Infuse problem-based thinking in your Spanish class with this project

pic of kid with technologyHow to infuse problem-based thinking into your world language classroom

A few year back when I was teaching in an International Baccalaureate middle school, I started the year dreamy-eyed with this cool social media project.  I could not wait to implement it.  Coming off a summer of PD around the Personal Project, a design cycle research project for students, I was sure this was going to be the year that we do big things and tackle relevant themes such:

  • How do we interact with social media? 
  • What digital footprints are we leaving on the world? 
  • How to use social media thoughtfully and responsibly?

I’d walk my students step by step in the target language. Then it happened. My hopes were dashed.  This critical and awe-inspiring week was met with three challenges:

  • We had no working technology in school
  • We had no access to computers 
  • We could not use the textbook 

This was not going to work because the whole  crux of my plan was to get them to design their own websites of something of import to them; then it hit me:

  • How am I teaching them problem-solving skills when I am vexed with a problem like this? 

Limited connectivity, no problem!

Stone-Age-Man So I had this paper website idea. The idea was for students to create a futuristic social media outlet dissimilar in style and purpose from the ones we have today. Essentially, they could not rebrand Facebook.  My 6th graders had to include the normal suite of buttons such as upload, download and the like (see activities below). They also had to think of a novel idea for the media outlet and a purpose it would serve- in basic Spanish. We charted our course with these essential questions:

If I could design a website in the future, what will it look like? 
How will it be useful? 
Who will be my targeted audience

For the final product (more to come on the brainstorming sessions and planning documents), they had to include the following on their paper website all in the target language:

  • Title (creative title in Spanish)
  • About me section (Descriptive adjectives, gustar, family)20131003
  • Tabs and links (vocabulary for technology use)
  • Picture or description of service
  • Testimony (very simple) (persuasive writing)
  • Email links
  • URL

 

The assessment for this activity as a presentation of their website to the class. I neglected to mention that students worked in pairs.

(I will be doing this again this year, so stay tuned for the final format)

How did we prepare? 

To prepare, we work with the vocabulary beforehand. Students used something similar to this Vocabulario para la tecnología sheet to familiarize themselves with the verbs. Students used activities such as   This activity helped students to:

  • Practice core verbs needed to discuss how they use technology 
  • Familiarize themselves with core vocabulary such as redes sociales, aplicación, etc. 
  • Engage in conversation about their social media usage. 
  • Share about their favorite sites and usage. 

An expansion of these activities in all including but not limited to reading texts, debates and student experiences with social media in the target language are included in my social media school unit.   I actually spread these throughout and because this was the middle school we used only use the reading and for the short debates the story Yo no puedo vivir sin mi celular. This text is about a boy who:

  • Talks about his phone 
  • His use of technology 
  • Why cellphones should be used in school  

The second story is  “El uso de celular destruyó mi vida is more for Spanish 2 (or the end of Spanish I as it has some preterit).  This story narrates the negative side of technology, cyber bullying, and students’ insensitive behavior.

If you are interested in combing your love for technology with a crime thriller, this short story may satisfy your fancy… oh, and did I mention the Teacher’s Manual was absolutely free? 

Click here for Freedom!

1
Click here to enter into a labyrinth of suspense 

Infographics on the use of technology

Eres adicto al celularEres adicto al celular

This was a tesoro that I found online and I am considering using this as an interpretive assessment.  Stay tuned for more activities!

How do you infuse technology into your class? 

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Fostering dialogues and conversation at the lower rungs of the WL continuum

 

Flipped reading

Fomentando diálogo en la clase de Español puede ser una tarea monumental especialmente en las clases inferiores como las del Español I y II. Algunos de los impedimentos son:

El limitado uso y conocimiento de los estudiantes

– El ” hay que enseñar” tantas cosas– El gasto físico y emocional de planear y estar en todas partes y todo momento. 

Después de una lección bomba, me di cuenta que una hora más tarde que los nenes ni siquiera habían utilizado el idioma.  Yo dije “borrón y cuenta nueva” con mi planificador de lecciones. Durante el verano tuvimos una valiosísima sesión con Bryce Hedstrom acerca de incorporar las entrevistas personales al curso. Empecé con eso, unos cinco estudiantes a la vez.

Me percaté de como esta metodología había cambiando el ritmo de la clase. Los estudiantes hablan, hablan y hablan. Pues, me fui muy avariciosa con la idea y quise más.  Por bueno que fuera, no me daba tiempo con todos los estudiantes (creo que él lo hace con todos, tiene un sistema súper).  Sé que por lo visto parece ser una meta inalcanzable, estratoférica pero dije “si hay cupo para cinco, lo hay para treinta.”  Con esta actitud me fui diseñando la clase alrededor de los objetivos de comunicación y cada actividad les brindaba a los estudiantes una oportunidad de hablar y para mi la misma para evaluar. Todavía estoy trabajando en eso pero doy un ejemplo de plan de clase y que tal me fue.

La lección- La clase/ La escuela (como la quiera llamar)

Nótese que con cada actividad estoy enfocando en un estudiante distinto. Si la actividad es por 5 minutos, alcanzo interactuar con uno o dos estudiantes.

Actividades comunicativas a continuación (una lección que hice el otro día practicando este modelo- 90 minutos de clase). 

1. El calentamiento (Bellringer)- esta parte de la lección es crucial. Yo siempre empiezo la clase con un estímulo de qué hablar ya que sea una foto o una pregunta. Durante este momento pesco 3 estudiantes. Les hago preguntas a veces básicas o espontáneas (de carácter básico o de desafío). Ya puedo tener un perfil de tres de mis estudiantes.


2. La preguntadera-La práctica de los verbos-Ar. Los estudiantes ya tenían conocimiento de las preguntas interrogativas.  Les mostré como construir las preguntas y empezamos a hablar. Les hice preguntas sencillas como – Tú bailas en la casa o en la escuela- siempre pidiéndoles más información Las pregunticas tonticas como éstas son muy divertidas y los estudiantes hablan, hablan y hablan. Cuando ya hayan cogido la  confianza, ellos empiezan a hacerse preguntas los unos a los otros (proporcionando una oportunidad más).  Por fin,  les pregunto en clase, generalmente hablo con cinco estudiantes. Cuando ya están en grupos hablo con 4-5 estudiantes.

3.  Silla caliente–  Ya que lo hemos practicado, les pido un tributo (para valerme de la terminología distópica) para la silla caliente. Aquí puedo evaluar tanto el estudiante que responde como sus interrogadores.

5. Actividad Audiovisual- Usé este video ” Turn it up– Los materiales escolares .  Aviso, la chica en este video tiene mucha energía y es muy caliente. Algunos de mis estudiantes varones ya han inscrito en su página. Les enseño el video dos veces y después hablan de él. Yo les hago preguntas como:

1. ¿Cuáles son los materiales escolares que ella tiene?

2. ¿Son diferentes o similares a los que tú tienes?

3.¿ Te gusta el video?

4. ¿Qué pasa en el video?- Aquí los estudiantes usan los verbos en tercera persona para describir lo que hace ella.

5. Describe a ella

6. Describe su personalidad

7. ¿Crees que ella puede tener muchos amigos aquí en …….?

Actividad de extension

Otra actividad que me encanta para practicar los materiales escolares es “Qué tienes y qué hace con ello?

La clase se divide en dos grupos. Un grupo saca todos sus materiales escolares inclusive el teléfono. Como si estuvieran en un mercado los estudiantes curiosean por los pupitres preguntándoles ‘

Qué es..

Qué hace con ….

Para qué clase necesita…

A qué es la clase…

Quién es el profe….

Puede ser un poco cursi al principio pero los chicos hablan y usan el español limitado que tienen.

 

Authentic Back to school Commercials and activities for Spanish class!

 

  Get students talking at every interval!

I love my Spanish class, but I have to admit, It would be difficult to get the conversation going without sounding contrived or sacrificing free form for a more formulaic model. Year after year I am always exploring ways to get the students talking. This year, I took a slightly different approach.  I decided to include more visual stimuli while expanding the opportunity for more  comprehensible input. If you do not know what comprehensible input is, please click on this link comprehensible input as it may explain why students have a difficult time grasping language- it did for me.  In a nutshell it is providing students with rich, varied and slightly challenging language input before they are expected to output. I was recently at the ACTFL conference and I heard one of the presenters give the analogy of a sponge (recycling from a teacher at her school). The sponge soaks up the water, and then when you wring it out, it produces!  

Now that we are in the school unit of our curriculum, I am have amassed a few resources that I use with students for them to practice their vocabulary and also structures in the interpersonal mode. Using these resources have transformed my lesson and I have to say, I am truly impressed with the results- videos coming soon!

Argentine School Supplies Video 

I found this really cool video on Pinterest. It is an Argentine commercial about school supplies. It is rebonito and the kids loved itArgentine School Supplies Video . Here is with my students: 

1. Watch the video through without taking notes. 

     First, I had students view the video without their notes- remember input is king here! This may be a no-brainer to most teachers but usually I have student take notes on everything!  This time I thought about how distracting taking notes could be and how much more they’d be able to withdraw from their “language ATM.  In addition, taking notes the first watch precludes students from watching the video as a whole, spikes up their affective filter and is overall not beneficial to the language learner.  

Post viewing student engagement activities 

After watching the view, they describe the characters and any words they might have heard. 

2. Watch the video for a second time and then use the note taking sheet. 

3. Students then draw from their notes and discuss the video.  

4. Class discussion- after students have written elements of the video they have seen.  We have a class discussion about the video. Since we learned interrogative words, they use those words to ask questions and follow up questions of other students. I ask them a ton of questions about the video in addition to allowing them to ask each other.  I sit back with my “ACTFL” modified class rubric and take notes on their language abilities. I am not grading them but collecting soft data. 

Notes: Students also were exposed to the verb gustar so they talked about the boy in the video liking the girl, the pen with the flower (we had just wrapped up our Day of the Dead Altars). 

How to extend this video activity?

This year, I will add the following activities to my lesson (this was done at the beginning of last year)  

– True and false  activity

-Match activity for the vocabulary 

-Have students create a mini/simple back story.

Viewing with a purpose- Detective work 

The second video I showed students was one I also found on Pinterest. It may be part of a text book program. Again, I followed the same protocol as above with one variation- the students had to watch the video a third time and take the role of a detective to report the students whereabouts. This activity was sooo fun!!!  

School in Spain Video- School in Spain

1. Watch the video through without taking notes. 

2. Watch the video for a second time and then respond to questions in groups. Click here for activity Video Worksheet- School in Spain.

3.  Discuss the video as a class with the worksheet. I usually give the Writing for a Purpose Activity as an exit slip. 

While students are talking in groups or individually, I usually circle around with my board to take notes on their communicative proficiency and competence.

Let me know how it goes!

Conversation circle, film interviews and debate: 7 activities to broaden students cultural knowledge through film

El niño- cartel

Spanish Cinema delivers with El Niño

Before talking about the pedagogical merits of  El Niño , I have to say that I absolutely love the protagonista (Luis Tosar) and antagonist (Jesús Castro). I have seen their work in other films and series and they are the real deal!  I have become a fan of Spanish Cinema as I find the films to be refreshingly real, costumbrista and very gutsy. This film not only delivers on action, but it does on thematic content, storyline and romance!

Te llamas el Niño, por qué te gusta jugar…

    This month I got to introduce some of my favorite short and full feature films and series from Latin American and Spain. The goal was to get students talking in Spanish much like they do in their English classes.

          El Niño is an action-packed 1 hour and 40 minutes film. ¡Ojo! it does have two scenes that I usually censure. Prior to this film, I do a mini lesson on Spanish-Africa, we watch a video on Ceuta and Melilla as the film takes place at the crossroads of the two cultures.  The film explores the themes of illegal immigration, oppressive governments, corruption, unemployment and the selling of contraband- all these things really mesh together to create the storyline.  Many students were completely unaware of the presence of Spanish Africa, the Moors and the confluence of Spanish, African and Arabian culture. The love interest and tension between the Spaniard and a muslim girl from Africa, kept them on their edge of their seats and gave us some meaty morsels for class discussion.

    One of the best activities I did associated with this was the Film Interview. We compiled a list of themes presented in the film. I called five students out randomly and facilitated a discussion with them highlighting  one of the themes. I tossed one catalyst question and they just went at it. Of the comments made, it was encouraging to hear them use their accountable talk phrases to agree, disagree and when they struggled they relied on circumlocution, much like they would in a more authentic context with native speakers.  They added  new perspective to the film that I had not even noticed (I annotated them for the following year). However, students noticed an interesting detail in the film; possessors where criminalized more than consumers of contraband. This dichotomy surfaced as those who shipped, grew and sold  contraband were relentless pursued by police, while those who topping the  “demand” aspect of the chain  aspects brillaban por su ausencia. This led to several dynamic discussions. I had to extend interviews because se calentaba la mesa de conversación.

Activities for viewing the film 

1. Conversation Circle 

To introcomunicacion-iconduce the lesson, we discussed favorite books and movies. These lively conversations inevitably led to words and ideas that would comprise our vocabulary list. I used activities such as these to engage them in the begging stages. From there I created a simple vocabulary list.  The list was used as a point of reference and also provided students with vocabulary for describing, analyzing and writing about films.  Vocabulary for Flim unit 

I’d also like to put a plug in for this amazing Movie Sheet  I got from one of the teachers on TPT. This sheet saves my life every time I am in a bind. If you ever show a movie or even a Telenovela, just have a view of these handy to avoid students annoying asking ” Do we take notes? What do we do?

Preliminary input and interest 

2.  To get students excited about the unit in addition to providing them with resources they could view on their own beyond the four walls of the class,  I featured a few trailers of Spanish-speaking series. Most of the series are from Spain (I have A3series- a new channel offered on RCN).  However, it also highlights Spain’s dominance in this particular market. Series such as Gran Hotel and El Internado are also popularly viewed by both Spanish-Speaking and non Spanish-Speaking audiences. Since we had been working on the subjunctive in this particular class, I organized activities to include that grammatical point. This activity Hoja de actividad worked the vocabulary and grammar.

Trailers o Avances to the series. 

El principe 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_BHRKwrUVI&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=15

El barco 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91YNyeENQ0w&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=14

El Mar plastico 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5z87AaAi1Y&list=PLuHasT3Ww6UdvlsIenVN-CsV8JCObWpsg&index=12

3. As we begin to discuss how to analyze film. we looked at camera angles and shots in terms of their importance in bringing the story alive.  Here is the activity with the video that I used to help students get a sense of the language used to describe angles in addition to their importance. This is the second year I’ve included the angle shots. The first year I had introduced them was disastrous as I assumed that students had some familiarity with photography (we have AP Photo at my school). Lesson learned! This year we covered all but only emphasized a few.

Film shots in Spanish (the url of the video is embedded in the document).

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yT2hXUWxSazd2R3M/view?usp=sharing

4.  Film Carrousel

This was something different I did this year. We have 90 minute block periods so this worked perfectly for one class. I selected three films. The vocabulary as well as questions front loading some the films content and themes were included in the anticipatory set prior to seeing the film (see the PPT).  The order was as follows:

– Complete previewing activities

– View cortometraje and jot down new vocabulary words

– Turn to a partner to discuss the themes, characters, plot and overall impression of the film (next year I will include the camera shots)

– Engage in a class discussion about themes.

Power Point used to launch the film carrousel activity

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yMkEtSlcwLXJyUTQ/view?usp=sharing

Activity sheets for students

https://drive.google.com/a/cps.edu/file/d/0B2Nr2F00fm_yc0JmR3BTQjZ0V0E/view?usp=sharing

Useful websites

Film Vocabulary in Spanish

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/learning-spanish/42396-going-to-the-movies-vocabulary-expressions/

http://www.muchomasquecine.com/biblioteca/vocabulario-de-cine/

http://www.uhu.es/cine.educacion/cineyeducacion/glosariocine.htm

!Más actividades por delante! Please share your favorite films!  

Join the ACTFL Cinema SIG page on Facebook where we discuss and share film ideas!

Keeping students in the Target Language

comunicacion-icon

 How to flip your class into a productively themed-based “chatty classroom.”

 I have had days where after teaching what I thought to be a dynamic-pat-myself on the back lesson, only to realize the student had not uttered a word or communicated substantively with other students. This was my conundrum early in the school year and I sought to solve it with turning every activity into a communicative focused one. I thought this was going to be a challenge in my novice-level class, but it turned out to be a lot of fun, a lot o noise and a lot of learning.

I know for many it can be a challenge to speak the duration of class due to the limited language ability of of super green- novice speakers.  However, despite the challenges I committed myself  to providing a whole language experience to all my students regardless of level. The goal early this year, I wanted to test the “stay 100% in the target language in Spanish I.”

In order to accomplish this goal, I had to relax some of my rules (respira y cuenta hasta 10).   I allowed my lower levels to Speak “Spanglish” in the beginning due to their limited scope and depth of the language. My new model has adjusted to this reality of baby’s first words and thusly I charged them with  “say what you can in Spanish” and we’ll work with the rest. One of my students put this into practice right away.   After my little spiel about staying in the TL he continued his conversation about basketball describing  one of the players for the previous night’s game he said “Él es un point guard.” Well, it made me think that Spanishglish  is also a strategies for circumlocution- when used correctly of course.

I divided my 90 minute block period into, what I have call language carousel. This has enabled me to have interaction with every students in the class, perform quick dipstick assessments and get production skill data in a manner of seconds.  If you have 45 minute block periods, you will have to adjust this plan, but this is what I am working on now. Here is a sample layout of my language carrousel.

Unit: Vamos a la escuela- Speaking carrousel

-up/ Calentamiento

– View a picture and write 5 verbs associated with the picture (well, writing is a catalyst for speaking)

– Interview students about what they see (extemporaneous speech) and students interview each other. Here, I taught using TPR some sentence stems that they used with their vocabulary. Such as “Yo veo” pointing to my eye.  This was a great opportunity for them to use definite and indefinite articles as well. They also had to say what they did not see, which helped to expand their vocabulary, while having fun.

–  After the warm up, I was introducing the first episode of Eres Tú María.  I love this series because each episode builds progressively on the vocabulary. I believe this is connected with a textbook, but the videos are in Youtube. Click here for the series.

-Introduce pre-viewing activity for video with vocabulary words. 

– Show students a screenshot of the video/ have them make predictions going beyond the visual stimuli and the vocabulary words. Students can also use basic questioning techniques to ask other students questions. This is always a winner. 

–  Students interview other students about predictions

– Show video once- interview students about what they say (present tense) to make connections

– Show video a second time/ interview students asking them visual interpretations questions about the video.

– Students get into groups to discuss comprehension question. I have some questions that are not on the sheet that are reserved for my student interview.

Please note that each speaking task is with a different student and that during this time, I have a clipboard with my attendance chart. At the bottom of my attendance chart I have an novice-mid quick rubric to assessing students as they speak (picture forthcoming). This has helped me formatively assess my students, tweak my lessons daily and formulate better summative assessments more commiserate with their growth and stretch goal.  Not to mention many of my students will have an opportunity to speak thus building the confidence that is a necessary precursor to
speaking.

The only drawback I have encountered with the method is that after the third student, the other students get a bit restless. I am going to try incorporating this while other students are working and not oblige them to listen to the conversation. I will keep you posted!!