day 3: 20 min, Day 4: 60 min, Day 5: 20 min. Our classes are 90 minutes long, so we are continuing the things we regularly do in class in the remaining time.
  • I want them to have a say in their jobs and groups. On Day 5, they turn in a page to tell me what jobs they have done and rank their preferences of tasks in order. I will try my best to give people the jobs they want and make it fair to all by making them share jobs that are wanted by more than one person. On the next Day 1, I tell them their jobs, and they form their groups making sure that there is one of each job in the group.
  • Grading – all grades are based on individual performance. I do not have a “group grade” for anything. They are all receiving grades for the work they produce according to their assigned tasks and speaking grades based on what I personally observe when they are collaborating.


We did a Fake News report last week to try it out and it went great! We then formed the new groups and they used the AP Themes/Contexts to decide on the next report. One group wants to focus on Science/Tech and Medicine and will do a report on some new genome that was discovered… Another group has members of our school’s Special Olympics club and wants to share it with the other schools in the district (using the Community theme and Volunteer context). Another group is focusing on Traditions and will compare Carnaval and Mardi Gras, and share pics from the Rosca de Reyes we had in January (to compare to a Mardi Gras King Cake).


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