Tuesday, December 2, 2014

From my high school Spanish class, I still have the Pledge of Allegiance memorized in Spanish.  At the time, I did not stop to think about what I was saying, but I began to realize that I knew more vocabulary than I thought I did because I knew the words that I had said everyone morning during 3rd period:
Juro fidelidad a la bandera de los Estados Unidos de América, y a la república que representa una nación bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Seating Chart Changes

As a public school teacher, I liked to change my students seating assignments often.  There were multiple benefits including that students got to meet and interact with more students, but the main reason I did it was for classroom management purposes.  I felt that it kept students on their toes to a certain extent.  However, I did not like to take class time to organize new seats, so as students walked into this classroom I had the following image projected on the board:

Front of the Classroom
This template was saved to a PowerPoint document, and I filled it in with the first names or students.  This was an investment of time, but I felt that it was a really easy way for students to organize themselves.  They did it before class started, and the days of new seating arrangements were generally quieter than others.

Instead of having "Front of the Classroom" you could make images that represented generalizeable items such as "Escritorio de la maestra" (teacher's desk), televisor (television), ventana (window), etc.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vamos a jugar / We are going to play

At the beginning levels, it is really hard for students to express themselves in Spanish.  I have found that if I can anticipate students' communicative needs, that I can help them to be more successful in a given context.

The following words and phrases were put onto a poster and used during different games in the classroom.  I have noticed that if you can make the use of a given word in the TL fun to say or connected to an emotional experience, that students begin to say the words even when they do not have to.  For example, showing students a YouTube video that shows the commentator or the fans at a soccer games yelling Gol.
¡Vamos a jugar!
Empieza. – Start.
Para. – Stop.
Te toca. – Your turn.
Otra vez. – Again.
Uno más. – One more.
Punto(s) – Points
Equipo – Team
Los ganadores – Winners
Los perdedores – Losers
¡Gol! – Goal!
¡Olé, olé, olé, olé!
Un aplauso - Applause
Somos número uno. – We’re number one.
¡Vámanos! – Let’s go!
¡Ganamos! – We win!
Tramposo(a) – Cheater
Mentiroso(a) – Liar
No es justo. – It’s not fair.
Ciudado. – Careful.
¿Por qué? – Why? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Navidad and Caroling

December in a public school was always kind of a crazy month with students anticipating Christmas Break.  I taught students Christmas carols because it was a very controlled activity.  It was also easy to teach the words of the song through pictures.  For example, I taught my students the song Fum, Fum, Fum.

I would use pictures and arrows to explain the words of the song.

A week or two before Christmas break, I would send out an email asking all the teachers if my students and I could come sing Christmas carols to them (knowing that they would have an audience made students put more effort into their preparation.)  I would also ask teachers if they preferred if we came at the beginning, middle or the end of their class.  I would then make a list and plan our caroling route accordingly.

Some students were really shy about it, but others embraced the experience, and there was room for both in this situation.  During the caroling, I took photos.  I then showed these photos to my students when they got back from Christmas Break.  I felt like it was a fun way to remind them that school could be fun.

El día de acción de gracias / Thanksgiving

During November one year, my students became the decorators for Thanksgiving.  I went to the district office, and for a really cheap price was able to die-cut lots of colorful leaves.  Then, making a trunk out of paper, I put it up on the wall.  When students came to class, I gave them each a leaf, and a requirement of how many items they needed to put on the leaf of what they were grateful for.

This was a good way of reviewing generally vocabulary, as well as looking the verb agradecer (to be thankful), and the fact that por (for) is always used with gracias (thanks).

I put the leaves up high enough where students could not reach them, and as I put them up I edited them for any inappropriate content.

Image taken from http://noticias.ufm.edu/index.php/MPC_celebr%C3%B3_el_D%C3%ADa_de_Acci%C3%B3n_de_Gracias

Monday, November 24, 2014

Evoluation of Attention Getters

A short while into my student teaching, I establish a routine for getting students' attention and a penalty for those who were still talking.

Chicos, se va a la una, a las dos, vendido. (Guys, it's going once, twice, sold.)

If students were still talking once I said "vendido", I docked points.  The first year I began teaching at a public school, I decided to eliminate the negative aspect of the attention getter.  I also discovered that I did not need to use any English to explain to students that this was how I wanted their attention.  Instead I put the following information on the board, and I practiced with students:
Srta. Robinson: 3, 2, 1, [clap, clap] ¡Clase!
Clase: [clap, clap] ¡!

What I liked about this attention getter was that it gave students more warning so that they could have time to prepare themselves to stop what they were doing.  

The third attention getter I used was inspired by The First Days of School (Wong and Wong, 2009).  Their way of getting students' attention is to say "Give me five".  Five represents the five things they expected from students after students replied with "five".  I put up a poster on my wall based on that idea (although I did not have the English translation for students):

¡Dame cinco!  (Give me five!)
  1. Ojos en la maestra  (Eyes on the teacher)
  2. Silencio (Silence)
  3. Tranquilos (Be calm)
  4. Manos encima del escritorio (Hands on the desk)
  5. Escucha (Listen)
This attention getter required me modeling what the different behaviors looked like, especially since students were not familiar with these vocabulary words at the beginning of the semester.  So I would start out with the following information on a PowerPoint, and then I would demonstrate what numbers 1-5 represented.

Srta. Robinson: Chicos, dame cinco. (Give me five!)
Clase: ¡Cinco! (Five!)

Another trick that I have noticed that works really well is telling students how much time they have for a certain activity: Chicos, tiene cuatro minutos para esta actividad (Guys, you have four more minutes for this activity).  It also helps to tell them when they should be wrapping up: Chicos, tienen un minutos más (Guys, you have one more minute).

¿Apropiado o inapropiado?/Appropriate or Inappropriate?

Instead of explaining rules to students, I like to show them what the rule looks like and have students tell me whether or not certain behaviors are appropriate or not.  

One year before school began, there were a few student government students who were wandering the halls offering to help teachers.  I had them model different classroom activities.  Here are three of the photos:
The first day of class, instead of just telling students about class rules, I asked them whether certain behaviors were "¿Apropiado o inapropiado?" (Appropriate or Inappropriate?).  Students were interested because they knew the students in the photos.  Also, students were the ones who told me whether or not a given activity was appropriate or not in Spanish class, and they learned two words without me ever having to give them a translation.  There were even a few times throughout the year when students would yell "inapropiado" at another student (some of my favorite moments).