So a dear friend of mine (ahem, Sra. Spanglish, ahem) has been basically harassing me for the Stations activities I do in class. I use Stations fairly often when we get a few weeks into a unit and have successfully learned the vocabulary and structures required to be able to focus on application. I mean, that’s the whole point, right? We don’t learn language so we can spout lists of vocab and grammar structures at people, we want to be able to read a newspaper for an apartment, or talk to someone adorable…language is powerful, people…
Anyway, my Level I and Level II classes have 32 kids in each class. I thought I would hate having that many. I kind of love it now. I have divided my room into 4-desk “countries” and each desk has either a flag, a map, the capital, or the name of that country. That way I can specifically assign students to groups by country, or randomly assign them by handing them a card with the Cuban flag on it and saying “Busca tu asiento.” It makes it really easy for all kinds of games, because they compete for the glory of Cuba or Honduras or wherever. They also learn some geography without me having to teach it, which is a bonus.
So, back to Stations. I usually have 4 stations set up, printed on 2 different colors of paper, so they rotate within their color, and have 14 minutes to do the activity in the station, with a 1 minute transition time, and then a 14 minute “Catch All” rotation at the end to go back and finish anything that they didn’t get finished in the 14 minutes. I tell them, “Live in the moment!” in Spanish, which means do the station you are sitting in, not the station you didn’t finish from before. I didn’t used to have a “Catch All” period at the end, but I discovered kids not playing the game break stations because they hadn’t finished the Presentational Writing from 2 stations previous.
I try to hit as many “I Can” statements as I can with the stations, written directly onto the station information itself, and I also make sure I have an activity in each mode of communication. Sometimes, the Interpersonal Speaking is tricky because they won’t always actually speak to each other, but this time I made it the last station in the rotation and I sat in and they spoke to me! It gave me a really clear picture, 4 kids at a time, of who can and cannot handle a basic conversation, which is valuable information. In the ones I’m attaching to this post, there is a grammar-specific station, where they roll dice to get subjects and verbs and then have to write out a sentence and draw a “pictograph” which is just stick figures to show me they know what subject pronouns are and what the verbs mean that they wrote. It’s how I taught their verb conjugations 2 days before, so I let 1 station be focused on that particular skill.
Also, I have started including a technology control piece on the different stations. In the pictures, you’ll see a yellow or red strip of paper, because my kids know that those colors are stoplight colors, which have specific tech allowances in my classroom. For the updated slides I’m posting, I made it a little more universal. I hope it helps. I have to be clear about the cell phone thing, because at a station where they read and post something to Padlet, they need their phone. At the station where they read and draw their reading comprehension, their phone defeats the purpose of the activity.
As far as the actual flow of the class, I have timer that I use on my phone that is usually set to 13 minutes. When it goes off, I hit the bell I have 3 times and call out “Cambiamos.” They get up, collect their answer sheet, notebook, and phone and move to the next station. They are trained to move at the sound of the bell and my voice and to sit back down and start working at the new station. Someone reads the new directions and the I Can statements and off they go!
Oh, on their daily slide for the day, I always make sure it says they need an answer sheet, their notebook, their technology, and something to write with. Their “Warm Up” is to put the rest of their belongings (backpacks and whatnot) at the front or side of my room. I explain at the beginning that it’s a tripping hazard since everyone will be walking around so much. I have never had a complaint. The closest I’ve had to one was a kid who asked to put their bag on the table instead of the floor so it wouldn’t get dirty.
I have invested 8 dollars from the Dollar Tree in baskets for the Stations because I hate things rolling around and falling on the floor. My kids know (and I remind them) to set their stations back to neutral when they are transitioning to the next one, and the baskets have really helped.
Final thing, I always have them do a reflection at the end of a round of stations so I can decide which things were worthwhile. I don’t usually ask what they liked the best, but I always ask for what they are still shaky on and what they feel more confident about now that they’ve practiced in Stations. It’s a Post-It note exit ticket that they stick to the whiteboard as they leave and it’s all done! I collect the sticky notes in 2 piles to look at when I plan for the next few days.
The Stations I have posted below are for Spanish 1 Unit 3, which for me free time activities, weather, fun vacation-type places, etc. I have 8 included in the PDF, because I was feeling brave and wanted to see if they could do all 8 at basically 9 minutes per rotation. It was rushed, so I wouldn’t do that, I would do 4 one day with another whole class activity and then 4 another day, or knock out 1 or 2 that don’t suit you and run with 6. I can tell you that I had an admin come in during this process, and the admin was very happy to see so much movement and engagement and students taking learning into their own hands.
Also in the document is the answer sheet (front and back shown above) and the reading comprehension paragraph in 4 squares, so each student can have 1 at their desk and they don’t need to share. The invitations are included, but you’ll want to change my Padlet address to one of yours.
I hope this gives you a good starting place. Again, I love stations and the kids enjoy not being “taught” for a whole period. They don’t know that they’re learning more than they would if I were teaching. I LOVE THAT! Have fun!
I’m an artsy person. I love anything related to art, or music, so you’d think that I would be the first one having my kids read and write about every artist in the history of Spanish art. The reality is, however, I teach Novice-Intermediate learners how to use the Spanish language. Don’t get me wrong, I love that. I LOVE that I am the content area where we can color because I can make it an appropriately leveled interpretive reading task. Some days, though, I feel like I just teach colors and numbers to 17 year-olds (32 kids at a time). I do not teach AP Spanish Lit, so before this year, my opportunities to incorporate real culture and art were few and far between, because I refuse to do a lesson in English to teach them about something cool and cultural. Why I’m writing this though, is that this year I had a breakthrough in my brain about HOW to teach content through culture. I know we’re supposed to do that, but the HOW of it is often not explained as well as we would probably like, right? So, this is what I did, in one small area related to Art, colors and numbers.
I hope it helps...
It was the beginning of the year and I needed to teach (wait for it) COLORS AND NUMBERS to my Level 1 kids. They don’t necessarily need colors right off the bat, but the easiest way to describe anything for me is with color and size, and it gives you that easy lead in to showing how adjectives work in the language without lecturing on adjective agreement (which is boring and they don’t remember it anyway). They had the colors sheet with images and Spanish words you see below, and a numbers sheet already, so it wasn’t about teaching the colors or numbers as much as actually using them for something cool.
So anyway, a long time ago I had collected a bunch of art posters and had looked online for famous Hispanic artwork and made it into a slideshow for a rainy day. I had no idea how I was going to use it in the target language, which is why it was just taking up space on my flash drive. Cool cultural art, but I don’t want to lecture them on Picasso because that probably wouldn’t fall under “comprehensible input”, so…?
Then it hit me…Picasso’s Hands with Flowers has very clear colors, things we can count (flowers, hands, petals, fingers), and gives me a brief moment to show Picasso to my kids!
I made up a story in super simple Spanish (lots of acting out and terrible whiteboard drawing took place at that point) about driving past a park, seeing this sidewalk art show and wanting to buy things, but all I could remember were the images. And then I yelled something like “PLEASE HELP ME!” in Spanish, got down on my knees, and flipped the slide.
On my redesigned Hispanic Artwork slides were
4 statements in Spanish:
The piece is called _______________.
The artist is ______________.
The colors are _______________.
There are ______ # of _______(item) in the piece.
(Later I added, Do you like it or not? Why?)
Let me tell you, they flipped out. “Ms. Rhodes, how are we supposed to know who it is? How should I know what it’s called? I don’t know what the word in the blank means!!!” My response in Spanish was “Calm down. You have technology in your backpack. Search. Good luck!”
What happened next was incredible to me. They started speaking to each other (in English, but it’s what they have in Level 1), saying things like “Well, it’s gotta be someone Spanish and famous, or she wouldn’t pick it, so…” and “There’s flowers and hands, so…” and “Actually, there’s 2 hands, be specific”. “Google it! Google, famous Spanish painting two hands holding flowers.” And then the best thing…
“OMG, MS. RHODES!!!! THAT’S IT! IT’S PICASSO!!”
At that point, everybody shared everything they figured out, artist, title, and “flores is probably flowers” and the answers to the other things on the slide. The coolest part? They wanted to do another one!
Of course, I just happened to have another one…
...actually, I have 12!
Now, this is NOT something you can do as a death march through art history. I did 3 slides that day. I did a few the next time they came in, and waited a few days for the ones after that. The point is, it was fun! They were investigating something they never would have looked at on their own, and we were doing it IN SPANISH!!!
I had so much success with that class, that I used the 12 Art Quest slides, printed as 6 to-a-page handouts, as the pairs activity my other classes worked on while I was doing 1-on-1 Interpersonal Speaking assessments. I don't have color copying or anything, but they got the general idea and the color obviously showed on their phones when they Googled it.
So, after that Art Quest experience, my classroom became a mini art gallery. I have 4 art posters up in my room, currently, and I decided to make them interactive for my other classes who didn’t do the Art Quest. I took 3x5 cards and wrote a bunch of different questions my novice kids could understand, related to the painting, and put them all around the painting. When kids space out in my room, which occasionally happens, they start looking at the posters and can’t help but read the questions. Also, I use them as quick warm ups and brain breaks sometimes. In Spanish, either in writing or spoken, I say, “Take a post it note to a painting and answer 2 questions of your choice.”
It’s not a huge thing, but I can tell you that this victory for me with art flipped a switch in my brain on how to look at content through culture in a way I never had before…
If you're interested, click below for the document of the slides I used.
I hope you have similar success!
Go be artsy!