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 🙂

3 thoughts on “Success!

  1. Congratulations on taking the biggest–and scariest–step: trying something completely new! That is one of the marks of a professional, that you continually seek to grow and explore new things to reach the needs of your students. Here’s a little secret: after 20+ years of teaching, I still have to write out at least the skeleton of questions that I’m going to use in class. It’s a critical part of lesson planning, and your questioning leads their thinking. It’s worth the time to do it well, and I feel the pain when I don’t. 😉

    So excited for your success! What’s next?

  2. That’s a great and simple idea to script out the questions! I will definitely give that a try before the next unit. I think next I want to develop a mini-unit with TV watching (kind of like you did) and go from there. Not sure what I want to do to end the year. I have a lot of freedom to choose, which is good, but also makes it hard to figure out what I really want to do 🙂

    Thanks again for posting your units! They have been invaluable for this transition! Without something to model from I am sure that I would be struggling!

    • Glad to help! I’ll post this as we get there, but my remaining units for the novice class are centered around “back in the day” (lives when we were kids, imperfect), “traditions and celebrations” (transition from imperfect to preterit), and “música popular” (where we will continue to work on opinions AND use preterit to create timelines of musician’s lives). Let me know if you’d like to collaborate on any of this.

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