The Concept Attainment Model helps students develop a deeper understanding of a concept through positive and negative examples. For example, if you were teaching a class about human rights, a positive example might be the right to free expression while a negative example might be no access to clean water. A human rights lesson would have many positive and negative examples to work with. Students might even be exposed to human rights and abuses that they didn't know existed which might spark a few discussions. The point of this model is to help students make connections to a concept that they themselves made. Recently, I used this model to review the concept of healthy food with my Spanish 2 students. It was easy for all proficiency levels to understand and we were able to stay in the target language throughout the class.
As students came into class, I asked them to copy T chart on a blank piece of paper found in the first slide below. I had them do this so that they could follow along and copy what I did on the smartboard. The overall theme was Good for Your Health (Buena para la salud). The left column was labeled Positive Examples (Ejemplos Positivos) and the right column was labeled Negative Examples (Ejemplos Negativo). I used an I-We-You strategy for this lesson in which I modeled what we were doing, We did the next step together and then You, the students, did the rest on their own. I created the slides with the app Explain Everything and mirrored the slides onto my smartboard using Apple TV. By doing this I was able to manipulate the words right from my iPad, however, the lesson would work just as well on a white board with post its.
To start the lesson, I put the second slide on the smartboard with the four foods jumbled at the bottom. I then brought each one up and put them in the proper column as I spoke to the class. I said, "Zanahorias son ejemplos positivos de Buena para la salud. Hamburguesas con queso y tocino son ejemplos negativos." (Carrots are positive examples. Bacon Cheeseburgers are negative examples). I checked for understanding then moved to the next slide. We then categorized the new food together as a class. I then switched to the final slide and students worked independently to categorize each of the remaining foods. When all students were finished, I led the class discussion as we completed the chart on the smartboard. At the end of the lesson, I gave students a writing prompt of "Me gusta comer..." (I like to eat...) and they did a five minute timed write.
I found that the coolest thing about the Concept Attainment Model in the world language classroom is all the opportunities for spontaneous communication. The We and You steps are moments where students can assert their opinions as well as comment on the opinions of others. Take Helados (Ice cream) as an example. Some students disagreed that it was a negative example because it contained milk and was a dairy product. There were also communications that some food, like chili cheese fries, were delicious but bad for us. The more we worked on categorizing the foods, the easier the language came. I was very impressed with students' abilities to communicate in meaningful ways, especially with what they wrote during the timed write. Not only did they write about what they liked to eat, but they explained reasons for liking or not liking certain foods. Many students were creative and used words and phrases from the spontaneous communication that had happened earlier.
The thing I like most about the Concept Attainment Model is that I'm able to be playful with the activity. I put foods in the wrong column and let students catch me doing it. When they caught me, I would act incredulous and fake argue with them. I lamented when a food that is delicious but unhealthy went in the negative column. Students laughed and played along and did so in the language because it was comprehensible. As educators, we can't be reminded enough that when students are engaged and having fun they are learning.