Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bulletin Board - Why Learn a Second Language

As World Language teachers, part of our responsibility is to educate others about the benefits of learning a second language.  I have a Pinterest board on which I store articles about language learning and developing proficiency.  I imagine that the majority of language teachers have read similar articles.  But, what have we done to share that information with the population outside of the World Language teaching profession?

This week we had our second Back-To-School Night because students started a new semester and new classes in January.  This is also the time of year when students, and their parents, are scheduling their courses for the next school year.  

To promote our program and educate others about the benefits of learning a second language, I decided to create a display on the bulletin board in our hallway. First I contacted students that have graduated from our school and asked them to send me a statement in what ways they have already benefited from being able to communicate in Spanish, whether it is in college, a job they have while going through college, travel experiences, or how they are using Spanish in their career since graduating from college.  My Spanish 5 students also wanted to contribute, so on a small white marker board, they explained why they have continued through level 5.  Then I took photos of them holding their whiteboards and added those photos to the bulletin board.

I could have added more information and statistics, but this time I focused on individuals and the benefits each of them has experienced.  Do you have any ideas for something I could add to the present board? 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sketches with High Frequency Words in the Past Tense

Storytelling doesn't always have to encompass the full story. In fact, today in class, the students and I created a lot of stories, but it was only the first part of the story.  The beauty in telling only the first part of the story is that it allows a large number of repetitions of the same verbs and there is no time for the story to become boring.

I wanted to recycle the new words (había-there was, quería-s/he wanted, fue-s/he went, and estaba-s/he was) from last week, and introduce a few new words: se llamaba - his/her name was; no tenía=s/he didn't have; and, (no) encontró = s/he found/didn't find.

1. I greeted the students at the door and gave them a quarter slip of paper.  The instructions on the board told them to number the paper 1-4 and write the following:  
                1- the name of a person
                2- what someone wanted
                3- a place
                4- an emotion
When finished, the students put the papers in a basket.

2. We read the story we created last week about the person in the movie theater, (see this post), to review.  Then I distributed several short stories from previous years with the above words and we read them together.  We also watched a short story that I had made into a video with Educreations using the same words.

3. I projected a paper with 9 squares onto the board. Then I randomly pulled a paper out of the basket to find a name of the person.  (There was a boy whose names was Elmo) and I sketched a person in the first square.  Then I pulled another paper to find what the person wanted. (Elmo wanted a dog. He had a cat and two rabbits but he didn't have a dog.) The extra information about the animals that Elmo did have are another opportunity for more comprehensible input and reps.

4. I continued the above to find TO WHERE the person went.  Students told me if the person found or didn't find the item (if the person found it I circled it and if the person didn't find it I put an X over the sketch). The final frame shows how the person felt.  To find the emotion, I pulled another paper and used the emotion that was listed.

This was an easy way to provide repetitions and model the activity.  It kept the students' attention because they didn't know if I would pick their paper, and they wanted to see if I could somewhat sketch something that resembled the information on the slips of paper.

5. To change the pace, I then gave each student a half sheet of paper with 3 boxes.  They had to sketch a person, what the person wanted, to where the person went, indicate with a circle or X if the person found the item, and sketch the person's emotion in the last square.

6. Students put their sketches in a basket and then I assigned a student to randomly choose the sketches. We put them under a document camera and created the story together.  I said most of the story but paused and pointed to the sketch for them to supply the necessary word(s).

Example - the underlined words are what I pointed to and students gave the answers:
1st square: Había un chico que se llamaba Antonio.  Antonio quería unas hamburguesas.  No tenía hamburguesas en su casa.  Tenía helado y tenía avocados pero no tenía hamburguesas.  
2nd square: Antonio fue al supermercado. Pero no había hamburguesas en el supermercado.  Había pescado y había chicle, pero no había hamburguesas.  Antonio no encontró hamburguesas en el supermercado. 
3rd square: Antonio estaba triste porque quería unas hamburguesas pero no las encontró en el supermercado 

Tomorrow we'll continue with more of the student sketches.  When we find a sketch that all the students seem particularly interested in, I'll use that one to create a full story.  

With only a few words, there are a lot of stories that are waiting to be created .

Monday, February 16, 2015

Storyline with Gerunds and Prepositions of Place

Below is a storyline idea to review or introduce prepositions of place or gerunds. 

Most of my students have learned the basic prepositions of place in Spanish 1, so this story, that I use in Spanish 2, reviews those prepositions as well as allows for several repetitions of gerunds. 

The storyline is about a person that went to the movie theater.  It was crowded and there was only one empty seat. He sat down and started watching the movie, but there were many distractions throughout the movie.

Ask the students to give suggestions for what the people to the left of, to the right of, in front of, and behind the person were doing.  Some of the ideas from my students last week were:
- la persona detrás de él estaba pateando su silla  
     (was kicking his seat)
- la persona delante de él estaba tócandose su bigote largo
     (was touching his long moustache)
- la persona a la izquierda de él estaba llorando
     (was crying)
- la persona a la derecha de él estaba durmiendo (y estaba roncando)
     (was sleeping and was snoring)
After we worked with this story, we watched episode #3 of BBC's Mi Vida Loca which just happens to be the episode in which Merche gives directions. (When I use series such as that, my goal is always to do more than have the student simply watch it.  We have a limited number of hours with the students and we need to be good stewards of that time, always striving to follow best practices and most effectively use the time we have in class.) Also, because Friday was one day before Valentine's Day, we ended the class watching Sr. Wooly's song "Billy y las botas", a love story, of course, between Billy and las botas, which has the lyrics "estaba caminando" and "estaba nevando".  It's almost as if I planned that. 

In previous semesters I had students act out the actions, but I didn't do that this time.  I have to admit, there was something missing without the actors.  My suggestion, add the actors whenever possible!  

One last note:
Shout out to @nellyhug (Nelly Hughes) for feedback at a moment's notice. :-)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Student Artists + Notability App = More CI Reps

I am guilty of not utilizing student artists in my class as I should.  However, this semester I am hoping to change that. This week I remembered to ask a student to sketch the story as we were creating a story resulting in the following:

Both of the stories above follow the storyline of the story I wrote before the class.  The structures are the same as my story, but the students' story has different details. You can access the story HERE in present and past tense.

I had the students use my iPad and the Notability app.  I used to have students use the Educreations app for sketches, but Notability is more user friendly, both when sketching and when moving the sketches to paper.

Providing students the opportunity to contribute to the class with their sketches has several advantages:

1. The student artist, and many times, the students seated near the artist, are undeniably focused on the story because the artist is charged with sketching the details as we develop the story, requiring him/her to pay close attention and neighboring students to provide help when needed.

2.  After the class story is completed, I project the sketches and I retell the story and circle the information and the answers.  The students are interested in seeing their classmate's artwork so they're focused on the story once again.

3. After class, it's easy to transfer the sketches to paper.  I make copies for the students and give it to them the following day for additional review.

(4) This is another opportunity to showcase the students' artistic talents.

Reps, reps, and more reps.  

Additional ideas for the copies of the storyboard sketches:

- Students use the sketches to retell the story.
- Cut the paper so there is one sketch on each square of paper.  Place the sketches face down. Turn them over one at a time, telling the part of the picture that relates to the sketch. Put in order as sketches are turned over.
- Chose X number of sketches and create a NEW story using the target structures for the original story.
- Teacher says a statement and students point to the sketch it describes.