31 December 2014

7 First Day Fun Stations: Spanish II Edition


First Day Fun Stations were a hit in Spanish I. Next semester, though, I start over with Spanish II. These kids have seen it all before. Not the Fun Stations, perhaps, but they've played with Google Translate, been forced to pick through my cart library, and got a bunch of coros stuck in their head. For better or worse, they pretty much know how I operate, too.

Still, I want to get their heads back in the language game, reignite previously formed synapses and introduce a few changes.

I'm allotting 20 minutes for each activity making sure about half could be done outside of class, and I'm aiming to have no more than 4 at each station at any given time, and since it's better to have extra places to go than to fall short, I'm looking at 2 days for 7 activities:

  1. Action Shots
  2. Karaoke
  3. Sock Talk
  4. Story Form
  5. Skitch Setting
  6. Folio Flashback
  7. Interactive Syllabus

1. Action shots: Reinforce basic verbs (2 iPads/outside class)

I've decided what I really need to do is get kids to focus on what they DO know--ALL the time. For at least the first 6 weeks, I'm going to require students to use at least ONE of these high-frequency verbs in EVERY sentence they write or say:

  1. Hay
  2. Esta
  3. Soy/Eres/Es/Son
  4. Puede
  5. Quiere
  6. Tengo/Tiene
  7. Voy/Va
  8. Necesita
  9. Gusta
  10. Hace
Leslie Davison and Amy Lenord also had some good lists but I want to keep it to 10, and this list isn't necessarily TPRS geared. That being said, if the kiddos still have these all in their noggin, good. If not, by golly, I'm breaking out all of Sexton's Strategies for Vocabulary Retention TM at once and having them come up with an action for each of these (action), snapping a picture of each (visual), so I can put them together in review VoiceThreads and reinforce by having them comment on each other's pictures (connection) and perhaps with some photographic notes in ye olde Interactive Notebooks.


2. Karaoke: Tap into prior knowledge/dust off presentational speaking skills (3 iPads)

The whole point of coros is to wedge some authentic target language earworms in kids' brains before they're released into the wild. I'm putting together clips of the catchiest songs they did last year and loading them onto my iPad (the only one with the GreenScreen app). They'll work in groups of 3, peruse my karaoke playlist (see below), and each pick out a different song they remember. Then they'll take turns recording each other against some green butcher paper to come up with a montage with at least 1 song each.


3. Sock Talk: Revive interpersonal skills with silly voices & join Google Classroom (3 iPads)

I've composed a list of topics students should be able to say something about based on vocabulary from last year's classes (though given the different projects in the fall versus the spring class, they'll probably want to partner accordingly):
  • ¿Qué te gusta hacer cuando no estás en clase?
  • ¿Qué necesitas para cocinar tu comida favorita?
  • ¿Cómo bailas con “La Bamba” o “Danza Kuduro”?
  • ¿Qué materiales necesitan niños para la escuela que TÚ no necesitas?
  • ¿Quiénes son las personas más locas en tu familia y por qué?

Each partner will have to ask and answer at least 3 questions--which CANNOT be written down in advance!--other than the selected topic question. They get to export a 30-second video to YouTube with the free version, so they'll have to think and talk fast! Once they export the links as unlisted YouTube videos, they'll post the links to an Announcement thread on Google Classroom.


4. Story Form: Introduce TPRS and first project (laptops/outside class)

Even though storyasking was kind of a love/hate scenario in Spanish I, I'm working on a Google Form version of a story about a kid who hates to read until she finds one she really likes...to eat. I'll set up the story on the form in segments that end in a sort of choose-your-own-response question so students can 1) start warming up to the storyasking procedure and 2) get some input on the particulars of the story ahead of time. And, you know, maybe dust off their WordReference skills if need be.


5. Skitch Setting: Goal setting (3 ipads)

So I want students to think about their strengths and what they really want to be able to do with the language, and I want them to have fun, and what's more fun for a high schooler than taking selfies? So I'll give them the list of strengths/weaknesses and possible topics/resources from the personal goal reflection page in poster form. They'll snap a picture of themselves--head plus 1 hand. They'll put 4 or 5 strengths ON their heads and then 4 or 5 areas they want to improve their heads in the picture. And finally, they'll put their desired topics/resources in their hand.


6. Folio Flashback: Evaluate personal proficiency level (laptops/outside class)

I told them their portfolios would follow them. I simply copied the portfolio links I had collected on Symbaloo to a new webmix to rearrange and reflect this year's classes. So they'll find their own and take a walk down memory lane. They'll need to search their portfolios for the best example of each of the 4 communication skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), but before they make their selection, they'll need to ask themselves 2 questions:

  1. Can I still do this?
  2. Does this really show what I can do?

Then they'll have to compare their evidence to the ACTFL proficiency descriptors (also linked individually on the Symbaloo webmix) and fill out a form that will include columns for the skill, the type of evidence (video, photo, audio file, etc.), a descriptive title for the evidence, key words from the ACTFL guidelines that match their evidence, and finally their proficiency level. These forms will fit nicely in the front of their Interactive Notebooks (and potentially be transferred to their e-portfolios, links and all).


7. Interactive Syllabus: You know, The Basics (chromebooks/outside class)

I'm working on combining my "Elements of Spanish Class" infograph into my interactive syllabus into one big complete rundown of what to expect. Of course they still have to have an archaic printed copy, so the information that I'll want them to get from it will mostly be from the links available through the interactive features, like

So what they'll really need--in addition to the syllabus itself--is to make sure they're properly registered for all pertinent pages and to have a little cheat sheet of pages and log-ins to paste in the corner of their Interactive Notebooks. I'll provide colorful paper, perhaps with lines for them to fill in the correct information.


19 December 2014

Top 14 of 2014

In case you haven't seen it, my guide to becoming a 21st Century world language teacher is THE SINGLE MOST POPULAR THING I HAVE EVER POSTED. I collected resources from a lot of the big brains around our little Twitter PLN for this page. It's not a "post" per se, but it's my version of a textbook for people wanting to up their game.

14. Daily Instagram Updates April 24
I had to write my objectives and agenda on the board each day AND I had to post them online. So I just took a picture and set up my site to take pictures of the board from Instagram!

13. Proficiency by the Bikes Aug 14
I borrowed from Srta. Barragan, Kelly Daugherty and Martina Bex to make students aware of where they're heading from the beginning and help them set reasonable goals. I think it helped me even more than it helped them, keeping me honest about what tasks are appropriate for their level.

12. Genius Hour Agenda Overview March 18
I've since revised the sequence of activities and moved the bulk of the process to the beginning of the year instead of the end, but here's how it went down last spring.

11. Make an Interactive Infograph Syllabus Aug 31 563
If I'm going to make a syllabus, I want people to actually look at it and use it. Infographs draw the eye, and you can add resources to it to make the whole thing a one-stop shop for the whole course pretty much.

10.  Setting Independent Language Goals with Students January 19
I presented on homework choice with Sara-Elizabeth and Bethanie at ACTFL14, and this post helped me get the structure together to be more manageable for this year. There are still kinks, but it's working pretty nicely.

9. Why LangCamp? May 10
Alas, LangCamp 2014 never got off the ground, but there's still a chance we could get something together for this summer, right? Picture it: hanging out with the best, smartest, funniest minds in our field and finally really digging into our language teacher plans to take over the world.

8. Start with a Song: Pop Music Motivates Oct 19
I love coros. My kids love coros. If there is one thing they will still have when they have been done with my Spanish class for years, it is coros. Here's how to set it up to make students look forward to Spanish class and to keep Spanish stuck in there head all day for years to come.

7. Genius Hour Agenda, part 1: Setup and Vocabulary January 11
As I said in another ACTFL14 presentation, the key to making Genius Hour work is in the scaffolding, really structuring assignments to build proficiency in topics students love, starting with vocabulary.

6. Strategies for Standards-Based Portfolio Curation January 4
I'm arduously redesigning the portfolio structure yet again, to push leveling up quicker and easier organization (kids hated the approach this year). But standards-based principles remain in place.

5. Why and How You Should Do Stations on Day 1 Aug 18
This is the follow-up to my all-time most popular post. Basically, it's all about setting the tone and positive--yet high--expectations.

4. Three Apps, Three Types of Movie Projects July 14 756
I didn't do as much with Sock Puppets or Green Screen as I'd hoped, and I actually didn't do anything with Voice. Next semester.

3. Proficiency Portfolio Re-Design May 28
Portfolios went better than ever before. But they still took literally days off of my life and frustrated kids. Be on the lookout for the next incarnation--this time with ACTFL I-cans!

2. Your Own Personal Spanish Curriculum Jan 9
Genius Hour, personal goals, and portfolios mean a lot of choice...perhaps too much. But I'm working on it.

1. First Day Fun Stations July 18
While not quite as popular as the 21st century language teacher guide, this is by far the single most popular post I ever did publish. I'm working on how to adapt it for a set of kids I already know on a personal and a Spanish level, but the idea of keeping kids moving trying different things was certainly a hit and really set the tone for what I would be willing to call the most successful semester of my 11-year teaching career

So here's to another year of growing, reflecting, and plotting together, my dear PLN! Happy holidays!

17 December 2014

Love, Hate, and Spanish 1

To compile a list of what worked and what didn't and begin to develop a plan for improvement, I promised to try not to cry myself to sleep when I polled Spanish I about their Top 5 and Worst 5 activities from class this semester. Of course I also swore their responses would not affect their grades either way.

Love/Hate logo adapted from NetKids DeviantArt page
If they liked it, their task was to tell A) how it helped and B) why they enjoyed it. If they didn't like it, they were to A) describe the problem and B) propose a solution.

Now the whole thing probably would have been a lot more useful if the young ones actually HAD stuck to these tasks, but still, I got information I think I can use.

These activities were pretty overwhelmingly in the Top 5 category.
  • Coros
    Pretty much UNANIMOUS favorite (barely anyone could resist putting it in the top 5, no dissenters), students said it helped them "learn some everyday words" and "got my brain on the right track." Now I've got to figure out how to take it to the next level to promote intermediate skills next year.
  • Pinterest (18:6)
    Most liked reinforcing vocabulary, for Genius Hour and Plan Verde, with images and finding more information easily. The main complaints was some topics were hard to find pins for (I'll have to counsel on passion topics better), and some thought it was too easy, which I think I can live with in Spanish I.
  • InfuseLearning (14:1)
    Only one kid admitted they "didn't learn anything" from the vocabulary doodling exercise, but others said "seeing other people's [images] helped the definition really stick."
  • Emergency vocab (14)
    Taken from First Day Fun Stations, kids had a reference for how to ask to go to the bathroom, etc. at the back of their interactive notebooks. They didn't use all of the words, but the reference was handy apparently.
  • Daily language goals (9)
    They may not have hit 90% every day...or very many days at all...but they liked how it made them conscious of their language usage and accomplishments.

Like  No real complaints about these, but not many put them in their Top 5.
  • Socio/monitor cards (4)
    I, too, was pretty pleased with how well these worked. Kids almost sounded natural when they had an English script of what they should ask.
  • Interpersonal Playbook (6:2)
    Some thought it was too easy, but others thought it was a handy reference.
  • Calendar (3)
    A few thought it helped them organize well and communicate expectations with group members. Plus the instructions to set them up were useful for practicing numbers and dates.
  • Presentations (4)
    A handful got a kick out of getting in front of class (Q&A especially helped with "thinking on my feet") and others liked learning from each other.
  • Vocab visuals (3)
    The visual connection was important in different activities, and including them in their passion presentations was especially key for communicating with classmates.
  • Web map (3)
    Some liked making the connections to keep words they "needed throughout the semester on hand."

Mostly just on the Worst 5 lists
  • Tweeting experts (0:15)
    I never got up the guts to do it, so I shouldn't be surprised. I bet WeSpeke would work way better!
  • Collaboration (1:8)
    Last year it seemed to get kids to face their shortcomings. This year, they mostly complained of just getting people upset. Frankly, I think that's a strong indicator of the necessity of the conferences about collaborative skills, but I'll be thinking of another way.
  • Exploratextos (1:11)
    I tried. A few suggested doing a few books together as a class. Maybe we could have a rotation? Order some more after they browse a bit? Maybe some Google Community reader response?
  • Metas/Resultados del dia (4:15)
    Some it organized, most it didn't. I kind of liked the one suggestion for checklists, but I'm not sure how to structure that to help students maximize their time.
  • Portfolios (3:18)
    I showed them what I've been working on for a new template using ACTFL I-cans, and most feel better having less choice in this and were relieved upon seeing the clearer objectives.
  • Diigo (5:16)
    I couldn't have survived grad school without it. Maybe it was the blog publishing. Maybe I did too many steps at once. I think maybe I will have students focus on one resource at a time, highlighting, paraphrasing, summarizing it before moving on.

Some thought they were great. Some just wanted them to stop.
  • Invento project (8:5)
    I'm gonna call this one a keeper. I was intrigued by the idea of scrapping Plan Verde to devote more time to this and passion projects. I mean, really, if my tests are portfolios or IPAs, there's no reason I HAVE to do 3 projects!
  • Glog (3:5)
    I didn't like shellling out $40 to make overly complex soundboards either. I'm contemplating VoiceThread or Prezi as a substitute, although TinyTap might be a useful app to substitute, and if I could convince the powers that be, I'd totally shell out $30 to get MadPad HD on each of my class iPads.
  • Storyasking (4:8)
    Some thoroughly enjoyed Mucha basura and El mejor invento and how they "figured out new words on my own." Others iddn't get the point of all of the repetition. I guess I could try shorter less complex stories.
  • Reportajes (3:3)
    I need to tighten this process where individuals take turn standing up and telling what they have and what's next. I need to make it a quicker, more interactive routine.
  • Personal Goals (11:5)
    Some liked exploring what mattered to them, though there is the passion project for that...Others just liked the easy grade or felt like it was busy work. This one bears a closer look.

07 December 2014

TPRS Genius Hour

The best reason to present at conferences is that people with great ideas come to you. I mean, sure, you get to gather your thoughts on your own work, maybe show off a little, but if you are presenting something, people who are interested in what you're interested have a designated time and place to track you down...even if it is 8 AM on a Sunday.

This is where Cadena Sensei comes in.

Those who have put up with me for any amount of time know I think Genius Hour is one of the secrets to life--or at least to making kids want to learn (which...isn't that what life is anyway?). I've presented on it three times since August alone. However, I'm always looking for new ways to make it--and all of my Spanish instruction--more productive, more accessible for my students. So John came up to me after my Genius Hour session with this idea to use some pre-selected texts as springboards for Genius Hour projects. Of course the English teacher in me starts singing Liiiiterature circlllles! in my head. I wasn't quite sure if this was quite autonomous enough to be "Genius Hour," but I stored the idea and made Cadena Sensei swear to blog about it (still waiting, John. Tweet him and bug him for me, if you want.)

TPRS on the plane
Now I've been snooping around some TPRS books lately, trying to figure out how it could fit in with my students' goals and interests, and I picked up a couple of Kristy Placido's at the TPRS Publishing booth at ACTFL a few weeks ago. By far, my favorites are Noche de oro and Robo en la noche.

I devoured Noche de oro somewhere between San Antonio and Charlotte and suddenly Cadena Sensei's plan clicked. I started listing every topic I could think of that Noche de oro made me think of, every possible tangential topic that could be explored in greater depth, a la Cadena Sensei's plan, that could ever possibly appeal to any of the students I knew I'd have for Spanish II.

I came up with 20 topics in 3 different categories:

For the ecologically minded
  • birds
  • trees
  • ecosystems
  • conservation
  • rain forest
  • beaches
  • mining
  • waterfalls
  • coffee
For the artistically minded
  • Costa Rican chefs
  • heavy metal
  • salsa
  • tattoos
For the socially minded
  • study abroad
  • police corruption
  • government structure
  • desaparecidos
  • blended families
  • teen freedom
  • flirting/dating

And that's just from Noche de oro! If I go with, say, literature circles, letting students choose the text as well (as per Cadena Sensei's suggestion), and add Robo en la noche to the mix, students could also choose from these topics:
  • health care
  • dictatorships
  • Costa Rican military
  • eco tourism
  • ocean/sea life
  • fruit/flora
  • cathedrals
  • weddings
  • breakfast
  • elders
  • widows
  • horses
  • exotic animal trafficking
  • parks
  • Tico cuisine/restaurants
  • cell phones
  • injuries
  • kidnapping
  • judicial system

PLUS there are these Pinterest boards that the autora herself put together too, for both Robo en la noche and Noche de oro.

Putting it together
Now. TELL me there isn't something for everyone there? I mean, I could put names to the topics right now, and I could satisfy just about every kid on my roster. On top of that, since there is the uniting theme of the book, students would all have a common purpose for conversation, and they could bring their respective pieces of the puzzle to jigsaw the whole thing richer!

So here's what I'm envisioning for a new Genius Hour day routine (bearing in mind 20% of the 4-day academic week at my school is not a whole class period):
  1. Tip-off talk: pick a partner and discuss the who/what/when/where/why/how of last week's chapter to refresh (with Sock Puppets?)
  2. Story setup: activity to preview impending chapter (word cloud, headlines, image discussion, videos, etc.)
  3. Story time: read another chapter of the book, pausing for quick writes.
  4. Genius hour: collect, reflect, prepare, or share
  5. Connection blog: explain 2 things you learned on your topic and how those things fit with the story.
And THEN students with different Genius Hour interests would have an excuse to work together on their final product--since all of the topics started on a related note--thus encouraging the young ones to get REALLY creative with their connections for presenting purposes.

05 December 2014

Film & Lit Final Project App Smash

From back channels during film viewing to blogging to daily reader response set up on Google Community, iPads have been a key ingredient in my Film & Literature class, but never moreso than in their final video project. Instead of a final exam, my kiddos are working in groups, taking clips from all of the movies we have seen (and then some, if they're feeling froggy), and combining them into videos either on 1) How to make a terrible movie out of a great book or 2) How to make a great movie out of a terrible book. 

They've written blog posts and essays about the presentation of literary elements like plot, narration, theme, characterization, and setting in the books we've read versus the movies we've watched. They've also written an essay on which is better overall, books or movies. This video will be the culmination and an extension of all of that analysis, where my seniors take the presentation beyond the academic and have a little fun with their final say on what we've done.

They have a week left to put everything together, but this is how the process goes:

Video Prep

Find 5 scenes on YouTube to incorporate in the video.

        Embed 5 videos in a blog post and explain how they will enhance your video.

Collaborate with group members on a shared Google Doc to compose the script for your video.

Quote Incorporation

Take a screenshot of each scene you will use and post a corresponding quote from the books over each image.

Record yourself paraphrasing or quoting one of the characters to make their picture speak on YAKiT Kids.

Video Completion

Copy the YouTube URL for your  video to SaveDeo.online and download to your camera roll.

Upload the video clips and YAKiT clips to Loopster to edit in order and trim.

Record your group's lines in front of green paper with the Camera then combine with video clips in Green Screen.

01 December 2014

End of Year Clearance: 2013 Flashback

December's here, and we're about done with 2014. Me, I've come to look forward to retrospectives like Lee Sensei's and Musicuentos'. I even did my own Top 13 of 2013 last year:

See last year's top 13 posts
Now I'm working on a top 14 of 2014, but a few posts from later in 2013 didn't really gain steam until 2014. So in keeping with end-of-year reflection, here's a few hits from yesteryear. Literally. Last year, about this time:
Google Translate Addiction: Genius Hour experiment, part 6
This is sort of the beginning of my attempt to make peace with Google Translate (I was going to call my blog "Can Your Translator Do This?" at one point). Honestly, it's got a lot of useful features now--INCLUDING a dictionary that lets you decide which is the best meaning of the word. The pronunciation, the Phrasebook...ah, Google Translate, run away with me! And really, as I have been putting myself in my students' position, becoming a novice myself, I find I want to have those tools available to me. My Translate Commandments are due for a tweaking, mind you, but with them we have a sort of star-crossed ceasefire going on for the moment at least.

Skype in the Target Language: Setup
I've been pretty slack with my Skype buddies this semester (HINT: do not propose multiple presentations to multiple conventions), but hopefully we will be able to do some fun stuff next semester with local amiguitos at least. Still, the playbook setup is useful for structuring practice conversations, inauthentic though they be. It gets kids into circumlocution mode and provides a perch for my little parrots.

15 Driving Questions for Novice Spanish
I have a confession. I have tried none of these driving questions. I honestly might not try any of them, though I could see a couple connecting with the crowd I've got coming next semester (man, I love a small school where everybody knows everybody!) I could see them getting into "Is ethnically based bias or prejudice sometimes warranted?" or maybe "To what extent does modern media like MTV, Tr3s, and Latina, magazine accurately reflect Latino culture?" but on the whole, I'd say this group is a lot more scientifically minded than socially minded. But it's nice to have options, because every group is different.

So You Want to Be a WLOE NBCT (Honeybadger)
Finally, if I can save a single soul from the torment and self-doubt that the National Boards process put me through, I am THERE. I am so excited for amigas Courtney and Stephanie and just pretend that through them, I too, got certified the first time 'round...instead of the third. Check this post for pitfalls I fell for so you can avoid them and my twice-cursed fate.