Friday, August 28, 2015

Donkey-Jote: Helping Students to Stay in the Target Language

Donkey-Jote listens for students that don't speak TL
When I attended IFLT15 in St. Paul, Minnesota, this year, one of the sessions I went to was presented by Darcy Pippins (@DarcyPippins on Twitter) on how she prepares her students for the AP test, outlining the books and curriculum starting with level 1. In her presentation (find more information about her session and others HERE), she mentioned that she uses La Rana de Vergüenza to encourage her students to stay in the TL. La Rana de Vergüenza (the frog of shame) is a stuffed animal that "hops" to a student's desk if s/he talks in English rather than in Spanish.  The frog stays on that student's desk until another student talks in English, and it then "hops" to that student's desk.  The goal for the students is to NOT have La Rana de Vergüenza on their desk as the end of the class period.
Donkey-Jote was cold :-)

I liked this strategy as soon as I heard it and planned on implementing it with my Spanish 4a & 4b* classes.  Our classes started on Monday (Aug. 24), but I hadn't mentioned the frog to my students, until the third day of class when I heard more English from my students than I cared to hear.  In the middle of class, I stood up and walked to my closet that has stuffed animals, and a variety of other handy items used in class, and started searching for a stuffed frog. I found a stuffed bird, a stuffed turkey, and then, ahhhhhh I saw him - Donkey-Jote. Donkey-Jote is a stuffed donkey (from Shrek) that I used about nine years ago for a special project when we read Don Quijote. 

I put Donkey-Jote by my chair (we sit on chairs in a circle, without desks) and explained the "rules".  The expectation in Spanish 4 (4a&4b*) is to speak in Spanish unless the student has asked for permission to speak in English.  If a student speaks in English without permission, Donkey-Jote sits on their lap or by their chair.  Donkey-Jote remains there until another student speaks in English without permission.  The student that has Donkey-Jote at the end of the class period earns a point.  After earning 3 points, the student needs to make an appointment with me during academic prep (study hall) or after school, to talk to me in Spanish for 10 minutes and at the conclusion of the 10-minute conversation, the 3 points disappear.

There are several beautiful benefits to using Donkey-Jote or La Rana de Vergüeza:
1. The students have an extra incentive to stay in the TL.
2. The students, not the teacher, are the ones listening intently for someone to slip out of the TL into English.
3. To clear the points, the student speaks with me in Spanish for 10 minutes, about whatever we choose: what's happening in the news, what's happening in school, the college the student plans to attend, the student's pet, etc, .... which is real, normal conversation in the TL.

After two days of Donkey-Jote joining our class, two different students each have 1 point. Interesting enough, I think both of the students were the first ones to talk in English and after Donkey-Jote moved to sit with them, no other students "slipped up" the rest of the class.  Small donkey - big impact.


Update: Check out Dustin Williamson's (@dwphotoski) new addition to his class - Donkey-Jote!

This is Haiyun Lu's Shameful Caterpillar (see her blog post HERE for more information)


This is Kristy Placido's "el chavito".  He is "the tattle tale. He has been trained to sniff out use of English and alert on the person who uses it."