29 June 2011

América: Framework for Spanish 2?

Page 1 is a perfect review of Spanish 1. It is also a chance to connect literature to each individual student. I hope it can also be the basis for TL conversations about identity and origins.

I'd like to spend a day or two on interpreting the page, a couple of days interviewing each other and having students create their own introductions to themselves, using page 1 as a model. I'd like to say no two people can do the same kind of presentation, but I'm afraid that's not very realistic. Three weeks seems like a good amount of time for this warming up.

Page 2 has some good context for introducing object pronouns as well as occasion to find Mexican states .We could also discuss the influence of community connections on identity.

I'd like to spend a day or two on maps of the key places. I could bring in some songs with object pronouns to reinforce the grammar. If we could skype with some people from different parts of our own country, even, maybe we could have some meaningful discourse about the effect of place on identity. After a couple of weeks, students might produce a write-up of an interview with someone from a place other than our town--using object pronouns.

Page 3 has some good reflexive pronouns in context, plus a scene of a random shooting to raise discussion about crime, violence gangs--anything! I see spending only a couple of weeks on the reflexive pronouns, again with songs or news articles related to things like the shooting that América witnesses. Depending on what's going on in the news, we might spend another week on the news, thus ending the first quarter.

Page 4 brings first a dip into the imperfect, reflecting on América's life before moving, and then the preterite, talking about teachers discussing her legal status the day before. Immigration always makes for some great debating.

I think we'll take it paragraph by paragraph at this point, dividing the study of the imperfect from the preterite initially. We could talk about what students used to be like compared to how they are now and reasons for that, maybe getting some good debate out of that, too. Students might produce reflections on their own childhoods at the end, maybe bringing in the plate activity I got at my last school (involving baby pictures and collages on one side, descriptions of childhood tendencies on the other).

The context illustrates the difference between the two past tenses very clearly, I think, and, as always, songs to reinforce--the 3rd person singular at least. This might be a good time for a sidetrack with La Princesa de Trujillo for reinforcement too, and then maybe with a little Sandra Cisneros ("Un Sandwich de Arroz" for the teacher shaming the child?). So for this page, probably a total of 6 weeks? That would bring us about to Baby's due date, meaning students can continue with something kind of familiar when they come back and I don't, perhaps.

Page 5 conveniently enough brings a reprisal of the reflexives in time for midterm review! It is also when the poet enters the picture, and I hate to miss the poetry, so perhaps students should begin exploring poetry as part of the reinforcement, too, and maybe writing some beforehand too. I think a poetry glog would be nice, perhaps something original plus something by a Latino-American poet (the book lists a few and is written by one!)

Page 6 could probably be lumped in with page 5, as part of the poetry; I didn't note any structures to highlight in it anyway.

Page 7 has a little preterite, but would probably be better served as an introduction to present progressive. Mi Gato would make a nice diversion/reinforcement tool, too. Discussion topics could relate to parents who "just don't understand" and future plans: fallback AND dreams, especially if we tie in Page 8, maybe even 9 & 10, as interpretive skills should be picking up by then. They might wrap this up around the time I'm back from maternity leave, in 2-3 weeks.

Page 11 would be good to explore some idioms and wrap it all up, maybe leading up to students writing their own children's books that they could read to ESL audiences at the local elementary school.

I worry that this will kind of bore kids, stretching out a simple picture book so long, but I suppose if it's as rich as I think it is, then it might be a good touchstone anyway.

22 June 2011

Personal Histories

Advanced Topics in Diversity sounds kind of like what I'd like my Spanish classes to be about, but it is, in fact, the name of my first graduate class of the summer. I was wary of the class's ability to do anything for me that 8 years in the classroom, marrying a Mexican, and living in Robeson County hadn't already done, but I was pleasantly surprised with the angle it took. It started with our experience and forced us to experience more--not just read and discuss.

So I'm thinking I want to take one of the first assignments that we were given as graduate students and adapt it to Spanish 2 or 3 to kick off a year where we explore Day of the Dead, narcocorridos, afrolatino experiences, maybe immigration, maybe indigenous rights.

My assignment for graduate school:  
Personal History:  What is your own personal history with regards to cultural, ethnic, linguistic, gender, or cognitive diversity?  What events in your childhood or young adult life were influential?  What specific moments or events crystallized your views on diversity?  What people, books, or movies have influenced you?

 But how to adapt this? It's important that it come at the beginning of the year, but coming into Spanish 2, students' have only a rudimentary Spanish...that has probably gone to seed over the summer anyway.

So here is my thinking: low-stakes writing in English first. (Hey, I'm a Spanglish teacher, right?) I might tell them to aim for 3 pages of free-flow thought, sans paragraphs, etc. I will have to formulate some more targeted questions for stimulating this writing, ones students can pick and choose from to keep their writing going. For example:

  • Have you ever been anywhere where you were in the minority, because of culture, ethnicity, language, gender? What was it like?
  • How far have you traveled from home? What were some differences you noticed between other places and your home?
  • What are some of the biggest changes you have gone through in your life up until this point? What were the results of these changes?
  • Do you have friends, relatives, or neighbors from different cultures? What have you learned from them about their cultures and/or your own culture?
  • If you don't know anyone you consider to be from a different culture, how has that affected your own perspectives and opinions?
  • What people, books, or movies have opened your eyes to the experiences of people who are different from you?

Step 2: chunk each student's English writing by themes, time periods, or whatever seems appropriate. This would be a good time for conferences and also to give some serious feedback, like the groupings I would recommend. I might even start suggesting Spanish vocabulary words they will need to communicate about these topics.

Step 3: students will create or find visuals that represent each section well.

Step 4: motto design. Students will come up with a motto in Spanish that represents each section.

Step 5: a glog (of course).

I will have to experiment with this to see how my own would turn out and if there will even be enough Spanish with the motto method. It might be that I have them make mini-essays instead, or that we'll return to these at different junctures throughout the year.

17 June 2011

Picture Books for Spanish 1-3!

I plundered the Spanish kids book section at my local library. I've got 9 books to peruse and plan around.

First, we have some recipe books to complement the cooking unit for Spanish I:
Available at Amazon

Most recipes are under a page and include some very Mexican ingredients (nopales, anyone?) This would justify going to the tienda for supplies, but also potentially provide an opportunity to explore substitution. Also, we had a few vegetarians this year, so we might next year too.

If it's simple enough for kids, it should be simple enough for 9th graders, right! They might not be traditional recipes, but they can certainly reinforce vocabulary used in traditional recipes.

La Cocina para Nino y Ninas is as old as I am, and it uses literary Castellano (pelad y cortad your bananas), but it might be interesting to show some vosotros forms.

Some other books look like they'd  be pretty good for teaching various verb forms for Spanish 2:
Available at Amazon

We have a lot of repetition and some fancy around-the-house art that students could imitate here. This has very clear examples of third person singular preterite over and over (a la "The House that Jack Built"), and I'd love to see students create similar books (or mixbooks?)

Available at Amazon
We have some good examples of present participles for -AR verbs here, with some familiar vocabulary from Spanish I. This is another one that could be quickly and easily imitated for a student project. It would be fun to write books like these and take them on the road to read to local elementary ESL classes!

Available at Amazon

This one also has familiar family and cooking words from Spanish I, and plenty of preterite and imperfect, as well as object pronouns for analysis. It turns out this is some kind of Burmese folktale, so I'm not sure how that fits. It is a little complicated, but the emphasis here might be the pictures and other context clues, like dialogue format.

Available at Amazon

The sound play here is my favorite part, but there's also some good past tense in here. There is a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary, but also some food words to relate back to last year.

I also got a couple of more advanced books that I might try with Spanish 3:
Available at Amazon

Luis J. Rodriguez knows youth audiences, and this is an interesting picture book about an immigrant girl's life in Chicago--shootings and all. I like that it's set in the U.S.. Also, different sections of the book have different tenses for different reasons, including past subjunctive, so if I want to focus on those things, I can!

Available at Amazon

This book still has pictures, but it's a little longer. I thought the Spanish 3 kids might enjoy a little fairy-tale-type reading, too,  this one being based on "un cuento tradicional." I'm hoping that I can leave a novel with a reader response kit type situation when I'm out after Christmas, so this might help build up to that.

10 June 2011

Glog grading

When you want to assign students a glog creating project through GlosterEDU, here are my suggestions for making it easier:

  1. Always assign the project using GlogsterEDU's "assign project" option. This way you can easily see who has completed the assignment who has not, and you can post grades and comments that are sent privately to students as messages, but you can see whenever you check the glog or the project list that is made once you've assigned a project to students. When students decide to "make their own" (even though they can alter your template how ever they want), there is no option for adding a grade, and it looks like they didn't do the assignment, so do everything you can to discourage that.
  2. Making a good template is even better than writing a good assignment on paper. You can suggest what goes where, and students can replace as needed. Hint for foreign language teacher friends: be sure to set all fonts to Arial (latin all) on templates so accents can show up.
  3. For grading, I suggest making a rubric that you can copy and paste descriptions from, either adding number out of (e.g. 8/10) or with a thorough description for each level. This way you can give quick, easy feedback that I'd say is even more understandable than a grid or other checklist. Also, this makes it easy for you and for students to access and keep track of why they got the grades they got on the assignments.
During the process of grading, you might end up having to save your changes many times. It's one of the things I would like to see glogster streamline. However, you can take care of everything in three steps and minimize re-saving:

  1. Open the glog and, on the left side of the screen, check the class to add the glog to the class you want it in (for easy access later, examples and all, you know) AND click Public for all, so that it can be accessed for commenting by others in the same classes. Click Submit changes at the bottom left.
  2. Then copy and paste your rubric to the Comment section, put the total under Grade, and click Submit on the right side. Be sure to transfer this grade to your gradebook before the next step, though.
  3. Click Add to student's portfolio. This finalizes the project and makes it uneditable for the student (unless you take it back out of the portfolio). It also, for some reason beyond me, removes the glog from your project assignment page. (Hence the putting in the gradebook before this step.)
Glogs make it possible for students to blend media, something especially crucial in foreign language classes. There are pretty cool things you can do with a teacher account, too, but there are still a few things I would wish for (though they did finally roll out auto-saving!)
  1. Don't take projects off the project assignment page even when they're in portfolios!
  2. Make it so we can add the glog to a class, make it public, add it to portfolios, AND submit grades with just one submit button.
  3. Add a button for navigating back to the project assignment page directly after grading a glog.
  4. Add a grade spreadsheet page like Edmodo has, so you can see scores for all assignments.

03 June 2011

Non-perishable learning

She's been speaking Spanish as long as she's been able to speak, but she said she learned something worth remembering--and it stuck--when she had stuck was blindfolded and forced to touch different ingredients, guessing in Spanish what they were.

So the cooking unit stays. But with modifications.

I'm not sure if the time frame will stay the same for two reasons. First, it was the third unit we did this year, right after small talk and describing families. This was mostly to align with the Health Science class's nutrition unit. I would like to do more next year with the whole plan we had for modifying traditional recipes to be healthier, but it will take more time than we had before midterms to pull that off. I would not be opposed to making this the second unit, because that means that students are diving right in with authentic texts that have enough familiar contextual structure (and often pictures) to facilitate interpretation--and to discourage translation.

Actually, moving up the unit might be even better, if handled correctly. Sure, it's weird that my kids know how to say "boil" before they know how to say "run," but I am also keeping in mind that I have to leave something do-able for a sub after Christmas (so I can adjust to being a mother of two!), and good ol' adjectives or hobby words are more likely to be in a sub's repertoire (though I may have the inside track on a sub, as a student's grand-pere speaks the Spanish and, according to said student, would do fine as long as I had someone in each class designated to keep him on track).

Yes, I think we'll cook before I'm out of commission for a few weeks. But there will have to be a few changes:

  1. I know enough now to pick a better ingredient list without waiting to see what recipes they pick, so the choice will probably come after some vocabulary guidance. On that list, I should probably add some more fruits and vegetables, too.
  2. The verb list will need a few more words, among them: enfriar, poner, anadir, sacar, dejar. I can probably drop refrigerador and congelador from the list by adding the first one alone. And if I make weather part of the small talk, voila! Connections to prior unit!
  3. I will be amassing a set of different types of recipes: desserts, meats, soups, etc. I'm thinking this will give students a) reinforcement for sets of vocabulary and b) a place to start their searches. I shall attempt to represent as many countries as possible in this set, too. Googling "recetas tradicionales" appears to be a good way to start.
  4. Organizing by different types of recipes means different semantic groups--which have proven to help even some of my most challenged students. Instead of being organized by verbs then types of food, it'll be by types of dishes, period! Hooray from breaking out of the shackles of grammar-based language instruction!
  5. Speaking of grammar, it might seem bass-ackwards, but I rather like how the recipe focus allows me to introduce things like stem-changers and irregulars before getting into verb endings. With the dish-type orientation, I may also be able to focus practice and reinforcement of those sorts of words!
  6. Also, I must never, ever try to compare appliance prices again. That was really pretty pointless.
Things I want to keep include...
  1. The trip to the Hispanic market--with some caveats.
  2. Crazy cookbooks--plus some circle story telling with real or wacky recipes.
  3. The cooking show finale. Those were pretty cool, and some of the most memorable things for the kiddos. Maybe we'll have better luck with kitchen space next time...
  4. Appliance vocabulary, especially the ones that reinforced verbs, ie horno/hornear, batidora/batir