Teaching Culture and controversy: Bullfighting debate (reading) and interview (audio)- Bonus project

 

Teaching culture and controversy 

While teaching a group of illustrious 7th graders a few years back, I had a goal of getting them to engage in discourse about real world topics and events.  During this time, the wealth of resources for input, project-based and design thinking in the WL were very scarce (or I just did not know). Like most problem-solving oriented teachers: I created texts and resources for my students so that they could tomar cartas en el asunto.   I was determined to have them chime in on the  controversy of Bullfighting in Spain and the plight of girl’s education around the world.  even with limited vocabulary. It was awesome!

Quick links: Activities referenced on this blog post can be accessed by clicking the links below. If you’d like to get ideas about how to use these activities just scroll down to the letter designated section for context.

Bull-fighting in Spain Mini lesson with text: Culture or controversy (featured on Mary Glasgow) 

Interview with Ainhoa (Interview with a girl from Pamplona on the Running of the Bulls, school, Teens and Pamplona and her interest) 


Questions for Interview  (These questions span all levels. A little bit of novice in the beginning but she takes off. Listen to the recording to see if it is something you students would like)

Bonus Project

Creating shared background knowledge 

Teaching with any group of students means that their exposure to a topic varies greatly. In order to tap into background knowledge and create our own working template of experiences, my students conducted a scavenger hunt on Spain, read about the country and regions and engaged in other activities that contextualized the vocabulary and culture. Having students who have traveled the world and those who have not step foot outside of their neighbors, having an “equalizing” exposure to texts adds balance. We used this resource, which includes:

1. Internet Scavenger Hunt Activity to familiarize them with the people, places and culture 

2. KWL activity to assess pre-knowledge 

3. Read a basic cognate laden text on Spain and answer questions. 

These sequenced activities set students up for reading about the Running of the Bulls- and their upcoming debate. For the debate they had to read both sides of the argument in this text and figure out, based on the language, attitude and claim who was for and who was against the practice. The first iteration of this article was all in the present tense. I have revised it to fit more of an Novice-Mid-High / Intermediate low. That said text below is slighter higher than the one figured in MaryGlasgow in 2011.

 The purpose of his resource was to engage students in both Common Core and IB standards/strands, so they would use the same strategies for engaging in text. This activity allowed students to:

Link to resource

  • Compare different perspectives (ACTFL: 21st century standards) 
  • Cite textual information (in a basic non-intimidating form) 
  • Compare and contrast cultures
  • For me, to be able to collect ideas, process them and debate in the target language

At my previous school they had PYP Spanish from Kindergarten. I saw them 4 days a week, so it makes since that a 7th grader was able to read and debate a slightly softer version of this text.  If you’d like to see how they slammed the International Educational Unit. They wrote papers on women rights. This was my “Malala Unit.”  Check out this post with examples of student writing.

Added Listening Activity for Running of the Bulls 

    This year I had the opportunity to interview a girl from Pamplona. I included this interview and  activity as part the Bullfighting debate activity.  Listen here for her Los Jóvenes Opinan interview below:

Interview with Ainhoa

The good, the bad and the ugly 

The interview is long- 4 minutes, but the activities are divided into different sections. Only the first 1.5 minutes  is comprehensible input for Novice students, after that her pace picks up. Here is how I am planning on using this resource:

  • My Spanish 1 Novice students will be doing this All about me activity next week (we are three weeks overdue). The will read the interview about Ainhoa and then listen to the first couple of minutes of the audio.

Interview with Ainhoa

For my Spanish IV class, we are finishing up our Teen Identity Unit. Since Ainhoa is soooo passionate about the Running of the Bulls (she was a perfect complement to the debate article), they will listen to her and compare their lives to hers. Here are a list of the themes for the audio:

  • Introductions
  • Favorite TV shows
  • School in Spain
  • Teens in Pamplona
  • Running of the Bulls

Click here for the preview questions.

Listen to the first edition of Los Jóvenes Opinan here to  make sure it is suitable for your students.

Upcoming resource!

I also had the opportunity to interview an award-winning photojournalist from Colombia this summer. The interview, which goes from Novice to Advanced will be posted in October.

If you use this resource, feedback is welcomed!!

Advertisements

Comprehensible Culture in the WL Classroom: How do experiences shape who we are?

Tango Show at Angelitos, BA (yo fui en Abril con mi clase)

Los jóvenes de Argentina 

This post is the second in a five series lessons on Identity for my upper level Spanish class.   Click here to read about the beginning lessons, video and speaking activities that inform the tasks below.
One of my goals (among many) for this year is to incorporate “comprehensible culture” in the classroom.  Many times as language teachers we get so caught up in the language that the contextualizing culture gets left behind. I am becoming more cognizant of this as I plan. My aim is to include rich language experiences and culture. This unit on Identity does this in several ways:

 

A. The skinny

  • Students have an opportunity to understand how they construct identity (psychological and biological point of view) 
  • They share that construction of their identity with other students 
  • They learn about how teens in the target culture think about identity 
  • Students engage in dialogue on a series of subtopics 

Quick links: Activities referenced on this blog post can be accessed by clicking the links below. If you’d like to get ideas about how to use these activities just scroll down to the letter designated section for context.

A. Antes de colgar tu imagen en la web

Click here for the writing prompts

B. Los Jóvenes Argentinos (Audiovisual activity)

C.. Click here for Listening Activity 

D.. Reading Graphic Organizer

A. With power, comes great responsibility 

Video: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la red, piénsalo


One of my writing prompts asked students to compare their generation to their parents’ generation.

Since technology was the reigning king of that comparative discussion, I decided to include the video above and additional discussion questions to explore how technology shapes identity.  Although the video and activity were kinda sidebar, they actually highlight a key point in our upcoming text ” La vida de los adolescentes.Said text highlights how young people’s identities morph and adapt to different social media fora. Furthermore, the text suggests that having “a solid” identity is challenge for this generation. The writing prompt featured belongs to a series of 11 prompts dealing with Identity.  Click here for the free writing prompts used with this unit.

Video link: Antes de colgar tu imagen en la web

This was totally an afterthought, but this social media inventory might also be a good activity to do before the video (I am kicking myself for not thinking of this beforehand).

 
Discussion Questions and note about the video

One of the questions asks students to create hastag for the video. In order for this to work organically, you have to stop the video right before the end so that the video’s tagline does not appear. It was a fun activity and students were able to incorporate direct object pronouns naturally. 

 


B. Connecting the language with the culture 

Teve Cuidad

This next resource activity is very special to me. Last year  I had the opportunity of taking 18 students from my school to Argentina for a cultural immersion trip.  During our pre-trip seminar, we explored  some of the dialectal differences in the Spanish. For this year’s Spanish IV class, I was able to incorporate some of those lessons in front loading some of the dialectal differences in Argentine Spanish. I was surprised how this lesson facilitated their comprehension and lowered their affective filter (self-reporting post activity).

Please note that at the end of this post, there are other videos from this source (Tevé Cuidad:Vivir Juntos), should you want to explore Teen Identity in Latin America.

Viewing protocol

I distributed the document contained in the link below for the as an audiovisual exercise

Los Jóvenes Argentinos (Audiovisual activity)

We went through each statement:

  • Students gave a rough translation in Spanish
  • Then we watched the video twice (super simple)

After the video, students said that going over the statements first helped them make a connection. Although for an authentic listening activity, I would not preview the language (that is the point). However, the purpose of this activity was to train their ears to hone in on the main idea (we are still in our first month of school).

C. Listening Activity with La Identidad de los Adolescentes

I love activities that are intravenously connected. This was one of them. Originally I was going to have students read the article La vida de los Adolescentes, write annotations, and then respond to the reading comprehension questions- BORING. Then, I thought about the generally set up an IPA. Let’s me clear, this text, for me at this stage is more like my anchor text and not an IPA.  An anchor text for me is an introductory text I used to teach strategies and expectations for future assessments. This text was helped to “anchor” students in many ways: 

  • To review reading strategies
  • To write annotations (get used to my system)
  • To review what type of questions to ask (none of ” qué significa es?)
  • To have a research article to refer back to (the text discusses how adolescents

But just reading and asking questions sounded boring to me, so this is what I planned instead:

  • Record the first part of the article to create a listening activity. Click here for Listening Activity 
  • Create a true/ false section to oblige them to dig more into the text
  • Invite students to create questions for the article

For homework they had to read the article again (it takes several exposures to a word before it becomes part of the lexicon) and answer questions. More more information on this article and questions see my previous post: Taking of the mask: Deconstructing Identity 

D. Experiment on Bias: How do you choose your friends?

After viewing this video, engaging and fostering conversation about this video with this question and engagement activity  last week, we read the article ” Quién Eres Tú from the MYP Spanish Concepts book. The book is chock-full with engaging readings, essential questions for everything. Even if you are not an IB teacher your students would benefit from this book. I bought it last year and I use it to supplement my own created materials in addition to the wide range of online sources (Once I get permission to share the article I will. It is short but lends itself to good discussion).

We read read highlighted the role of “apariencias” in our social habits and friendship formation. Interesting huh? Well, some of my liberally minded students denounced the article’s claim saying young people do not choose friendships based on that. Well, drawing off the energy in the room, told them to get into groups to discuss this matter. They choose  their own groups and discussed the issue. Prior to hearing from them, I asked the to:

  • Examine your groups, are these people socially akin to you? 
  • Are you with people who look like you? 
  • Do you share the same interest? 

You could hear a pin drop in the class. They all gaped in amazement. Now we were able to get into the article.

We discussed why it was easier to choose people who are like us. Here are some of the ideas that flowed:

  • Security- we won’t be judged 
  • Familiarity- we can be ourselves 
  • Convergence- we have similar values, viewpoints and perspectives

Next week: La Identidad Flexible: Diversity and the politics of Identity:  Debate en Argentina sobre la Ley de la Identidad  

Links to videos about Identity

Vivir Juntos Argentina

La Identidad Ecuador 

“Awkward Conversations” to build emergent fluency and confidence in Spanish

Awkward, but fun!

Desperate to find ways for my students to interact in the target language without having experience and with limited input, I resorted to “Awkward Conversations.” I am sure there is a more technical term, if not-I coined it!  The activity is simple yet yields many dividends. It is part of my rebellion to in the box teaching.  My previous posts introduces creative ways I avoid direct instruction to put primacy on input, learning and constructive fluency.

Background

This is the first year I have had to teach Spanish from scratch. I have always had students with some type of background with the language. Last  year, my incredible department chair had students take APPL placement tests and this really did the trick. As a result, I have real life first year Spanish leaners; and this has been a wake up call. The lessons are raw. I am constantly challenged with finding novel and engaging ways that teach the language, place a priority on authentic input while engendering output.  I am finding myself having to work muscles I have not worked in years.

Vocabulary Building 

We have been practicing greetings, introducing ourselves and learning about gender nouns. Students had to review about 15 nouns, placing the correct article in front of the noun. See the image on the right.  Naturally, the students worked with the vocabulary, wrote sentences and then it hit me. Why can’t they just share what they have written down? They don’t have to wait until they learning every little rule about mechanics or even wait for me to provide them with comprehensible input. They can have fun and play and experiment with the language. So we tried!

It was super simple. I used some of the basic words from our Descubre textbook (textbook is a bad word in some circles, but I use it as a resource). The did a preliminary exercise and then they were off about the class, being super awkward, these freshmen loved it!

Improv rule #1- Always say yes!

As students went around interviewing other students. Regardless what the students said, the other students had to respond by saying “Qué bueno.” I wanted to add ” Me alegro” but decided to leave it there. The result? Excited students, laughing and excited to speak the language. The script of this activity is below. It took about 15 minutes.

List of sight words I put on the board to facilitate sentences:

Several students combined some words: 

1. Hay un conductor en el autobus.

2. La señora Quiñones necesita un libro para la clase de español.

Sample Conversation

Greeting: Hola, buenos días

S1: ¿Como estás?

S2:  Estoy feliz (The first day they have three words to choose from Contento, Feliz, Triste)

S1:Cómo te llamas?

S2:  Me llamo Sara

SI: ¿Cuántos años tienes?

S2: Tengo 14 años y tú?

S1: Tengo 14 años

SI: Yo tengo un autobús

S2: ¡Qué bueno!

This was a super fun energizing activity. This was a total – lightbulb teaching moment.

Taking off the mask: deconstructing Identity

¿Cuál es la máscara que nosotros llevamos? What masks are we wearing?

This week I kicked off my unit on identity with some thought provoking images, activities and prompts to help students connect with the theme and most importantly to share about themselves. This is one of my favorite beginning of the year units and I will be sharing the most engaging,  purposeful, and provocative activities that ignited the class over the next few weeks.  This five post series will focus on the theme of Identity. If you want to see some preliminary priming I did for this unit, check out my previous post “I want to get to know you activities.”

Teaching with the End Game in mind


To give you a little bit of context, the crown point activity for this week was the viewing, subsequent analysis and connection to this award winning film on Identity. Students’ response and reaction to the implication of the film by making masks and narrating their “mask” stories, is toward the end of this blog post.  The preliminary front-loading activities are outlined below.

My pedagogical shift as a teacher 

This year I have taken a new reflective stance in my approach to teaching. I have shifted from a productive-oriented class only to a more think-oriented class. Last year, I felt like I was rushing the students, running through content at lightening speed without affording students time to really “sit” with, digest and ruminate on concepts. This year, I am taking a few steps back to provide what I am calling “thinking space.” This space is necessary  in order to develop thinking routines as outlined in the book Making Thinking Visible. In the book as well as referenced on this affiliated website, thinking routines help students to:

  • Garner a deeper understanding of concepts 
  • Engage more enthusiastically with the class 
  • Sharpen thinking abilities

To increase reflection time and quality output, I am dressing up each engagement with a thinking protocol or routine.  I started to sow the seeds of my shifting practice in  this previous post about our first writing engagement of the year. Below is a tentative sketch of this present endeavor:

  • Provide time to reflect, jot down thoughts before production oriented tasks (speaking and writing)
  • Offer intense scaffolding before each activity (spelled out instructions, examples and modeling)

Writing prior to speaking- that goes against everything I know!


    My first strategy to allow students think space time and using the writing modality prior to speaking, may fly in the face of the organic spontaneous speaking approach. I wholeheartedly embrace this approach, however now with several caveats.  Last year whenever we’d watch a video, or listen to input, I would immediately get students to react.  I adopted this quick fire method from one of my college professors. After input rich activities, she’d elicit a response by her “reacciones” rally call.  Well, this did not work for me with my high school students.  I was met with a sea of confused nervously anxious self-conscious teenagers, who’d rather loose “points” than embarrass  themselves- totally understandable. This is why I had to seek out a new approach.

As we start our deep dive into the unit, I have started providing them with time and space to think about how they feel about a particular prompt, questions or visual stimuli. One of my colleagues reminded me that speaking a language is on-going synthesis. Well, providing this time lowers the affective filter, frees up cognitive space and allow those neurons to fire hence creating a response.  Hopefully, as the year progresses students will become more automatic in their production and not have to rely on using writing as a catalyst. Until then, my classroom student-driven research is directing my steps. 

Now on to the activities!

Activity 1

Warm-up activity to the warm up activity

Click here to access vocabulary and question sheet

Prior to the start of the unit students were given this vocabulary sheet. I am a fan displaying the theme and collectively generating lists together. However, this unit I created has very specific vocabulary and expressions they’ll encounter in the input planned for next upcoming weeks through:

 You will notice that students have a “Mi pequeño diccionario” section where they’ll write down their own new words or incidental vocabulary that resonated with them throughout the unit.

Using vocabulary for real world purposes

Activity 1.1 

The purpose of the vocabulary list was to prepare student for this short writing activity about themselves.  Click here to access 8 writing prompts that accompany the Spanish Teen Identity Unit. Even if you do not use the unit, could be used as Bell work, small group conversation and/or exit slips.

This was a short activity to get students confortable with use the vocabulary. Most words are cognates, so this activity was more of a kinesthetic movement brain break.

Activity 2

Pictures of celebrities were planted around the class. Students used their vocabulary list words to describe the celebrities.

Getting Down to Business: The Main Dish


Activity 3

Engaging students visually to pique their interest.

Students had to observe the visual coentent and:

  • Describe two images
  • Determine the theme of the new unit and make connections among the pictures

We practiced circumlocution, so students were not allowed to use any aids for this exercise. After a few minutes, each student shared.

 Deconstructing the short film 

We watch this awarding-winning short film on Identity. It gives a spell-bounding depiction of the complexities of identity in high school. Although the film is in English, it has very limited spoken text, most of it centers on  the read- between- the- lines storyline.   After watching the video students had to process the film objectively first and then subjectively.

This website was a great help in terms of how to look critically at visual content.

Since the film is in English, I combined the first and second viewing but distinguished between an objective telling of what happened versus interpretation.  I told students to only mention verificable facts from the movie. We started more like a TPRS story:

T: ¿Quién es la persona en el corto? 

S1: Es una chica

T: ¿Dónde está la chica? 

S2: La chica está en el baño

T1: ¿Está en un baño dónde?

S3: La chica está en el baño en la escuela

* Additional note, I forget that I had actually created a more in depth activity for the video. It is free and connected to another video. You can download it here. 

This went one for a few minutes. Different students chimed in with  La chica tiene una máscara, la máscara es diferente…

One detail I did not notice last year in the film was that one of the students had two masks. As she went from one group to another she took off her mask, which revealed another one underneath. My student locked on to this detail. Then we discuss symbolism: ¿Qué significa la máscara?

*Although I did not this awesome Movie Talk protocol, next time I will include it as it would be powerful for this type of film.

The Mask as a Proxy for Identity 

For my first two classes teaching this lesson, I placed the word  La Máscara in the center of the circle. By the last class, I had forgotten so I kinda gave it away.  I gave students think space and talk time to process their thoughts silently, then with a partner when with the class. Below some of their comments are captured:

  • La máscara representa la ignorancia
  • La identidad
  • El miedo de mostrar quién eres
  • Varias Identidades
  • Falsedades (they said falso, but I wrote this)

I was so pleased, because one of the articles we are going to read from the Spanish Teen Identity Unit, discusses the fluidity of Identity nowadays as opposed to 50 years ago. The article also hits on the role that technology plays in constructing and disseminating different versions of ourselves, so they were right on!


Activity 4: ¿Cuál es tu máscara? 

After viewing the compelling video on Identity, I wanted to engage students hearts, now that there minds were grappling with the psychological construct of Identity.

I had students think about the masks they wear as students.   I shared about how being a teacher you can never make a mistake and it is easy to slip into the mask of perfection. They had two options for this anonymous activity:

  • Describe some of the masks you they wear as a student at our school
  • Describe masks that adolescents wear

The two pictures here feature some responses. Next time, I will have them color them. One surprising element was how the boys in the class engaged. As I walked around I saw:

  • La apariencia
  • Estudiante perfecto y atleta perfecto
  • Cinta pequeña y pecho grande (they did not right pecho… but another colorful expression)

Next week: We will be reading a few articles about Identity (some articles I have researched and written, while others I used from the book MYP Spanish teaching concepts) and watching a short documentary video on Teens in Argentina.

———————————————————-

If you are interested in the Spanish Teen Identity Unit it is on TPT for $2.75. It has a magazine/ blog layout and includes 30+ pages of:

1. Three articles 2-3 articles related to Teen Identity (see the blurb below are the articles)

2. Each article has hyperlinked definitions to facilitate online reading (Real World Homework?)

3. Pre-reading vocabulary lists

4. Paired writing activity

5. Graphic organizers for reading

6. Pre-reading questions all geared toward front-loading the themes and activating prior knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. 

7.  Text-dependent comprehension questions are included for the first two articles (La identidad de los adolescentes y la Identidad Indígena).

8.  Debate prompts for the third article ( Los niños trasgeneros de Argentina- this is an actual case).

9. Pre-reading questions, vocabulary activity, video response questions  this video about La Ley de Género en Argentina.

9. writing prompts connected to the theme (linked in the document)

10. Additional vocabulary list and Chat station questions integrating vocabulary (linked in the document)

Content of article:

1. The first article discusses how adolescents form their identity and touches on identity in the digital age.

2. The second article speaks about the challenges of identity for indigenous teens in Latin America and how they are redefining their integration into mainstream society.

3. The third article centers on the transgender debate in Argentina (actual case referenced). There is a video link and questions that connect to the article. 

Stay tuned for next week!

Taking off the mask-Deconstructing Identity – Week 1- Short Film Identity

¿Cuál es la máscara que nosotros llevamos? What masks are we wearing?

This week I kicked off my unit on identity with some thought provoking images, activities and prompts to help students connect with the theme and most importantly to share about themselves. This is one of my favorite beginning of the year units and I will be sharing the most engaging,  purposeful, and provocative activities that ignited the class over the next few weeks.  This five post series will focus on the theme of Identity. If you want to see some preliminary priming I did for this unit, check out my previous post “I want to get to know you activities.”

Teaching with the End Game in mind


To give you a little bit of context, the crown point activity for this week was the viewing, subsequent analysis and connection to this award winning film on Identity. Students’ response and reaction to the implication of the film by making masks and narrating their “mask” stories, is toward the end of this blog post.  The preliminary front-loading activities are outlined below.

My pedagogical shift as a teacher 

This year I have taken a new reflective stance in my approach to teaching. I have shifted from a productive-oriented class only to a more think-oriented class. Last year, I felt like I was rushing the students, running through content at lightening speed without affording students time to really “sit” with, digest and ruminate on concepts. This year, I am taking a few steps back to provide what I am calling “thinking space.” This space  in order to developing thinking routines as outlined in the book Making Thinking Visible. In the book as well as referenced on this affiliated website, thinking routines help students to:

  • Garner a deeper understanding of concepts 
  • Engage more enthusiastically with the class 
  • Sharpen thinking abilities

To increase more reflection time and quality output, time, I am dressing up each engagement with a thinking protocol or routine.  I started to sow the seeds of my shifting practice this previous post about our first writing engagement of the year. Below is a tentative sketch of this present endeavor:

  • Provide time to reflect, jot down thoughts before production oriented tasks (speaking and writing)
  • Offer intense scaffolding before each activity (spelled out instructions, examples and modeling)

Writing prior to speaking- that goes against everything I know!


    My first strategy to allow students think space time and using the writing modality prior to speaking, may fly in the face of the organic spontaneous speaking approach. I wholeheartedly embrace this approach, however now with several caveats.  Last year whenever we’d watch a video, or listen to input, I would immediately get students to react.  I adopted this quick fire method from one of my college professors. After input rich activities, she’d elicit a response by her “reacciones” rally call.  Well, this did not work for me with my high school students.  I was met with a sea of confused nervously anxious self-conscious teenagers, who’d rather lose “points” than embarrass  themselves- totally understandable. This is why I had to seek out a new approach.

As we start our deep dive into the unit, I have started providing them with time and space to think about how they feel about a particular prompt, questions or visual stimuli. One of my colleagues reminded me that speaking a language is on-going synthesis. Well, providing this time lowers the affective filter, frees up cognitive space and allow those neurons to fire hence creating a response.  Hopefully, as the year progresses students will become more automatic in their production.

Now on to the activities!

Activity 1

Warm-up activity to the warm up activity

Click here to access vocabulary and question sheet

Prior to the start of the unit students were given this vocabulary sheet. I am a fan displaying the theme and collectively generating lists together. However, this unit I created has very specific vocabulary and expressions they’ll encounter in the input planned for next upcoming weeks through:

 You will notice that students have a “Mi pequeño diccionario” section where they’ll write down their own new words or incidental vocabulary that resonated with them throughout the unit.

Activity 1.1 

The purpose of the vocabulary list was to prepare student for this short writing activity about themselves.  Click here to access 8 writing prompts that accompany the Spanish Teen Identity Unit. Even if you do not use the unit, could be used as Bell work, small group conversation and/or exit slips.

Using vocabulary for real world purposes

This was a short activity to get students confortable with use the vocabulary. Most words are cognates, so this activity was more of a kinesthetic movement brain break.

Activity 2

Pictures of celebrities were planted around the class. Students used their vocabulary list words to describe the celebrities.

Getting Down to Business: The Main Dish


Activity 3

Engaging students visually to pique their interest.

Students had to observe the images and:

  • Describe two images
  • Determine the theme of the new unit and make connections among the pictures

We practiced circumlocution, so students were not allowed to use any aids for this exercise. After a few minutes, each student shared.

 Deconstructing the short film 

We watch this awarding-winning short film on Identity. It gives a spell-bounding depiction of the complexities of identity in high school. Although the film is in English, it has very limited spoken text, most of it centers on  the read- between- the- lines storyline.   After watching the video students had to process the film objectively first and then subjectively.

This website was a great help in terms of how to look critically at visual content.

Since the film is in English, I combined the first and second viewing but distinguished between an objective telling of what happened versus interpretation.  I told students to only mention verificable facts from the movie. We started more like a TPRS story:

T: ¿Quién es la persona en el corto? 

S1: Es una chica

T: ¿Dónde está la chica? 

S2: La chica está en el baño

T1: ¿Está en un baño dónde?

S3: La chica está en el baño en la escuela

This went one for about a minute. Different students chimed in with  La chica tiene una máscara, la máscara es diferente…

One detail I did not notice last year in the film was that one of the students had two masks. As she went from one group to another she took off her mask, which revealed another one underneath. My student locked on to this detail. Then we discuss symbolism: ¿Qué significa la máscara?

*Although I did not this awesome Movie Talk protocol, next time I will include it as it would be powerful for this type of film.

The Mask as a Proxy for Identity 

For my first two classes teaching this lesson, I placed the word  La Máscara in the center of the circle. By the last class, I had forgotten so I kinda gave it away.  I gave students think space and talk time to process their thoughts silently, then with a partner when with the class. Below some of their comments are captured:

  • La máscara representa la ignorancia
  • La identidad
  • El miedo de mostrar quién eres
  • Varias Identidades
  • Falsedades (they said falso, but I wrote this)

I was so pleased, because one of the articles we are going to read from the Spanish Teen Identity Unit, discusses the fluidity of Identity nowadays as opposed to 50 years ago. The article also hits on the role that technology plays in constructing and disseminating different versions of ourselves, so they were right on!


Activity 4: ¿Cuál es tu máscara? 

After viewing the compelling video on Identity, I wanted to engage students hearts, now that there minds were grappling with the psychological construct of Identity.

I had students think about the masks they wear as students.   I shared about how being a teacher you can never make a mistake and it is easy to slip into the mask of perfection. They had two options for this anonymous activity:

  • Describe some of the masks you they wear as a student at our school
  • Describe masks that adolescents wear

The two pictures here feature some responses. Next time, I will have them color them. One surprising element was how the boys in the class engaged. As I walked around I saw:

  • La apariencia
  • Estudiante perfecto y atleta perfecto
  • Cinta pequeña y pecho grande (they did not right pecho… but another colorful expression)

Next week: We will be reading a few articles about Identity (some articles I have researched and written, while others I used from the book MYP Spanish teaching concepts) and watching a short documentary video on Teens in Argentina.

 

If you are interested in the Spanish Teen Identity Unit it is on TPT for $2.75. It has a magazine/ blog layout and includes:

1. Three articles 2-3 articles related to Teen Identity (see the blurb below are the articles)

2. Each article has hyperlinked definitions to facilitate online reading

3. Pre-reading vocabulary lists

4. Paired writing activity

5. Graphic organizers for reading

6. Pre-reading questions all geared toward frontloading the themes and activating prior knowledge, attitudes and beliefs.

7.  Text-dependent comprehension questions are included for the first two articles (La identidad de los adolescentes y la Identidad Indígena)

8.  Debate prompts for the third article ( Los niños trasgeneros de Argentina- this is an actual case)

9. writing prompts connected to the theme (linked in the document)

10. Additional vocabulary list and Chat station questions integrating vocabulary (linked in the document)

Content of article:
1. The first article discusses how adolescents form their identity and touches on identity in the digital age.

2. The second article speaks about the challenges of identity for indigenous teens in Latin America and how they are redefining their integration into mainstream society.

3. The third article centers on the transgender debate in Argentina (actual case referenced). There is a video link and questions that connect to the article.

Stay tuned for next week!

Give students a hand: scaffolding WL writing activities to lower filter and increase success!

Providing “on-target” scaffolding to promote student success

This week marked the apertura de clases at my school.   I was very excited to get to know the students. I had already prepared this “I want to know you activity” and these “Spice it up writing prompts” to thoroughly engage my upper level Spanish class. I just knew everything was going to flow so smoothly the first week right before we jump into the real learning;  I was wrong.

The first day as students started to introduce themselves and I probed them with extremely basic questions with the dual purpose of getting to know them and surmising their potential placement on the language continuum To my surprise, some upper level students students showed difficulty in responding to novice-low and mid questions. One student in particular, struggled to understand a very basic question such as ¿Tú trabajas?  I was baffled, even more so when he told me “Spanish 4 is like Spanish 1 all over again,”referring to the perceived  level of his classmates (some students are in the class because they want to improve their language level before going to AP; others  were not eligible for AP hence a negative outlook on their ability).  One thing was clear,  prior to giving the first fun writing activity, I had a lot of work to do.

Languishing Language Skills 

As I conferenced with students asking them about their summer, I noticed that many students had a uphill battle speaking the target language, using simple albeit accurate structures. The issue was pervasive.  This got me to thinking about the nature of input. When you think about input and learning a language, it is comparable to building a muscle; you use it or lose it. I then realized that many students inaugurating the school year:

  • Have been two and a half months removed from the language context
  • Their language skills atrophied over the summer

Pass me another brick

In a sense, my student was correct. Students have returned to the embryonic stage of learning a language. I suspect that as the year progresses and they”ll start registering rich, and robust input and coincidentally; the language acquisition device in their minds will start to receive, perceive and reactive again. Until then, I have to proceed with caution and make sure my teaching is supportive, not presumptive and that for the next month or so I need to come along side them to pass them another brick and help them rebuild.

So back to the writing prompt 

Instead of giving them solely the writing prompt, which I’d use to collect soft data on their writing skills. I created the writing scaffolding practice below with the goal of:

  • Engaging students and lowering their affective filter
  • Allowing them to use each other as resources
  • Helping them to identify their strengths and weaknesses so they can start mapping them out

The document reviews the basics of the present tense before they began writing. We spent about 20 minutes reviewing and working in pairs.  I have never felt a class be so calm. There was an uptick in participation (the first day they were understandably timid). The class was highly engaged and productive.

I was glad I had done this because as I walked around I noticed students struggled with the present tense and ser/estar usage. We discussed it and they were allowed to use that along with a sheet I had compiled from online resources to guide their first writing. It was a great lesson!

Download the updated writing prompt and scaffolding activity here.