Posted in No Prep Required, Novel, Technology

Conceptual maps in units and novels

My Post (99)

This year, we planned a PLC to allow us more time to collaborate with both Middle and Upper School teachers.  We have some really excellent language teachers in the Middle School, but it is hard to find time to discuss what we are doing in our classes.  Marcela Velikovsky shared a wonderful idea on how to have students create conceptual maps for the novels that they are reading.  Both my department chair and I were eager to use it on our classes!

For her level 1 class, she gave them notecards with main events and people on them.  They are reading Agentes Secretos, so she would write down main characters like Paula and Mario, places like Barcelona and Paris then other key words like romántica, mural etc.  She gave them to the students then they would connect notecards on a large piece of paper and finish a phrase in between them.  For example, one student may put the Paul card down then draw a line between Paula and romántica and write es on it: Paula ——- es——— romántica.  Then they could use Paula again, draw another line and write Paula ——– habla con——– Mario.  However, the students could organize the cards together in any order that they choose.  I love the support for a beginning level class!

In her Spanish 2 class, Marcela allowed the students to brainstorm the events, people and places for the book Patricia va a California.  Then, they did the same conceptual map using the notecards to connect them together.  Students could discuss how they wanted to arrange all of the topics.

Today, I decided to do the same thing in my Spanish V class, but because it is me, I wanted to techify it!  We have read two of Kara’s Ecuadorian legends.  I had students brainstorm the characters, main events and the importance of each legend.  Students worked in groups of 2-3.  This allowed them to review and get more repetitions of key words and events.  When they were revisiting each legend, they would also ask me clarifying questions.

After this, they used the program bubbl.us to make connections between the legends.  I told them they couldn’t just make a conceptual map with legend #1 and legend #2.  They had to think of ways that both legends intertwined.  With the Bubbl.us, they don’t need to register, and they can just download their conceptual map at the end.  Here are some of them:

Mind Map: LeyendaScreen Shot 2018-11-07 at 4.32.51 PMScreen Shot 2018-11-07 at 4.33.01 PM

I like the fact that the project was open-ended, and that it can be used at many levels.  I was thinking that this would have been useful as we were reading Vidas Impactantes.  You could also do something similar with vocabulary from a unit.  Sara-Elizabeth used this last year with her students for Robo en la noche.  Although you cannot include visuals, it would still be effective.

How do you use conceptual maps in your language class?  Now that I have started, I can’t get enough!

Advertisements
Posted in Novel

21 ideas to use while teaching novels

21 Ideas to Use while teaching novels

Last year, I made the switch from using novels in addition to the textbook to just using novels without a textbook.  I would add if you are interested in incorporating a novel into your textbook curriculum, I have found a few places that work.  For levels 2 and up, you can use an easier novel at the beginning of the year for a review.  For all levels, you can use a novel at the end to wrap up the year.  I also like to use a novel in December because it is a shorter month with winter vacation at the end.  You can envision it as a mini-mester.

Although I have presented about how I use novels including activities that I enjoy, I haven’t blogged about it here in detail.  This is also a compilation of some of my other posts, so I hope that you (and I!) can save this as a reference.

Pre-reading activities:

  • Ahead of reading the chapter, I write out 5-6 sentences about what will happen in the next chapter.  Students then predict if the sentence is true or false.  Then, you can have the class vote for which sentences they think are true and which ones are false.  As they read, they are checking to verify their answers.  I have tried this as an adult and it was extremely engaging!  (Medium prep: all levels)
  • To change the previous activity to a lower prep activity, have students make the suggestions and predictions.  Then, students can indicate what they think is true or false from the predictions.
  • To introduce culture in the book, I like to find pictures from Instagram from the country featured to discuss in class.  As a class we discuss what we see and make predictions based on the picture.  We can also look at the short caption (which is likely to be comprehensible for most levels) and the hashtags.  You could also put two similar pictures next to each other and compare them.  Finally, if the pictures contain any key words from the reading, you can label them to introduce them as well.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Start with a dictation.  Find 3-4 sentences in the upcoming chapter and read them aloud.  Students record down the sentences as they hear them.  This is when I encourage students to focus on both spelling and accents.  At the end, I project the sentences (or you can write them on the board yourself), and students correct their own sentences.  After this activity, have students translate the sentences.  You can pick sentences that may be difficult, so students already understand them in the text.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • To review and introduce vocabulary before the chapter or the novel, I like to import my Quizlet sets into PearDeck vocabulary.  Students practice writing sentences with the vocabulary or drawing a picture of the vocabulary as they work with a partner.  Then at the end, everyone votes on which sentences and drawings fit and which ones do not.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Another way to review vocabulary before reading is to review key phrases through PQA or personalized questions and answers.  You can use either the vocabulary or upcoming topics in the chapter to ask students questions about their lives.  For example, before La Calaca Alegre we discussed nightmares and types of nightmares.  Since many of my students were juniors and seniors, we could discuss car accidents before Frida’s accident.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • One of my new favorite ideas last year came from Amy Lenord when she was discussing creating creators called Whiteboard Splash.  You could do this post or pre reading.  In this activity, I would give students key words from an upcoming chapter to use in a sentence.  Or I would give them a personal question that would connect to the chapter.  Students would record their answers on individual whiteboards.  Then, once they are done, other students would give feedback by giving an ! if they were surprised, check for me too, star for well written and a smiley face for like or funny.  I took out the disagree feedback to keep the activity positive.  Sometimes, I would encourage students to rewrite their answer to add more details after seeing others’ work. (Low prep: all levels)

During reading activities:

  • Give students each 4 sticky notes, and as they are reading, they record down four main events of the chapter in the target language.  At the end of the chapter in small groups or as a whole class, the students can organize their sticky notes in a timeline. (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students fill out the main questions for each chapter: who, what, when, where and why.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • I love using reading guides!  Students fill out main ideas, identify vocabulary and visualize scenes by drawing throughout the chapter.  This also helps students focus on the main ideas and concepts from each chapter if they are reading the chapter in pairs or individually.  (High prep: all levels)
  • Give each student a mini whiteboard and ask main questions for them to answer as you read the chapter as a whole class.  You can have students draw, translate, true/false questions- you name it!  Plus, most of my students love being able to write on the mini whiteboards!  (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students pause throughout the chapter, close the book and write down everything they understand/remember.  They could do this in the TL or English.  They then compare their summary with a partner and add anything that they forgot. (No prep: all levels)

Post reading activities:

  • Martina‘s collaborative mural is always one of my favorite activities!  I modified it a bit, so three to four students come up to the board at once and draw different parts of the past events in the novel.  Then, I discuss with the class each drawing.  I always start with the question “who is it?”  After, I will have students take a picture of the board, upload it to Seesaw and explain what is happening in the drawings based on our discussion.  They can do this by adding a voice comment.  (No prep: all levels)
  • For a technology task, I like to use either Kahoot or Quizizz.  For Kahoot, I like to use Jumble because students have to put events in order.  It is harder than the traditional Kahoot.  Other than Jumble, I REALLY prefer Quizizz to Kahoot.  Quizizz is faster because the questions come at the students’ pace instead of the whole class.  You can also assign Quizizz for homework.  When I assign it for homework, I like to give a minimum score for students to earn.  If not, they can just click through and not pay too much attention.  Also, depending on how popular the book is sometimes games have already been created!  (Low to medium prep: all levels)
  • For each novel, I have started creating Puedos from Laura Sexton.  Puedos are can do statements or questions that students can answer about the novel.  I have two columns.  Students can practice twice on each question with different partners and each partner initials that the student completed it successfully.  I also encourage the partners to HELP each other- not just say oh well if someone can’t do it.  At the end, I spot check about 4-5 of their Puedos.  (Here is an example of my Puedos from Piratas.) (Medium prep: all levels) Some of my favorite questions include:
    • Who is your favorite character? Why?
    • List two facts about the country/city in the book.
    • What does X character do?
    • Describe this character.
  • I enjoy doing a jigsaw activity after a few chapters.  I have done this to review after 4 chapters.  I have students break up into groups of 4.  Then each person from the group decides if they will review chapter 1, 2, 3 or 4.  All of the chapter 1 people get together, all of the chapter 2 people get together etc.  Then from their specific chapter, they write down 3 key words from the chapter, 3 key facts and 3 questions.  This year, I want to change it, so students create a hand out with the key words, key facts and questions.  Then, the next day, they will get back into their original groups.  Each person takes the 3 quizzes from the other chapters.  Then the “expert” from the chapter reviews them. (Low prep: all levels)
  • I like to have students recreate different scenes from the book.  One way is to use digital storytelling.  You have students recreate scenes then take pictures of their recreations.  If they use Snapchat or Google slides, they can add effects and captions.  Then you can talk about the photos like a PictureTalk and continue to provide more valuable input (No prep: all levels)
  • Another way is by using play-doh.  With the play-doh, students sculpt a scene.  Then, students walk around and write down what each sculpture represents from the book. As a class, students guess the sculpture and each person reveals the part of the novel that they were intending to sculpt! (No prep: all levels)
  • For reading activities, I like to have students make Google Forms to send out as quizzes for all of the students.  I encourage students to write around 5-6 questions and normally true/false or multiple choice.  Then the students can take their peers’ quizzes.  Not only does it help the students who are reviewing the book, but it also helps students learn how to make a Google Form (which far too few students know how to do!) (No prep: all levels)
  • This past year, I have also made some Google Tours for students to complete that go through locations of the whole book.  While this is DEFINITELY the most time consuming item, I believe that it is worth it!  It is fun to play around with Google Tours, and I believe that Google will continue to evolve this platform as well.  This post explains it more in depth, and it also gives two examples of Google Tours that I made with Bianca Nieves and El Ekeko. (High prep: all levels)
  • In the middle of the book, we have also completed vocabulary mind maps that Sara-Elizabeth suggests.  I like to think of categories to group vocabulary.  For example, in Piratas, I did Pirate actions and Spanish actions.  These are also great to display for when students are reading to help reference the vocabulary. (No prep: all levels)

 

Share your favorite activities below, and I will add them to the list! (Also if you are interested in learning about how I incorporate IPAs into my novel study, check out my video here!)

Posted in Technology

Google Tours and Slides with novels

google slides and tour builder

I have mentioned before that I really love the Google Teacher Tribe podcast!  I have found two of my newest favorite Google uses for the classroom recently.  One is super LOW prep, and the other is definitely high prep, but I have two that you can already use (and I think it is worth the sweat required to make it!).

I have loved the idea of Pecha Kucha since I first read about it on the Creative Language Classroom blog.  I heard them mention it in conferences too, and I thought- I need to do that!  Pecha Kucha is a presentation style where people can only talk about each slide for 20 seconds.  So here it is probably 5 years later, and I am finally getting around to it.  (True story- while there are some things that I implement immediately, there are other things that I just sit on for awhile.  Just because I love an idea, doesn’t mean that I use it right away!)  My students have been reading a variety of novels.  So I made a blank slideshow in Google Slides and invited all students to collaborate on it- that’s it!  That was all of my prep!  Each student had about 5 minutes to find two pictures that represented some part of the book and include their name.

Then, they had to describe the picture and what was happening in the book in 30 seconds (I stretched it a little).  They did this in front of the whole class.  A few things that I did to keep it a BIT lower stress- if they finished early, I would ask them questions.  I also allowed them to stay in their seats if they preferred.  Finally, if they would rather talk with a friend, I allowed them to talk about one picture for a minute by alternating talking with a friend.  My smaller class was easier to do, but I think my longer class dragged a bit.  To help for next year, I want to have students write down two new words that they hear in each presentation.  Since I hope that hearing others on their level will help them remember words to incorporate into their own discussions about the book, this would be effective.

The next idea is to use Google Tours with novels!  (I had only heard about this for one year before using it- so a bit better on the implementation curve! 😉  I am using Bianca Nieves in level 2 and El Ekeko currently in level 1.  However, I am confident that you can find ways to incorporate this into many of the books!  (I wish that I had figured it out sooner for La Calaca Alegre.)  I figured out how to make these tours based on Jen’s super helpful post on Secondary Spanish Space.  Essentially, you can put pins down to create a tour of any part of the world.  Then, you can add pictures, links or videos to each “stop.”  You can also have students drag the little yellow person symbol to the screen and they will get an automatic street view!

I gave my students a handout to write on as they were exploring.  I believe that this is easier than trying to navigate back and forth between screens.  (Maybe because I am getting older??!)  You can see my example of the tour from Bianca Nieves including a trip to a bull farm and the city next door!  (I kept it all in the same town, but you could go to Madrid with the larger Plaza de Toros.)  Here are my guiding questions that I used.  Also, here is my tour for El Ekeko through La Paz.  The questions are linked here.

I would love to hear how you have used either tool!

 

Posted in Novel

My biggest mistakes using novels (and how I fixed them)

My biggest mistakes using novels and how I fixed them

With my beginning levels, I started teaching novels.  It was going decently, but still many students didn’t enjoy them.  I didn’t feel like I was reaching as many students as I wanted.  However, after studying how more people used novels in class and developing my units, I have realized my biggest mistakes and how I have started to counter them in class.  This has made my novel units much more successful- and now I have at least two novels to read in each level.

My first mistake was almost always reading as a group and translating aloud.  Now this can be valuable, but it also gets tedious as we continued to do this chapter after chapter.  I have found that if you have taught enough of the vocabulary, it is also not always needed.  However, this is typically how I start the first chapter.  This gives students confidence about what they can do.  Then, I change it up.  Instead of reading aloud, I will give them reading guides for a chapter then we can continue to discuss important points.  On my Facebook page, I recently shared a reading guide that I used for chapter 2 with Frida Kahlo.  I also like to have students use whiteboards, and we will pause, so students can illustrate different aspects of the book.  This provides a quick brain break, and I can provide more input- or ask students what they drew!  With my level 5, I am also going to have them read independently and respond to my questions on Flipgrid.  I wouldn’t try this with earlier levels since it may be a bit too difficult.  I have also put some questions on PearDeck which allows students to answer longer questions, multiple choice and also draw.  This provides a nice balance of all of them.  I can put it on student-paced, or we can go through a chapter together with PearDeck.

I have written about this before, but I was also horrible about Reader’s Theater!  I had two main problems- we were reading it WHILE they were trying to act it out.  The actors got antsy.  Reader’s Theater is the best AFTER reading.  This will reinforce the concepts, and students really enjoy it, so they aren’t frustrated that they are hearing the information twice.  Also, my other big mistake was having students reenact the whole chapter!  Even in beginning readers- it was too long.  There were some parts that were not suitable to even reenact.  Again, both readers and actors got antsy.  I suggest keeping it to one page or a page and a half if there is a larger continuous stage.  This year when we reenact it, I will have someone create a video to be included in our year end video.

Also, if you want to include all students in the re-enactment, I suggest digital storytelling!  I have students use Snapchat (although now they could also use Instagram Stories) to take pictures AND edit them.  They can also include a caption in the target language.  It is fun when they also add stickers to explain it more.  Then, they download the picture instead of publishing it.  (Although, they could also publish it.)  This way, they can submit it to you without you even having to be on Snapchat.  Students snapchat so much, they can do this in about 15 minutes.

My last mistake was not incorporating the great culture that is included in the novels.  I tried some, but I could have included much more!  We can listen to music from the country where the novel is written.  In Billy y las botas, we made sure to listen to the song El Burrito Sabanero before the sweater sings it.  Before another chapter in Frida that mentions the Mexican Revolution, I had students complete a short EdPuzzle to give them background before it is mentioned in the unit.  I also put together an EdPuzzle for Chichén Itzá before Billy y las botas go there on a date.  There are so many concepts that could be covered; I encourage you to find some that you know your students will like and you enjoy discussing as well.

Finally, my newest tool to use with novels is Goosechase!  You can come up with a scavenger hunt to give clues throughout the scavenger hunt.  I tried this last year with vocabulary, but Sharon had awesome ideas on how to use it with novels.  If you can, I encourage you to try it!

Originally, I believed that it would be really easy to use novels in class, but it definitely takes some time to figure it out.  How do you incorporate novels?  Were there any lessons that you learned?

Posted in telenovela

Telenovela Days 4-6

End of the Year- Telenovela Unit Days 4-6-De que te quiero te quiero

Here are my plans for the next few days with the telenovela:

Day 4:  We had not watched that much of the telenovela.  I wanted to dedicate more time to showing the episode, so they could get into the episode more.  We started out a la Laura Sexton.  I wrote sentences that could happen next.  The students predicted if these statements are possible, probable or not possible.  (Although some students predicted that it is ALL possible with a telenovela!)  After that we continued the episode with some great lines when Diego and Natalia meet, and he calls her an angel.

For homework, I found a clip online and had students watch it and answer questions in English.

Day 5:  My students took a listening/reading quiz on the telenovela.  I used a clip from episode 3 because I thought that some students may have watched episode 1 to the end.  (Although one student is on episode 7! I felt that if she had watched that much TV in Spanish, she deserved the extra bump on her quiz.)  I used the subtitles in Spanish since this assignment is typically harder than one I would use for this level.  They answered questions in English then I added some questions in Spanish because there was a music scene without any words.  The students described what happened in Spanish.  Overall, I wanted students to be able to explain what was happening in general terms.  They did not always understand line for line, but most of them were able to get the gist of the section.

Day 6:  We continued to watch the video.  I also created a Voicethread for them to complete.  I took screenshots of a few of the clips, and then students described what was happening without using their notes.

Hope this is helping you if you are showing this telenovela or another one!  My students and I are really enjoying it.  I am including my guides below for the study guide and the second part of the telenovela.

de que te quiero te quiero 2

listening practice quiz telenovela

Posted in telenovela

Telenovela End of the Year Unit Days 1-3

End of the Year- Telenovela Unit Days 1-3-De que te quiero te quiero-

Many times, I feel that we rush through the year and at the end of the year we try to push ONE MORE topic on our students.  I decided that I wanted my students to really use what they learned.  I was inspired by Laura’s telenovela unit!  I also wanted to start my students on a Netflix series that they could choose to watch at home this summer.  I decided on the telenovela “De que te quiero te quiero.”

I will go through my first three days, and I will update as I go.

Day 1:

I started with a list of questions for my students in Spanish.  Did they know anything about telenovelas?  Did they know the names of any telenovelas?  Did they watch a soap opera in the US?  Did they watch Ugly Betty or the NBC series Telenovela?

Next, they completed a KWL (Know, Want to know and Learned) chart.  They wrote down what they would want to know.

After this, I gave them a handout.  I asked introduction questions in Spanish: who watches telenovelas, when they watch them, where they are popular, what types of telenovelas exist, why people watch telenovelas and then they can add three additional details specific to their article.  I used the same three articles that Laura mentions.  The students completed that as a jigsaw activity.  (After I was inspired by a recent #langchat conversation!)  They had to divide into groups of three, then each person from the group of three read a different article.  At the end, the original groups all compared their notes.  Different articles highlighted or confirmed different sections, so it required students to complete their individual section.

Day 2:

We reviewed some of the past tense work that we have done.  Then the students watched the preview video here.  Students seemed to get excited to watch the telenovela.  Then we watched the telenovela.  I would pause the video, and we would describe the scene.  They would also fill out the accompanying worksheet below.  We watched about 5 minutes.  At the end, students also included filled out the details for each character.  Then for homework, the students can either predict what will happen or retell the beginning from the point of view of Natalia or Andrés.

Day 3:

For the third day, I found an interview with the male protagonist Juan Diego Covarrubias.  It focuses on his second role more, but it also gives nice background about how he exercises and how he met his girlfriend.  On our LMS, I created a multiple choice question assignment for students to complete.  At the beginning, I asked students to describe both Natalia and Andrés.  Then, we continue with the telenovela for a little over 5 minutes.  We continue to describe the video in addition to filling out the viewing guide.  I am including the viewing guide below.

I hope that if you are planning on showing a telenovela that you consider watching De que te quiero te quiero! (Edited to add: I noticed some typos after I published this!  I updated the document, but please tell me if you see anything else!)

de que te quiero te quiero 1

 

Posted in Reading

Independent Reading: Novel Project

Washington Memorial
Washington Memorial

Next year, my Spanish II blended students will be reading a novel of their choice at the end of the year.  I am going to give them a choice of three different novels.  They will be reading on their own, and I will have small face to face groups during their class setting.  They will have to keep track of their progress and new words while they are reading.  At the end, they will create a project to demonstrate their knowledge of the book.  I am including my reading log and projects as well.  Many of these ideas I saw elsewhere.  I originally saw the idea by Kristy Placido for Robo en la noche.  I am excited to implement this!

novela

Posted in Project, Reading

Foldable for novels

At the end of each year, my students read a novel.  My students in Spanish 1A read Mira’s Agentes Secretos, and my students in Spanish 1B read her book Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto.  As I have said before, they are great novels, and many of the students feel really successful after reading them because they are at their level.  I wish that I had found this at the end of the year, but I will definitely use it this year!

Students can create a secret door foldable.  Students can create different scenes on each layer.  The YouTube video gives directions on how to assemble them.  I know that many teachers use choice boards to have students express their knowledge of the book.  This would be a perfect activity to add to these boards.

Posted in Proficiency

Vocabulary Lists in my Spanish class

Vocabulary Lists in my Spanish class.jpg

There are many hot button topics in foreign language education and recently vocabulary lists have been one of them.  As I have continued to develop my own voice and what works for my classes, I would feel intimidated at times.  Many of the experts seemed to be saying contradictory things.  Can you really balance it all?  I am always refining my practice, but I believe that I have come to a point where I am able to incorporate different methods to find what works best for me and for my students.  This year, I am trying to write out how I find balance of these topics.  My practice is a mixture of research-based findings and what I observe in my own classroom.  Today, I am going to tackle if vocabulary lists can be useful and ways that I help students acquire vocabulary.

Thomas Sauer has said that many times, teachers need to clarify that their findings are what work for them and for their situation.  I wanted to start with this caveat and a bit about my school and students.  I work in a school where:

  • Many teachers still use the textbook.  While a few more teachers are starting to use novels, over half of our Spanish department uses the textbook.  And with the textbook, they teach both vocabulary and grammar explicitly.  Therefore, I have to prepare my students for this.  If our whole department used untargeted input, we may be in a different scenario.
  • Our school has parents who are involved.  This is wonderful!  However, they want to know what students need to work on, what students are learning and they like to have something to reference.
  • I teach levels 1, 3, 5 and 6 this year, so my students span greatly in their proficiency.

Early on in my teaching with a textbook, I would start limiting vocabulary.  If I hadn’t heard of a word in a level 1 textbook after speaking Spanish for years, my students probably didn’t need it… at least not in level 1.  (I remember specifically the word anorak.  I learned both an English word and Spanish word in one day!)  Also, I knew that it was impossible for students to acquire the long lists of vocabulary that they were presented with from a textbook.  As I started to move away from the textbook, I questioned the validity of the vocabulary list.  Without a textbook, do you need to completely ditch a vocabulary list?  I don’t agree.  I believe that you can have students both acquire vocabulary and learn it successfully with lists.

One way that I teach vocabulary is that I teach with a lot of comprehensible input.  One thing that I really appreciate about comprehensible input is that students continue to hear many of the same words frequently.  They will really start to acquire these words easily.  If you are discussing music videos, you can keep recycling key words that students continue to hear.  Another way for students to acquire language is through reading novels that are geared to Spanish learners.  I have noticed how many words my students remember for long periods of time.  When we were discussing our novel at the end of the year (May) and comparing it to our novel from January, I was surprised how easily students were able to recall these words.  In addition, all of my students this year have discussed Carlos’ pesadillas from last year (April) with Calaca Alegre.

In the Musicuentos Black Box video series, one of my favorite videos was about extensive reading (Video 6).  In this video, they discuss how much students have to read in order to acquire vocabulary.  The research from this video states that there is no way to study all of the vocabulary needed to speak a language, but you can read to acquire the language that you need.  That is one reason why I have incorporated novels into my classes.  We also read the news each week.  In addition, when we are not reading a novel, my students have free voluntary reading time.  This is one key way to help them acquire vocabulary.

However, are comprehensible input and reading the only way to learn language?  What is the case for vocabulary lists?  I have still maintained vocabulary lists throughout my classes.  However, I have limited vocabulary words to 20 words and phrases per three weeks to a month at the most.  I expect that students learn other words based on our conversations in class, but I like to limit the amount that they HAVE to learn through intentional learning.

I decided to do keep limited vocabulary lists after much thought.  In my own world and classroom, it gives my students something to practice if they would like to.  I can always point a parent to the Quizlet list online.  Without a book and extra exercises, this is important.  When I was moving away from the textbook, this was one concern that my principal had.  He wanted to make sure that parents and students had something to reference, so they didn’t feel as anxious.  I also noted that when I was teaching Spanish V, during some of the units, students didn’t acquire vocabulary as much as they did when I provided a vocabulary list.  I wasn’t sure until I did some more research.

I felt validated when I heard Joe Barcroft’s podcast on We Teach Languages.  During his research on vocabulary acquisition, his research supports both of use of comprehensible input and limited vocabulary lists.  For example, the second principle in his book supports my first idea about repeated input.  His research indicates that vocabulary must be repeated over the course of a unit and over the course of a year.  The research also indicates that these words need to be used in context.  This supports the use of reading as well.  The third principle that Dr. Barcroft mentions explains the difference between incidental vocabulary and intentional learning.  While many of us learned our first language purely through incidental vocabulary, he notes that you can still pick up even more language from intentional learning.  I believe that this is why I didn’t see the same acquisition from my students in other units.  They were just learning words incidentally and not through intentional learning.

Finally, another big piece of research that has dictated how I practice and teach vocabulary is through retrieval practice.  Retrieval practice discusses the importance of repeating vocabulary at various intervals.  This helps students to remember the vocabulary and transfer these words into their long term memory.  I like to do brain dumps throughout the year where students have to think of words that are associated with a topic.  Then, students have to complete a writing assignment with the words that they have brainstormed.

As I continue to work through my journey, I hope this helps you piece together what works in class and matching up research as well.

Posted in Novel

Robo en la noche: Pre reading activities and chapters 1-3

Robo en la noche: Pre reading, chapters 1-3

In level 3, we are teaching the book Robo en la noche by Kristy Placido.  For most of my students, this is the first time that they are reading a novel in Spanish, and they seem to understand it well.  I wanted to give some of the activities that we have done before reading and during reading:

  • To start, we did an introduction to Costa Rica.  I printed off some of my old news about Costa Rica.  I also printed off some of the articles from El Mundo en Tus Manos from the previous year.  I had students take notes on them and compare the US with Costa Rica by writing a short paragraph in Spanish.
  • They also completed this EdPuzzle about Costa Rica to see more of the sights.
  • We also went over the geography of Costa Rica from Elizabeth Dentlinger.  This helped reinforce some of the words from the book as well.  I like any activity where I can give input, and the students are active and able to demonstrate comprehension.
  • We also watched this video from Zachary Jones on Biodiversity.  Even though it isn’t about Costa Rica, it gives a good background about different animals and plants.
  • Before reading the first chapter, we did a pop-up with sentences from the first chapter that I thought they would know.  They really got into this game, and it helped to make the first chapter more comprehensible.

We always start with reading the first chapter aloud.

  • This time, I had students draw the pictures as we were going.  After that, students took a picture of their drawings and wrote a caption describing what was going on in the first chapter.  They included this in their Seesaw journal.  You can also have them explain the pictures by speaking if you want to.
  • Finally, they played Crayon War or Guerra.  Typically, I have played this with vocabulary words, but it was easy to make the switch to doing this as a fun post reading activity.  I am including a picture below:

Crayon War

With this activity, I could give clues such as who is Bender (for horse/caballo) and Makenna’s sister who is still in Michigan (for Alex) in the target language.  Students can hear many of the key facts again.  They race to circle the correct word or phrase.  This activity can be as long or as short as you like, too!

  • For the second chapter, we started with a Write and Discuss from the first chapter.  Since we are reading this book in the past tense, we are using this to highlight some of the past translations to demonstrate what they mean.  This is a nice way to get in pop-up grammar by translating the verb.
  • Students also completed a PearDeck as we read.  I can have them draw scenes, translate sentences or answer questions while we go.
  • Finally, we reviewed all of the characters, and students took notes on them.
  • At the beginning of the next class, students made Play-doh sculptures from the first two chapters.  (Although I had to ban planes because everyone was making planes!)  Then students made predictions about what each play-doh represented.  We reviewed each play-doh sculpture as a class to get even more repetitions of key words and phrases.
  • For chapter 3, I gave students a reading guide to complete.  I like to use reading guides to allow students to read on their own.
  • Finally, after the third chapter, students completed a five minute free write of what happened in the book.  I am trying to use free writes more to help students with their written proficiency.  They can count up the number of words, and put the picture in Seesaw.  This way, they can keep track of all of their free writes and their progress.

Also today in class we added a mascot!  (Check out the first picture!)