Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Fun App: TextingStory Chat Story Maker

Get ready for that feeling when you find an app that you immediately think of a boatload of possibilities for using it in your classroom.

I was scrolling through Twitter tonight when I saw a Tweet from Meredith White about the app, TextingStory Chat Story Maker. Less than a minute later I had downloaded the app and was creating a short story to use in class tomorrow for my bell ringer.

I made the video to go with Martina Bex's curriculum, SOMOS 1 Unit 2. I'm enjoying the ease of using the SOMOS curriculum, especially since this is the first time I've taught Spanish 1 since spring of 2012. 

Thank you, Martina (a.k.a. the coolest person I know ❤️ 😊 - right back at'cha)

Have fun using the app!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#89 - 101 Ways to Trick your Students into Reading

Students race to circle the Spanish word
Someday I will write a book titled, "101 Ways to Trick your Students into Reading the Same Text Again" or, at the least, submit a conference session proposal on it. I really don't have 88 other posts on this blog on this subject, but I'm willing to bet I have that many ideas that I've used in my Spanish classes in the last 19 years!

When I create activities or games, I tend to make ones in which students work with a partner or in groups of three to help keep all students engaged. But I changed it up a bit today.

First, I did a MovieTalk of a super short film clip, "El mejor de la clase", with my Spanish 1 students. The instructions and lesson plans are  from Martina Bex's (The Comprehensible Classroom) SOMOS 1 Unit 02 curriculum. In the curriculum Martina included a "basic script" of what happens in the video to guide teachers on how to do a MovieTalk. After completing the MovieTalk, I read the script to my students, while clarifying, sketching, gesturing and asking questions as I read the script.

Then I asked students to tell me 5 words that they still had a question about or were unsure of. Following that, I noticed the students needed some type of movement. I made an on-the-spot decision (what teacher doesn't do that on a regular basis?) to split the class into two groups and play a game similar to Find It. However, instead of working in small groups, I used the script that was projected on the board. I numbered the students so they could follow the order and keep the game moving (instead of deciding each round which student went next).

A student from each team went to the board with a marker in hand. I said the word in English and they had to read the text in order to find the Spanish word. When they found it, they had to circle the word before the other student did in order to earn a point for their team.

I kept it moving at a fast pace by not having them erase the circle they had drawn. Each student had several turns at the board and it took 6 minutes or less. It took the place of our 2nd Brain Break today because it had everyone up and moving around.

The beauty of using this particular script is that (1) it is comprehensible, of course, and (2) many words are used multiple times throughout the text. When I called out words that were used several times in the text, there was a greater possibility that students wouldn't try to circle the exact same word at the same time (helping to lesson the chances that it would turn into a contact sport).   

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The POWER of Daily Warm-ups (bell ringers)

How is it that I've only really experienced the power of daily warm-ups this year, after almost two decades of teaching? 

I've used warm-ups to start class, off and on during my years of teaching, but this year is when everything has come together, along with my determination to prepare daily warm-ups and my mindset on what types of warm-ups to use for students to receive the most benefit from them. 

When the teacher is consistent in providing daily warm-ups it provides a comfortable and structured start of the class for the students. I greet my students at the door and they in turn greet me with that week's password. When they enter the room, they see the warm-up projected on the board. They collect the things they need from their backpacks, grab a clipboard (I have a deskless classroom), go to their seat, and boom, they're immersed in Spanish from the very start of class.

My suggestions for creating warm-ups are:
-be consistent! 
-keep it short 
-always...go over it with the students
-connect it with previous lessons
-personalize it to students
-make sure students will be able to complete it without struggling 
-don't collect it (that's right - don't do that to yourself!)

Some benefits of daily warm-ups are:

- Immediately immerses students in language that is comprehensible: the emphasis is on "comprehensible language",  which puts students at ease and instills them with confidence because they know they can be successful in completing the activity

- Sets the tone for the class: we're going to utilize every minute of the class period in experiences that are designed specifically with the students' success in the language as top priority

- Connects to the students: use sketches that students created, and conversations/photos from previous days; students understand their contributions are important elements of the class and they are appreciated! 

- Creates a familiar setting/comfortable routine: students know the routine and are immediately put at ease as they follow the routine (benefits both the quiet students and those that are filled with energy that we may wish we had 😂)

- Provides quiet time: students that complete the warm-up know they will have a few moments to relax after they complete the activity as classmates finish up the warm-up

- Reviews material from previous day(s): reinforces the material introduced/ discussed in the past, providing additional input

- Informal Formative assessment: as teacher moves throughout classroom and glances at students' work, it gives quick feedback on students' progress 

- Provides time for teacher tasks: take attendance, catch absent students up to date, etc, 

Below are examples of the warm-ups I've used in the last few days

1. One of the classes created this OWI (One Word Image). I used the warm--up for all three of the Spanish 1 classes the following day.

2. I used SpanishPlans' lesson "El Niño quiere un dragon" (free on TPT). This was the warm-up the following day. It's the first time students had to form the sentence from scrambled words so I did not put any extra words in the sentences that were not needed. 

3. I created this warm-up based on the conversation I had with students the previous day. The lesson is from Martina Bex's Somos curriculum, Level 1, Unit 1 (free on TPT).  

4. New short stories using previous introduced vocabulary. I don't require students write answers in complete sentences at this stage of their acquisition.

5. OWI reading created previous day. I taped the drawing of the OWI on the board next to where this paragraph was projected for students to refer to.

6. Unscramble sentences. Students did a similar warm-up the previous week (see #2 above). The previous day I had a substitute so students listened to the first half of a story I wrote and put on a video, and then read the 2nd half of the story and answered comprehension questions. This warm-up is based on the video & reading from the previous day.

Yes, I create a new warm-up each day, but NO, it doesn't take much time.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

Creating Online Stories with MyStorybook

The website, my, is a user-friendly site for teachers to create short stories in the target language for students. In fact, it is so easy to use, that you may want to consider it for substitute plans when you need to be absent from school.

On the left is the cover of a short story that I wrote for my Spanish 1 students after 4 days of class and a 4-day Labor Day weekend. It contains many repetitions of quiere, tiene, está, hay, and other high frequency words. Click on the link "Paco quiere un mono" to view the storybook.

After creating the story, you will need to publish it in order to be able to share it. Sharing is as simple as copying the URL as well as sharing it on social media. 

There is a main page on which you will create the title page, add text, backgrounds, and characters. There is a limited collection of characters from which to choose but there is an option to upload your own images to use in your story. There is also a tab to draw directly on the page, which is what I used to make the thought bubble on the front page.

After adding text to the story page, you can change the font, the size of the font, where it is positioned on the page, the color, background color, and more. One thing to remember when using special characters in the text, is you will need to return to the text box from the icon on the left because you can't add accents and other special characters when you are typing on the storybook page.

Creating the characters is fun because you can change the hairstyle, the color of  hair and skin, the eye color and expressions, the mouth, the clothing color and style, the pants color and style, and the shoes. 

The options are somewhat limited but it still allows for creativity without providing too many choices that you are overwhelmed with the choices. (It would be nice if there were more than one hairstyle choice for the female characters.)

There are outdoor background scenes in a forest, city, beach, etc, and several indoor choices too. 

(After putting the characters on the background scene of the forest, it reminded me of the story I use from Martina Bex named "La muchacha y la ardilla." I'm considering using this website to illustrate the story that my students create when we do this unit OR creating a parallel story with illustrations for them to read AFTER they create their story.) 

At present, it is a free website, but as we know, that could change in the future as it grows and includes more choices. If you want an ebook download and a pdf of your story, the charge is $5.00.

I'd love it, if after reading this, you create a story, and then share it with me on Twitter: @sonrisadelcampo 😊