Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Alma - revisited

Something really neat about teaching from year to year is to see how things evolve. Also, how I can use the same resource to suit different needs depending on when I can throw it in, because we're always using the language.

Back in my 3rd year of TPRS, I showed my classes the Alma video, and Movietalk it.  I might have had a reading or so. And then I started experimenting with embedded readings (multiple scaffolded versions).

Last year, I used Alma as a sort of mini-unit, which continues to evolve.

This year, my kids had different language needs. And I even continue to re-conceptualize the movie's utility in my class.

For example, this year, I added in some additional words to the TPR phase so we could describe a few minor details about climbing, the window, and turning around. It just clicked this year that that would be good since we've already hit "looks exactly like", "can't" and "I need help" a lot!

In addition, I have really started to flesh out the later versions of the embedded readings to review old things and continue to pinpoint things that haven't quite gotten acquired yet.

We're still going over it for the next few days. It's such a great little movie that has the kids react through yelling things in Spanish like "RUN!" or "It's terrible".  Makes me think that next time I use it I'll have to offer more negative rejoinders.

Next week, I think we'll be assessing it before our few days off. I'm confident my kids will do well since so far they seem to be getting it quite well!

What I like:
I tend to break up the movie into two days. The first day we watch up until she almost touches the doll's nose. And I ask them to make predictions about if she will be able to play with the doll finally or what they think (in TL).

It's a nice hook to get them to come to the next class.  And they really seem to have strong emotions about he video (which is nice).

What could improve:
Next year, I should consider rewriting the story completely. Currently it's a bit of a jumble of 2 years and then a few added phrases.

I noticed as I revised the embedded readings this year (after starting a bit), I wanted to unfold the movie a little slower and have the embedded reading process used as we watched more of the movie.  For example, in the first part, she is in the street and writes her name on a wall.  So I could create a back-story for her about her leaving her house, how her mother tells her to come home for dinner. Maybe mention how her brother never came home or something. Then talk about Barcelona and how cold it is. Also talk about her clothes. Also how she wants to play with the other kids but she can't.

Then I could talk about how she finds the wall and writes her name on it and the doll appears but she can't get into the store to play.

I think I could break it up into about 3-4 logical parts and really stretch it out to help the kids absorb even more language through the repetition.

Since this was the culmination of a few weeks, I also assessed it as we usually do in our department. I had them translate some sentences from the story (of varying difficulty), had them translate a shortened version of a reading (with a lot of the targeted language) and had them write about stills from the movie in Spanish.

I noticed that the writing was really hit or miss. It's amazing at the breadth of ability in classes. I can really see that in my class as those who soar continue to soar higher and those on the lower end don't learn as fast.  Is this because I don't teach well or because I do my best to challenge each level to grow on their own (not really offering much so that everyone gets to settle for the middle)?

Here are embedded readings and presentations (one, two, three, four).  Also here is the assessment that I came up with and the writing PowerPoint as well as the writing grading scale.

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