04 April 2011

Dare I say disciple?

I'm sure @SECottrell knows by now that I want to be her when I grow up--though I think I've got a few years on her. I have tried to imitate her, from her first 2 weeks of Spanish I, to 5 minute mumbles, to outside of class activities, and now to making my Spanish I kids SAY something in class.

I had an inkling I was onto something when I had my weaker Spanish I class do a "Cuento Poco a Poco," requiring every student to use a different geography vocabulary word from our geografía list. I had them start with a story about their classmate, "Squirrel" (teachers, students, that's really what we all call him, and I'm pretty sure he loves it). Since it was about Squirrel, it was easy to come up with crazy things he would do all over the map. When I got an unsolicited "this helps!" as one of my more anxious, less focused students left, I had hope. When every. single. kid. in that class passed the quiz, I knew.

So I tried it with the class that had NOT had 100% passing rate (I'm also trying @SECottrell's non-announcing policy for quizzing) today. They did a good job and were jealous that the other class got to do it first. They, too, claimed it helped a lot.

With that class, I also tried a form of my own personal pedagogical guru's "A Conversar." I made a list of statements, similar to what I've been doing for the Afrolatinos unit debates, but "adjusted to their level" and "made interesting," keeping in mind my guide's "Which is better: a blue coat or a brown one?" And we spent way longer than 10 minutes. Here's how I tweaked it:

  • I had them draw statements to agree or disagree with & add a reason to. 
  • I had duplicates of each, so that at least one person SHOULD be prepared to respond to another.
  •  We got in a circle, and I gave points each time one contributed to the discussion.
Afterwards, they said that these things worked well for them because of...
  • the creativity
  • the vocabulary in context
  • having to listen to each other
  • having to come up with responses to each other
Note: I tried having my 2nd class use the "controversial" topics, each student responding to at least 5 different topics.

Don't do this. Then instead of listening, they just wait for their topic to come up.

Still, I am pleased with the ideas that I have stolen gleaned from my online compatriot, and I sincerely enjoy tweaking them, making them my own, and watching them work!

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