Monday, August 20, 2018

The True Size of... Comparing Countries by Size

Pennsylvania, in pink, is small in comparison to Spain.
There is a gem of a website   to compare the size of one country to another country, or to compare a country to a one of the 50 states, or to compare two states. Not only is it a useful site for world language teachers, but also for geography teachers, social studies teachers, and teachers that reference other countries and wants to give students a solid visual of the size of the countries.

The website, "The True Size of" enables the user to type the name of a state or country, and to overlay that state or country onto another country (or state) on a map. This helps students to visualize the size of countries that are related to the Spanish novels that I read with my students each semester.   

Some of the novels connected to people from other countries that I read with my students are:

1. Felipe Alou, by Carol Gaab  - The Dominican Republic
The aqua-colored object is the state of Pennsylvania. This picture shows that Pennsylvania is much bigger than the Dominican Republic. 



2. Fiesta Fatal, by Mira Canion - México
Pennsylvania is dwarfed in size in comparison to Mexico.



You can overlay more than one country/state at the same time as shown below.

3. Vector, by Carrie Toth  - Panamá
Pennsylvania (shown in yellow), is larger than Panama

4. El Silbón, by Craig Klein Dexemple - Venezuela
    and
    Hasta la Sepultura, by Kristy Placido - Spain
Spain, the orange shape, is large compared to the countries in Central America, but there are several large countries in South America, such as Venezuela, that are larger than Spain.


This site can also be used for a Brain Break. Write several sentences on the board about one country compared to another country/state and students decide which sentences are true and which aren't.

Example: 
a. Spain is larger than Ecuador. (España es más grande que Ecuador)
b. Spain is large than Colombia.
c. Spain is larger than Uruguay.
d. Spain is larger than El Salvador.

or

a. (Your state) is larger than Honduras.
b. (Your state) is smaller than Guatemala.
etc.
  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

More Work to be Done


Today, I saw a syllabus of a Spanish class in a school district within an hour drive of my school. On the syllabus it said,


What are the students going to do with that "verb tense knowledge"? When I saw that sentence, my first thought was 'Level IV students will be able to fill in verb conjugation charts'.

Another document for level 1 listed the grammar structures and vocabulary themes for each chapter. 


The syllabus makes it clear that the language classes will consist of vocabulary and grammar, grammar, grammar. 
   
This is what the traditional textbook publishers have convinced language teachers to believe - languages should be taught with a focus on vocabulary and grammar in the order the publishers have outlined in the textbooks. 

Often, when a teacher begins a teaching job at a school district, he is handed a textbook to use to teach the language. He follows the book that explains how to fill in conjugation charts made to look like boots and he distributes publisher worksheets to students so they can "practice" the verb tenses. When he wants to give his students a fun activity, he designs a Battleship Conjugation game, plays Swat with vocabulary words, or plays Number Bingo with the students on Fridays. The result is a huge exodus of language students after the required minimal levels leaving very few to continue to level 3 and beyond.

This troubles me... a lot. One of the reasons is I started my teaching career teaching in that manner. I thought I was doing my job well because that's what my experience in language classes had been, both as a student and as a student teacher. 

But two people, in particular, helped guide me away from grammar-based teaching to teaching for acquisition. The first person was Mara Anderson, the World Language department chair at the high school (I was in the middle school), who came to my classroom and demonstrated TPR. A few years later, after moving to another district, I attended a one-day workshop by Carol Gaab, in which I experienced, first-hand, the power of acquiring a language versus studying a language. The combination of those experiences started my CI journey and my interest in second language acquisition. 

But, what if Mara had not demonstrated TPR in my classroom? 
What if I had not attended the workshop with Carol Gaab? 
Would I still be teaching from the textbook and focusing on grammar rules? 
How would I know there is a more effective way to teach? 
Would I still be blaming the students for not studying?
Would I still hear comments such as "give me the quiz before I forget everything" before distributing a quiz?

This, dear friends, is where you are desperately needed. No more excuses. It is time for action. If you have abandoned grammar-based teaching and have witnessed your students' increased proficiency and language skills as a result of teaching with CI, then your task (not someone else's task) is to share your experiences and the teaching strategies you employ that make those successes possible. 

We have only scratched the surface of introducing and training teachers to teach with CI in order to enable their students to acquire the language. According to the Center for Education Reform, there are 129,189 schools in the U.S. If each school averages one teacher per building (middle schools and high schools average more than one WL teacher per building, but many school districts do not have WL teachers in the elementary buildings), that adds up to over 129,000 WL teachers in the US. How many of those teachers are blindly following a publisher's textbook and how many are teaching for acquisition?  

Below is a chart listing ways to introduce teachers to teaching with Comprehensible Input (CI) and help them on their language teaching journey.  Whether you are new to teaching with CI or whether you are starting your 20th year of teaching with CI, there are actions you can take to increase awareness of second language acquisition and how to teach for acquisition and share your teaching methods and strategies with others. 


A noteworthy reminder: ALL teachers, that are committed to continued professional development and growth, regardless of their experience and/or teaching methods, can learn from their colleagues, including those that do not teach exactly as they do.
     Be nice.
     Be open-minded. 
     Be gentle. 
     Be encouraging. 
     Be ready to learn from others.   

If you have more ideas to add to the chart, please share them in the blog comments below, on Twitter (@sonrisadelcampo), or in person. 

Comments related to chart above:
1. Submitting a proposal and presenting at a conference: If you have never done this before you may say you can't do it because you will be nervous. Welcome to the club! I have presented at national, state, and regional conferences, as well as at CI PLN groups and the only time I was NOT nervous was this July at iFLT18. Look at it as a way to grow.  :-)

2. Start a PLN in your area: I have wanted to do this for years. Maybe this will be the year I follow through.

3. Start a blog with the mindset of using it to reflect on your teaching and your lessons. People will eventually find you and share in your journey and then learn from you.

4. Offer free resources on your TPT store: Many of my teacher friends have TPT stores and it warms my heart that besides selling materials on their store, they are very generous in sharing great resources that they have made at no cost to others and in their time sharing their knowledge and expertise on live Facebook videos, on social media, and endless patience in answering questions about their classroom practices. 

5. Accept a student teacher and model how to teach using Comprehensible Input: Remember that the person may have come from training that did not acknowledge teaching with Comprehensible Input. Have patience and enjoy watching them grow in their teaching skills.

6. Create a substitute lesson bank: EVERYONE will love you if you freely share sub plans. This is your opportunity to share your BEST plans based on using comprehensible input. Others will be more open to leaving grammar-based teaching when they experience success with your substitute lesson plan. They may even use it on a day they are present!

7. Volunteer to mentor a teacher: Why do we not have a mentoring program in place?

8. Offer a free or low-cost training: When you train other teachers, there are usually costs involved for you, and I fully support that you should also be compensated for your time. If you have the opportunity to present that does not require travel or lodging on your part, consider offering that training at a bargain price to eliminate the financial strain that prevents some teachers from attending their first CI/TPRS training. 

9. Submit an article to ACTFL's publication The Language Educator: And/or submit an article to your state organization's newsletter or publication.

I have great colleagues (throughout the U.S.) that are doing amazing things. Their energy and expertise seem endless. I am grateful that they have done much in the past and continue to help their fellow teachers.  :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Absolutely the Best Gift for a Teacher

Do you know what is the absolute best gift/thing that a world language teacher can receive? if you're a teacher you probably can guess. 

What it is NOT:

- an extra personal day
- a high rating on your yearly evaluation
- a raise (although, this definitely makes all teachers smile!)
- new classroom furniture (or in my case, getting permission to r-e-m-o-v-e some of the class furnishings)
- an increase in the amount of the department budget
- no extra duties throughout the school year

None of the above can hold a candle to the best gift EVER - a note from a 
student that says how he was able to use the target language in a purposeful way outside of the classroom.

Earlier today I received a Twitter message, as described above, from a student that graduated in June 2018. He talked in Spanish with a customer at his place of employment and he was (1) excited to experience being able to successfully use his skills in an authentic conversation, and (2) looking forward to continuing his exposure and acquisition of Spanish with a future study abroad program for his music major.

He gave me permission to share this on my blog. (I forgot to ask if I could use his name, thus, no name on the letter.) The success he experienced with the language is completely due to him receiving instruction that included tons of Comprehensible Input - movie talks, TPRS, stories and legends, reading (13 class novels from levels 1-5 and many book during SSR), weekend talk, jokes in Spanish, and even in games in the target language. CI is the powerhouse and the reason for his accelerated language skills. I was the fortunate one that was able to observe his progress on his language journey for 3 of the 5 semesters he had language classes.

This is a good reminder for me to never doubt the impact of providing a daily dose of comprehensible input to students. What remains is for ALL teachers to continue to invest their time and energy (and most likely money) into continual improvement of their teaching skills to benefit our students.  😊

When I received his message, I was on my way to iFLT, in Cincinnati, Ohio, a national conference for world language teachers. His message gave me a renewed energy to squeeze out every bit of knowledge, advice, collaboration, learning, observation, etc out of this conference. It pays off in huge dividends on the student end!!!








Saturday, June 30, 2018

Brain Break - Photo Roulette

Photo Roulette - photo from Library of Congress
 It's June 30 today and I doubt there are many teachers looking for ideas for Brain Breaks but, when the school year starts again in August, this may come in handy. Also, I saw this today and I'm likely to forget about it, so this blog post serves as a reminder to me. 😃

For the brain break you will need to go to the website Photo Roulette, which has photos from the Library of Congress. The website will show you a photo from the Library of Congress and then you guess in what year the photo was taken. You have 10 guesses and after each guess it will tell you whether you should guess an early year or one that is more recent. 

You can play Photo Roulette as a whole class effort, let students work in groups of 4, or whatever works best that doesn't take time to arrange groups. If using it with the whole class, especially a beginning class, the teacher could have a student write a year on the board, and the teacher would then turn to the class and say in the target language, "Class, do you think it is before (year written on board) or after?"; maybe have the students that think it is before stand up and those that think it is a later date remain seated.  The teacher, or her helper, will type in the suggested date, and if the website says it was before, any of the students standing can write a number on the board for the next suggestion. For more repetition the teacher can say, in the TL, "It wasn't before 1955, it was after 1955." The teacher looks at those students that are seated and says, "Who wants to guess a date, an write it on the board, after 1955?" Doing the brain break in this manner allows the students to hear the year, repeated several times as the teacher asks about it, and not have to produce it.

A suggestion for doing the brain break with several groups: Divide the class in 4 groups and let the first group guess a year. Type the answer in and check if the group is correct. The next group reads the hint provided by the Photo Roulette website and guesses accordingly. The group that guesses correctly is awarded the number of points of the remaining guesses. After 3 or 4 photos, the group with the highest number of points is the winner.

If your school is 1:1, students can play Photo Roulette with a partner, which translates into ALL students being actively engaged!

Whether you use this website as a brain break or for a fun Friday activity, I think the students will enjoy it and not realize they're getting a little "practice" on how to say years in the TL. If the teacher wants to really dig in, she can compare the photo to today and point out things that are different, or simply talk about the photo after the year was guessed. 

If you have fun way to use this with your language class, please share in the comments below. HAVE FUN!!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Novel Activities - Popsicle Emojis & Re-creating Scenes

Some of my favorite activities and/or mini-projects that I use with students are ones that can be used with more than one specific novel. This semester I tried two new activities when we were reading the novel, El Escape Cubano, by Mira Canion, but they can easily be used with other novels and with other languages.  

Popsicle Emojis
The first is an activity that Mira Canion gave to me to try that is coming in the teacher's guide for the novel El Escape Cubano. Think of it as your insider's SNEAK PEAK into the teacher's guide. With her permission, I am blogging about it while we wait for the complete guide. (If you have bought a teacher's guide from Mira for her other novels, you know it will be packed full with useful materials!)


First I created a document on an 8.5 x 11.5 paper with 6 emojis: happy, scared, in love, sad, nervous, and angry. I made 30 copies for a classroom set and cut out the individual emojis. (Use the school paper cutter and it will go quickly. Your students can glue the emojis on the popsicle sticks. Save the class set and they'll be ready to use at a moment's notice.)

I bought large popsicle sticks and gave students instructions on which emojis to pair together. Then they glued two emojis (front and back) on the popsicle sticks. When completed, each student had 3 popsicle sticks with 6 emojis.

We had read and discussed the chapters in which the characters in the story are on a raft between Cuba and Florida, with no land in sight. Then I chose sentences from the text for students to identify how a character was feeling at the time. I read a sentence and students chose an emoji to hold up. Sometimes students held up different emojis which provided the perfect opportunity to discuss why each student had chosen the emoji. There doesn't always have to be the same answer and it's interesting to see which students choose which emoji.


This activity involved listening comprehension AND it required students to think about how the characters were feeling which helped the students to connect and relate to the characters more than they would have by merely reading the text.


Re-creating Scenes


In chapter 9 of El Escape Cubano, the characters are on a raft in the middle of nowhere and they have a dangerous encounter with a shark. I wanted students to highlight the events of the chapter by using cutouts of the characters, the shark (which they drew earlier - read about it in this post), and a raft.  

Some of the students were creative and added other objects and color to their scenes. 
(Please, no judgement on my artistic skills, or lack thereof, of the stick figures above; as usual, this idea came to me at the 11th hour so the people and raft sketches were done in record-breaking time!)

The students followed the instructions as shown below:

Mini-Project for Chapter 9 of El Escape Cubano

1. Read chapter 9 of El Escape Cubano

2. Find a sentence that is part of a scene from ch9. Use the manipulatives and create the scene. You may make a speech bubble and write the dialog (if there is dialog) and lay the speech bubble on your scene OR create the speech bubble in Google Slides.

3.  Take a photo of the scene with the iPad.

4. Create a Google Slide presentation with the photos. Title it "Ch9 recreations & your name"

5. Add 4 slides after the title slide.

6. Upload the first photo to slide 2 of the Google Slide presentation.

7. If you didn't add any speech bubbles before uploading the photo, add them now on the slide. Pull sentences directly from the book that describe the scene and add those sentences on the slide.

8. Create 3 additional scenes using the same instructions.

9. Upload your finished Google Slide presentation to Schoology.


Students worked with a partner to create the 4 scenes. This mini-project required the students to reread the chapter to (1) find scenes which could easily be depicted with the cut-outs, and (2) be able to arrange the characters, the shark, and the raft in the correct positions to match the text. 

After the projects were uploaded, it was easy to project them on the board and I used them as a review of the chapter.

FYI, when I give mini-projects like this, I want the focus to be on reading and/or creating with the text and not to spend a huge amount of time on sketching. By having the characters and shark already sketched, the majority of the students' time was spent on reading, writing, and arranging the characters in the scenes. I gave them 30-ish minutes to complete the project which meant there wasn't time to waste.

Below are several slides from 3 different presentations that students completed:
  






HAPPY READING!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Button Button Brain Break from Sarah Breckley

When I was a little girl, I used to play "Button, Button, Who's Got the Button" with my sisters and my grandparents when we would spend a week at their farm in the summer. (fyi - the grammar in the title  of this old game may make you twitch; similar to PA's license plate motto "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania" - oh my.) It's been decades since I played or even thought about that game. But today, I saw a video by Sarah Breckley, a Spanish teacher from Wisconsin, (more about Sarah later), that brought those memories back in a snap.

Sarah's video title is "Button Button, Who's Got the Button - Direct Object Pronoun Grammar Game". In the video the students play the game with objects, which she varies in order to require students to use all of the direct object pronouns. Some suggestions for objects - coins, balls, pen, Beanie Baby stuffed animal.

The sweet deal about this game is that even though the title claims it is a grammar game, the focus is NOT on grammar. Rather, the focus is on guessing which of the students has the object that is being passed behind their backs. During play, the student that is seated in the middle tries to guess which student has the object by asking his classmates in the TL, "Do you have IT?" and the student that was asked answers "Yes, I have IT" or "No, I don't have IT" (or THEM if more than one object is passed).  

Converting BUTTON, BUTTON to a Brain Break
In Sarah's video, the students play this as a game. It can easily be shortened to be used as a brain break by playing without teams. Tell the students that you will play for X# of minutes, whatever length of time you want for your brain break, and end the activity at the end of the time.

Obviously, the first time you play, it will take longer because you will have to explain it to the students. After the first time, it can serve as an energizing brain break that takes place in the TL.


Button, Button, Who's Got the Button
Watch the video below or directly on YouTube HERE and then check the document below with Sarah's instructions on how to play. 



A pdf of the directions can be found HERE

Sarah Breckley
In 2017 Sarah was recognized as Wisconsin's Teacher of the Year. 
If you are a Spanish teacher that subscribes to Sr. Wooly's site, you may have recognized Sarah from his video "Feo" in which she absolutely nailed her role as Feona.

Sarah has a Vlog HERE, or in the future you can find it on the right panel of my blog on the list of CI/TPRS blogs. On her vlog you can find videos of Sarah teaching using stories through the use of comprehensible input with her students. When watching the videos, it is evident why she was award the Wisconsin Teacher of the Year title and obvious that her students are enjoying acquiring the Spanish language in her classroom. I encourage you to spend time watching her videos and then to "steal" more ideas from Sarah.  :-)
 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Brain Break: Apple, Banana, Orange

There are TWO masters of Brain Breaks: 
#1 - Annabelle Allen (@lamaestraloca), for sharing her great ideas for Brain Breaks - HERE; and 
#2 - Krista Kovalchick (@MmeKovalchick) who consistently uses brain breaks throughout her lessons which motivates me to do the same and to search for new brain breaks to use in my class. 
#goals

On my ONE day of spring break (yes, sadly, it was only 1 day), I spent the morning searching the internet for Brain Break ideas. I found some goodies, and tried out this gem, "Apple, Banana, Orange" last week. I tried it with my students and it was a success, then I shared it with Krista, and she said her students enjoyed it too!

Apple, Banana, Orange 

This Brain Break is played in the target language. You can explain it in the target language, but if you're using it with a beginning level, I think you are justified in explaining it in English so you can quickly get to the movement!

1. Tell students to form a circle, with students facing in. Then everyone should move 90 degrees to the right, so the person in front of them has their back to them. All students will now be facing the back of the student in front of them.

2. Students should put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. When all students do this, you will have a complete, attached circle.

3. When the teacher says APPLE in the target language (manzana, for my Spanish students), the whole group must jump one space forward in UNISON. Students may repeat the word together as they jump if they like or they can simply jump forward in unison without saying the word. 

4. Practice the word APPLE several times until the group can jump forward in unison.

5. Next, practice the word BANANA. When the teacher says BANANA, the whole group (still with hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them) jumps one step backward, in unison.  They will probably need more practice on BANANA.

6. Mix the two commands, APPLE and BANANA, and students must wait until you have finished saying the commands before they can move together. (ex: APPLE, APPLE, BANANA)

By this time, everyone in the class will be smiling and having fun.  :-)

7. The final step is with the word ORANGE, (naranja for Spanish students). When the teacher says ORANGE (in TL of course), the students will let go of the shoulders of the person in front of them, jump an 180 degree turn, and put their hands on the person that is in front of them (which before the 180 degree turn was the person behind them). 

8. Combine 4 words and students will jump accordingly. 
Examples: 
- APPLE, ORANGE, BANANA, BANANA  (say it in your target language)
- BANANA, APPLE, BANANA, ORANGE  (say it in your target language)
- ORANGE, APPLE, ORANGE, BANANA  (say it in your target language )

This Brain Break is definitely an ENERGIZER, although one of my honors students said after the Brain Break that his brain was working harder the entire time. Yes, his brain was working, but with a smile on his face.  

OPTION: You don't have to use fruit for the three words. If you want repetition of other words, use those instead of the fruit. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sr. Wooly's La Casa de la Dentista: Reading with Students

With only 1 copy of La Casa de la Dentista last semester, I used a document camera and read the story to my students, along with sound effects and dramatic character voices.

This semester, I have a class set of the books and my plans for reading it went as follows.

1. I showed the video to Seis Veces al Día when it was released in February and they have seen it several times since.

2. I used the powerpoint slides of the story from the Teacher's Guide of La Casa de la Dentista to read the first part of the book with my students. I designated two students in each class to be the 'sound effects technicians'. After reading the text on each slide, or for the slides that didn't have text, I paused to allow the students create the sound effects. In one class I held auditions for the sound effects, which really made the students up their game to be chosen for that job.

3. We read to page 54 on one day, and the following day we re-read that but at a quicker pace - both days using the powerpoint slides.  

4. Today, students had to write 10 sentences to summarize what had happened thus far in the book. They said the sentences to me; I wrote them on the board; and the students copied what I wrote.  (This marking period, I'm making a deliberate effort to have students write each day - sometimes a few sentences, sometimes a paragraph or two.)

5. Then I distributed photocopies of teeth and students had to write two things on the teeth:
 - What question do they have about what has happened?
 - What do they think is going to happen.



6. I read the students' questions and predictions and we briefly commented on them.

7. Afterwards, each student picked up the novel La Casa de la Dentista and they could choose to read it alone or in a small group. If they chose to read it with a partner or in a small group, and to remember to include the sound effects when reading.

This is what ENGAGED reading looks like which is a reminder that is doesn't have to be SILENT reading. 



8. When the student below finished, I heard her reaction to the book and then I asked her if she would share that reaction/opinion on video.  Then I showed her the note from Sr. Wooly on the last page of the glossary because she hadn't seen the note. 
Make sure your students don't skip over that promising bit of information!




As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the way we read the book this semester is different than before, and both ways were engaging and enjoyable for the students. However, I may tweak it a bit and implement a slightly different approach next time, PLUS I'll include the cookies again - something I did last time but forget this time. :(

Thank you Jim Wooldridge for writing a compelling story and for the sweet "promise" on the note in the glossary. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spanish Teacher Resource: TikTak Draw

If you are not aware of the YouTube channel, TikTak Draw, and you teach Spanish, especially the upper levels, it is time to check it out.

There are hundreds of videos (well over 400 videos) in Spanish! There are videos about famous people, holidays, popular cartoons, food, mythical characters (dragons & unicorns), mirrors (yes, on mirrors), animals, scene  heroes, legends, shoes, ninjas, Big Ben ... on pretty much ANYTHING! 

Check it out - but, be forewarned, you may end up spending a lot of time on the site so set an alarm to monitor your time - LOL. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Change Parent Newsletters to Parent NewVIDEOS with Apple's Clips app

Up until January 2018, I was committed to creating newsletters for the parents of my students to keep them informed of what their son/daughter is doing in Spanish class. I used to spend h-o-u-r-s creating the newsletters, formatting the information into nice pretty columns, adding photos, and trying to balance the content on the two pages.  

Pictured on the right is the September 2017 Spanish 2 newsletter. I was pleased with how it came out and the information that was shared until I talked to a parent that mentioned, yes, he had received the newsletter by email, but he didn't have the time or take the time to read it yet.

That's when I realized, I would have done the same thing if my son or daughter's teacher would have emailed a two-page newsletter to me. It doesn't make me, or you, a "bad" parent, because if it would, be assured there would be many "bad" parents.  Who has time to read newsletters these days? People are more likely to watch a short video than to read two pages about their child's class.


Clips App
Last month I went to PETE & C, a tech conference held in Hershey, PA. The first session I went to was a presentation about Apple's Clips app. It took roughly 25 minutes of the hour presentation for the presenter to create a short video that could be shared with parents about a recent field trip, and, he did that while explaining the steps and the app to the attendees. 

A few days later, my colleague, Krista Kovalchick, showed me a practice "clip" that she made at home wth the app. After that, I decided it was time to experiment with the app. 

That was about three weeks ago and since that time I have made two parent "newsvideos" which have garnered more responses and comments from parents than I have in the last five years of writing newsletters.

HERE is an example of a Clip I made, specifically for this blog. The actual videos I sent to the parents are better with short clips within the video of the students singing, collaborating on a project, participating in an author Skype with Mira Canion, and loads of photos of class activities. (Since they are created specifically for parents, I have more freedom to include photos and videos of the students.)
Screenshots of Clips video.  There's also an option for text with solid background.
Apple's Clips app has been described as the iMovie app for the next generation. I like to think of it as the iMovie for the older generation because it is much more user-friendly than iMovie. There's less of a learner's curve which means you can create videos in less time and with less headaches. 

For my next parent newsvideos, I'd like to include a few clips of students' commenting on the book the read, or a fun activity they did in class, or a few sentences of a story retell. 

Some of the features of the Clips app are:
- animated text
- emojis
- fun stickers
- Star Wars, Disney, & Pixar characters
- artistic filters
- music for background (that automatically fits the length of your video and lowers the volume when there is other sound on a video or slide)
- and the ability to easily share the video 
There are even more cool options with the updated version for those who have a  an iPhone 10.

Using the app for parents "newsvideos" is only one small application for this app. I know you'll have fun using the app and finding other classroom uses for it.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Resources for International Women's Day or Units on Women

Are you looking for resources for a unit on women, or more specific on Hispanic women, to showcase their role in history and their contributions to society in science, medicine, exploration, sports, etc? 

In my Spanish 4+ class, I have a unit simple titled "Las Mujeres" which introduces my students to several hispanic women that they most likely are not aware of, and also provide reading material for them in Spanish on women that they have learned about in their other classes such as art, Frida Kahlo; social studies, Sonia Sotomayor and Marie Reiche (originally from Germany); science, Ellen Ochoa; and music, Gloria Estefan & Celia Cruz.

These are some of my favorite sources and how I use them in class:


Cinco mujeres latinas que tú debes conocer

This is a resource from The Comprehensible Classroom (Martina Bex), that I purchased from TeachersPayTeachers last fall. The biographies are of Rigoberta Menchú, Michelle Bachelet, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Eva Perón, and the Mirabal sisters.

First, I printed out the pdf of the powerpoint slides and posted them around the room.  I divided the students into five group, with 2-3 students per group. (I used this with my small class of 13 students. **For larger classes, read the comment at the end of this section for suggestions.) Then I gave each group 5 pieces of construction paper - each group had a different color.

Each group went to one of the posted photos and information and read the information. Then they decided which fact/sentence from the information they wanted to sketch on the construction paper. They completed the sketch, underlined the phrase or sentence that they sketched, and taped their sketch next to the posted information.




After students had circulated through the five stations, they returned to their seats and we talked about each women, with one person from each group explaining how their sketch related to that woman's life.

The materials also include documents with a shortened version on each woman with short comprehension activities for students to complete. 
**If my class had more students, I would have altered this activity either by providing those documents and having students complete them in between completing the sketches, OR half of the students would have completed the sketches and the other half of the students would have written two comprehension questions per woman and the students would ask those comprehension questions to their classmates.

Novels  
Frida Kahlo, by Kristy Placido


The novel, Frida Kahlo, is the backbone of my "Las Mujeres" unit. It is a 58-page biography about Frida Kahlo in which Kristy took care to include aspects of Frida's growing up years that will be of special interest to high school students (such as Frida caring for a family of rats, the mischievous acts at her school, and her struggle to "fit in" with high society). 

This is the first semester that I have the Frida Kahlo Teacher's Guide from Fluency Matters to use when reading the novel. It is packed full of extension activities, Can-Do Statements, comprehension questions that elicit higher-order thinking, Reader's Theater scripts and a fun, interactive section called Shake it Up! and more. To my surprise, I only realized after using the teacher guide for a few chapters that there is also an Online Supplement to the Teacher's Guide, especially useful for teachers in 1:1 schools. You don't need to come up with the ideas - they're all provided for you with detailed explanations. You'll save yourself hours of planning time with this resource!

In addition to the Teacher's Guide, many teachers have freely shared their ideas and activities to go with this novel. The first two are my current favorites and the others are additional resources to check out:

Kristy Placido - Incorporating Selfies and Self Portraits with Frida Kahlo unit

Somewhere to Share, Carrie Toth - Snap Chat with Frida Kahlo novel

Several posts from this blog
- Autorretratos inspired by Frida Kahlo novel
- Novels, Making Connections

Mundo de Pepito - Frida Kahlo in the Elementary Classroom (get inspired from these activities and adjust them to work in a secondary classroom)

The Feisty Language Teacher - Frida! Frida! Read All About Her! 


Vidas Impactantes, by Krista Placido 
Vida's Impactantes is another novel in which you will find biographies of hispanic women that have made a notable impact on society. You'll find information on Celia Cruz, Maria Reiche, and Azucena Villaflor. I've read this book, several times, and I'm in the process of pulling biographies of several people and inserting that into other Spanish 4 and Spanish 4+ units. I don't have the Teacher's Guide yet, but I know it will also be an invaluable resource.

As a side note, as you can see by the photo of the book cover on the right, this book also has 3 biographies of hispanic men!

A-Z Reading resources
If you have a subscription to A-Z reading, you automatically have a nice selection of online readers of famous women.  My students do SSR several times a week in which students choose a novel to read. During two weeks of the "Las Mujeres" unit, I request that students read the stories on A-Z reading (you can print them out or upload a pdf of the books to a learning management system such as Schoology).  

Several titles of books that are in Spanish are: Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Gloria Estefan, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Hillary Clinton, Hispanoamericanos Famosos, Mujeres Estrellas (Mia Hamm, Venus & Serena Williams, & Bethany Hamilton), Primeras Damas (Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Hillary Rodham Clinton), Ruby Bridges, Sally Ride, Sonia Sotomayor. See, I told you there were a lot of books on women!

I'm sure these resources are only the tip of the iceberg! 
If you have favorite resources related to hispanic women, please share, as I'm always open to learning!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Non-Targeted Input in its Pure Form

 After class yesterday, I took the below photo of my classroom board. If I had to describe my idea of a perfect class/lesson, this would be it.


The writing on the board is the result of a 60-minute class entirely comprised of non-targeted input. Non-targeted input, in a very basic explanation, is teaching in the target language without any preplanned targeted vocabulary or grammar structures. In non-targeted input, teachers put the emphasis on communicating in the language in a natural way. 

Do the words on the board look random? They should, because they are random. Natural conversations are free-flowing and the direction of the conversation changes with something as slight as a laugh, a side comment, a reaction, a person entering the classroom, or even a hiccup. It is completely unrestrained.

Consider this: Did you ever have a conversation with a friend and at some point in that conversation you ask, 'How did we get on this topic?" Then you backtrack from where you are in the conversation and how you arrived at that spot and you see how the flow of the conversation weaves and wiggles and moves from one topic to another.

That is what the photo of the board shows. In fact, it was non-targeted input in its purest form because I didn't even plan to have non-targeted input today; didn't plan to "story listen" or to create a character; my plans were to read a story and later watch a brand new video (by a very important person!). As students needed vocabulary to express their thoughts, I wrote them on the board. You'll see that there are sketches, some by me (obviously I can NOT draw a fork, tenedor, well), and others by the students that sketched things to help make themselves understood. Along with the sketches on the board, there is a command, a verb in the subjunctive form, the past tense, present tense, various unrelated nouns - totally random but imperative to the conversation.

What were the students and I doing that involved such a random grouping of words and structures? At the beginning of class I noticed that a student didn't seem to be himself, so I asked if he was ok. He then proceeded to show us a bandage on his hand and then told us, in Spanish, what happened. At times he needed help with some words. When that happens, I pause to see if any of the students know the word and I give them the opportunity to say it.   When the student was finished, we knew what had happened and why he had a band-aid, and the photo he showed us on his phone perked up the whole class. 

From that one conversation, a handful of other conversations were born. Another student then told us about one time when she was hurt, then another student, and pretty soon several students had their hands up and there was a wait list to take their turn to talk, in SPANISH! They couldn't wait for their turn! We heard about a girl that didn't see a kite string and she ran into it and it got caught in her braces; about a girl when she was little was trying to go up a down escalator, and so much more. 

It was like watching two old men try to outdo who has the most health problems, but it was my students instead, sharing about their mishaps, one story outdoing others. 

After twenty-five minutes had passed, I knew my lesson plans were not going to be of use to me that class period because the momentum continued to grow. There was NO WAY I was going to interrupt that, (not even to show a new music video.) The students were interested and engaged in what their classmates were saying, laughing, and taking ownership in the teaching and learning taking place.  

Midway through the class period I instructed all students to look at the back of the classroom, away from the board. Then I asked them to tell me some new words they heard from the conversation that they didn't know before. I realize they may not have acquired the words yet, but they have a powerful start in doing that.

It's after those types of classes that I leave school on a teaching high. BUT, that doesn't happen every day and I make no claims that it happens every day. It's the right combination of the mix of students, what has happened in their day before they come to my class or what they're looking forward to later in the afternoon, how they feel physically, and emotionally, and how they react to what their classmates say and to what I say. As teachers, we ALL have not so good days, good days, great days, and days that we can't wait to share with others.