Tomorrow morning I’ll be teaching my Latin American Literature I course and we will be doing a “Taller de Investigación” (Research Workshop). This day is always super hands on and involves a lot of training so that students can become meaningful support for each other in the research and writing process.
Particularly for students working in a second (or third!) language, the Taller is such a huge and important day. Language classes at the earlier levels rarely talk about research even as we as educators are constantly reorienting our pedagogy. In my current job, I have a lot of Education oriented students so I will try to discuss some of my pedagogy but even that isn’t really treated as active research. Normally language programs “catch up” a bit somewhere in the 300 level with content-focused courses that work in the target language and get students working on appropriate college-level materials in the TL.
Anyway, I love my Taller day. I organize this by having the students send me work in advance. This time I’ve requested thesis statements and either a page of writing (the Introductory Paragraph) or an extensive 2-page outline. With this material I will sort them into partners (and one 3-person group) usually based on the thematic content of their final papers.
In class we will be working through a series of exercises geared at getting the students thinking critically about each other’s work and also at training them to edit their own work while assisting their colleagues.
So why the oreos? So glad you asked.
Constructive criticism tends to follow a predictable pattern of positive observation, suggestion, and a final positive observation. I model this for the students while giving everyone Oreo cookies which serve as both helpful sugar boost AND a nice visual metaphor for our project. In the past this has also helped keep a pretty busy and sometimes stressful day lighter and more fun.
We’ll see how it goes!