I’m fairly new to teaching language. It’s a sad realization when I find some incredible resource from some incredible language educator that makes me feel utterly mediocre. There’s just so much I want to change about the way that I teach and the way that I assess! I have a main goal in mind, but here’s one of the small steps I took towards reworking my hardly original system of homework and worksheets: tareas semanales.
This semester, I swapped my daily homework/worksheet routine with my Spanish I students for a weekly “tarea semanal,” an assignment similar to a choice board. I came upon this idea on @SECottrell’s wonderfully helpful blog (http://musicuentos.blogspot.com) and immediately did a bit of googling to adapt it to my novice-level learners. Basically, students:
Select an activity from a list (such as changing their Facebook language to Spanish and playing on it for 30 minutes, or watching YouTube videos of Latino artists),
Write a brief reflective paragraph afterwards describing what they learned, what they liked/disliked, words they recognized, etc., and
Choose a different activity each week.
This assignment can be used for either homework or extra-credit, and intermediate or advanced students preferably write out their reflective paragraphs in the TL. While I understand it’s difficult to say whether or not this type of assignment actually helps in student mastery of specific learning objectives or in the production of the target language, it’s no doubt that it does a great job of exposing the student to the TL/culture outside of the classroom. To discover aspects of the language and culture I’d not previously covered in class gives students some ownership in their journeys through language learning.
How do you feel about choice boards/student choice in homework? Do you feel this type of assignment adds/does not add to the student’s overall experience with or production of the TL?
Here’s an activity for your visual learners. Some of my students complain when they have to draw in class (This isn’t art class!), but ALL of them love to share and compare their drawings. I made this worksheet to go along with our “estar + feeling” lesson:
Students illustrate a vocabulary term, put it into context by creating a simple sentence, and then think about a strategy that can help them remember the meaning of that word. This activity can be easily adapted to any vocabulary lesson, and students can compile their sheets into a folder to create their very own visual dictionaries.
Here’s a funny (albeit incomplete) set of drawings from one of my Spanish I students:
Creado por J. Gonzáles
Here’s another interdisciplinary activity using estar + feeling:
Students go around the room asking one another how they feel all the while keeping a tally of responses. After the whole class has finished, the class collectively comes up with a bar graph to represent our current mood (¿Cuántas personas están cansadas? ¿Enfermas?). While it’s fun to see them argue about whose data set is right or wrong, be sure to remind them not to switch up their stories during the activity, else everyone will have a different bar graph at the end!
Have you heard of prezi.com? It’s a powerful, new-ish presentation and collaboration tool useful to both educators and students alike. I’ve used it to introduce vocabulary (students really respond to the zooming feature) and most recently as class-wide cultural project:
It’s the traditional research-this-spanish-speaking-country poster project but with a technology twist! Students pretend to be part of a company and delegate particular tasks to one another in order to create a product that showcases their assigned Spanish-speaking country. The best part about this project is that they actually COLLABORATE TOGETHER IN REAL TIME to create an awesome presentation, each from their own computers! My Spanish I students completed this project at the beginning of the second semester. By then, they had already seen my utilize Prezi in the classroom and were always curious to know how to make a presentation of their own. So this is what I did:
Google Voice is an online voicemail service that can be easily adapted to assess oral presentations without putting students on the spot. It’s easy to set up, and it even gives you a “Google number” that you can give to your students so they can leave you voice messages using their cellphones.
Last year, I tried this out for the first time during a unit on food and healthy eating habits. My students (novice-level) filled out a brief script in which they indicated what they eat and drink for breakfast and lunch. Then, they were asked to call the Google number to record their messages.
Many of them were really afraid to call! The thought of getting only one chance to record a message with good Spanish pronunciation really intimidated them, but they seemed excited to receive feedback via text and also to see their recordings posted on the website. Next time, I would love to incorporate spontaneity using Google voice, but perhaps this would be more suited for intermediate and advanced levels. How have you used Google Voice in your classroom?
Here are some the submitted messages categorized by class period.
Welcome to my classroom blog and website! The purpose of the webpage is not only to keep my students up to date with current class activities but also to share and collaborate with other world language teachers on the net. You can navigate this page by clicking on the menus above (For Students and Parents, For Teachers). Enjoy your stay, and feel free to contact me at any time!