Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sr. Wooly Skype - YES!!!

Yes - that's Sr. Wooly himself in a virtual visit to our classroom!
My students LOVE Sr. Wooly songs. They LOVE Sr. Wooly. In fact, at times I suspect they wish he were their Spanish teacher. So, I wanted to do something special for the students in relation to Sr. Wooly.

Last fall I contacted Sr. Wooly about the possibility of skyping with my Spanish 4+ class.  At the time he was busy working on upgrading his website and adding lots of cool features and in the following months, he was diligently working on filming and editing "Ya Está Muerto", which was released in January 2016. (Seriously, if you haven't seen it yet, you need to subscribe to his website and check it out, along with many other songs and activities available on his site, even a video game that I haven't tried out yet.) He is one busy man, but he told me to ask him again a few weeks into the new year.

Front row seat for asking questions to Sr. Wooly
After exchanging a few more emails and dealing with a little glitch of my school blocking Google Hangout, we agreed to have a Skype session on April 6. The students prepared for the Skype session by writing several questions in English and Spanish that they wanted to know about Sr. Wooly and his songs.

When the students arrived on April 6, I had the computer hooked up to the smart board and chairs placed in an arc so he could view the entire class.  At 11:10, on the dot, we received his Skype call and the fun started.

Students asked which was his favorite video, which was the hardest video to make, why he wanted to be a Spanish teacher, if he misses teaching, what
That's a BIG personality on a little screen.
inspires his songs, future plans, etc. One student even asked why I'm not in any of his videos and I promise you, I had nothing to do with that question.  

I wanted to make sure en ended our session at the agreed upon time. Sr. Wooly said later, in an email, that if we would have had more time he would have sung a song for the students. Wow, can you imagine how the students would have reacted to that!?!

There are two other Spanish teachers at my school and both were able to stop in for a little and listen to the conversation.

I owe a big THANK YOU to Sr. Wooly. That's one Spanish class my students will not forget.  

What's my problem? - A question game for MFL classrooms

Are your students creative? Can they think outside of the box?  I mean, r-e-a-l-l-y far outside of the box? If yes, the following activity will be fitting for them. If no, this activity may be what they need to help them tap into their creativity.

You could use these as a brain break for a week or use it when you have a few minutes at the end of the class.

 Step 1: The teacher writes a problem that an imaginary person has. Oh, did I forget to mention above that the teacher ALSO has to be creative to come up with a good "problem"? If you think you're not in that category, I'll share a few of the problems that I used with my students below:

- I think I'm a bat.
- I only eat my cereal with mayonnaise on it.
- I think (choose a famous person) is my sister.
- My teeth are made of chalk.
- I'm afraid of shoes.
- A tiny person lives in my cookie jar.
- I can smell colors.

 Step 2: A student pulls one of the cards and takes on that problem.  I allowed the students to do this with a partner so they both are answering questions.

Step 3: The students ask Yes/No questions in the TL to attempt to find out the problem.

I did this activity with my Spanish 4+ this week as a trial run to see how well it would work. The longer they played, the better they were able to think outside of the box and ask some quite interesting questions.  In fact, some of the questions they asked when determining the problem, I will use the next time I use this with students.  

Update - 1 yr later: French teachers, check out Steve Smith's blog HERE post for his variation of this game, but using sticky notes. Also, he has some ideas in French ready to use!      

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Autorretratos inspired by Frida Kahlo novel

A few weeks ago my Spanish 4 class finished reading Kristy Placido's novel, "Frida Kahlo".  I'm a fan of fiction novels for my students, but when I heard Kristy had written a non-fiction novel on Frida Kahlo for Spanish students, I quickly started making plans to add the novel to our curriculum.  

The book is solid, packed with information about Frida Kahlo and her journey to become an artist and the challenges she faced throughout her life.  I was a fan of Frida Kahlo before we read the book, and I'm even more of a fan now.

Due to my schedule becoming busier than I had anticipated (as happens often), some of the extended activities for the novel that I had brainstormed didn't take form. However, the one activity that I was looking forward to doing was the autorretratos activity listed on Kristy's blog HERE. Check it out!!! I followed her instructions (how great is it when you find something useful for class that someone else has already designed and shared) for printing the pictures and the students spent part of a class period letting their inner artist soar.

After they were finished, I put their artwork in a sheet protector sleeve and displayed their autorretratos in the bulletin board in the hallway for other students to enjoy.