Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Digitally Ordering Events

 Ordering events is a good way to have students REREAD a text. Before the pandemic, I used to print copies of text and my students ordered the events using the paper copies. For teaching during the pandemic, I digitized the activity on a Google Presentation and assigned it through Schoology.

The first ordering activity I made this fall on Google Slides was for Mira Canion's El escape Cubano. I learned a few ways to improve upon it which are reflected on the ordering activity for Mira Canion's Tumba novel.

1. Limit each slide to 4 events. More than increases the chances of students not getting the order correct.

2. Use at least two different colors for the text boxes. If you make this activity a graded assignment, it makes it much easier for you to know if the order is correct with a quick glance at each slide. (But don't have the same pattern on each slide or the students will catch onto that quickly.)

If you're interested in having a copy of the ordering activity on google slides for the first five chapters of Tumba, you can find them HERE

FYI: I checked with Mira Canion to get her written consent to post this. (It's a must to check with an author before posting materials you created related to the author's book!)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

An Easy Strategy to Help Online Students Stay Focused/Engaged

Here is a simple strategy that online teachers can employ to help students that are learning synchronously from home to stay engaged. 

At my school, we are teaching to students physically in the classroom and at the same time we are teaching to students synchronously joining the class from their homes. I tried this technique last week and it definitely made a difference in how quickly students at home unmuted their mics and responded.

I share my computer screen with students in class and at home, and when I use a document camera, I share that screen with both sets of students at the same time.

Instead of calling the student's name that I want to answer a question, I say, "#2 is for the student whose name I wrote". I say this whether the name I wrote is someone at home or at school in my classroom. Students in class need to stay engaged by following along with what I am projecting on the board and students at home must also be looking at the computer screen (not simply waiting for their name to be called before looking to see what question we are one).

Pictured below is a warm-up for Spanish 2. Students in school have a 1/2 sheet of paper that they write on; students at home should be completing it as a Schoology assignment. I used the document camera as we went over the answers and I wrote the names on my copy of the warm-up. When we are reading or working on something from google drive or a word document, I type the student's name directly on the document.

There are students that say what they are doing at home instead of giving the class their full attention. I have had students tells me they have a friend over at their house, they're baking cookies, they have the screen minimized and are playing an online game, plus other things that we won't get into. Writing the names on the document to "call" on students, worked this week. We'll see how long it is beneficial.

If all your online students are 100% engaged during your synchronous class (my classes are 72 minutes), then that leads me to one of two conclusions: (1) You are simply amazing and should write a book! or (2) they are not 100% engaged but you don't realize it...yet.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Story Scripts & Preloading Vocabulary


I'm a few days away from starting the novel "El escape cubano" written by Mira Canion. In my classroom, it's all about front loading the vocabulary before opening the pages of a novel so students sail through the reading with ease, making the reading more enjoyable.

For several years I've been using the story "La novia se queda en el ascensor". This year, with the need to revamp the formats of my story scripts in order to make the material available to those four different groups that meet at the SAME TIME each day: (1) those that are in my class on A/B days, (2) those learning at home on A/B days, (3) the 100% synchronous students, and (4) for those students in the classroom every day. 

Here is an outline of how I presented the story and provided extension activities for the story "La novia se queda en el ascensor".

1. Using a document camera so students at home can see and projecting onto my board for students at school to see, students and I filled in the vocabulary sheet below. Students already KNOW most of the words. The new words are the ones I highlighted in yellow. This shows the students that they already know most of the word, plus they are introduced to the new ones in the upcoming story.

2. I told the story using illustrations on Google Slides for visual support for both students in class and at home.

3. After telling the story, we read the story script. (page one shown below)

4. Then I asked 10 True/False questions. They listened to the questions and to go over the questions I projected the questions on the board.

5. I projected six slides, (one is shown below), in which students read the sentences and had to say if the sentence described picture A, B, or X - neither A nor B.

6. I uploaded the student copy of the story. It included title page (where students wrote their names so in my google drive it was clear on page one who completed the work); slide 2 had the directions; slides 3-5 had the story (but it was a jpg image of the story so they couldn't copy and paste the sentences); and slides 6-24, BUT...the illustrations were not in the correct order. The students had to order the slides by reading the story, and then they had to type one sentence (only one per slide) from the story for each slide.

7. Somewhere in there, we had read the story script again.

8. We played FLIP THE SCRIPT explained HERE.

Those activities flowed well together and were a nice balance of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and writing.

Next, I'm working on making a digital file for the riddle I usually use before reading "El escape cubano". I'll share that on a future post.

If you are interested in the google slide presentation you can email me at cynthiaunderscorehitzatyahoodotcom    OR leave a comment below with your email.

Flip the Script - A New Game for the WL Classroom


It's a good day when you create a new game and it goes over well with each class that you play it. I created and played FLIP THE SCRIPT with three of my Spanish 2 classes today and since it worked so well I wanted to share it with others.

I'm preparing my students to read "El escape cubano" by Mira Canion, which will be their first novel that they read this year. Before we read this novel, I usually tell a story that I wrote about a bride and groom that encounter a problem when they go to their wedding reception. The goal is to provide a "boatload" of comprehensible input for the words se escapa and se queda, which are words found in the first few chapters.  

FLIP THE SCRIPT explanation

1. You need a story script in which the students are familiar.

The story I used is titled: La novia se queda en el ascensor. I've read the story with my students and they participated in other writing and listening tasks using the same story script before playing FLIP THE SCRIPT.

2. Choose words/phrases in the text for students to translate from English to the TL and change those words to another color.  Assign point values to the words/phrases with higher point values for the more challenging words/phrases. 

Notice in the photo below, that some words are worth 1 point. The one point words are those that are used elsewhere in the text; the two points are ones that are not used in the text but I felt confident most teams would know them. There are some 3-point, 4-point, even a 6-point words.

3. Depending on your class size, tell students to form groups of 2-4. Three works best; 4 is probably too many because it makes it too easy for one of the group members to not participate.

4. Groups take turns. The first group chooses any word/phrases in parenthesis. They discuss the answer in their group, then one of the members writes the answer on a mini-whiteboard. If they are correct, they earn the points listed for that word/phrase. If they are wrong, their turn is over and the next group chooses a word to translate.

It is NOT a race. The teams take turns and that same rotation continues until all the words have been translated to Spanish.

The letters on the side are there so students identify the paragraph with the letter and then say which word they in English they translated to Spanish before showing me their whiteboard.

Advantages of FLIP THE SCRIPT:
- Students discussed the answers
- For many sentences the students had to read the full sentence to know WHO is doing the action
- Students stayed focused whether working on the word they chose or glancing at what other groups wrote
- There is strategy involved; there were some groups that were leading with points that chose a 1 point word of which they were sure instead of choosing one they were not sure of.
- No pressure - teams can earn points each time when choosing the easier words - slow and steady wins the race (as what happened in one of my classes today).

Disadvantage of FLIP THE SCRIPT:
- The students in school played the game while students at home did another assignment. I'm not sure how to include the students at home without them having the advantage of looking up the words.