Friday, August 29, 2014

Brain Break Balloons

My new Brain Break Balloons! bulletin board needs a few more balloons and it will be ready to go next week.  I have 70 minute classes and when students are listening to the target language for 90%+ of the class period, their brains definitely need a break. 

I searched Pinterest and other places on the web for ideas for brain breaks.  Then I wrote the brain break activity on a piece of paper and put it inside the balloon before I blew up the balloon.  I stapled the very end of the balloons to the bulletin board.  When my students need a brain break, I'll choose a student to pop a balloon, and the activity listed on the slip of paper inside the balloon will be our brain break activity.

There are a mixture of activities in the target language (such as listening to a Sr. Wooly song) and other activities that aren't in Spanish.  After all, it is a Brain Break, so maybe a break from the language is the route I should take.   

UPDATEMartina Bex wrote a post about the science behind Brain Breaks PLUS she made a document of a list of brain breaks which you can download, for FREE!, from TPT. 
- Click HERE for Martina's explanation of the science of Brain Breaks.
- Click HERE for Martina's Brain Break ideas document on TPT. (She also has a large collection of lessons, cultural readings, games, and other useful materials at TPT, so check those out also.)

Some of the activities in the balloons are:  
- watch one of Sr. Wooly's videos
- Simón dice (Simon says)
- Stand up, arms outstretched, palms facing outward, move left hand back and forth and move right hand up and down at the same time; then switch;
- Sing "Los Pollitos Dicen" w/out lyrics: w/ lyrics: 
- Bolsa Fea - 3 words 
- 5 a Day Hula  
- Teacher chooses a photo from this blog post and students work with partner or small group to create the best caption (in TL or English, may depend on level)
- hokey pokey led by student
- jumping jacks
- Akinator app (1 time)
- Athlete Quotes - read one of the quotes on this site and give the students three choices of which person said it
- Write a statement on the board, such as "My favorite dessert is_____"; the teacher reads the statement and fills in the blank then tosses a bean bag to a student and the student says the statement, tosses bag to another student, etc.
- there are others, but I can't think of them now. I guess I'll have to wait until the students break that balloon to add it to the list.

Newest update: Did you see the "Go Find Momo" photos?  Today Meg Villanueva posted THIS LINK on Facebook, or go directly to the site at . If you want to use the TL, ask students to say where the dog is in the TL, ex: on the left (a la izquierda), etc

Sunday, August 24, 2014

CI Teachers & the Parent Question "What should my child study?"

How often has a parent asked you "What should my son/daughter study?" or "Can you give my child a study guide for the quiz or test?" If you are a teacher that uses Comprehensible Input and has discarded the long vocabulary list and grammar worksheets, this question can stop you in your tracks.  If you are teaching for true acquisition, "studying" for a quiz, is not what you want your students to do.  In fact, the majority of the quizzes students take in my class are unannounced, in part, to prevent the last minute cramming and memorization practice before a quiz that students have been conditioned to do. 

A few days ago I was at a Tri-State TCI gathering of world language teachers in Pennsylvania and one teacher asked how we respond to those parent questions.  When a parent asks me this question, I respond with "read the class stories and transcripts in his/her Class Stories folder". 

What is a Class Stories folder? It is a pocket folder with 3 prongs that I distribute to the students at the beginning of the semester in which the students put typed copies of the class stories we create in class.

What are class stories and how are they created? Approximately two times per week, I introduce 3 new vocabulary and grammar structures (I call them focus words) through storytelling. Before class, I type a story that includes those focus words.
To begin class, I list the Spanish words and English translations on the board, ask personalized questions using the words (PQA), and then weave those words and structures into a story.  (There are other methods I use to introduce the words such as powerpoints and songs.) The students help to create the story by giving details such as names, places, items, etc.  The students hear many repetitions of the focus words in the form of yes/no, either/or, and short answer questions. In addition, we may sketch the story, order the events, create a parallel story with a class member or various other methods to focus on meaning while receiving multiple repetitions of the structures.  

When do students read the stories? If time allows at the end of the class, I project my pre-written typed story that uses the same focus words and we read the story, accompanied with more questions and comprehension checks.

After class, I type the class version of the story and add it on the same paper as my original story and print copies for the students. 

Note: During class, a student is assigned the job to write what happens in the story (it's their choice to write in English or Spanish).  I use the student's notes to refresh my memory when I type the story.

The following day, I distribute the paper with the class story, my original story, and any other story from other classes at the same level. I read the story in Spanish as written and students respond by reading it in English as a class, in small groups, or with partners.  Students also read my original story and the other class's story. 

What are the uses for the class stories?  
1. STUDY GUIDE: At the top of the paper for each story I type:
     Español 2 - (date) - (period) - Bold type for the Spanish focus words followed by the English translations. This serves as their "study guides" because it has the vocabulary/grammar structures at the top, the meanings, and the focus words used in context in the stories.

Students also have the option to make their own digital flash cards, such as Quizlet, if they still feel they need to "study" vocabulary.

2. STUDENT REVIEW & SELF-ASSESSMENT: The student can "study" by reading the stories in English.  If they find a word they do not immediately recognize, and do not know the meaning even when it is used in context, their job is to circle or highlight it and ask me the following day.

3. HOMEWORK: Many times the students' homework is to read the class or original story to their parent in English and then the parent must sign to verify that the student read to them.

4. QUIZZES: On occasion I use a story exactly as it is written in the Class Stories folder as an unannounced quiz.  I remove the top section with the focus words, and chose 10-15 words in the class story, put a (#) in front of the word and put it in bold print, and students write the English meaning on the answer sheet.  Students consistently do well on this type of quiz, even when I write yet another story with the same focus words in a totally different story.

5. WARM-UP: As students receive typed copies of the class and original stories, they put them in their folders. I use different colors for the stories to make them easier to find in their folders.  The students sit in groups of 2 or 3 and for 3 minutes, one person chooses a story to read and reads it in English as the others in their group follow along.  After 3 minutes, the second person reads, and so forth.

The Stories Folder grows quickly.  If I introduce new structures for stories at least 2 times a week, in 5 weeks they will have 30 stories to read: 10 original stories by me, 10 stories from their class, and 10 stories from the other (Spanish 2) class.  

Additional stories: 
- I add and copy some really creative stories from previous years for even more stories for their collection.  
- Each time I do MovieTalk with the class, I follow it up with a transcript of the movie story and that paper also goes into their Class Stories folder.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Novels for Spanish 1 through Spanish 5

At my school district, we stress the importance of reading in the target language with our students.  In each level of Spanish, from the introductory course at the middle school, to level 5 at the high school, we read novels with our students. In Spanish 1 through Spanish 5, we read a minimum of 2 novels.  In levels 4 and 5, students are also required to read a novel on their own (outside the class time) per marking period, for a total of 2 additional books per level.

Several teachers have asked what novels others read with their students.  The purpose of this post is to share what we've found to work at our school.  As we constantly review our curriculum and our students' needs, we sometimes need to make changes and adjustments at which level the books are read.  Also, with the growing number of writers publishing new books, the choices are even greater and sometimes we find a new book is a better fit with our curriculum. In order words, our curriculum is a living, changing documents; an aspect I appreciate!

Also, please note that there is a variety of authors represented in the books.  I believe the students benefit from the different writing styles of each author and I look forward to even more new authors publishing books in the future. (Ahem - maybe that will be YOU!)
We are working on updating our Spanish 1 curriculum and during that process we will decide which two books ALL Spanish 1 teachers will read with their students.

Under the photos of the Spanish 2 books, I listed (some of) the major themes in each book.  Our "units" are built around the books and the themes/subjects. 
There may be changes in level 3 when we update our curriculum.

Last year I read Esperanza with my Spanish 4 class. The publisher of "Esperanza" lists the book as a level 1 book, but it also easily fits into higher levels because:
1) It can be very beneficial for students to read a book that is "below their level". I like to begin the semester with a book that all students feel successful when reading it.
2) This book deals with immigration and Spanish 4 students are better equipped linguistically to hold meaningful discussions in Spanish regarding this issue.
We did not read La Hija del Sastre in Spanish 4 last year, but we will be reading it in both Sp4 and Sp5 this school year.

Last year I had a mixed Spanish 4 and Spanish 5 class. Since the Spanish 5 students had already read the Spanish 4 novels, I read La Guerra Sucia which we usually read in Spanish 5, and added Felipe Alou and La Calaca Alegre.  

This year, some of the students now in Spanish 5 that were in the mixed Spanish 4/5 class last year, have already the Spanish 5 novels, but since I piloted a book last year in Spanish 5, we didn't read La Hija del Sastre (as we usually do in Spanish 4).  My plan is for the Spanish 5 students to read La Hija del Sastre and La Llorona, along with other legends and short stories, (i.e. Chac Mool, La Conciencia, Cartas de amor traicionado),  so as not to repeat the books they have read before.  

The above books and teacher's guides can be purchased at the following:
I recommend visiting these sites to discover other books available to use with your students. 

There are so many great books not listed above that I would love to read with my students, but the limited time does not allow me to do that.  My dream is to have a Spanish reading club, but...somehow I doubt that would attract a crowd. :-)

Please note: In my school district, each Spanish level consists of 90 days of 70 minute classes.  Final exam days, interruptions and short or missed classes due to state testing, weather delays, and assemblies, are included in those 90 days.  The reason I mention that is to make you aware that when students complete Spanish 5, they actually have LESS hours of instruction in the classroom than most students, at other schools that finish Spanish 4, with 4x4 block schedules or the traditional schedules.  In reality, our level 5 is level 4, our level 4 is level 3, etc. Our level 5 is NOT an AP class.