Olé! A Mexican Café PBL

Part of my job as a technology integration specialist is to help teachers incorporate project-based learning into their curriculums. I was thrilled when the pre k – 2nd grade Spanish teacher asked me to help her write a PBL for her 2nd grade students. She had the idea of creating a Mexican Café as her public product. The next step was to begin the process of writing a driving or challenging question. To do this we needed to determine the main goal or purpose for this project. For her, it was to create an authentic way for her students to use their Spanish language skills. Now all we had to do was use the Buck Institute’s Tubric to write the driving question, “How do we, as restaurateurs, open a Mexican Café?” As we continued to plan this PBL we were aware of the Essential Project Elements that need to be included in order to make this a Gold Standard PBL.

Getting Started

After an exciting entry event that included chips and salsa, we presented the challenging question to the students. They were full of questions, excitement, enthusiasm, and anticipation. We began the PBL by dividing the students into five groups: chefs, waiters, hosts, bussers, and runners. These groups had two primary goals: to use previously learned vocabulary to compose their dialogues and to create a product to use at the Café. Sample restaurant products might be creating the logo, menus, placemats, table decorations, and commercials. Since the main goal is for the children to use their Spanish language skills, the teacher did the cooking and the student chefs did the “plating” of the food.

Voice and Choice through Technology

Technology played a large role in our PBL. The second graders used their iPads to create their menus and the placemats. The students working on menus had to decide between a flat, bi-fold, or tri-fold design. They voted on the color and font before typing the menu in Keynote and arranging the sections. Meanwhile another group uses their iPads to create crossword puzzles, same and different pictures, and word hunts for their placemats. After all their revisions are complete, the next step was to take screenshots of all individual work and upload them to Keynote so that groups could arrange their products. The second graders wrote dialogue for the commercials before filming with Doink, a green screen app. Each group product involved voice and choice. Students made individual choices and then worked as a group to make final decisions.

Mexican Café

Finally, the opening day of their restaurants has arrived! The host and hostess are at the front of the room (restaurant) and the waiters are standing with pads and pencils at their designated table. Beautiful decorations adorn the tables. The food is in our kitchen area, and the chefs are eagerly awaiting their first orders. The café is open for a fast 45 minutes and serves about 16 teachers. The waiters, bussers, and runners are speaking to their customers using Spanish dialogue. Patron can be seen completing the crossword puzzles and mazes on the placemats. Our student in an arm cast has a little difficulty serving the beans, but otherwise the kitchen is filling orders without a hitch. By the time their restaurant closes, the kids are happy and exhausted! Part of their reflection will be to write a piece of advice to next year’s second grade restaurateurs. The Spanish teacher and I will then complete our own reflections before we rest up for next year’s Mexican Café.

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