Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Videos & CI (Comprehensible Input)

I don't like when students are absent from class, but if we have a class discussion about a short film on a day when a student is absent, I have a sure-fire way to add more repetitions with the day's vocabulary the next day. When the student returns, I put the class in charge of explaining the video, using Spanish only, to the absent student. The absent student is the only one that is permitted to speak in English. I stress to the class that if the absent student doesn't understand, it's not the student's problem, but rather it is the problem of the entire class. The responsibility lies on their shoulders to make sure they are understood.

Yesterday, as an introduction to our unit on Love and Relationships, I showed the short film, "Blind Date".

First I had the students work in groups and they tried to match my answers to questions such as:
- What is something you can drink?
- What is something you put on?
- What is an action you do when preparing food?
We discussed their answers, did some light PQA, and moved onto the video. I stopped the video at 2:30 for students to retell the story thus far, using the vocabulary that they just learned in the previous action. I also asked them to predict what happened next. We then watched the remaining part of the video and practiced re-tells in a large group and then in small groups.

The retell was "on" the next day when two students returned to class. This group is getting quicker at the retells.

What would you do with this video? I'm looking for any creative ideas you may have.

I found this video on another teacher's blog, but I can't remember which one. I'll do my best to find it so I can give him/her the credit.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

News Articles

At the beginning of the semester in my Spanish 4 classes, my goal is for the students to hear as much Spanish as possible, in the form of Comprehensible Input. We have a 5-block schedule, in two semesters, which means some of the students may not have had Spanish for a year, or even more if they had a year in which their schedule didn't match with the times Spanish IV was offered.

Several years ago I read a short article in the newspaper and I've used the article with my 4s ever since. The article is interesting by itself that I have no trouble keeping the students' attention as I StoryTell it to them (I never actually read it to them but I keep it close by in case they doubt it really happened). However, the thought occurred to me recently that I should try a different approach the next time I tell it.

First, my explanation of how I usually use the material in class and then my new idea.

We'll begin with the article:

1.Before I tell the article, I review any vocabulary that I think the students do not know or won't remember quickly, writing them on the board in Spanish and English, followed by PQA to the students using the vocabulary. (Still need practice on PQA.)

2. I tell about the news article using the TPRS style, stopping to retell in Spanish. I repeat the story or practicing verbal exer I feel comfortable that the students are able to retell the story, including facts such as what was the boy wearing, where he went, what he wanted to buy, etc. This is one story that we do not sketch.

3. Finally, I give students an answer in Spanish and they have to form a question in SPanish using information from the story. Example: My answer - mantequilla, harina y arroz (butter, flour and rice) - Students form the question - ¿Qué comió el niño para sobrevivir? (What did the boy eat to survive?)

Sometimes this last exercises proves to be a bit challenging for the students. I know because it becomes real quiet and you can almost hear them thinking. I don't have any problem getting the students to participate, it just takes them longer and you can tell they're focused.

My new idea is to begin the story in the middle and tell the students that a little boy walks into a store to buy something. And from there, I can ask them what they think he wants to buy, what type of store it is, how is he dressed, what season is it, what does he use to try to make his purchase, and on and on. As the students guess at what may be the right answer, they'll soon realize that something is definitely wrong that a young boy walks into an alcohol store, in his pj's, in the winter, with his mother's credit card, etc. This will lead me asking more questions to lead them to the reason as to why a little boy would do this.

I don't know if that type of discussion will work better than the first idea. My thinking is that if it keeps their attention, and it's in the target language, AND they understand it, then I will have been successful in giving them the necessary reps as per CI. I could always follow it up with another story by me or by the students.

Do you have any suggestions on how to use this article? (It is such a sad article.)

Reading for in class

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

10 Reasons to take Spanish (@ PAHS)

Course selection time is in full swing, so why not make a video to promote reasons to take your Spanish (or other language) course? Read on...

I haven't made posts on this blog lately for several reasons. One reason is that I'm constantly working to revamp the curriculum that I use in Honors Spanish 4 and Honors Spanish 5 to include (even) more Comprehensible Input.

The second reason, I'm talking an on-line workshop on digital learning in the classroom and there are a list of tasks to complete each week to help familiarize us with the different tools available for classroom use. I've used Animoto many times in the past so I can't claim that I learned anything new about this particular tool, but I tried a new idea which was to put the presentation in a Top Ten List format.

So... this video isn't directly related to TPRS or CI (Comprehensible Input), but rather helps to explain the scarcity of posts in the last 2 weeks. Maybe I'll look into asking the Broadcasting advisor if they can show this on the Morning Show at our school to promote Spanish class.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Name Change

Some of you may have noticed that I changed the name of the blog a few weeks ago. It changed from "TPRS with Spanish I" to "TPRS with Spanish". I originally started the blog to track and share the activities I did with my pilot TPRS Spanish 1 class. Since we are on the block schedule at my school, the last day of class for the first semester was on January 20 and I no longer have a Spanish 1 class. (And I sorely miss my students in Spanish 1!).

However, I enjoyed blogging about my Spanish 1 activities and through the last few months have added activities that I do with my upper level classes. Therefore, I will continue posting on this blog, but there will not be many posts dealing specifically with a beginning class.

In my opinion, what is one of the best parts about blogging? (answer) becoming acquainted with other educators that stop in to visit my blog and leave comments and sharing ideas with them and, in turn, learning from them. Thanks for all that have shared their comments, ideas, and materials with me!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

MAGIC happens when you least expect it

One thing I love about TPRS is that you never know when the students will help to spin a story that turns into MAGIC. I'm learning that many times this happens when you don't follow your plan A. Susan Gross explained to me that the story I have planned should be considered "Plan B", one that should only be used if all else fails. After she said that, I realized that the day before, I had experienced exactly that with my Spanish 3 students. Below is how I shared the story with Susan Gross last week:
I can relate to what you said about my story being plan B. That happened to me on Friday. I wanted to review le/les gustaba(n) and en vez de. But, during PQA I found out I was the only one in the classroom that had never heard of the singer "Drake". When they asked me what music I like and I said Brad Paisley, one of the students (a great guy that has a great sense of humor) said, "oh, you're country" and then made kind of a "duh" sound. And a that moment I remembered a story about a guy that goes into the town village every day. All the villagers think he's dumb so they offer him a nickel or a dime and he always picks the nickel because it's bigger. They laugh at him because they think he's stupid and the next day the same thing plays out. This continues every day. Then one day a stranger sees this take place and pulls the guy aside to tell him he should pick the smaller coin because it's actually worth more. The guy then says that he knows that, but if he picks the dime, they won't offer him the choice every day and he won't be able to pocket the 5 cents every day.

I knew that the words for city and country were coming up in the near future so I decided the "dumb" person would be from the country and he would go into the city every Wednesday. When I asked the kids who the person from the country is, of course they said "Sra. Hitz". (The previous day we had a discussion, in Spanish, about how I live on a farm and that I wake up at 4:10 a.m. every morning to feed the cows before I come to school and at times help deliver calves - yes, even to the point where my hands go where no hands should ever go in a cow. If you live on a farm you know exactly what I'm talking about.)

So, I chose actors to play the other parts, and of course I played myself, and you know what Susie?, I had a blast and the actors were awesome. The students were so focused on what was going on in the story. It was PURE MAGIC! Of course then the story was over and I laughed when I saw my "focus words" of gustar, etc on the board and someone said, "Yeah, whatever happened to the person going to the Drake concert?" and right on the heels of that comment another student said, "I like stories. I learn a lot" (or something similar).

I know I can't expect that every day, or at least not until I relax more and learn to let things play out in a natural way, but WOW, it was enough to energize me and make me want to see it happen again.

That happened last week and to my surprise, my students in my two Spanish 4 classes served up more MAGIC yesterday when we talked about the fears of some of the students. (Who would have thought that a high school student would be ok with acting like a bird?)

Be assured, this
MAGIC doesn't happen every day in my classes. Admittedly, there are days when the story just falls flat and I'm left wandering what went wrong. But, just knowing that the potential for that energizing MAGIC to pop up at any time is there, makes the start of each story an interesting and unpredictable adventure.

Thanks Susan for telling me to move my Plan A to the Plan B spot and leave the door open for
MAGIC to enter the classroom.