08 April 2011

Sunny Spanish

When the rays of the sun are too powerful for classroom walls to withstand, sometimes, you just have to bask in the learning in nature.

A couple of weeks ago, when springtime was playing a little peekaboo, I took note-taking outside (with the stipulation that someone carry my stool so I could carry my marker, eraser, and portable whiteboard). I was even trying to teach in the target language at the time, one of my first attempts.

I stacked my kiddies on the steps with their whiteboards, markers, erasing rags, and journals (MOST figured out that journals meant to bring writing utensils too), and I set up shop in front of them, set to babble in Spanish.

There were some spontaneous remarks in Spanish from the previous weather unit, as we discussed how to conjugate verbs without using English. They proceeded to write journals with the wind whipping their pages before we wrapped up for the day.

Today was another day that would not be denied, so after a Skype with our 2nd grade friends at a trilingual school in Arizona (very successful, by the way, despite yesterday's confusion over daylight savings and lack thereof), I prepared students for a scavenger hunt. They'd asked for review of previous units before, right? So I made a checklist of adjectives from earlier in the year, made sure there was at least one camera (or camera-phone) per pair of kids, and then took them around the block to snap visual representations of this past vocabulary!

They finished in half an hour, so they had time to start putting them into I-Spy voice threads, where they also make an auditory connection with the visuals, starting with "Yo veo algo..."!

I confess, I threw this all together at lunch, having originally planned for a sick day. Still, I like to have an excuse to let them loose and still learn at the same time, so I'd like to propose the beginning of a list of things I can do in the future, on the fly, when it's Friday and too gorgeous outside to ignore.
  • break out flip cameras (or phone video cameras?) to record students miming verbs in different conjugations, one student narrating while a couple more act them out
  • exercise counting: jumping jacks, jumprope, pushups, catch, whatever! Ooh! Or CABALLO, since we have new basketballs!
  • impromptu caroling--learn a pop song or kids' song real quick, and go sing for the district office folk, or take our act on the road downtown!
  • local business labeling spree--kids go in and teach the staff that's between lunch and dinner shifts words for things in their establishment (call ahead at lunch to make sure it's ok--we have a great rapport established with Artist's Cafe)
  • conversation relays: 4 kids per team, kids spread out across the field. Each kid has a question they have to dash to their next teammate to ask & get answered, last person has to give all of his/her teammates answers correctly
  • Plátiza with sidewalk chalk  (I've done conjugations & semantic charts before, but am trying to break away from decontextualized stuff)
Of course a lot of fun games can just be taken outdoors too, like charades (preferably of an entire sentence, if we're to maintain instructional contextual integrity) or telephone, or TPR practice or anything that does not depend on a projector! Heck, a cultural music dance/listening party might even be in order some days!

I hope to keep adding to this list as the days get brighter and ever more inviting. Any other ideas?

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