Monday, April 24, 2017

French Resources for The Vampire and the Dentist

Revisiting a blog post from January 2013
PLNs are the BEST! Today Elisabeth Hayles contacted me and shared the documents that she made to use in her French classes based on the short film of the Dentist and the Vampire. (See my original blog on this video from January 2013 HERE. As you can see in the title on the right it was so long ago that I titled the post "short films" instead of what it is now referred to as "MovieTalk".) The best part is that Elisabeth is graciously permitting me to share her documents and her Quizlet activity with all of YOU
Thank you, Elisabeth!!!

And...before I share the links for her materials, you must, must, must check out her blog Mme Hayles and the TPRS Experiment. She's been blogging since 2009, not many world language bloggers can say that. She shares her activities for French class, her students' progress, insights on her own journey, and her takeaways from conferences that she has attended. 

Elisabeth Hayles' FRENCH shared resources:
The first link is to her embedded readings for Le Vampire et la dentiste

The second like is to her activity on Quizlet with the vocabulary for Le Vampire et la dentiste. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Crossword Train

I can personally testify to the power of reading when acquiring a second language. Because of that personal experience, I make every effort to find ways to "sneak" additional reading into my lessons.

Today I tested out one of my last-minute ideas with my students. (Seriously, why do my inspirations happen when there are precious few minutes before class starts? I think my procrastination has crept into my inspiration.) 

The name: I'm calling it "The Crossword Train", for lack of a better name. 

The purpose: It requires students to read clues, in the target language, in order to complete their crossword puzzle. about a story, a news article, a few chapters in a book, etc. which they have previously read. 

Prep work: 
1 - Create a crossword puzzle related to material the students have read in the Target Language. The material can be a news article, a class story or parallel story, a legend, a few chapters of a book, etc. One of my favorite free, online crossword puzzle makers is Armored Penguin

2 - Create a pdf of the crossword puzzle and an answer sheet. If the print is small, enlarge the clues and the crossword puzzle when you make copies so students are not straining to see small print. (This can be done on the copier, but I find it quicker to take a screen shot of the crossword puzzle only and a screen shot of the clues, and then print the screen shots.)

3 - For each crossword puzzle you copy, make two copies of the clues. Tape or staple the enlarged crossword puzzle to the clues, and leave the second copy of the clues as is.

How to play:
1. Students work in teams of 3. (Ideas on how to change this for groups of 4 or more are at the end of the post.) Students arrange their chairs so student A is the line leader; student B is seated behind student A, and student C is seated behind student B. (see diagram at beginning of post)

2. Student A has the crossword puzzle AND clues. Student B has the clues only. Student C has nothing.

3. The teacher is the timer, or if there is a student that wants this job, by all means, let them help you!

4. Choose an interval of time; I used 30 seconds but it can be longer, depending on the difficulty of the clues.

5. Start the time. Student #1 reads the clues and is permitted to write the answer to ONLY 1 of the crossword clues. While student A is doing this, student B is reading the paper with the clues only so when the time is up, he is prepared to write an answer on the crossword puzzle when it is passed to him. Student C is taking a 30-second break. (Hey - we all need a breather from time to time and 30 seconds goes by quickly.)

6. At the end of the designated time, student B passes the clues only back to student C so student C can begin reading the clues and preparing to fill in the crossword puzzle when it is handed to him. Student A passes the crossword and clues to student B. Student B now has 30 seconds to fill in the answer of ONE of the clues. 

7. Play continues until the teacher ends the activity or until one of the teams completes the entire crossword puzzle. I opted for the first choice.

So what did this activity accomplish?
- The students read in the target language.
- It was a review of the material we had previously read.
- Helps the teacher to quickly see if students understood the reading - both on the crossword clues and the original text.
- It required teamwork (building classroom communities) to complete the crossword puzzle.
- It was a novel way to do something that's been around for ages. In other words, mixing it up and providing the "novelty" that, as Carol Gaab says, "Brains crave novelty".

Optional ways to play:
- Instead of having one student taking a break, cut the crossword puzzle clues
apart - one paper with the horizontal clues, the other for the vertical clues. 
- Students play in groups of 4. Instead of one larger crossword puzzle, make 2 smaller crossword puzzles. Put the chairs in a circle but not facing inward. Two students have the clues only while 2 students have the two separate crossword puzzles.
- Give each student a different colored marker or pencil to easily see which students answered which clues.

La Virgen de Guadalupe
I used Bryce Hedstrom's document on La Virgen de Guadalupe for this activity. You can find the free document (thank you Bryce) HERE. Click on his name in the previous sentence to find his website and a pile of free materials as well as other interesting reads. 

For additional lesson ideas related to La Virgen de Guadalupe, check out this post from December 2015. 

Click HERE (crossword) and HERE (clues) for the documents I used in class. There are some clues that I want to change for the next time I do this activity (in the fall); a byproduct of typing the clues at the last minute.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Spanish Commands and Cooking

Hypothesis: Connecting cooking to subject matter will increase student interest in a larger percentage of students than teaching the subject matter without the cooking component.

It's not scientific, but after "testing" my hypothesis, I can confidently say that there is a measurable difference in student interest and attention when cooking is integrated into lessons.

A few weeks ago, I planned two consecutive days of lessons that included preparing food.  

Lesson 1
On the first day, I asked for two student volunteers and they became the chefs for the lesson.  Their task was to follow their classmates' verbal instructions in Spanish on how to cook eggs. 

The materials that I brought to school were: two heating units, 4-6 eggs per class, salt, pepper, spatulas, mixing bowls, utensils, paper plates, Pam vegetable spray, aprons, and chef's hats.  

The students gave them step by step instructions and the "chefs" followed their instructions and then the chefs decided to whom the eggs were given.

Lesson 2
The following day, I distributed a paper to the students in which they had to work with a partner to write instructions on how to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. (All students wrote the instructions and they decided which one to hand in - usually the one with the best handwriting.) Different students took turns reading the instructions to me and I followed the instructions e-x-a-c-t-l-y. 

I've been doing this lesson for years and it is a guaranteed fun activity to do in the target language. When I instruct the students to be specific when writing the instructions and not to forget any steps, many of them don't understand the degree of "specific". If they wrote "put the peanut butter on the bread", but their instructions don't include to use a knife to take the peanut butter OUT of the jar, I simply put the jar of peanut butter on the bread. Am I being difficult? Yes, but that results in increased interest on the students' part to listen to the instructions and realize what will happen when I follow the instructions exactly as written, AND when I have their complete attention, I am able to provide more repetitions of comprehensible input of commands, in context!

This semester, the student interest in the PBJ activity was kicked up a few notches due to James Crummel's visit to our class.  James, an anchorman and reporter, and Justin Raub, a photo journalist, from ABC 27 News, came to our classroom to film the activity and to interview the students about Spanish class.

Click HERE to see the news segment which aired 3x on the morning news yesterday if the embedded movie below does not work. The students did an awesome job and had fun watching the video in class.

Of course, after class, we took time to take a selfie with James and Justin.  A special thanks to the talented selfie photographer, Jazmyn!

As teachers, our first responsibility is to provide our students with the best instruction that we know.  Another responsibility, in my opinion, is to share what we are doing with the parents and people in our community to show them the great things happening in the public and private schools!!!!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The MANDATO Challenge: Spanish Commands

Have you ever thought of how often you hear commands throughout your day or how often you say a command? It has to be one of the most used features of a language.

The language of mothers and fathers, especially those with young children, are packed with commands. Are you a fan of cooking shows or DIY shows? Think of the amount of commands you hear during those programs. 

Likewise, teachers' days are full of commands as they instruct their students and give directions.  I doubt teachers realize how often they say a command.

Last semester, I wanted to make my Spanish students aware of how often they hear commands during the class period, so I proposed a simple listening competition. When I say a command in Spanish, I will listen for the first student to call out Mandato!". Then I write the student's name on the board with a tally mark. 

I am repeating The Mandato Challenge again this semester. I started it two days ago and the tally marks are growing. Interestingly enough, some students that are usually quiet in class, are among the high scorers! In other words, the fact that they're quiet does not mean they aren't listening and acquiring the language, but rather that their comfort zone in the second language classroom looks a little different than the students that want to answer every, single question or even comment on things without a question. (To be clear, I do like having those that are like a fountain of language that doesn't have an off switch in class because they add energy and content to our discussions.)

If I can't discern which person said ¡Mandato! first, it's a draw and nobody receives a tally mark. A new addition to The Mandato Challenge this semester is if I say a command and nobody hears it, which usually happens if I am speaking to only one student or a small group of students, then I receive a point. I've earned a few points, but I predict next week I'll earn a big 'ole goose egg because they are s-h-a-r-p!

Side benefits of The Mandato Challenge
An unexpected benefit to this challenge, is that sometimes to avoid saying a command, I say Quiero que ustedes pongan sus papeles en mi escritorio (I want that you all put your papers on my desk) instead of Pongan sus papeles en mi escritorio (Put your papers on my desk), which provides input of the subjunctive in context at a time they are paying close attention

Eventually students notice that many times the words (verbs) are the same when I say "I want that you..." as when I directly tell them to do something. 
Sometimes when I say a command and one or two, (or sometimes 10 or more), students call out ¡Mandato!, and I add a tally mark, there may be a student that didn't hear it and will ask, "¿Qué dijiste?" (or sometimes they blurt that out in English - we're still in the real world here folks). They asked, so I write what I said on the board for them to see it in print. It's like "pop-up grammar" but they initiate it! Other times after I add a tally mark I'll ask the class to tell me what I just said and then we quickly move on to what we were doing.

It adds energy to class because the students are waiting, listening, ready to shout ¡Mandato! which captures everyone's attention.

If you want to see how this works, give The Mandato Challenge a try in your classroom. Have FUN with it!