Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scratch offs for Back-to-School Night

Scratch-offs waiting for a 2nd coat
I encourage the students to ask their parents to attend Back-to-School night because I enjoy meeting the parents of my students.  This year the parents that come to visit my classroom on Back-to-School night will leave with a (small) reward for their son or daughter.  

This summer on Pinterest I saw and bookmarked a pin on how to make DIY scratch offs and, last week, I decided to make scratch offs for Back-to-School night.  When the parents enter my room, they'll choose a card and then scratch off the silver film to see what their child has won.  The rewards are:
 - homework pass (10 pts or less assignment)
 - choose your assigned seat for 1 class period
 - 2 bonus points on a quiz
 - permission to sit on an orange swivel chair during class
 - Spanish pen
 - Spanish pencil

A surprise reward for their son or daughter is a small way to say thank you to the parents that take the time out of their busy day to come to school to meet their child's teacher.

I have a few ideas of how to use scratch offs with my students later in the year. Please feel free to share any ideas you may have on how to use scratch offs in the classroom.

Directions for making the cards can be found HERE
HERE is a googledoc of the file because several readers have mentioned that they were unable to download it from the file below.
  Below is the file for the cards:

Applying the silver paint

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reading to Spanish students

Earlier this summer I bought the elementary reader "Brandon Brown quiere un perro" from TPRS Publishing, Inc.  Later, I read Carrie Toth's comment, @senoraCMT, that she was going to read it to her high school Spanish classes. I decided to try this with my Spanish 2 students.

On day 2 of the school year, after asking many personalized questions using quieres and tienes, I read chapter 1 to the students two times. The first time I read it, I wrote some of the cognates on the board that they might not recognize by sound but could recognize if they read it, such as horribles. The second time I read it, students sketched something that happened in the chapter. I collected the sketches and used the document camera to show them to the class. Students then had to say 1 sentence for each sketch.

On day 3, I reviewed tiene # años, para su cumpleaños, & ¿Qué regalos recibes...  I asked them their age, compared their ages to other classmates, to other teachers in the school, and to me.  We also talked about what certain people got, or usually get, on their birthday. 

Then I distributed this paper: 
and students wrote "c" or "f" for 1-8, and answered 9-13, while I read Chapter 2 to them. I told them to check their answers with another student before we went over the answers together.

After going over the answers, I asked the students to write a number from 1 to 5 at the top of the paper; 5 indicating that they understood almost everything when I was reading; 4 indicating they understood a lot but there were one or two sketchy spots; and so on, and then they turned in the paper. The majority of the students wrote 4s, 4.5s, and 5s.  There were a few 3s and 3.5s.

Even though the book is below my students' reading abilities, using it as a listening activity enables me to provide a huge amount of comprehensible input while improving their listening skills.

Day 4: Before reading chapter 3, I went over the following words: pasa por, pasa, lleva, and llévatalo. Students sat in groups of 3. I read the chapter, pausing after a paragraph or a few sentences, and in their groups, the students retold what happened in English. Then I chose one of the groups to summarize for the class.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Personalizing from the start with Spanish 4

In the first few days and weeks of my new classes, my goal is to find out the students' abilities and comfort levels with Spanish before building on that foundation.  In Spanish 2 I often have the students sketch something the do well, something they wished they did well, or something they liked.

For Spanish 4, I wanted to have a more personalized format for the questions and answers.  Last Thursday, four days before the first day of school, I individually emailed the students in Spanish 4 and their parents, asking them to send me a photo of something they did this summer, vacations, sports, reunions, short trips, work, crafts, etc.

I checked my email throughout the next few days, but there were no messages with photos.  Finally, on Sunday evening, the photos started trickling in. I put the photos on a PowerPoint presentation, one photo per slide, along with their name.  I started class on Monday projecting the powerpoint and talking about each photo for 10 minutes.  

The benefit to this method was twofold:
1. The students (and I) are learning about their classmates by seeing a glimpse of their lives outside of school.
2. The photos enabled me to make the conversation engaging (because the students were the ones that chose the photos) and comprehensible because the photos were perfect visuals and I could point out different things in the photos as I talked about them.

After two days, we have talked about 8 of the students and their photos and we should be able to complete the other 8 in the next two days. I have a clearer picture of the students' abilities and what they have acquired in previous levels.

  A bonus is that the students see how certain words, the High Frequency Words, keep popping up in normal conversation about the photos and the students' activities during the summer. Some HFW are predictable, but others, such as quedarse (to stay, remain), and acercarse (to approach, to come close to) are surprisingly more common than what the students may have thought.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Technology resources for the World Language classroom

Photo Dice app in iTunes Store
A few months ago I wrote about the Story Dice app. Tonight I learned about another app that is similar called Photo Dice. I downloaded the app and promptly customized the dice with photos stored on my iPad. Imagine how engaged your students will be when they work with you or with each other to create a story with the Photo Dice app when it has photos of them or of people or places that interest them.

 I found this app from Twitter when I saw a tweet by Catherine Ousselin @CatherineKU72.  She has an amazing tech site, found HERE, for World Language teachers with iOS Apps, Recording Tools, Backchanneling/discussion tools, Digital Storytelling/Presenting Tools, and so much more.  You'll definitely want to bookmark her website so you can find these resources when you need them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back in the swing of things with a New Syllabus

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After an enjoyable long summer break that included an extended family vacation, helping to chaperon a student group on a 13-day trip to Europe, and attending NTPRS13 in Dallas, I am gearing up for a new school year. My students start school on Monday, August 26, but I feel like I'm already back at work because I've been at school several days for the last few weeks helping to interview Spanish teacher applicants, staff meetings for department chair and department day meetings, moving my classroom things and the new teacher's things to new rooms, and prepping my classroom for the new school year.

Even though I haven't written on this blog since school ended, I have continued reading other blogs and gleaning ideas from them.  After I saw the results of the Creative Classroom Blog's Syllabus challenge, and after reading Martina Bex's post on her new syllabus,  I knew I had to up my game and revise my syllabus.  

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After investing more hours than I care to admit, I completed my syllabus last night.  A special thank you to Martina Bex for the Student/Teacher Responsibilities section, to Inga Templeton for the Advanced, Proficiency, etc. section, and to my daughter for posing for the texting photo on the last page. 

Click here for access to the syllabus.