Thursday, January 26, 2012

TPRS School Board Report

A few weeks ago the Assistant Superintendent asked me to talk at the January Board Meeting about TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling). I asked my students in Spanish 1 if anyone was interested in coming to the board meeting with me to help with my presentation. The photo to the left is of the 3 students that came to the board meeting.

After the Assistant Superintendent introduced me, I turned to the 3 students and asked them to introduce themselves. Then I gave the list of vocabulary words that my Spanish 1 students had learned to a school board member and asked him to circle 8 of the words. I then handed the paper to the students, told them to write a story using at least 5 of the words, and they left the board room to write a story.

Meanwhile, I explained TPRS to the board members, gave examples of what happens during a TPRS class, shared with them the progress that I have seen the students make with this instruction, and answered their questions. At one point I went out in the hall to check if the students were ready. They said, "Almost, it's a great story, Señora." and the second time I checked on them, they were practicing reading what they wrote and said, "it's really good and we don't want you to hear it yet."

Finally, after 10 minutes or so, they were ready and they came back in the board meeting. They took turns reading, first in Spanish and then two of the students translated it to English. As they promised, it was a great story that included all the words they were given, and in a short amount of time! Needless to say, the students were a big hit and their language abilities were evident to the board members and administrators. I was so proud of them, standing in front of the board reading their story, demonstrating their Spanish language abilities, and looking relaxed because they had hours upon hours of comprehensible input to draw from, and a lot of class experience on creating stories.

I'm certain that the students' story had a bigger impact and impression on the school board members than anything I said about TPRS. Thank you María, Alejandro, y Raúl!

Their story is posted below with the 6 words they needed to include in a different color:

Hay un chico que se llama Edgardo. Edgardo vive en Hershey. Un día Edgardo va a Hersheypark, cual es un parque de diversiones. El es muy deportista porque él es en el equipo de fútbol. Él oye algo. Es un concierto en el parque de diversiones. Él va al concierto de Justin Bieber. Él canta con Justin , pero él canta mal. Las personas tratan de golpear a Edgardo con tomates. Él corre y tropieza en el suelo. Él espera a la policía y llora porque el se rompió la mano. Es muy mal porque la mano está blanca. Todas las personas están tristes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

GLOBAL PROJECT - Collaborators Wanted - Spanish or Language Learners

My Spanish classes are looking for other classes to collaborate on a VoiceThread project with them. Since our 2nd school semester doesn't start until Tuesday, January 24, I do not have the VoiceThread complete yet since the students need to give me their photos to add to the VoiceThread. Below is a sample VoiceThread of what ours will look like after it is completed - hopefully within a week of January 24.

Below are recordings in English and Spanish that explains the project. If you need additional information, please e-mail me at:
or connect with me on twitter: #sonrisadelcampo

Collaborative Project for Spanish Class (mp3)

Proyecto de colaboración para la clase de español (mp3)

Here is the SAMPLE VoiceThread:

I'm looking forward to hearing from other teachers and adding your class to our project. 
Bulletin Board of my students' collaboration with students in other parts of the world.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Comics in TPRS class with Bubblr

Last week I stumbled upon a message on Twitter by Shelly Terrell in which she mentioned a 5-week on-line workshop on "how to use web storytelling tools and mobile apps to motivate young learners" titled "Digital Storytelling 4 Kids". Even though I'm a secondary educator, I decided to participate to learn more on how to use digital storytelling in my classes.

This week the focus is on using Comics in the classroom. I had a list of sites for making comic strips, but never used any in class that I personally made on the computer. The comic I made this week is one made on Bubblr which uses photos from Flickr. I wanted to start a story with a comic and also have include culture.

(for larger format: Juan y el encierro by srahitz)

I choose El Encierro (the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Navarra in Spain) because:
1) who doesn't like watching the world news in July about the brave people that run with the bulls down the streets of Pamplona
2) I can embed information about the "La Fiesta del San Fermín" in the story.
3) I can include geography facts if the person begins the journey in Galicia and works his/her way toward Navarra.

In what ways do you use comics in the language classroom?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to use OCTOPUS (pulpo) in a Story

My focus when I started this blog was using TPRS with my Spanish 1 class. I knew that upper levels also benefit from TPRS, but I thought it was more useful for the lower levels. However, I found out differently this week when I recycled a story I used in Spanish 1 with my Spanish 4 class. The success of the story proved to me that ALL students, even in those in levels 3 and 4, will learn much better with comprehensible input.

On Wednesday, after reading about embedded stories on Michele Whaley's website, I realized that lately when I write stories for class, I wasn't leaving enough freedom for the students to choose the direction of the story. So, I chose the focus words gana, pierde, manda; asked questions using the new vocabulary, and for Spanish 1 I started with the following skeleton of a story:

1. There is a (boy or girl).
2. S/he needs money.
3. S/he writes to Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
4. S/he writes to Minute to Win it.
5. S/he writes to Fear Factor.
6. S/he ____.

For statement #1, I asked: Is it a boy or girl? What is his/her name? Where does s/he live?, hobbies, friends, etc.
#2 - Why does s/he need money? + more questions
#3 - Is s/he accepted on the show? Does s/he go to the show? if no, why not? If yes, how does s/he go to the show? Does s/he go alone? How long did it take to go to the show? How does s/he feel? Does she win or lose?
#4 & #5 are similar to #3.
#6 What does s/he do after the game? How does s/he feel?

The students helped develop the story with their suggestions. At statement #5, I was prepared with a surprise for the student that was playing the role of the main character in the story. The task the character had to do on Fear Factor was to eat Octopus, which I bought at the supermarket and was, coincidentally, from Spain! I asked the student playing the role if she wanted to eat the octopus to "win the money" in the story. Her response was "Ewwww", which became part of the story of course. (I explain how Spanish 4 benefited from the student NOT eating the octopus later.)

The following day, the students worked in triads and received a packet of papers with the following photos: a large home in Ireland (the girl in the story needs money because she wants to buy a house in Ireland); the logos for the 3 game shows, a blank sheet of paper, and a pack of Post-It notes. The students wrote 1 sentence per Post-It note about the events in the story, sticking the notes on the page to which it related. On the blank sheet, they wrote the end of the story. When finished, the groups switched their packets with another group and read the story in English to their group. (Another task is to have them remove the Post-It notes before they exchange with another group, give the notes and the photos to another group, and that group has to put the notes on the correct sheet.)

Now...onto Spanish 4 and the octopus. Since Spanish 1 did not make use of the canned octopus, I decided to recycle the story for Spanish 4, but to use more advanced grammar and additional vocabulary. Their story went in a totally different direction; their character wrote 3 letters but one was to a famous person asking for help. I was even able to weave in some cultural facts about Barcelona and El Parque Güell (another teaching moment!). When we came to the 3rd task on Fear Factory, they suggested that "Juan" eat something. That was when I pulled out the octopus and this time the student in the role said yes, much to the delight of the other students. I popped open the lid and 'whew....', canned octopus has quite a strong smell. "Juan" tried it but didn't swallow it - which of course meant he didn't win the money in
the class story.

Others wanted to try the octopus so I obliged. In fact, I even ate some octopus for the first time. I can assure you my students will not forget that "pulpo" means "octopus". As they retold the story, I noticed significant improvement on their use of the different tenses and their overall grammar - sound evidence that TPRS helps even level 4.

Here is the story from Spanish 1:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Props - Students Love Them

I planned to present Episodio 10 of Cuentos de Ensalada in today's class. So, before school ended yesterday, i sent an e-mail to our high school staff asking if anyone had a surgical cap and mask that I could use in my class. I procrastinated by waiting until the day before, but I thought I'd give it a try. One teacher came through with flying colors! She has a relative that works in the operating room and she brought a full bag of goodies: a surgical mask, booties, cap, hair covering, and something that also went over the head and covered the back of the neck too; a "bunny suit" (that was new to me); and more.
My original plan was for me to slip on the surgery gear, but after she came in with a full bag of clothing, I thought it would be more interesting for the students if I had a student act out the role of the doctor and the nurse. I chose a female student to play the doctor and for the nurse, a guy volunteered. All the students enjoyed it and they begged to take a photo of their classmates in their surgery garb. How could I say no? When they're that excited about sharing photos from class, it is a good thing. I'm sure there are several photos on Facebook tonight of the Spanish activity. Great publicity for the Spanish department, right?

So, how do you think our doctor and nurse look?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

TPRS Workshop in Hershey, PA!

I received some good news on Friday! Michelle Kindt, who is a National TPRS Coach and National Board Certified Teacher is hosting a TPRS Workshop on February 25, 2012, at Hershey Middle School, in Hershey, PA. You can find more information on the TPRS workshop on the document below.

The only training I had on the TPRS method was four or five years ago. In 2009, I taught Spanish 1 using TPRS for 1/2 a semester, but was unsure if I was doing the method justice, so I dropped it. (Bad decision - I know.) Then last spring, after talking to our Assistant Superintendent, I was given the approval to pilot a Spanish 1 class using the TPRS method in the fall of 2011. The administrators were very supportive and even purchased a classroom set of the Cuéntame Más workbooks, student readers, and some auxiliaries. But there were no local workshops for me to attend to receive additional instruction on the method.

I met Michelle Kindt, who teaches french at Hershey Middle School, this fall when the five members of our World Languages Dept. went to observe the TPRS teachers at HMS. (Thank you Sherry Nesbitt for arranging this!) The Hershey Middle School teachers did such a fantastic job that the other members of my department quickly recognized the benefits of teaching with TPRS, so much so that two of the members have switched to using TPRS in their classes and the remaining two teachers are willing to use TPRS, but expressed a strong desire to have some instruction on the method.
Enter Michelle Kindt - and comments

we now have a workshop just a few miles down the road where we can learn more about TPRS and improve our teaching skills.

If you know of anyone that may be interested in this workshop, please pass along the information. Maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Using Videos with TPRS - 2

My Spanish 1 students and I have been working on the Cuentos de Ensalada script (and enjoying it) but I decided that we needed something totally different for a few days to change things up a little. I pulled out a another video that I had also used with the Honors Spanish 4 class in the fall. The title of the video is "El Monstruo del Armario". I wanted to save it for Spanish 4, but once again I realized that since I'm using TPRS with my Spanish 1 students, they knew almost all of the vocabulary necessary to understand the initial telling of the story (by me) and for their retelling. In fact, I had to search for words that I could add into the story to increase their vocabulary.

The 3 vocabulary words I chose were: el pasillo, una pesadilla (which I never did work into the story), and enciende. Now that the lesson is finished, I wish I would have taken an extra day to also work with the following vocabulary: se acuesta, se acerca, and una cuerda.

Here is an outline of my lesson. I have 70-minute class periods and I started the lesson during the 2nd half of the period one day and continued it into the following day for 2/3 of the class. (If you haven't watched the video yet, then I suggest that you do so I don't ruin the ending for you in my description of the lesson. It's less than 3 minutes; suitable for secondary students.)

1. Write focus words on the board, translate them, PQA: el pasillo, una pesadilla, enciende. This was a perfect chance to include a lot of conversation when we talked about the different pesadillas that the students had when they were younger.

2. I told the story, reviewing after each new statement, and asking for their input but I "guided" them to give the answer I was looking for.
Review the story with class retell and partner retells.

3. Show the video until 2:33, which is when the dad opens the wardrobe doors. Ask students to guess what he sees in the wardrobe. I had some great guesses - even "Eduardo, el elefante" that always seems to pop up in stories from time to time was one of the guesses. NOBODY guessed the right answer even though I kept telling them that it is a Spanish word that they know.

4. Then I continued the video until 2:37, stopping it as soon as the students saw the boy in the closet but before they see what is happening behind the dad.

5. I distributed the paper that is embedded below. Students worked in groups of 2 to write 11 sentences on the part of the video that they saw. It seemed the only problem with writing that the students had was that I didn't provide enough lines - they were able to saw more than 11 sentences!

Then after the 2nd photo on the paper, they had to write 4 sentences to describe what they thought happened next.

6. Students read their last 4 sentences aloud and other students translated them to English.

7. Finally, I showed them the last few seconds of the video.

8. For the last activity, I used a collage of the shots from the video, but this time instead of me saying a sentence and the students naming the number to which it pertains, the students said the sentences and then their classmates said which picture frame was described.

Or, here is a link of the same photo collage but only photos 1-9 so you can review the events up to the boy in the closet without the students seeing the last several photos.

Click HERE for @kplacido (Kristy Placido) script for the Monstruo del Armario reading

This morning I looked over the sentences that the students wrote on the worksheet and with just a few days until the end of the semester, I can clearly see the benefits of TPRS in their writing skills. Obviously with this story there isn't much need to use the verbs in anything other than the 3rd person singular, but the students' overall writing impressed me. It gives me assurance that they're adequately prepared to move onto Spanish 2 (but oh how I'd love to keep them for another few weeks or month!)

I may make some Cloze activities for them to do on Monday or make an audio recording with Quicktime for a listening exercise or, maybe I should just move on to the next chapter of Cuentos de Ensalada.