Success!

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In our first week back from Spring Break my Spanish II class has been working on a unit about watching movies.  I got the ideas from Sra. Drew and this post, and adapted them for my students.

Let me say, before I explain my success and excitement, that I didn’t do the best job on this unit.  I am still VERY MUCH learning how to be a proficiency-based class, and posts like the one I was able to adapt this unit from have been such a tremendous help!  That said, I didn’t read the blog carefully enough, and I missed ALL THE INTRODUCTORY activities.  Next time I teach this (or a similar unit) I know I need to include some ways for students to find the vocab. (at least most of it) from authentic readings like she did, but I honestly have just learned about the importance of this step in the last… well, day or so.  Whoops 🙂

Anyway, I am prefacing my success with errors.  I started on Monday by giving a vocabulary sheet and simply doing PQA with the sheet.  Since there were quite a few cognates and I was able to point to the words/phrases if students needed to it, this went pretty well.  I definitely need to learn more how to facilitate PQA sessions, though, as I feel like I run out of things to ask without getting boring, and this happens pretty quickly.  I only have 16 students this hour, so I am able to ask each student a different question of two, but I feel like I do need to learn to do a better job of this.

So Day 1 (Monday– first day back from Spring Break) consisted of PQA with this vocabulary, and a reading activity (similar to Sra. Drew’s post).  This went quite well and I felt good about it.  At end the hour (I told you, I go pretty quick, unfortunately.  I need to learn to SLOW DOWN), I modeled how to write a few sentences about movies we like, giving examples of a particular movie.  For homework they had to write another mini-paragraph like this on their own.

On Day 2, we practiced writing again in the same manner.  I walked around as they wrote and I was able to give 1-1 feedback to each student as they worked.  I also incorporated pop-up grammar when I saw common errors.  We really tried to push the writing and get more and more detail, which resulted in each student writing two full paragraphs during class.  Towards the end of the hour, we partnered up, switched papers to peer edit (modeled), and each student wrote a response to the paper the read.  Students seemed to feel more confident after this.

Day 3, then, I wanted to see how much they had gotten out of the writing workshop.  Though we had not had a ton of instructional time, I decided to give them a little “quiz.”  Here’s the prompt:

You just started your own blog where you can practice Spanish. Trending in the Blog world right now is the topic of movies.  Many of the blogs you follow have posted what they think about different kinds of movies, so you decide to join in the conversation with what you have to say.  You should write about at least TWO different movies; one you like and one you don’t like.”

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I know that good practice would want me to give more input before assessing, but the writing seemed to go so well in class that I wanted to see where they were at.  The results were AWESOME! For example: photo 1

This was, admittedly, the best response, but each person in the class met my proficiency goal!  Yay!  I was super excited to see how much and how well they wrote.  This class is Spanish II, though not one person in the class had a true Spanish I (before I was hired, this school used Rosetta Stone for about a year and a half, which these guys took in middle school).

We are now working on producing summaries of movies.  I am hopeful these successes continue.  I am at least feeling like a rock star for now 🙂

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Choice Boards for Emergency Sub Plan

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One thing that I have NOT been very good at so far is having some materials ready for those “emergency sub days.”  Luckily, I don’t get sick often, so I have not had to get out of bed at 2am with the flu to make plans or anything, but I also understand that I should be prepared.  In scouring TeachersPayTeachers I came across this example of a German teacher’s Choice Board assignment for such situations.   I am a big fan of giving students a choice in what to do, so choice boards are a favorite of mine.  What I like most about this is that it is written to go with any topic of study for extra practice, and the same plan can be left for multiple levels of class (e.g. I, II, MS, etc.)

This evening, then, I made my own, modified, choice board based off of the linked example.  I took off the grammar-specific options, as I try not to teach grammar-specific lessons (at least for the most part).  I also like playing with fonts and shapes, so I had a bit of fun with those things, but didn’t want to put too much that made it distracting.

Choice Board Assignment Sub Plan

I have left this in the form of a Word Document for easy editing, if anyone so chooses.  I made this with a Mac, so my apologies if the format doesn’t quite match with a PC!

Reasons I love the Blogosphere

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I’m sitting here this morning, the last true day of Spring Break (I’m not counting the weekend, as I will actually have to start planning for the school week), drinking coffee while watching HGTV and pouring over the Blog world.  I am in the “home stretch” of year #2 in the classroom, and by all accounts I should be run-down and exhausted.  Let me tell you, a week ago that is EXACTLY how I was feeling!  However, this week I spent a good amount of time pleasure reading (I read or re-read virtually the complete works of John Green because he is my favorite author and has a way of just sucking me into each book so that I can’t put it down), and when I finished pleasure reading I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, TeachersPayTeachers, and the Blog world!  I wasn’t truly planning any concrete lessons, but more just THINKING about the direction I want to take my classes in, both for the rest of this year and into next year.  Since I am the only World Language teacher in my building, I do have the flexibility to try out new things now, knowing that they won’t have to end at a necessarily certain place for next school year.

Specifically on the Blogosphere, I have found a TON of things that I am excited about trying to incorporate in my own way (I’m the kind of girl who never truly follows a recipe without making my own spin on it):

  1. What got me into blogging in the first place, and now back into blogging (though I don’t yet have my own mastermind insights to post) is The Creative Language Class.  Even though I’m kind of late to the game on this one, I am pretty confident in saying that I have read every post (many times literally taking notes!) and looked at every attachment.  I even modified my own curriculum to follow what they have posted showing what they follow.  It made so much SENSE and it makes me feel like I have so much more of a “plan” than what I have been doing.
  2. Martina Bex really made us think about CI/TPRS and the Common Core this week in this post.  Not only was I excited about what she mentioned in this post, but it made me rethink some of my ideas about CI/TPRS.  Obviously, CI is what we always want to strive for in World Language classes, but I have a hard time personally with TPRS.  For me, it is more of a mode of presentation or a single method, rather than an everyday thing.  However, even though I don’t consider myself to be a TPRS or Storytelling teacher, this post made me realize “Hey!  I do a lot of that stuff! Rock on!”
  3. Elizabeth Dentlinger posted an AWESOME Choice Board project for the novel Esperanza by Carol Gaab.  The project can be seen here.  I LOVE how she is actually teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy to her students in the project.  So often, I feel that we as educators use things like Bloom’s Taxonomy, but as a “behind-the-scenes” idea. I really like that the students were learning the Taxonomy ALONG with doing the project.  Even more brilliant, is her organizational project folders.  I’m wondering if I can incorporate these next year as the student’s general in-class folder.   For example, rather than the proposal stapled, could I staple a Unit-by-Unit “I can” overview and student reflection page? (The Creative Language Class gave me this idea, but I can’t find the exact link.  Sorry!)
  4.  A new Blog I discovered and LOVE can be found at Aventuras Nuevas.  The authentic resources that she posted here and here for her (current?) in-class unit really have me inspired to make more handouts that include authres and, honestly, just aesthetically-pleasing visuals!  Her handouts just LOOK fun (both to create and receive!).  My project for this weekend will be to think about what I am teaching next week and try to make a few of my handouts modeled after these.  I can bet my students will be excited by them!  Also, in the first post I linked here, she talks about vocabulary lists, which have been quite the “hot topic” in the virtual teaching debate world.  I love (and completely agree with!) how she explains their use:

Recent #langchat conversations on Twitter have discussed the use of a vocabulary list. For me, a list is like a map of a place you’ve never visited before. Without some guidance from a map, you’d be lost, and it’s hard to get an image of your surroundings if you only can rely on asking others for directions. So a vocab list for my classes is like a tourist’s guide. It has some key places (phrases) that you probably don’t want to miss, as well as some general directions where you might want to go. It also has options so that you can tailor your adventure to your personal preferences.

 

Obviously there are SO many more reasons and resources that I was able to list here; these are mainly just the ones that have truly got my head spinning and engaged right now.  It has been really nice this week just to get EXCITED about what’s happening (and what I hope will happen!) in the classroom! I guess the point of this post is really a giant THANK YOU to those who are constantly sharing great ideas!  You are appreciated, and this teacher is feeling a lot more confident and excited thanks to you all!

Spring Break!

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For me, the week of Spring Break is a very interesting time of the school year.  Though I am feeling completely burnt out and don’t want to even THINK about the small (it really isn’t too bad!) pile of grading that I brought home, I find myself scouring Pinterest, Blogs, and TeachersPayTeachers for ideas to revamp and rejuvenate my classroom.  I am simultaneously thinking ahead to bigger changes for next school year and thinking about what I can do to improve my teaching for the rest of THIS school year, though without making any huge changes that will simply confuse students as far as grading/procedures go.  I am currently both excited and completely overwhelmed… but in a good way!  I love getting so excited about teaching like this, so that once again my job feels like a fun hobby.  (Note:  I think the meanest thing a veteran teacher can ever say to a new teacher is “teaching is so wonderful that it never feels like a ‘job!’ I don’t even call it ‘work’ I call it ‘school!'”  While I can attest that teaching can often feel super fun and exciting, it is MORE OFTEN (especially at first) a LOT of work and stress!  By saying that it shouldn’t feel like work, I think, makes young teachers– at least me– unnecessarily worry that we perhaps chose the wrong career path when we are stressed out!– /end rant)

Anyway, I just wanted a quick post to share how EXCITED I am organizing projects and ideas and games and activities!  I can’t wait to try some of them out next week!  Okay, so I can wait… I really like this sleeping in and relaxing on the couch thing, but you know what I mean! 

Happy Wednesday, all!