This post was also posted on www.path2proficiency.com, but I wanted to post it here as well for anyone who doesn't read that. I highly recommend Path2Proficiency for blog reading. There are many amazing teachers there blogging awesome things. Ok, so...let's do a Speaking Circle.
So lots of people have asked me about this post I made on Twitter about speaking circles, and I can explain it better here than in Tweets. I need to start by admitting that this activity was completely on the fly, unplanned, and a change from what I was going to do in this particular class. This is my rundown of what I did and how it went, and I welcome any feedback of how it could be improved.
To set the scene, this was Friday of a 3-day weekend, the day of the Homecoming game AND the last period before the Pep Rally...let’s go TEACHING & LEARNING! My class is Spanish IV, not honors-AP track, full of exclusively juniors and seniors. Most of them are athletes or band people, so they were going to be in the pep rally in 40 minutes and they were hyped up! They rolled into my class loud, excited, covered in blue and white everything (tshirts, pom poms, beads, etc) and I decided “OK, new plan!”
I had them set up their 16 desks in a circle, and I pulled a desk in as well. I made a sign on a piece of paper that said “No Ingles” and counted off the kids in Spanish “Ok, you captain team 1, and 2,3,4, team 1. You captain team 2, and 2,3,4 team 2. You captain team 3, and 2,3,4 team 3. You captain team 4, and 2,3,4 team 4.” and I divided the class into teams around the circle that they had made just by where they happened to sit. This was not grouping by any category or reason at all. I striped off a grid on the back of the “No Ingles” sign and wrote the names of the captain and remaining students in each square of the grid. Please know that this was as far as I had gotten in my plan of this activity...at the time, I didn’t even know why I had made the teams. :) So, I repeated the teams and the captains, and then said in Spanish still, “We’re going to play a speaking circle game…the captain of team 1 is going to start with the speaking object….oh hold on! I have a monster!” (Can you see me jumping up and going to a cabinet and getting out a stress ball monster as the speaking object?)
(I bought the set of 12 monsters for 12 bucks at Oriental trading company and have used them almost every day for 1 thing or another. I HIGHLY recommend them for a thing to have in class)...anyway, I will give you the topic, the captain of team 1 starts the conversation, and then anyone who wants to speak and raise their hand to speak. Each person gets 1 point for themselves and their team per time they speak, you can ask questions or make statements, but it must be relevant to the topic. Everyone MUST SPEAK and NO INGLES! Use of English AT ALL will lose you a point, regardless of if you have the monster or not. I’ll keep track of points. Ok? Let’s go! The topic is SPORTS!” and I tossed the ball to Team Captain 1 and he looked shocked and then started speaking.
It was amazing! It started off slow at first, with a few pretty simple “Me gusta futbol” type statements, but after awhile, it got rolling, the kids got the hang of raising hands and tossing the monster around, and it really started to flow. The benefit of using sports as the first topic is that it was the mini-unit we had just finished, so they were pretty confident early on with the set of questions we had created.
What was the most fun when they started trying to argue back and forth about what was the best, who was the best player in what sport, what team etc, and they started trying to really create arguments and even insults as the conversation got more spirited. At one point there was a very heated minute or two where the discussion had been about baseball, and one of the students got the monster and said “Baseball is not a sport” and the reaction was immediate! Six hands went up in the air, waving to contest his claim, and a great back and forth ensued.
Language-wise, I had fun watching each of them wrestle with what they were trying to say and how to say it in the target language. When anyone used English I just marked a -1 on the sheet, and wasn’t expecting it to be a big deal. This was not a sophisticated method, as you can see below, but it worked at the moment. What I hadn’t counted on was the pointing of fingers and the “NO INGLES!!!!” that was yelled at each kid by his or her peers every time anyone slipped up. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t negative, and it was very much a total group policing and no one’s feelings seemed to be hurt.
Ten minutes went by and I figured I should change topics, so I hit the bell on my desk and said “Capitan 2: El Arte” and they groaned and said “Senora!!! DEPORTES!!!!” and I said, “NO...el arte” and we moved on to art. That was our first mini-unit, so they had a bunch of info to have that conversation too. They did any amazing art gallery opening speaking activity that I need to write about too, at some point. So, armed with the info they knew already, they rolled their eyes and they just went with it.
About 2 minutes in, the kid who said “Baseball is not a sport” got the ball and said “Sabias qué el golf es arte” and magically brought the conversation back to sports! It took a couple of turns, but finally someone got it back to actual art and the remaining time elapsed on Art. I had set the timer for 8 minutes at that point, so we moved on to food for 8 minutes and then finally vacations and travel for 8 minutes. Those things weren’t anything we had studied previously, but they’ve had 4 years of Spanish, so I was banking on them having enough knowledge to be able to go with it. I was not wrong, and we finished out the rest of the period with conversations about favorite vacation spots around the world.
I have never seen that class have so much fun in one period. We all laughed so hard at the arguments and the acting and the random strings of conversation that went off and found their way back to the topic. I was so happy and so proud of them! Looking at the grid of who talked a ton and who barely talked, there was definitely a divide. I will have to think about how to make that work a little more evenly, but in the end, everyone DID speak, and as I watched them, they were all avidly listening and following the conversation. No one was spaced out or doing their own thing.
We’re going to do this again, and I’m going to think about it between now and then so I can make it better. I was thinking that maybe I’ll give point values for types of speaking to make them work a little harder at complex sentences or better questions. Also I’m going to make a better sheet to keep track that’s not a yellow piece of paper with marker scribbles. :) Anyway, I hope this helps! Please feel free to send me any feedback, and I hope very much that you can try this with your classes. I had a blast! Hope this helps! Have fun!
So, here’s the thing that was happening in my classroom, and it has been making me crazy. I am fighting every day to be the most engaging and interesting thing in the room so that my students will pay attention to me and learn Spanish. I am speaking in the target language 90+% of the time with my big, colorful, amazing visuals, pantomiming things they don’t understand, using simplified language, and doing what I believe I am supposed to be doing. Did you roll your eyes yet? I know. I would have too.
Are you hearing your admin (or saying to yourself) “You are not supposed to be the center of attention. You are supposed to be facilitating the learning….” I get that. I hear it, but I’ve been fighting it. I felt that I needed to always be the one dancing in front. I mean, my visuals are clear and it’s not a list, right? I mean, this slide pulls prior knowledge of colors and stores and adds new vocab that I label and we describe… It’s not that bad, right? Do I sound desperate? Yeah, I felt desperate.
My principal’s favorite phrase is, “The students should be doing the heavy lifting” but I hadn’t really bought into that until recently when I realized why I was getting so irritated. I was annoyed that they’re not engaging with my amazing visuals or target language notes. Why not? Because they aren’t actually DOING anything while they’re “taking notes”. Well, that’s not true. They’re writing down what I write, drawing what I draw, and some awesome eager language-learners are actually responding to my questions. Those learners are probably 4 out of the 32 kids in my room. The rest are mostly cooperating, but even on my best day, there are students completely zoned out. Now, before you sign off this blog saying “Wow, she’s a terrible teacher”, let me share what I’ve done recently to adjust.
Let’s talk before and after…
I realized I needed a different approach to this whole note-giving thing. One that would put the responsibility on them, but still seem like something fun. So, I decided to get out of the way. I rearranged my furniture so the classroom doesn’t have a “front” anymore and changed the traditional notes from a “listen to me” format to a “read and think” format. My graphic organizer became a reading puzzle. It doesn’t have the listening component, but seriously…were they really listening?
Students come in, get materials, sit down, do their warmup, and then I dance around with visuals and introduce vocabulary out loud, and they write words and sentences, and maybe draw. It’s all in Spanish. It’s all solid. It’s just not particularly engaging and requires NO brain effort on their part. Basically none.
Students still come in, get materials, sit down, do their warmup, and then they are given a notes puzzle. The “I Can” Statement is on the board as their learning target to explain WHY they have to do the notes. The “I Can” says “I Can understand a fruit or vegetable when I read a description of it” or something like that. Their eventual goal is to be able to shop for items or order food in a restaurant, but before that, they need to be able to read about food. They cut apart their puzzle, with an image, the word in Spanish, and my created description.
They can’t use their phones or a dictionary, they just have to cut and sort and think until they have what they think is right. Then they ask me for help. I remove the ones that are wrong and they try again to figure it out. It takes longer than the notes would have taken, but I’m moving around my room, helping individual students question their thinking, and EVERYONE is working!
It’s not something you can do every day, but I don’t introduce vocabulary every day. I will introduce fruits on one day, and then work with them for a day or two, and then introduce vegetables. I am finding that this way of doing notes has grabbed the attention of more than 80% of the class, and they are working harder and working together to figure out the language. Some of my most reluctant students have even said “Ms. Rhodes, I love this!” which I NEVER would have thought I’d hear.
It’s made it more fun for them, and taken the pressure off of me as the sole owner of Spanish knowledge. I have included the fruit and vegetable puzzle notes below if you want to give it a try. I hope this helps take the pressure off of you too! Have fun!
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!
This post is designed to show an entire lesson, start to finish, broken down, step by step. You will see how I introduce new vocabulary, use manipulatives and get kids moving, competing and engaged. It is not the only way to do it, but it is one way, and I have found it to work.
When I was a kid, there was a toy called Fashion Plates, where you basically did these crayon rubbings over plastic squares of different outfits onto paper dolls to make them fashionable. I did this in the late 80s…the term fashionable could be debated, but the idea still holds. I loved those stupid things, not because of the crayon part, which always seemed to come out too dark or light, but because I was in control of the outfit. I could make it crazy or beautiful or not fit the stylish 80s model at all, which made me laugh. Fast forward 25 years…teacher-me realizing that I need a way to get the kids to work with clothing vocabulary in the curriculum.
I know what you’re thinking right now… “Oh, no…she’s going to make them make fashion plates or something terrible.” Yes and no. The idea of dressing paper dolls may or may not be fun for everyone in my class, especially the older basketball players who are just trying to get through Spanish 1 to move on with their lives, so the crayon rubbing thing is a no-go, but there are ways to get them working with this vocabulary…come with me!
Before we start, our “I Can” statement for the day is...
“I can understand and identify articles of clothing when I hear about them.”
I know that seems super simple, but for the 1st day of vocabulary introduction I want to make it PAINFULLY clear what they are supposed to be able to do at the end. The eventual goal is to pick a store based on print and radio ads, have a simple conversation about clothing in a store with a sales person and then be able to buy the clothing. Again, this is the 1st lesson introducing clothing vocabulary towards that goal. It’s the last unit of Level 1 so they should be Novice-Mid with some Novice-High.
We always start with a daily slide that gives them what they need for the day, in the target language, and the warm up. Today's daily slide had them get scissors, an envelope, a sheet with clothing squares, and a sheet with a paper doll boy, girl and bear. I don’t know why the template I found had a bear on it, but it did, so we just learned the word for bear too…variety is the spice of life. For their warmup, it told them to cut up the sheet of paper doll clothes (in squares because it’s faster to cut), put them in the envelope and glue the doll sheet into their notebook. While you may not think paper dolls will amuse everyone, and you’d be right, dressing a paper doll is waaaaayyyy better than just staring at me while I talk about clothes. Also, when do these kids ever get to play for no reason at this point in their lives anyway? There’s value doing things just for fun because we can. Ok, soapbox moment over, back to the lesson.
Interpersonal Speaking Practice &
"I DO" (teacher input)
I do a few minutes of “Futbol Speaking” which is me throwing them a ball and asking conversational questions in Spanish, and then I have the last person read the “I Can” statement for the day. After they know what we’re doing, it’s my turn to actually teach something. I start with my daughter’s baby clothes in a little zebra striped suitcase for the “I do” part, so I can show them what each item is and speak about it in Spanish and describe it, etc, and as I do that I ask them to find in the envelope the clothing item and hold it up. Obviously, they can find a picture of shoes if I’m holding up shoes without knowing the word yet, so everyone is on the same page and they’re feeling successful.
"WE DO" Modeling & Guided Partner Work
Once the clothing is all introduced and out on everyone’s desk, we can play. First, I call out the word for the clothing item and then have them touch it. After a few of those, I say a sentence with a certain item to put on the girl or the boy and they find it and do it. This way everyone is participating and doing and I can look around at 30 kids and see who does not understand my directions. This is a great silent check for understanding because I’m not ready to call them out and have them perform yet, but I can still see what’s happening. The sentence I’m speaking is also important because I want them to hear “La chica lleva….”, “El chico lleva…”and “El oso lleva…” a million times before the lesson is over so they are comfortable with the structure without me explaining it.
"YOU DO" Independent Partner Work
After a few rounds of that, they’ve heard the words enough that I can give them the reigns. They work in partners to call to each other and practice back and forth. I project the sentence starters and a word bank with the picture and the word (NO ENGLISH) so they have support if needed. I circulate the room checking in with partners and listening. I help with pronunciation if they’re really struggling or if they ask me, because it’s a paired exercise and they’re in a low-stress situation where no one can hear them but me. They want help. They just don’t want to be embarrassed.
Formative Assessment with Movement
Now that they’ve practiced and are feeling good, realistically, they’re bored now. How engaging can this be after a few minutes with all these supports, right? Also, they have been sitting forever! Gotta get up. So, now they come back to me, and we do Fast 5 Real Fashion Quiz without the word bank or the sentence starters. They all stand up. I take a quick survey in Spanish of “Who is wearing ____?” and they raise their hands if they’re wearing that thing, and then we take our real quiz. I call out in Spanish “Touch your shirt. Touch your shoes. Touch your hat.” And they do it as fast as they can. We do 5 for practice and 5 for real and then I ask them if they think they really know their stuff because they’re going to have to prove it in a minute. I need them to divide up boys v. girls for the game we’re about to play, and since they’re already standing, it’s not a big deal. As they move, I tell them to come up with their “champion”, the person who they decide knows the vocab best so far, to start our game.
Competitive Practice: Listen & Do
I made 2 identical sets of biggie-size card stock clothing that I use to play this game. I'm hoping to make a printable set to post soon, but I haven't gotten there yet. The handout with the doll people is projected on the board so it’s big too, and the clothing is divided up and placed equally on both sides. The 2 champions come up to start the game and they stand on their side looking at their clothing. I tell them “La chica lleva la bufanda” and they have to grab the bufanda and put it on the chica. (Originally I used tape on the back of all the clothing, but I got fancy and now I have magnets on the back because they stick to the white board.)
We start playing with calling just 1 item, then add another and then add another. Eventually I am calling sentences like “El oso lleva la falda, el chico lleva el abrigo y la chica lleva los pantalones.” Remember how I liked controlling the Fashion Plates and making them funny? Same idea.
Competitive Pratice: Their Turn
Now, to this point it has been me calling the sentences, but once we are in complex sentences, my job is done. I turn it over to them and the people sitting get a chance to call the sentences. To make sure of success, they have to start over with just 1 item, not 3. To ensure fairness, I have to alternate teams so the people don’t just call all the girl items because they’re girls and standing closer to the girl paper doll. Sometimes the "professors" get a little carried away with their sentences as you can see.
Exit Ticket: Closing Listening Quiz
Anyway, as time winds down, we declare a winner, return to seats and they have their closing exit ticket assessment. I give them another paper (½ sheet this time) with the same dolls that we’ve been using the whole time. This is their listening quiz. I will call 10 sentences about wearing clothing and they have to DRAW the clothing on the correct person and number it so I know they understood enough to do it in the write order. The quiz sounds like “ #1. La chica lleva los tacones” and they’ll draw high heels on the girl and write a #1. Then the quiz is over, they turn it in, return the materials to the supply station and the bell rings.
So, to recap, their “I Can” statement was
“I can understand and identify articles of clothing when I hear about them.”
They had the chance to see and hear the vocabulary with physical objects, work on it with paper cutouts while listening to me, listen to a partner and move paper cutouts, speak to the partner and build their own sentences, stand up, listen and identify their own clothing, stand up, listen, and compete using big clothing in front of the class, and finally take a listening quiz where they had to understand the whole sentence and draw its representation.
I believe that the students need multiple ways to interact with the vocabulary in low-stress situations and listen and absorb before they’re expected to speak. They did speaking in this lesson, with me about things they knew from before. When they had to speak about what they were being introduced to, it was in pairs while everyone else was also speaking, so they were not put on the spot in front of the class. When the I Can statement focuses on understanding, and I’m delivering new vocabulary, I want them to listen as much as possible. This becomes the jumping off point for everything we’ll do in future lessons related to clothing.
Introducing vocabulary doesn't need to be about lists and drill and group repetition. It can actually be entertaining for you and them!
Hello, my name is Rosalyn and I'm an unabashed board game addict. I love them. I played them as a child, and now as an adult, my social life with other adults pretty much revolves around new and interesting table top games that no one has ever heard of. Tsuro, anyone?
Now, playing games in a world language classroom is not news to anyone. Remember this?
When I started teaching in K-2 my first year, I didn't have a budget for anything, certainly not board games and glossy things out of the ed supply magazine, so I made this to play with my babies.
I called it "Ositos Perdidos" because the game pieces were little counting bears I borrowed from the 1st grade teacher and I said they were in the circus and were lost and wanted to get to the forest where their homes were. I built my game around that premise. I only made 2, because I had to draw them all myself with Mr. Sketch markers and poster board.
I quickly realized that I needed many more to be able to functionally play with a large class, so I enlisted my friends and family to color with me one weekend and created a set. Then all my kids could play, and even the older kids got into it when I introduced the game to them. The trick is, the content is in the cards, not the board...this game board is used for any unit any way you want.
Fast forward 5 years...yes, I took me 5 years to figure this out... and I finally realized that board game templates exist online...I could just print out templates. (Google: printable board games) Really, it's not rocket science but sometimes I don't think. So, now I could really easily create a board game by coloring in a template! Woohoo! So I did that for a bit, and when a kid tore it up, I whipped out the markers again and started over.
Now, I know what you're thinking...
why don't you make them do it?
Yeah, that took me another 2 years...
FINALLY, I figured out that not only can they color in the templates for me, but they could use the templates, just like I do, to make their games and to integrate culture and content and be creative in groups and..and..and... The possibilities were ENDLESS!
From that brainstorm came "Game ON!!!!" the file folder board game project .
I provide the folder, the project guidelines, the brainstorm page and the game board template itself.
They use this planning sheet to decide what they want to teach within the Unit, how they want to teach it, rules, cultural integration, design, game play and everything else. It's completely hands off for me the majority of the time, but look what they can do!
On Game Day, we set up all the games in stations around my room, and we play them all for 10 minutes at a time. After the 10 minutes, they do a short survey about the game and then rotate to the next. Whichever group has the highest cumulative score after all the surveys are tallied wins something.
If you've never tried board games, give it a shot.
Here are some docs
to get you started.
This is the only thing I absolutely require my students to have in Level 1 and Level II. It is a 1-subject spiral bound notebook with a plastic front cover, and it must be BIGGER than a normal 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of copy paper (9x11 is fine). The reason is that EVERYTHING goes into the notebook and it's a drag to have them cut the papers down to size everyday. There are many brands, and some run a few dollars a piece, but I've found that Wal Mart has them for 97 cents (at some stores sometimes) and the Office _____ stores do sales over the summer for $1.
Once they have them, they can put their name card or Mandala on the front for identification (we do those on the first day), and then depending on your population they can stash them in your classroom or take them home with them each day. I organize them in crates by block.
The inside of the notebook contains EVERYTHING they do, and I give them the time at the end of the day before their exit ticket to glue in the pages we did during the class period.
This photo album is a sampling of a student notebook and some of the work from Unit 1 of Level 1. The first page of everyone's Level I notebook is the All About Me page with a space for a picture. The button under the album is a link to the PDF so you can download it and use it if you want. At the beginning of each unit there is a title page and then a calendar for all their dates, I Can Statements, and vocab lists. After that, we get to work! Feel free to comment and ask about anything in the notebook you want to know about. I can do separate posts on the activities that you may want to see.
The 3rd day is where we really get into the use of each room. We open each room (abre la cocina: with super exaggerated motions) and then I ask them "Te gusta" questions about the actions in each room. We write and draw the full sentences on the inside top of the flap. They don't need help with the "me gusta" part because that structure is from last unit. It's a whole conversation in Spanish that goes in depth in each room about what they like or don't AND they can give details about specific things that they like to cook or don't like to cook. They can tell me what they like to watch or not, or if they like to sleep a lot or a little.
So...this is Day 4!!!! I have never been so nervous about a lesson as the first time I did this. So, I was determined to introduce the grammar without making a chart and conjugating every form of every verb. So, I started talking to them about what they like to do, repeat from yesterday, then I modeled... "Me gusta cocinar...por eso, YO COCINO." and then I repeat it. "Me gusta cocinar...por eso, YO COCINO." and then they write "Yo cocino." in the blank on the bottom. Then I ask someone " ¿Tú cocinas? and I give them a few seconds to process and if they don't say anything I point to myself and say "Yo cocino pizza. Yo cocino pollo. Yo cocino hamburguesas.... ¿Tú cocinas?" And my AMAZING students say "Yo cocino." and then you move to the next kid... ¿Tú cocinas? "Yo cocino." and then you move to "comer" and repeat.
Some of the other verbs in the house are reflexives or stem changers, but I don't even have a discussion about that. I teach the language function as a vocabulary piece, the same way I teach "Me llamo" at the beginning. It doesn't require any explanation. I make sure to include 1 verb that you don't do, so they can see where the "no" goes in the sentence to get the structure written down. Once all the sentences are in the house, we talk and expand. From "Do you cook?" to "What do you cook?" You can give your high flyers open ended questions and your lower kids yes/no questions. You want them to feel the Q&A rhythm.
Once they have the rhythm, then you open all the rooms, switch into English, and ask them what patterns they see. Every time I have done this, they see the "yo--o" connection and they see how the stem of the verb is common in the "Me gusta" and "Yo" sentences, so that must show the meaning. They end up with "The front of the verb shows what is happening and the ending shows who is making it happen." I was so scared about this lesson at the beginning, but by the end, they were asking and answering questions in spoken and written form and I have never been so proud of anything that we have done together.
Okay, okay, I know the front is kinda junky looking with the sharpie marker bleeding through a bit, but go with me on this one..., We created EVERYTHING you see in all these pictures step by step in the Target Language with no English at all. We started with "DOBLA el papel", which you already know is my favorite phrase, and other phrases with actions accompanying them like "DIBUJA una ventana." and "ESCRIBE la ventana".
We drew the inside line by line in the target language to create the house: first the structure, then the roof, first and second floor labels, and then the stairs. Once all of that was done. we added construction paper rectangles, folded like an "hamburguesa" in different colors, and glued them to make each room. "ESCRIBE la cocina en el papelito verde" and so forth for each room. Each room needs to open up so you can put "stuff" on the inside. You have as many or as few rooms as your curriculum dictates that your kids should know.
This example on the left is from a Spanish 1 student, and reflects the 5 rooms that they need to know for Spanish 1. I added "el comedor" because I wanted them to make the connection between "cocinar-la cocina", "comer-el comedor", "dormir-el dormitorio" etc. We'll talk about that in my "Grammar in da HOUSE!" post later. Inside on the flaps they put 1 activity that they like to do in each room using "Me gusta..." and 1 activity they don't like to do using "No me gusta..."
This is an example that a student in Spanish 2 was working on. It is a legal sized sheet of paper instead of a standard letter size, and includes attic, basement, and an additional "cuarto" that has multipurpose use for vocab. In the SPA 2 version of this foldable, they are responsible for knowing chores and also other household items and furniture. I put the chores (with stick figure picutres) on the inside flaps and the objects (also with drawings) on the flat part against the desk. When we talk about it, they can say what they do or have to do in each room with what objects. I have found this foldable to be very useful for introducing the vocabulary while staying in the target language.
The new thing I figured out how to do with this foldable this year, though, is something that has pushed me over the edge into proficiency based teaching and it deserves its own post. Please check out "Grammar in da HOUSE!" for how it works! And it does work!!!!