14 November 2017

La Casa de la Dentista - Graphic Novel Student Survey

Sr. Wooly cracks me UP. He has a handful of videos I could watch on repeat all day and just laugh until I cried the whole time. However. There are some stories on his list that I just don't GET. I can see where they would be beneficial vocabulary wise, but they just don't tickle me the way that, say, "Guapo" or "Las Excusas" does.

Suffice it to say that "La Dentista" is not on my go-to video list.

And yet, there is "La Invitación." I think it's pretty cute, but mostly I like the vocabulary, and it fit in with exactly the sort of thing I wanted to practice before our Peruvian visitors showed up. I had NO idea that THIS would be the song that my kids would come in requesting and start spontaneous dance parties in the back of the room before class for. It seriously rivals CNCO for popularity.

In other words, my kids surprise me.

So I got to thinking that it really didn't matter what I thought of Sr. Wooly's new graphic novel. What I really wanted to know before I went out and purchased a class set is what my students thought. So I got my hands on a copy and made a "picture walk" station inspired by my kindergartner. She is a big fan of all things calvo, but her review was very brief: "Why does it have to be creepy?"

Now in retrospect, I would have asked my kiddos more specific questions, maybe having them rate both their ability and interest in interpreting the book based on the pictures and/or words. Basically I just asked them if they wanted to read the book in class or individually, though.

My plan, though, was to gauge the reactions of five groups of kids:
  1. Kids who are overall struggling with the language
  2. Boys who are positive but somewhat hyper
  3. Native speakers who have to take Spanish because that's all we have
  4. Kids who do well and work hard but don't necessarily love the language
  5. High fliers who love all things Spanish
I have to say that the post-picture-walk reviews were highly mixed--except in two groups. My high fliers and my hard workers: some seemed to like the idea, some did not. Some of the kids who struggle were intrigued, and some shared my daughter's sentiments, were apprehensive about their ability to understand, or just didn't seem too impressed.

But you know who unanimously LOVED the idea of reading the book for class after the picture walk? ALL of the native speaker girls, and ALL of the boys who have trouble sitting still--EXCEPT the native speakers. The boys who have to move and talk all the time who already speak Spanish? They were not fans! The boys who didn't though? They all liked the story, the genre, and even cited how they thought the book could help them! The native speaker girls all seemed to get a kick out of the story, calling it fun or funny!

Here are some specific comments I got from the survey from different groups:
  • I'm not sure if the vocabulary used in it will be beneficial. I think it should be one of the books that you can choose to read for choice reads.
  • The book was very weird, but it made me laugh, so it gets a 3
  • I want to know why they have have the weird relationship with the dentist.
  • I wasn't able to read most of it but it doesn't seem like a particularly bad book
  • I like some of the pictures and some of the words. I could actually read read.
  • It looked interesting and I want to read the whole thing
  • The book looks very interesting, and in my opinion it will help us with reading and listening skills.
  • I am curious to know what happens, but feel as if my classmates will not enjoy the book.
  • The book had pictures that helped with you learn what they were saying, so it could be useful to us learners.
If you're looking for a more in-depth look from a teacher's perspective, check out these posts from some of the coolest Spanish teachers in our PLN!



If you've seen (or written!) any more reviews, please help add to my list!

Also, if you're thinking La Casa de la Dentista sounds right for your kids, check out Sr. Wooly and Sra. Toth's tips for teaching graphic novels--Wooly brings the willies, but YOUactually provide a lot of the comprehensible input!

PS Come visit me at Señor Wooly's booth at ACTFL17 Friday afternoon after my session with @ProfePJ3! We can watch recreate "Las confesiones de Víctor"!

08 November 2017

PUEDOS - Differentiated Social Warmups

You know when you get a great idea at a conference that you can immediately implement Monday and change E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G? Well this isn't one of them.

I implemented it on Tuesday.

We had an interdisciplinary marketing project thing scheduled with Public Speaking for Monday.

Our AATSPSC keynote speaker pointed out that getting validation for the good work you are doing is also a really excellent reason to go to conferences. But I've got to say this idea was a special kind of rewarding. It solved so many problems:

  • What can the kids do that's productive while I take attendance to avoid an email nastygram?
  • How can I get them both settled AND energized for Spanishing?
  • And how can I get even the kids who are so anxious about speaking that they prefer a zero to actually doing their small group assessments participating?

I admit that I wasn't sure what "proficiencies" could be when Alanna Breen started explaining how they started. It started coming together when she showed us this template:


So basically you lay out pretty much ANY 10 tasks and have students go around proving to each other that they can do them. But there are a couple of catches:

  1. They have to get two people to sign off for every task.
  2. They can't get the same person to sign off on their sheet more than once.
  3. Once the sheet is full of signatures, the teacher spot checks a couple of tasks at random.
  4. If they can't do the task when teacher spot checks, they lose points AND the two signers lose points!
  5. They won't be able to get them all finished in one session, so they'll need to practice on their own until their sheets are filled out.

What I really loved about this idea was the differentiation that was built in: I could put a few things that the high-flyers would have to pause to think about but also some tasks that the kids who make me pull the answers--which I know they know--out of them syllable by syllable feel successful (one of those validation things Profe Hannahan had specifically cited in the keynote!)

A direct quote from one of those exact kids I had in mind a few minutes into my Tuesday attempt: "I already have one done!" Another quote from the same kid halfway through: "I already have five signatures!" He assured me he was still "suffering," but by golly he was doing it.

Another kid who complains and claims to struggle occasionally: "Sra. Sexton! We just had a whole conversation, and you missed it!"

And would you believe my native speakers were getting into it too?? The Spanish I kids were getting picky with their accents (could this be a way to get them to actually remember oft-elided "a"s in "voy a" and "A ella le gusta"?), and they were carefully coaching their amigos rather than having to tell them lo siento and send them to someone else.


Of course I made a few changes, and since "can" is a big thing with our invention and marketing unit, and we've been hitting the "yo" form extra hard to make sure at least THAT is down for everyone before this is said and done, the first thing I changed was the name. Instead of "proficiencies," I decided to call them "Puedos." I also made them ask "¿Puedo hacer número__?" The emphasis is, after all, on what "I can" do, right?

So here are some tips based on my magical not-Monday Puedos experience.


1. Have at least 3 INSANELY easy tasks. 

I picked some words we were going to encounter in the day's infograph (and, you know, basically the entire marketing project) and just had them say them aloud for one. Warms 'em up with a little anticipation to find out what crecimiento means, you know? The other super easy ones were conjugating ser and tiene--but I only asked for the 3 singular forms that we'd been using all semester, AND I listed "I am," "You are," "It is" so they could see they had been conjugating all along!


2. Have a good variety of tasks.

Some good suggestions I took form Sra. Breen:

  • Prounounce
  • Conjugate
  • Respond
  • List
  • Look-up

For look-up, she has kids do things on their own time like find the titles of major newspapers in Brazil or a Portuguese speaking actor (obviously for the P side of AATSP), and sometimes just some topic that's not strictly "curricular," but that is near and dear to her, e.g. preserving the Amazon. (I'm envisioning some good questions about poetry and manatees). For more advanced classes, they might have to actually ask their *gasp* parents how they met to report

This time, I just asked them how many consumers there were in Latin America which would be answered by, guess what? The day's infograph! More anticipation!


3. Mix in past topics.

I wrote questions like "¿Qué te gusta y NO te gusta en Gaston County?" as a callback to our visitor videos and had them list some three first world problems from our notes a few weeks ago (no, they couldn't carry their cuadernos around).


4. Provide EXPLICIT instructions.

Another thing Profe Hannahan pointed out was that some patterns that seem obvious to us are not obvious to them. I walked the kiddos through a specific model of a student telling me "Buen trabajo" and then repeated with it with messing up and a "Lo siento."

I also left this on the board for them (when I was done with attendance, or course):


It didn't hurt to make sure they stood up first too and to emphasize NO repeats on signatures. They also tried to just read to two people at once, so I did have to clarify that I actually wanted them to DO the task twice before they got to me--and that they actually had to do ALL of the tasks before I would check any.



All in all this is a super simple routine to get started that can take 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class or anywhere you find yourself with a need to fill a few minutes. My kiddos got 10 minutes the first time to make sure they got the hang of it this first time, and most got 6-8 signatures in those 10 minutes. I plan to go ahead an get started on next week's pretty soon so the high-flyers can move on ASAP, and possibly to come up with a more targeted one for the native speakers in Spanish 2--probably focusing on more sentence connecting and narration and description, since they were pretty much all already hitting I3 on ye olde AAPPL scale last 6 weeks and seem willing to keep pushing closer to advanced, if only for braggin' rights.

Overall I am SO glad I got to attend this AATSP-SC conference, for the validation, for the fresh ideas, and for the friends. And even though I had to wait until Tuesday to try the "Puedos," I highly recommend starting yours sooner!