Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First day of class - Spanish 2

Today is the first day of the second semester.  I have three Spanish 2 classes and one Spanish 5 class.  I looked at my list of students for Spanish 2 and then checked to see which students had Spanish 1 last semester.  One of the classes most of the students had Spanish 1 last semester, and the other classes it's about half and half.

When I wrote my lesson plans for the first Spanish 2 class of the semester, I considered telling/asking a story with the class to review some of the words they learned last semester in the present tense. (Our department as a whole is fairly new to the TPRS method so in our level 1 classes we focus on teaching the present tense.)  But then I decided that I wanted to dive right into stories with the past tense.  After all, if I limit the vocabulary and keep the lesson comprehensible, it shouldn't matter what tense I use.

I decided on the words s/he wanted, there was/there were, and s/he went.

1. I handed out paper and told the students to write their name on the top in bold letters.  They drew a line in the middle of the paper and then on the left side drew something they wanted for Christmas last year, and on the right they drew somewhere they went during Christmas last year.

2. They copied the Spanish words quería, había, and fue into their journals and then I wrote the meanings in English for each of the words.  (I also added estornudó = s/he sneezed because I needed it for the end of the story.)

3.  I chose a student's paper and talked about what the person wanted for Christmas.  Since it was the first class, I keep reminding myself to go slowly; to pause and point at the words on the board; to point at the drawing; and to write any "out of bound" words on the boardAfter yes/no and either/or questions and short answer questions, I turned to the student that drew the sketch and asked them, "Ana, ¿querías tú una cámara para Navidad?"  I did pop-up grammar on why there was an "s" at the end. Then I chose another student's sketch and continued the PQA, eventually moving on to where the students went during Christmas vacation.  This is a variation of what Ben Slavic does (or was it Bryce) on the first few days of class to get to know the students.

4.  Since many of the students did not have me as a teacher for Spanish 1, I needed to teach them to give me the signal when they didn't understand something.  I use the signal of passing your hand over the top of your head.  During my comprehension checks, when I asked "What did I just say?", or "Raise your hand if you know what I just asked Ana", if every student didn't have their hand up, I said the sentence again and reminded anyone that didn't know to do the "I don't know that word/phrase" motion.  "Slow Slow Slow" is what I kept repeating to myself to keep from moving beyond comprehension.

5.  We had a break in the middle to stand up and do some TPR to get the students up and moving.  

6.  Then we started the story.  My skeleton of the story was someone wanted something, went somewhere, but there wasn't any of what he wanted there.  The students added the details of the name of the person, what the person wanted, and the 3 places the person went.

7.  I could have used another 10-15 minutes in class because I really wanted to have the students sketch it on the board, but we didn't have time for that.

8.  I wrote the story on the board and the students copied it into their journals.  We read it in English sentence by sentence on the board.  Then I projected on the board the story about Dan that I had written.  We read that in English together too.

9.  I distributed the story about Dan and their homework is to read the story to their parents tonight.

10.  For the second period, one of my service learning students (a senior that comes to my class every other day to help), sketched the class story on the iPad with the Educreations app.  I recorded the story and attached that to Edmodo for the students to access.  It is embedded below.

11.  I also remembered to give one student in the class a list of the 3 main structures and asked them to make a tally mark each time I said it.  (The totals were:  Period 1 - había 28; quería 84; fue 63; Period 2 - había 38; quer ía 71; fue 83).  This is helpful information for me and reminds me how often we need to hear a new word before it is acquired.


As a side note, two students that were in my Spanish 1 pilot TPRS class fall 2011 suggested the name "Edgardo", which was a character that appeared in many of our Spanish 1 stories - but "Edgardo" was an elephant.  Funny how one name or object sticks and appears in many of the stories for a particular class.


  1. A reader had left a comment above, but was not identified by Blogger or Google; the reader was labeled as "Unknown".Therefore, Ihave removed the comment.

    If the reader would like the comment published, I welcome you to resubmit it after you sign into Google or add your full name at the end of the comment. I know it can be somewhat daunting for someone to comment on others' blogs to leave his/her name as opposed to being anonymous, but the benefits with cboth parties knowing to whom they are addressing or responding, GREATLY outweigh any risks that you may feel are associated with it. :-)

    It was a comment that others may benefit from reading so I encourage you to resubmit it.

  2. Let me try again. I thought I successfully submitted. I like the spirit of the assignment, but two groups of kids are immediately shut out. If there is any chance that you have Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or any non-Christian students in your class, this is a rough way to start the school year. On day one, you've let them know they don't fit in, unable to complete the "Christmas" assignment. Most will awkwardly play along. I spent years completing Christmas assignments, and teachers always thought I didn't mind (or thinking their side comment to those who don't celebrate xmas made it better). It really did bother me since there are so many other questions that could be asked.

    I stopped asking questions about "where did you go during vacation" because poorer students often don't go anywhere. The longer I taught the more I noticed the discomfort around this question when student after student described vacations and one or two stumbled through explanations about why they didn't go anywhere.

    I'm not suggesting to never ask questions b/c someone might be left out, but these seem like two whoppers for the first day of class, when you don't yet know your students.

  3. You can just change it from Christmas to something else if you wish, great idea!!

  4. You can just change it from Christmas to something else if you wish, great idea!!

  5. HOLA! What great ideas you have. Thank you so much for the generoisty.
    Could you please email me the power point for subjunctive and Christmas.

    Do you have a drive by any chance that you share resources on?