Our mid-terms last semester were more or less CI-friendly with heavy emphasis on reading comprehension, translation, and writing:
click here for this mid-term’s study guide
I was quite proud of them until I sat down to grade them — ugh. It took a really long time. I was thinking of drawing up something similar for finals this time around, but instead decided for an easier to grade, output-based assignment. I know it’s probably not the best assessment of my students’ abilities, but what the heck.
DOWNLOAD: Spanish III Final Exam Project (Storybook) (.doc)
It’s nothing original. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be a fun way end to a great year of storytelling for both myself and my students. It’s something they can take home with them and keep for a long time. I’m wary of the fact that it’s a totally output-driven project, and that many of my students are not the craftiest of people, and that perhaps some will use an online translator or a friend to help write their stories, but we’ll work on it in class some and hopefully get everyone motivated enough with the idea of not having a traditional final exam. We’ll see how it goes.
Photo credit: Fluencymatters.com
After what seemed like an eternity, my level 3′s and I finally finished Vida y Muerte. We picked up a faster pace after chapter 4 or so, and we finished the book pretty quickly. There were still many terms we came across in the later chapters that kept things challenging and it definitely helped to have discussion questions from the TG to keep our conversations going. We ended our unit with the movie Sin Nombre — I wish I would have recorded my students watching the last 20 minutes or so of this film. They LOVED it. It was gritty but incredibly educational — a great way to wrap everything up, especially after our immigration unit (Esperanza, Which Way Home, El Norte) and watching Voces Inocentes / World’s Most Dangerous Gang (National Geographic).
I gave them a set of questions last week in preparation for interviews they had with me today. I asked them general, open-ended questions about what they had learned regarding immigration and gang life. I asked 2 or 3 questions from their list, and then asked them a question or 2 off-list to see how they’d do. They did so wonderful. Some of my students threw together beautifully detailed sentences using words they could have only picked up through our discussions and reading. It’s amazing how much they could do without EVER, not even ONCE opening up that textbook!
So I’m just now starting off my 2′s with past tense stories. I am so far behind! We read Tumba the first semester (way too easy for them) and we just finished Esperanza (also too easy for them), so we’ve spent a long time internalizing present tense structures. They’ve been talking about our weekends since last semester, but most have only really acquired “I went.” We only have a few weeks left, so I hope we’re able to squeeze in as many stories as possible. This is their first time in a CI environment (and mine too), so I don’t feel very bad (some CI is better than no CI, right?), though I really need to step it up next year.
We told half of La chica ideal yesterday knowing I’d be gone for attendance committee today. It went surprisingly well. I could tell they really missed the stories, and one student even mentioned she learned better that way.
I left them today with another sub plan (below): translation, reading comprehension, and a little bit of writing. We’ll finish part two of our story tomorrow.
DOWNLOAD: La chica ideal SUB PLAN (.pdf) La chica ideal SUB PLAN (.doc)
I was “voluntold” to be part of the school attendance committee this year, which means I’ve had to leave my classes with subs for days at a time. Fun. As a result, I’ve been compiling CI-friendly sub plans. Most sub plans I’ve come across look something like this:
FIRST 15 MINUTES:
- FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) – Students select a reader/children’s book of choice, read for 15-20 minutes
- SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) – Students read silently for 15-20 minutes from current novel
LAST 30 MINUTES:
- Timed free write – Students complete a 10-15 minute timed write using recent vocabulary
- “Embedded” timed write – Students prime/expand upon their free writes by writing in chunks, repeating and adding more details as they go. See Martina’s 1-3-10 Free Write (which I love).
- Storyboards – Students illustrate 3-6 story panels based on story/chapter in book
Here’s something I threw together yesterday. It was inspired by the “David’s Reading Plan” posts on Ben Slavic’s PLC and several recent posts on mad libs and CI (Kristy’s, Cynthia’s and Martina’s). This activity is great for introducing a future story by including a script in English to start. The students can do it without you being there, making it a good sub plan too. Feel free to download and change to your liking below:
DOWNLOAD: Mad Libs Storyboard (.pdf) Mad Libs Storyboard (.doc)
It’s happened before. Many times, actually. A student starts by asking questions relating to your role as teacher and what you actually contribute to his/her learning within the grander scheme of things. Those kinds of questions never fail to turn my entire day sour! I can list the many benefits to learning a language by heart, but we all know that foreign language can be a hard sell, especially to largely unmotivated high school students. This year, I’ve been confident that CI really helps and makes teaching a language worthwhile. I mean, how often did my kids (namely my non-heritage/native speakers) actually use Spanish meaningfully outside of class? Never?
Just the other day, we spent the entire period talking about our lives, our relationships, our goals and motives — it was incredible coming home that day knowing that we’d accomplished something, that my students contributed to great conversations about what they are most interested in and love to talk about most. It’s what’s so great about CI — students acquire almost unconsciously with their brains so re-wired that they hardly even notice we’re speaking a different language in class.
I teach advanced placement classes, so naturally many of my students are highly intelligent overachievers whose brains’ systematic/conditioned way of interpreting data has corrupted their own opinions and perspectives on how learning should take place. They pour over their notes with highlighters. They complete lengthy study guide packets in their other classes. They complete worksheet after worksheet after worksheet and although they hate doing them, they expect to do the same in my class. This is all they know — memorizing incredible chunks of material needed for tests and forgetting nearly everything soon after. It’s sickening, but this is what they want from me. “We hardly learn in here,” says my star student, “You call this exhausting work? Going over ‘campanadas’ [warm-ups], reading from this book, and asking us questions?”
I’m happy they don’t think our work is exhausting. If only they knew how exhausted it makes me!
I started off the year not intending to make a full switch to TPRS. I failed to briefly educate my students on the theory behind what we do. So what do we do when students question the amount of learning taking place in the classroom? When they say, “We come to Spanish to do nothing — that’s what this class is for,” or “What’s the point of this class? We don’t do anything!”
I came upon Jillane Baros’s blog through the moreTPRS listserv this morning. It’s pretty much gold. I haven’t done much note-taking with my students this year since doing TPRS, but Jillane’s post on note-taking and Interactive Notebooks certainly makes me reconsider for next year. Here’s the link:
Photo credit: Fluencymatters.com
Very slowly getting through Chapter 3 of Vida y Muerte. We’ve been “reading” for about a month and have only read a grand total of 4 pages from the actual novel. Honestly, it’s at the point where there’s 5-10 words/structures within the chapter that I pre-teach or translate while we read as a class. It may be that this novel is a bit too difficult for my group at this point. I need to make it a point to provide as much CI as possible!
Nevertheless, the kiddos are eating it up. Here’s what we did leading up to Chapter 3:
1) After Chapter 2, we listened to “Tu cárcel” (love this song). Here’s the video (cover by Los Enanitos Verdes, though you can also choose to listen to the original by Marco Antonio Solis):
Vida y Muerte. Feel free to download below:
Students completed the activity below and we made comparisons between the song and narrator’s feelings towards his father in
Tu cárcel LYRICS (.pdf) Tu cárcel LYRICS (.doc)
2) Then, we viewed and discussed a slideshow on tattoos and graffiti (available on the Teacher’s Guide) and completed an activity (also available on the TG which I totally recommend — please get if you haven’t already!) that prompted students to create their own graffitis based on their likes and core values. My students decided to divide themselves up into “gangs,” give themselves “clic” and “gangster” names, and present their graffitis to the class. Definitely recommend this activity.
3) Finally, I decided to give Martina’s Word Sort activity a shot. Success! I took new words/structures from Chapter 3 as well as a good blend of previously introduced vocabulary and had students work together to organize them into categories. We defined terms together, PQA’d a little, and talked about predictions based on new words. Made for an easier transition to reading/pre-teaching vocabulary that didn’t take an extraordinary amount of time.
They had me at “interactive stories.” I love these. They remind me of those “point and click” episodic adventure type games where the choices you make as a player affect the overall outcome of the game. Oooh!
It’s called Inklewriter. I haven’t had a chance to make anything of it though I’ve had it bookmarked for a long time, but the possibilities for CI are there. Here’s a sneak peek:
I like that you can add visuals to the stories and as many twists and turns as you’d like. Seems like a bit of work (likely why I haven’t utilized it yet), but it may appeal to someone out there.
Here’s the link:
Palabras nacas stands for “tacky/ghetto words.” I can’t recall who I stole this idea from (on Twitter, argh!), but it’s worked great with my native and heritage speakers:
I’ve seen some improvement. I often hear students (all native/heritage Spanish-speakers) correct each other and have even had some tell me that they’ll always remember that such-and-such word is a big PALABRA NACA that they now know not to use. Whatever works.
For novice learners: CI works wonders in eliminating common mistakes during output, but even after a year of rich CI, some of my students still need reminders! I haven’t done this, but a frases nacas chart could be the novice-learner alternative. Include those nasty, hard-to-shake errors: me llamo es, hay es, david’s casa, la chica es no bonita, etc.