Wednesday, February 8, 2012

TPRS year 2 - Kindergarten day (revisited)

I wrote an entry here about my first attempts at Kindergarten Day (or what I thought it was) last school year.

So last year I probably misunderstood what exactly “Kindergarten day” is.  I thought having a children’s book up on the board and having the kids translate the pages was what I was supposed to do.  I discovered through reading about other TPRS teachers’ experiences, I instead discovered that the purpose of Kindergarten Day is to read to the kids in ONLY Spanish and allow them to soak in the language (no translation). 

A few weeks ago I tried this out on a Friday after a reading we had.  I tend to rush through the readings a little bit because it’s not my strongest point as a TPRS teacher and I can tell since I am not as passionate about them, my students aren’t as passionate either.  I prefer speaking the language (Tangent: On the other hand, a teacher that just started using TPRS this year LOVES the readings and feels less confident on his spoken TPRS and the students love doing the readings in his class).  But we can simulate a little bit of the Kindergarten experience through finding a children’s book and reading it to them in comprehensible language.  It could be a book in English that we describe in Spanish or it could be a book in Spanish that we read when level appropriate. 

Long story short, it went great a few weeks ago and my kids really liked acting like Kindergarten students.  A few were asking me when I would read to them again and I decided this week.  I chose: El Oso Verde de Alan Rogers.  (“The Green Bear” by Alan Rogers).  It’s great in that it’s very colorful and you can describe what’s in the pictures as well as it not being too complicated to follow. 

Here were the ground rules:

My job(s)
  • I will read in Spanish to you and point in the book
  • I might also ask related questions while reading the book
  • I will stay in Spanish the entire time
Their job(s)
  • bring in cookies, juice, milk, a blankey, a stuffed animal, etc (optional)
  • give me their eye contact
  • pretend like they are children (sitting/laying on floor)
  • answer questions in Spanish (no English)
  • enjoy listening to the story and to the language

      Today my classes were REALLY excited about it.  As soon as they walked in they were ready.  I had to explain that we had another activity beforehand but I wanted to give them 20-25 minutes of Kindergarten so if they would just let me know when it was time by saying, “¡Ya no puedo más!” (I can’t do it anymore!) – a structure we had used in a previous story.

A few students probably behaved in my class much like they behaved for their kindergarten teacher and were fidgety and didn’t appear to be paying attention.  But for the most part, they did a great job.  I joked with them (since it was a half day today) that they had done such a good job in class that I was giving them the second half of the day off.

·     I think this activity works because high school students are nostalgic for their elementary school days
·     Students seemed to enjoy the activity

Needs improvement:
  • My push over nature allowed some kids to go to the cafeteria at the beginning of class to get milk.  I told them next time to come prepared.  Maybe I should have let them learn their lesson this time by not letting them go so they knew the consequence was real first
  • Some students didn’t really play the game
  • One student commented that the book had no plot (afterwards). Someone else responded: "Hey, we were in kindergarten.  It doesn’t matter."  So maybe I can also choose some more engaging books every once in awhile.

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