Monday, September 14, 2020

¿QUÉ TE GUSTA? Lesson Idea for levels 1 & 2

Today I'm sharing a lesson that will engage students and provide you, the teacher, with a load of possibilities to comprehensible input related to the students' responses. My example is today's lesson with repetitions of the verb GUSTAR, but you can switch out the vocabulary and keep the same type of format for any structures. 

As background, at my school students with last names beginning with A-K on come to school on "A" days and the rest of the students login from home and watch/participate in the lesson synchronously.  The next day students L-Z are at school while the A-K students learn online synchronously. There are a handful of students that are 100% synchronous. What that means, is that everyday I am working simultaneously with students in person and students online. I created this activity so students could participate regardless of their physical location. (For another activity for hybrid classes or for regular classes too, see THIS POST.)

Create the Google Slide Presentation. The title slide is shown above. On the second slide, I created a separate text box with each of the students' names. (I changed the names for this blogpost.) You could have your students do this, but I decided to provide this for the students so the font, size, and color were uniform. 

Don't forget to add your name too!

Then I made several slides that asked students if they liked something and gave them two options (yes, I like.... or no I don't like....). To prevent students from accidentally (or purposefully) clicking on the text boxes and photos on each slide, I saved the slide as a PNG and then uploaded the PNG as a background. 

You can go over the slides before you instruct the students how to respond, but I added some translations to the slides so I wouldn't have to do that.

Share the Google Slide Presentation. I shared the document with the students by placing it on Schoology, our LMS. I shared it so they did NOT have to make a copy because I want all of the students answering on one presentation.

Demonstrate how to add your name to the slides. 
I demonstrated how to click on my na
me, press COMMAND + C to copy my name, and then move to another slide to paste their name with COMMAND + V (on a MAC). To add my name to other slides, I continued to press COMMAND + V. 

Then I told the students to do the same and to add their names to the appropriate spot on each slide. Yes, it DID get tricky at times for students to add their names and then move it to the correct side, but everyone managed. For the second class that I had for the day, I told students to go to another slide that wasn't as busy with other students. 

Discussion of the students' answers. After the students at school and at home had added their names to the slides, I asked personalized questions in Spanish about their answers, i.e. What flavor of ice cream do you like? Do you like to swim in the ocean or in a swimming pool? You said you like the city better than the country, what are two cities that you like?

Write and discuss. I asked a student to name one of the students in the class and then we wrote several sentences about that student, and then additional sentences to describe how many students liked or didn't like something on the slides. I split my computer screen with the slide presentation on one side and the paper on which I was writing with the help of the document camera on the other side.

Another use for the Google Slide Presentation. Take screenshots of four slides after the names are added. Put those on one slide and then ask true/false questions about the information as a closing activity. 

The good and the bad: (similar to what Keith Toda does on his blog, Todally Comprehensible, that I really like. He names it "observations".)

- The activity provided both reading input (when they read to answer the questions) and listening input

- With only a few slides, there is a lot of information to work with.

- Students were engaged not only when adding their names to the slides, but also when anticipating that I may ask them about their response.

- It can be tricky when students move their name to one column or the other. Some students may be tempted to delete other's answers or move them.

- After one class's google slide presentation is finished, it was easy to copy the entire presentation and change only the names on slide 2. 

- If group work is possible in your setting, you can assign one slide to a group and working with their group members, they can write additional sentences.

- The students' answers on the slides can be used the following day with short answer questions.

If you want a copy which you can edit, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Let's Start the School Year! An Activity that Works for Virtual Classes or In Person or Hybrid Models

 I'm five days away from the first day with students for the 2020-2021 school year. Currently, we are planning on seeing half of our students on alternating days, and the days they are not in school they will login and view the lesson synchronously. I will have several students in each class that are learning 100% synchronously online, and several that are attending school every day.

My goal for my Spanish 2 students was to create a lesson in which students will learn about their classmates (build community) while listening to the conversation that I will have with each student based on the information (photos) that they have provided. I wanted a lesson that would work for both virtual classes and in-person classes because if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that change happens very quickly!

For Spanish 2, I usually do "card talk" in which students sketch a few things about themselves on construction paper and I discuss their sketches while I share it with the class. For my Spanish 4 students, I usually have them send me a photo of them that was taken over the summer and add it to a google doc. My plans for Spanish 4 are only slightly different this year, but Spanish 2 has changed completely.

I wanted to make their work as easy as possible so I created a Google Slides presentation, shared it with students, and students have an assignment to add photos on their slide before the first class.  I could have given them instructions and have them write their name, but, again, I was going for super easy, so I created all the slides, copied the directions on each slide, and completed a slide of myself as a model.

I know many of you have already started school, in fact tonight in my Spanish class for Spanish Teachers, taught by Adriana Ramirez 🙂,one of the teachers said he was already on his third week with students! But even if you have already started school, maybe this activity will still be useful for you or it may spark a new idea for something you can do with your students that centers around them AND provides a great deal of opportunities for comprehensible input.


SLIDE 2 - with instructions

Slide 3 - My example to model what students should do.

When I discuss my slide with the students, I will tell them my name, that I have a farm, which involves a lot of work, that I like to travel, and, No, I don't want a zebra. I want to go somewhere to see them in their natural habitat. COVID-19 destroyed my plans for doing that this summer, but I'm hopeful it will happen next year.)

Slides 4-?, one for each student with instructions for students. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

More Social Distancing = More Social Networks

While we are social distancing when we are in person, Social Networks are the exact opposite especially when it comes to announcing offers for bundles of online books and FVR libraries

With COVID-19 concerns, the procedures for sharing materials (books) are more restrictive and not permitted. Publishers have seen this need and responding with what feels like a new offer popping up each week (in fact I had to update this post before I even published it!) My school has made it clear that there is no money for purchases, so at this point, anything I buy for the students will be out of my ow pocket. I’m still trying to determine which is the best option, or if I need to change up my curriculum and format for FVR and make it work with the books I already have. (Option: I have class sets of various books so I could have each class read a different book, but oh, the extra planning, time, and energy needed for that exhausts me just thinking about it.) 

E-book, and FVR libraries, and good deals - oh boy! 

Over the years I have spent much of my school department money on books for my students - class sets and books for my FVR library. I’ve also spent an untold amount of my personal money buying new books at conferences, from publishers, and from Amazon.

These are the offers that I know of for online FVR books and for class novels. They are listed in alphabetical order. If you know of others (appropriate for the needs and levels of non-native learners in a K-12 setting) and want me to add them to the list, let me know. 

E-lit App - Combination of French, Spanish, & Japanese titles
*Unable to verify when this app will be available. 

Check the website for the current number of texts and novels included in the offer.
Digital subscription library with leveled texts and novels, states more texts/novels are being/will be added; online access through August 31, 2021, $199 for 180 students’ $249 for 250 students; $299 for 350 students
Price available through August 31, 2020

Fluency Matters - online FVR library - French, Spanish, & German novels
Various choices depending on the target language and number of books in the offer. Order in multiples of 25.

Baker’s dozen, 13 pre-selected Spanish novels, 1 year online access,  $50 for 25 students
Six pre-selected Spanish novels,1 year online access,  $25 for 25 students
Current price available through Sept 30, 2020

Mira Canion - online FVR library or individual books - Spanish novels 
Each package below is for 1 teacher, up to 300 students, for one full year from date of activation (“renting” the books online)
1) A Single title written by Mira: $68. 
2) 8 Spanish books written by Mira; online access for up to 300 students for one full year, $258 thought August 31, 2020; $298 after 8/31/2020
3) Elementary FVR Library - 4 book titles, $108 through August 31
4) 10 titles - Mira’s books and other authors, Spanish 1/2 FVR Library - $298 through 8/31/2020
5) 10 titles - Mira’s books and other authors, Spanish 2/3 FVR Library - $298 through 8/31/2020

- Mike Peto - purchase individual online books - Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese & Latin
The online access to the books you purchase is available through July 1, 2021. It appears as though there is a sale currently going on with book prices of $24.99 for up to 300 students and 1 teacher. 

Storylabs - Spanish, French, Latin, and English novels & stories
You’ll have to check this website yourself because there are many different price points. For example, one book is listed at $249 for 180 students and with Teacher resources available; while another book is listed at $60 for 175 students. My guess is that each author set the price, but I don’t know that for sure.

It appears as Storylabs doesn’t offer anything similar to other publishers in which you can have a collection of texts/novels for a set price. If Storylabs does indeed offer a collection for a set price, I was unable to find it on the website.  

Two years ago, the blog “Spanish mama” posted a list of free online resources. I have not checked if all of these are available still today, but it may be worthwhile to check out the post HERE.


Note, there are other online resources available at different price points but I am not going to list them here because there are many and, for sure, I will end of making an incomplete list. What I suggest you do, is check the Facebook groups listed above and scroll through the posts. When people find resources, or when they are introducing and/or “advertising” their resources, they generally post it on a Facebook group where others will see it. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Photo Reader's Theater - A Fun Online Teaching Activity!

Teachers, how's that online instruction coming along? Do you wake up with that same excitement for teaching that you did before cover-19 took over our lives, and the news, and the supermarkets, and ... our classrooms? Or, if you're like me, is the task of trying to provide the best educational experience for your students on a completely different format starting to wear you down and squeeze some of the joy out of teaching. 

If so...READ ON!

The time is ripe for a fun activity that will allow your students to show their creativity and enjoy their classmates' creativity. I have an idea on how to make that happen for your students!

This week my daughter, (in-law.. but she's way too precious to officially add that to her name), who, by the way, is the most amazing elementary art teacher that exists ❤️, shared pictures of an art assignment in Facebook that she made for her students. When I saw the pictures I immediately started thinking about how I could use this with my students. 

On the right is a screenshot of her post from Facebook.

For the assignment, her students need to find a famous artwork, or one that they like, and recreate it in photo form using the materials they have at home.

Currently my Sp4/5 students are reading a book as an ecourse on Fluency Matter's website. They are reading Bananas, written by Carrie Toth. I grabbed my hard copy of the book and paged through it, looking at the illustrations and BINGO!...the idea of Distance Learning Photo Reader's Theater started to formulate in my mind.

What is Distance Learning Photo Reader's Theater? Whatever book you are reading with your students, ask them to recreate one of the illustrations that are in the book. I was careful to instruct them NOT to ask their friends to help, but they could have family members join in.

(Reminder: Don't post the illustrations from the book unless you have written expressed consent from Fluency Matters! I checked with Fluency Matters before publishing this post on my blog to make sure I could use the illustrations.)

The first photo I received is a recreation of an illustration from Bananas in which the younger brother is chasing after his older brother. The student's photo is of him chasing his older brother.

Other photos are rolling in this morning and, I have to say, this is making my day! I love that the students have the chance to do something super easy and creative and fun related to the text. This is exactly what both they and I needed after 3 1/2 weeks of online teaching.

Here are some other photos from today. This is from chapter 2 of Bananas

This next photo is from chapter 8 of Bananas. I like how well the dogs are cooperating in the student photos!

This last submission really hit it out of the PARK with the attention to details - the clothing articles and colors, the arm placement, the expressions, even the detail of the table and the background. BRAVO!

My Spanish 1 students are starting Fluency Matter's ecourse Brandon Brown quiere un perro today. That book has loads of illustrations that will be a snap for students to replicate such as the illustration shown below. Students love sharing pictures of their pets and this will give them that opportunity. If they don't have a dog, they use what they have available - a cat, a turtle, a stuffed animal - all of them are possibilities!  

If you live in an urban area, tell the students the pictures do NOT have to be outside. For example, they could replicate the illustration from Bananas (on the right) INSIDE their homes and it gives the parents a chance to get involved in the assignment too. If they don't have a younger sibling for the picture, use a teddy bear!

There are several ways the teacher can then use the photos after they receive them. (But Remember: You have to get the parents' permission to share the photos!)

1) Share them on your Learning Management System and let the students SIMPLY ENJOY the photos of their classmates!

As far as I'm concerned, that's as far as you need to go, but...if you want other ideas or your administration will want more than that, you could...

2) Put the photos on Google Slides or PowerPoint and during a live online class using Zoom or something similar, use the photos to retell parts of the story and provide additional comprehensible input about the story.

3) Make a matching activities with the student photos and sentences from the book or sentences that you create.

4) Upload the photos to Kahoot and use them during a live session on Zoom. For example, the Kahoot page will show a photo and you can have the students choose which answer..
- correctly describes the photo
- is the only sentences that does NOT describe the photo
- is the thoughts of one of the characters
- is an event that happened immediately before or after the photo
4) UPDATE: Here is a photo of my zoom Kahoot game with students on Thursday. Some ideas for questions: 

Upload the student photo in the question box and..
- type the titles of 4 chapters from the book; ask which chapter title best matches the photo  
- type four events in the book; ask which ONE event happened before (or after) the photo
- (this can be a photo as pictured below with thought bubbles); ask which is the most logical thought that the character has at that moment OR which answer would NOT be a logical thought
- type four events related to the photo; ask students to order the events
- write four descriptions; ask which description best describes the photo
- write four names; ask which person(s) are shown in the photo
- make 4 captions of the photo (new ones that YOU create); ask which would be a good caption for the photo many possibilities 😀

5) UPDATE 4/20/20: I made a google slide presentation and assigned it through Schoology (similar to those that have Google Classroom). Students click on the word “text” and a text box appears for them to write what they think are the characters’ thoughts. See examples below:

You don't have to limit the student created photos to the illustrations in the book. You could direct students to the page number of one of the illustrations and ask students to create a photo of an event that happened after that illustration; or give them a chapter and ask them to create their own photo.

The goal is to give your students the freedom to be creative and share that with your classmates. It will be a fun assignment for them and they will appreciate it. Some...may even thank you.  😊

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Brain Break: Relaxing with No Frills

Most brain breaks that I use in class are ones that have the students up and moving around. This brain break doesn’t fit the regular mold, but you will find it has its uses. 

It’s quick, no-frills, no prep nor props needed, and relaxing. You decide how much of the target language you want to incorporate during the brain break. 

1. Students close their eyes. 

2. The teacher says, “Piensa en (think about)...” followed by a location.  

3. Ask students what they see, hear, smell, how they feel, or anything that requires a short answer. 

4. With their eyes still closed, students call out their answers in L1 or in the TL.

5. Name another location and ask the same or similar questions.

Depending on the level, you can ask the entire question in the TL. The students can answer in English or the TL, again, depending on the level of language the students have available to them.

Examples in English:
Think about the beach. What do you hear? What do you see? How do you feel? What do you smell?
Other locations: mountains, restaurant, math class, a concert, etc.

I did this today with my level 1 students. To snap them back into classroom mode, the last place I asked them to think about was a physical education class and then said, ¿Qué hueles? (What do you smell?) In unison, they all said “sweat!” and were ready to continue with the lesson.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

10 Uses for Revista Literal: A FREE Spanish Resource

If you're a Spanish teacher and you haven't heard about Revista Literal yet, then I'm here to introduce you to this incredible resource.  Revista Literal is the brainchild of Martina Bex, a language curriculum specialist and also the founder of The Comprehensible Classroom, the SOMOS curriculum, Garbanzo language website, and creator/writer of endless resources on TeachersPayTeachers (not to mention a national presenter and keynote speaker.  I stated above, it is a FREE resource. According to the Revista Literal website, "Revista Literal is a monthly publication for beginning Spanish language learners written by Spanish language learners. Each month, readers submit short, original stories for publication." 

After students submit their stories, Martina invites native Spanish speakers to proof the stories and then she adds glossaries for the stories and volunteers add the English translations to the glossaries. After the stories are proofed and have glossaries, Martina places the stories in an online format, creates a title page listing the stories for the month, and adds graphics to the stories. She credits the writers of the stories using the students' first name and town and state, and credits the volunteer proofers and glossary writers. Then she publishes the stories online as a free resource for Spanish teachers. 

Then, voila, you have a free resource that comes to you each month to use with your students. Some of the stories are written in the present tense and others in the past.

Here are 10 ways to add the stories to your lesson plans.

1. Partner Reading. Students pair up with a partner and read the stories to each other for X number of minutes. This even works for your novice readers because of those beautiful glossaries for each story.

2. Extra Reading Resources. If you have students or parents asking what is available for a student that is struggling, or on the other end of the spectrum, a student that wants to continue learning beyond the classroom, tell them about Revista Literal. I download the resource (yes, you can download it if you prefer to read it on paper) and add it to our learning managagement system so it is always available to students.

3. Bell-ringer. Project a story from Revista Literal and ask comprehension questions for students to answer. Last week I projected the story "EL LABORATORIO" and alongside where it was projected I wrote the following questions for my Spanish 1 students to answer in English.

1. Write 2 descriptions for Dave.
2. Write 3 facts about his job.
3. List 4 things about Karen.

Although I only asked for 2 descriptions for Dave, when I went over the answers with the class and a student responded with 2 of the descriptions, I asked what other descriptions were mentioned. I did the same with #2 and #2, Then we read the end of the story together.

4. Sub Plans! Use your imagination on how you can make your life easier when you need to be absent from work. Revista Literal will continue to provide comprehensible input to your students during your absence.

5. Running Dictation. Read Martina's explanation of Running Dictation here. If you want to put a new spin onto running dictation, use an online crossword puzzle creator and make a crossword puzzle of information from the story. You'll get double-whammy of reading out of the story because students read the story from Revista Literal (in the hall or wherever you have it posted) and then have to read the crossword clues at their "home base" in the classroom. 

6. Chronological Order. Pull some sentences out of the story that can easily conform to a timeline and have the students predict the order of the story. Obviously, do not read the story with the students before this. If you want to do this as a group, show (tape to the board) 2 of the sentences and ask students which one is first in the story, then add another sentence and students decide the placement of the third sentence. Add another and continue; students can change the order as new sentences are added and the story order becomes clearer (or they think it becomes clearer). 

7. Find It. Project the story, read it together with the students, then play Find It with flyswatters as explained here

8. Mosaic Story(a). Do this before reading the stories with the students. Pull sentences from 3 different stories from Revista Literal and list the sentences on one paper in random order. Write a brief description of each of the stories (brief!-brief!-brief!) in English (don't mention any of the characters in the story by their name in the story), and the students' task is to determine which sentences go with which story.

9. Mosaic Story (b). Again, do not read the story with the students before completing this task. Pull sentences from several stories and have the students create a story using the sentences. You could tell students they can omit X number of sentences and/or you can tell students to add sentences to make the story flow. The Mosaic Story (b) activity will provide your novice high and intermediate students an opportunity to create with the language.

10. Go crazy! Students use any sentences from the entire monthly issue to create a short story. Limit the students to 10 sentences or whatever number works best for you. Come to think of it, THIS would be a good emergency sub plan to have available when you need it. 

Obviously, since Revista Literal has stories, there are a boatload of possibilities. 

Thank you Martina for making teaching a bit easier.  ❤️

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Charlala + Sr. Wooly Resources = Happy Students & Teachers

Ever since I stumbled across, thanks to a post on Twitter, my mind has been bombarding me with ideas of how to use it in class. If you don't know about yet, go to the website and explore (you will love it, I promise) and check out these explanations of how I've used it in the past. 

My Spanish 1 students have watched Sr. Wooly's GUAPO video and completed a few of the extra activities that he provides on his website. One of those activities was the cloze activity. I printed the "fácil" version on one side of a paper and the "difícil" version of the cloze activity on the other side. (This is perfect for differentiating instruction in the classroom!)
After we went over the lyrics, students got an iPad and I instructed them to chose one of the lines in the story and to sketch it on the webpage.  If you know the GUAPO song, you know that the lyrics are repeated many times, which means there weren't many things for the students to draw. (But, this can be a good thing! Read on.)

After the students submitted their sketches, I projected many of them onto the board. First, students had to identify which line of the song the sketch represented and then we described more details about the sketches. It didn't matter that there were five sketches of a man with green eyes and brown hair. The students heard a huge amount of comprehensible input on high frequency structures (tiene, es, soy) plus useful adjectives, nouns, and expressions (guapo, feo, mujeres, alto, no es necesario).

If you use songs with your students and want a new way to re-use the song for more comprehensible input, give this a try! If your song is a story, after viewing the sketches, you could ask students to put the song in order using the sketches.


Avoiding a Crash and Burn Lesson

Short and simple: when you sense your lesson headed toward an eminent crash and burn - ABORT. Change things up or recreate your lesson on a fly but do NOT continue down that sad little destructive path.

Last Wednesday, I had what I thought was a well-planned, great lesson and I was going to provide loads of CI to my Spanish 1 students. But, for whatever reason, one particular group of students came to class and it felt as some unknown force had sucked out all of their energy on the way to my classroom, or maybe even in a previous class. Whatever caused it, was beyond my control. What happened in my class to turn that low energy into attentive and engaged students, was my task at hand.

Before I took my advice above, I trudged on, through a warm-up that was a bit too challenging, past the mini-lecture I gave to tell them about the power of a great education, and even a tried-and-true brain break that fell flat. I was minutes from a complete crash and burn.

Here I was, ready to go into the main part of the lesson, with a classroom of students running on "E" (empty). I was going to tell them a story about two friends that went to a horror movie, but in my mind's eye I didn't envision a good outcome.

Thankfully, I remembered what I've heard countless times at conferences and workshops and have told others many times: STUDENT ACTORS. Don't simply tell the story; have students act out the story. As (good) luck would have it, when I asked for actors, 5 students raised their hands, two of which can naturally draw and keep the attention of their classmates. 

Within minutes of "hiring" the two actors and starting the storytelling process, the tide started to turn. The actors were funny but not distracting, I added movement (student actors "ran" around the room to arrive at the movie theater), I used props (Monopoly money and canisters for popcorn) plus a 3rd actor to sell the popcorn), and coached them to act scared, really scared, during the "horror movie". 

My student actors were the difference between a ho-hum story and a funny, interactive story. The students' energy during the story as they watched the student actors and laughed with them, flowed over to the retell of the story and to the Write & Discuss. It allowed for loads of CI to receptive ears.

So, when you see the Crash and Burn nearing, abort. There's nothing wrong with that and everything wrong with ignoring the fact that something needs to change - immediately.

A few reminders when "hiring" student actors:
- be prepared to coach the students to bring out the best of them and the story
- don't accept mediocre
- if you need to "fire" student actors, do it swiftly, but gently
- thank the student actors for a job well done.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fun App: TextingStory Chat Story Maker

Get ready for that feeling when you find an app that you immediately think of a boatload of possibilities for using it in your classroom.

I was scrolling through Twitter tonight when I saw a Tweet from Meredith White about the app, TextingStory Chat Story Maker. Less than a minute later I had downloaded the app and was creating a short story to use in class tomorrow for my bell ringer.

I made the video to go with Martina Bex's curriculum, SOMOS 1 Unit 2. I'm enjoying the ease of using the SOMOS curriculum, especially since this is the first time I've taught Spanish 1 since spring of 2012. 

Thank you, Martina (a.k.a. the coolest person I know ❤️ 😊 - right back at'cha)

Have fun using the app!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#89 - 101 Ways to Trick your Students into Reading

Students race to circle the Spanish word
Someday I will write a book titled, "101 Ways to Trick your Students into Reading the Same Text Again" or, at the least, submit a conference session proposal on it. I really don't have 88 other posts on this blog on this subject, but I'm willing to bet I have that many ideas that I've used in my Spanish classes in the last 19 years!

When I create activities or games, I tend to make ones in which students work with a partner or in groups of three to help keep all students engaged. But I changed it up a bit today.

First, I did a MovieTalk of a super short film clip, "El mejor de la clase", with my Spanish 1 students. The instructions and lesson plans are  from Martina Bex's (The Comprehensible Classroom) SOMOS 1 Unit 02 curriculum. In the curriculum Martina included a "basic script" of what happens in the video to guide teachers on how to do a MovieTalk. After completing the MovieTalk, I read the script to my students, while clarifying, sketching, gesturing and asking questions as I read the script.

Then I asked students to tell me 5 words that they still had a question about or were unsure of. Following that, I noticed the students needed some type of movement. I made an on-the-spot decision (what teacher doesn't do that on a regular basis?) to split the class into two groups and play a game similar to Find It. However, instead of working in small groups, I used the script that was projected on the board. I numbered the students so they could follow the order and keep the game moving (instead of deciding each round which student went next).

A student from each team went to the board with a marker in hand. I said the word in English and they had to read the text in order to find the Spanish word. When they found it, they had to circle the word before the other student did in order to earn a point for their team.

I kept it moving at a fast pace by not having them erase the circle they had drawn. Each student had several turns at the board and it took 6 minutes or less. It took the place of our 2nd Brain Break today because it had everyone up and moving around.

The beauty of using this particular script is that (1) it is comprehensible, of course, and (2) many words are used multiple times throughout the text. When I called out words that were used several times in the text, there was a greater possibility that students wouldn't try to circle the exact same word at the same time (helping to lesson the chances that it would turn into a contact sport).   

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The POWER of Daily Warm-ups (bell ringers)

How is it that I've only really experienced the power of daily warm-ups this year, after almost two decades of teaching? 

I've used warm-ups to start class, off and on during my years of teaching, but this year is when everything has come together, along with my determination to prepare daily warm-ups and my mindset on what types of warm-ups to use for students to receive the most benefit from them. 

When the teacher is consistent in providing daily warm-ups it provides a comfortable and structured start of the class for the students. I greet my students at the door and they in turn greet me with that week's password. When they enter the room, they see the warm-up projected on the board. They collect the things they need from their backpacks, grab a clipboard (I have a deskless classroom), go to their seat, and boom, they're immersed in Spanish from the very start of class.

My suggestions for creating warm-ups are:
-be consistent! 
-keep it short 
-always...go over it with the students
-connect it with previous lessons
-personalize it to students
-make sure students will be able to complete it without struggling 
-don't collect it (that's right - don't do that to yourself!)

Some benefits of daily warm-ups are:

- Immediately immerses students in language that is comprehensible: the emphasis is on "comprehensible language",  which puts students at ease and instills them with confidence because they know they can be successful in completing the activity

- Sets the tone for the class: we're going to utilize every minute of the class period in experiences that are designed specifically with the students' success in the language as top priority

- Connects to the students: use sketches that students created, and conversations/photos from previous days; students understand their contributions are important elements of the class and they are appreciated! 

- Creates a familiar setting/comfortable routine: students know the routine and are immediately put at ease as they follow the routine (benefits both the quiet students and those that are filled with energy that we may wish we had 😂)

- Provides quiet time: students that complete the warm-up know they will have a few moments to relax after they complete the activity as classmates finish up the warm-up

- Reviews material from previous day(s): reinforces the material introduced/ discussed in the past, providing additional input

- Informal Formative assessment: as teacher moves throughout classroom and glances at students' work, it gives quick feedback on students' progress 

- Provides time for teacher tasks: take attendance, catch absent students up to date, etc, 

Below are examples of the warm-ups I've used in the last few days

1. One of the classes created this OWI (One Word Image). I used the warm--up for all three of the Spanish 1 classes the following day.

2. I used SpanishPlans' lesson "El Niño quiere un dragon" (free on TPT). This was the warm-up the following day. It's the first time students had to form the sentence from scrambled words so I did not put any extra words in the sentences that were not needed. 

3. I created this warm-up based on the conversation I had with students the previous day. The lesson is from Martina Bex's Somos curriculum, Level 1, Unit 1 (free on TPT).  

4. New short stories using previous introduced vocabulary. I don't require students write answers in complete sentences at this stage of their acquisition.

5. OWI reading created previous day. I taped the drawing of the OWI on the board next to where this paragraph was projected for students to refer to.

6. Unscramble sentences. Students did a similar warm-up the previous week (see #2 above). The previous day I had a substitute so students listened to the first half of a story I wrote and put on a video, and then read the 2nd half of the story and answered comprehension questions. This warm-up is based on the video & reading from the previous day.

Yes, I create a new warm-up each day, but NO, it doesn't take much time.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Creating Online Stories with MyStorybook

The website, my, is a user-friendly site for teachers to create short stories in the target language for students. In fact, it is so easy to use, that you may want to consider it for substitute plans when you need to be absent from school.

On the left is the cover of a short story that I wrote for my Spanish 1 students after 4 days of class and a 4-day Labor Day weekend. It contains many repetitions of quiere, tiene, está, hay, and other high frequency words. Click on the link "Paco quiere un mono" to view the storybook.

After creating the story, you will need to publish it in order to be able to share it. Sharing is as simple as copying the URL as well as sharing it on social media. 

There is a main page on which you will create the title page, add text, backgrounds, and characters. There is a limited collection of characters from which to choose but there is an option to upload your own images to use in your story. There is also a tab to draw directly on the page, which is what I used to make the thought bubble on the front page.

After adding text to the story page, you can change the font, the size of the font, where it is positioned on the page, the color, background color, and more. One thing to remember when using special characters in the text, is you will need to return to the text box from the icon on the left because you can't add accents and other special characters when you are typing on the storybook page.

Creating the characters is fun because you can change the hairstyle, the color of  hair and skin, the eye color and expressions, the mouth, the clothing color and style, the pants color and style, and the shoes. 

The options are somewhat limited but it still allows for creativity without providing too many choices that you are overwhelmed with the choices. (It would be nice if there were more than one hairstyle choice for the female characters.)

There are outdoor background scenes in a forest, city, beach, etc, and several indoor choices too. 

(After putting the characters on the background scene of the forest, it reminded me of the story I use from Martina Bex named "La muchacha y la ardilla." I'm considering using this website to illustrate the story that my students create when we do this unit OR creating a parallel story with illustrations for them to read AFTER they create their story.) 

At present, it is a free website, but as we know, that could change in the future as it grows and includes more choices. If you want an ebook download and a pdf of your story, the charge is $5.00.

I'd love it, if after reading this, you create a story, and then share it with me on Twitter: @sonrisadelcampo 😊