Tuesday, March 24, 2015

La Casa Tomada resources and other short story resources

My all-time favorite Spanish author is hands down, without a doubt, Julio Cortázar. Thanks to Carrie Toth for creating 3 embedded readings for Cortázar's story, La Casa Tomada.  First, she took a section from the middle of the story for the first reading, making it comprehensible by limiting the vocabulary and adding clip art for words that may be unfamiliar.  In versions 2 and 3, she added more information and vocabulary from the original.  The embedded readings change what could be a frustrating experience for students approaching the intermediate proficiency level, to an enjoyable reading experience.

You can find Carrie's three versions of the story HERE.

There is a short YouTube clip of Cortázar explaining how he was inspired to write the story and his reaction that many people have different interpretations than what he was thinking when he wrote it.  The Spanish subtitles helped with my students' understanding of the interview.  Find the interview HERE

After reading and discussing the story, and comparing it to previous stories we read such as El almohadón de plumas, (HERE is Kristy Placido's embedded readings of the story;   HERE is Mike Peto's blog post on the story; and a stop-motion video as an alternative to the video suggested on Mike's post.), we will watch a short film of the video, pausing throughout to discuss and retell.  

Next up, Chac Mool! -  another embedded reading gift to all from generous Kristy Placido (found here).

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Survivor Cubes" in the MFL classroom

If you are a fan of the TV show "Survivor", then you are familiar with the memory type game that the contestants play with cubes.  The host of the show, has a set of cards with pictures on them.  He shows the cards in a sequence to the contestants.  Each contestant has a cube with the same pictures and, one by one, they must turn the cube with the picture facing toward Jeff in the correct order.  Contestants that answer correctly move to the next round.  Those that answer incorrectly are disqualified from the competition.

I modified the activity to suit my focus words for the day, oyó=s/he heard and oyeron=they heard. It was a fun, fresh way to give the students a large amount of repetitions of the focus words without them realizing how many times they heard the words.

1. First, I made 5 cubes, each with the same 6 clip art images. I made origami cubes after I watched this video. (To get even more mileage out of the activity, I used an image for "footsteps" because I knew we would be using it later in class for a MovieTalk.  This activity introduced the word and when I asked how to say it later in the class period, I got a resounding answer from the majority of the students! I should have been more selective with the other 5 images.)

2. In class, I asked for 5 volunteers, and then I chose another student to help them.  The helpers' job was to hold up a clipboard to block the other students from seeing which image the student selected for each round until it was time to reveal their answer.

3. On my computer, I had 6 tabs open from the website FreeSound, that matched the clip art images.

4. Before handing out the cubes to the 5 students and their helpers, we listened to the 6 sound bytes from the FreeSound website.  They were super easy to identify.  I also wrote the vocabulary on the board because the students were going to write the words during the activity:  un tren, un perro, una persona que se ríe, los pasos, una guitarra, una vaca.

5. Then I played a sequence of 9 sounds with the open tabs.  (I had made a recording using QuickTime, but I had problems with the sound, so I kept the tabs opened and selected each one as the students listened.)

6. The 5 students with the cubes selected their answer, facing the clip art image toward me.  I called the name of a student, who then revealed their answer, as I said, "Elisa oyó un perro. Dennis oyó un perro. Anna oyó un perro. Carlos oyó un tren. Hannah oyó un perro.  Cuatro personas oyeron un perro y una persona oyó un tren." 

7. Students that were observing (not those with the cubes nor the helpers) had to choose one person and write a sentence about the person using "oyó".  Ex:  Hannah oyó un tren.  Every multiple of 3, the students had to write two students' names that heard the same sound to get practice in writing "oyeron".

8.  If a student revealed the incorrect answer, he handed the cube to me and both he and his helper joined the others in writing a sentence for each round.

9. The winner received +1 bonus point in the first "game" when they listened to 9 sounds.  In the second round, students listened to 11 sounds, and the winner of that group earned +2 bonus points.

The first few sounds are very easy for the students.  They start getting confused with sounds 5 and higher.  

Update: Vicki Antequera emailed me with the document on the right that she will use for her students to do the Survivor Cubes activity.  She was kind enough to permit me to share this document with my readers.  You can access it HERE.

After this activity we watched Vampire's Crown. (See the blog post with additional information and resources about it HERE.) I used the MovieTalk method to narrate the action using vocabulary that the students knew.  The focus word "oyó" was recycled in the video because the vampire HEARD the boy drinking, HEARD the noise of the sign, HEARD the footsteps, of the dentist, and the dentist didn't hear the footsteps of the vampire.

If the idea of making several origami cubes sounds like too much work, you can simplify the preparation by using cards with the images instead of cubes. I liked the cubes to make it more like Survivor.  (Because this was one of those ideas that came to me before I arrived at school, I very quickly made the cubes, as you may have noticed if you looked closely at them.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Esperanza - A Verbal Book Report

Student sketches for Esperanza novel
My Spanish 4 students recently completed reading Esperanza by Carol Gaab, TPRS Publishing, Inc. I use this book in my Immigration/Guatemala unit of the curriculum.  The story opens up many opportunities to talk about immigration and why people are so desperate to enter the U.S.  I also like the book because the students learn about Guatemala.  There are so many interesting mini-lessons on the culture of Guatemala, the geography, the currency, the civil war, that can be explored while reading the novel. My recommendation, buy the Teacher's CD and a lot of that work is already completed for you.

For the final assessment on the book, I wanted a project that gave them the opportunity to explain what they thought were the key events in the story.  

For the final assessment on the book, I decided on a verbal book report in which students choose events key events of the story, sketch them, and then record their verbal book report.  Students chose to work alone or with a partner to sketch 10 events in the story on a long strip of white butcher paper. Then they   videotaped their verbal book report using a flip camera.  

The day the students recorded the videos, the class went to the atrium in order to have room so they could record without being really close to another group that was recording.  They taped their sketches to the wall and took turns filming each other. 

Below is a screenshot of the rubric.  I designed the rubric so that the sketches and events are worth 10 points, providing base points that all students should earn if they followed the requirements on the rubric.  The remaining 23 points focus on the actual verbal presentation.  With the first 10 points as a base points, I could more fairly assess the verbal presentation. (Find the pdf of the rubric HERE.)

I strongly dislike the traditional 100 point grading scale with A-90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69, and F=0-59. The rubric is my attempt to offset more points dedicated to a failing grade than a passing grade (59% failing and 41% passing).   

Thursday, March 5, 2015

10 Ideas for using Monoface in the WL classroom

Have you seen the website named MonoFace? It's a website that has photos of different people with different expressions.  By clicking on the right eye, left eye, nose, mouth, and head and shoulders, you can create 759,375 characters and expressions (according to the website).  

I saw the link for MonoFace either on Twitter or on Facebook.  Since we didn't have school today, because of the lovely snow, (yes, I still think it is beautiful), I had time to explore the site.

How can this be used in the World Language classroom? For one, I'm always looking for images on Google for different stories and activities for class, which makes this a perfect resource for quick creations.  Or for more specific suggestions...

Create the character(s) and then:
1. Describe his/her physical characteristics
2. Describe the character and create a backstory for him/her.
3. Describe the relationship between several of the characters.
4. Make the character the star of your class story - co-create a story with your students about the person.
5. StoryASK with your students. AFTER creating the story, have the students create a character on the website that they think best suits the person(s) in the story. This can be done as homework to preserve class time for comprehensible input. Or, use this activity as a brain break.
6. Change the expressions of the character and add screenshots of the person in the typed version of your story to add more interest.
7. Give the students 5-9 shots of the character (same person but only the expressions are changed - mouth, possible nose and eyes).  Let students choose from the pics to match the person's emotions or reactions in a pre-made story.
8. StoryASK information about a set number of people (ex: 5 people). Then project on the screen some people you have made and students choose which person belongs to which description.  Students have to defend their choices, in the TL, of course.
9. (similar to #8) Project a collage of people you created, and read information about a person's life or past. Students listen to the details in the story and then decide which person they think best fits the story.  Once again, they will need to defend their decision.
10.  Ask students to think of x number of occupations and list them on  the board.  (x=the number of characters you have created on a collage)  Project the collage and students work in small groups to assign an occupation to each person. Compare the answers from each group to see how many are similar. 
(variation to #10) Brainstorm fears that someone has, or an embarrassing moments, or (fill in the blank w your idea). Then project the collage and decide which person had that fear, embarrassing moment, etc

Those are a few ideas for using MonoFace in the World Language Classroom that I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure there are MANY more possibilities.

I'm sure there are some other obvious uses that I have overlooked at the present time. If you have some suggestions for how to use this in the WL class, please feel free to share your ideas and activities in the comments below.