Thursday, October 13, 2016

New storytelling adventure (Fall 2016)

I've been doing another Youtube endeavor under the title of "Cuentas Conmigo".

This is the fourth story. I just wrapped up episode 6 yesterday and I am really proud of how it is turning out.

In the previous Cuentas Conmigos, there was very little emphasis on anything cultural.  And I realize that that might be seen as a weakness to the videos. If teachers use them in their classes, perhaps it would be best to add in some more little cultural tidbits. In this way, teachers could use them as springboards for discussion or as a nice little culture pop up.

The first episode you can really see this is in episode 5 where we learn that the narwhal can't do any tricks. While he is painting a familiar painting (well mural actually) should be seen. It's something I learned a lot about thanks to Mira Canion and her wonderful TPRS reader: Agentes secretos y el mural de Picasso.

And in this week's episode, the main character finds himself going to a Spanish-speaking country, where (as it was a country I visited many years ago), I threw in some different places that he could potentially have gone to!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

TPRS year 7 - writing logs

So as a TPRS teacher, I admit that I've never been that great at addressing "timed writes" over the years. I would have students do them. I only ever really had them do a timed write over retelling a class story.

Of course, last year I did add an extra element where they wrote the ending to a story about a person in Spanish 1. Then I had the students read the different endings and vote on them. It was really fun and some of the creativity had me busting up in stitches while we read them out loud. You can see those here.

I cleaned up a little of the grammar, but most of those were as written by the students!  My favorites were in 4a.  If you read the first two versions of the reading, after doing the reading, I think we then read the different endings on paper.  The idea was the trick them into reading in a different context: to find their favorite ending.

This year though, I decided that my Spanish 2 students are really all over the place in their understanding of Spanish due to many different teachers for Spanish 1 and many different experiences in addition to them all being different people.

I used to give an arbitrary number of words that was easily attainable for most to all of them in the 10 minutes. That way they would feel successful. But I would see that one student still might not achieve that for whatever reason and I would feel bad for saying the number in the first place.

Even after the first story, one student might do a 100 word rewrite while one might do a 50 word rewrite while someone else might do a 20 word rewrite. And for all of those students, that is what they can do!

So I thought this year, I could encourage students in their individual differences to improve on THEIR writing.  I want them to record the date of their timed write, the topic, the word count, and then a reflection on where they saw growth in this new writing.

I made a super simple worksheet for this that will go in their folders. I put a picture of a plant growth cycle on their to encourage them in their growth and to focus on that. This way, I can be more fair in the area of writing. If we see growth in their writing, then student with lower ability can still achieve an A or a B because they are also showing growth (in quantity) while a high flyer can easily get that A or B because they will be working on the quality of their writing (and some quantity). It's one of my ideas for differentiation.

We'll see how it goes!

If you wanted to download the template for use, take ideas from to make your own, etc here's what I came up with!

Wish me luck!

TPRS year 7 - secret password tweaks

Here's the evolution that I have had in my teaching.

4 years ago, I decided to stand at my door to greet students.

3 years ago, I continued to do this.

2 years ago, I thought it would be great to add in a handshake while greeting students.

1 year ago, I decided to try out a secret password with my students so that they could get in my class. (see post)

This year, I have continued with the secret password, but continue to experiment.

While I think they really helped me have something else to play around with during targeted and non-targeted comprehensible input during class last year, it also just added that extra element of fun.

Nevertheless, the way I did it last year made it a little disjointed.

As I have been reading on Bryce Hedstom's blog, I have found that there are passwords that are almost call and response. Or they are an interaction that kids have to go through before they can enter.

Last week, I tried out, "Of course!" (Claro que sí).

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lots of Spanish 1 TPRS resources

So after the relative success of my last post about what I did with the commercial: "Me voy de casa", I decided to go ahead and share a majority of things that I did last year in my Spanish 1 classes.

Feel free to open the folder, download things to your Google Drive or to your computer and enjoy!

My hope is that you can find a new activity or a new spin on an old activity you have used. Or maybe something to inspire you as you try out more communicative-based teaching via TPRS or Comprehensible Input methods!

I tried to include a plethora of things to give you an idea of what you could do in your classes as well to push kids towards proficiency by de-emphasizing grammar in actual grammar lessons each day (Don't worry, I, Señor Jordan, still teach grammar to my kids. But it's more of a back-door approach!)

Let me know what you think and happy perusing!

So click here to see my google drive folder (minus Agentes Secretos stuff since some of that has images from the teacher's guide by the very talented Mira Canion).

*Disclaimer* Please don't judge me too much for how I might have done an activity. I am far from an expert on teaching via TPRS. But I figure the best way to get better is to share with others who might be farther back on the path to encourage them and maybe the more experienced people can offer a suggestion or two!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Comercial - Me voy de casa

So this year in Spanish two, I have certain vocabulary points I need to hit for a unit and I have wanted to use this commercial for years.

I decided to do a lot of TPR first with my classes to build up their understanding of some words for sure.

So this folder gives you all of the things that I used with the Argentine commercial: Personal - Me voy de casa. (Folder Contains: screenshots from movie, TPR, warm ups, readings, Movietalk slides, instructions & reflection)


Here is more or less what I did.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Persona Especial - Observer

So the other day (I want to say it was two weeks ago), the teacher next to me has resource lab with students that have special needs in certain areas. They're given time to work on certain classes and homework.

And as my students are telling me the password of the week, I have that teacher tell me, "One of my students wants to observe your class today."  To which I responded, "Is that ok with you?" And she said it was fine. I told her that if he or she didn't cause problems, they were completely welcome.

So a student comes in, sits down and works on homework.  It's one of my rowdier classes (30 or so students). They have a great energy but need a lot of redirection.

And we go through normal class. The students applaud for the things we usually do. We went over the day, date, how they were doing and we interviewed someone.  We laughed, we joked, we stayed in Spanish most of the time.

After the class, I asked if the student got any of his homework done or what he thought of class.

He responded with, "That was awesome!"

I heard from the teacher next door that he just hears our class through the wall and it must sound so exciting that he just needed to experience it for himself.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Persona especial - happenings

I've been at the "la persona especial" activity for the last 4 weeks in my classes. I have been using it in Spanish 2 (more on that later) and Spanish 1.

I figured I would blog on it in a few days, once the weekend hits and I can reflect.

So far it's going ok. It's definitely a change of pace for me from just the Circling with Balls activity that I used to use in Spanish 1 for the first 5+ weeks to get to know the kids and teach some basic concepts.

Nevertheless, if you saw my previous entry, you probably saw the Powerpoint I adapted from Bryce's script of questions.  I haven't decided to go ALL in and teach all of the questions he has been doing. I'm just baby stepping. But it has still been an interesting experiment.

It is similar to something I started last year when I used stories even from the first day (in conjunction with TPR and the Circling with Balls activity). That was thanks to 90 minute classes.

This year at my new school I am back to 50'ish minute classes and so I am sticking to one activity + warm up + quiz (and song/brain break if needed).

Back to what is similar. Last year when I used the stories first thing, I noticed the kids were exposed to the I, you, and he/she forms more than ever because I was really doing my best to interview my actors and coach them through answering questions and helping them out.

So I am now trying this out with the personal interviews. If a person doesn't know how to answer the question, I'll just ask the class if they know how that person could say "I ___". And usually at least one person knows and I have the class applaud them and praise their awesome Spanish and ask my actor (interviewee) if they want to try to answer the question again to which they pretty much always say, "yes". Then when they get it right, we applaud them too.

Anyways, so I have done pop-ups here and there and point out that the "o" on the end of the action means "I".  So I also talk about myself pretty much with that form instead of the 3rd person stuff I used to do about me.

What has this done?  It seems to have really helped them grasp the ending of the "o" on the end a lot better to use it with more accuracy when we are talking. Writing is another issue entirely. ;-)

Baby steps.

I'm bringing this up today because in a Spanish 1 class, I noticed the class didn't seem to want to talk and so I asked (gesturing), "¿No quieren hablar?" ("Do you all not want to talk?") and they gestured that they didn't understand so I went to write it on their butcher paper and then a student said, "Oh.  So is "I want" "quiero"?"

I praised his awesome Spanish and had the class applaud him and it was just magical.

I love when their brains make those connections because they've been exposed to the rich language so much.

It reminds me of what Dr Farley who taught my methods course in college told us. He said that when we teach, we should explore the language with the students and allow them to slowly peel away the wrapping paper of the present (that is the language).  If we just teach them via grammar and as if they were getting a minor in linguistics, we spoil those fun surprises for the kids to enjoy.

Today was one of those days that really rang true for me and my students!

But anyways, more on how I've been doing La persona especial later!