miércoles, 27 de julio de 2016

Guides for Gran Hotel

Image result for gran hotelAfter having so much success with El Internado in my Cultura y Civilización class, I decided that I wanted to use another television series for Spanish 3 and I decided on Gran Hotel. Gran Hotel is another highly engaging Spanish series. It does have some adult themes and would probably be rated PG-13, but compared to El Internado, the language is much more appropriate! 

So this past spring I bought Mike Peto's student guide for episode 1 of Gran Hotel. Using Gran Hotel in Spanish 3 went very well because Mike's guide is so thorough and comprehensible! On his blog, Mike shares so much about how to teach with television shows, so that helped me a lot as well. 

I contacted him and he invited me to collaborate on creating more guides. So far this summer, we have completed student guides for episode 2 and episode 3, with more on the way (hopefully two more by the end of August). At the beginning of the guides, Mike wrote a couple of pages (click here to read it) describing how he recommends using the guides. I highly recommend reading his explanation if you are interested in teaching with a television series. 


I think these guides are going to be one of my most powerful teaching tools! My colleague will be using them in Spanish 3 first semester and I am going to use them in AP Spanish second semester.

A colleague and I have also created a permission slip. In this permission slip, we included the reason why we are using this show: "Research shows that the triple connection between image, sound and text is a very powerful and engaging way for students to learn a second language. Watching this series  and hearing authentic native speakers will increase students’ listening comprehension skills while helping them improve grammar and proficiency. This is also an excellent way to expose students to Spanish culture."

My colleague also created this very basic personajes slideshow to use. This will be very helpful when reviewing the characters, especially during the first episode if it has been a few days since watching a scene.



I usually don't sell my materials, but Mike and I have put in so much time and effort into these guides that I have decided to go the Teachers Pay Teachers route with Mike. I think these guides are worth it! If you spend 15-20 minutes for 3-4 days a week with the method that Mike describes, you can spend 2-3 weeks on one episode.

miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2016

Shifting the focus in an introductory program

Image result for no te va gustar
**Update** - 6/7/16 - Elena López has developed more resources to go with the story below. Click here to see them.

In my new position as Academic Coordinator, one of my roles is curriculum coordination for grades 7-12. Our middle school students get  Spanish A for a quarter and/or French A for a quarter. If they do well in those courses, they take Spanish 1 or French 1 in eighth grade. If they don't do that well, students take Spanish B for a quarter and/or French B for a quarter. In my opinion, the goal of the Spanish/French A and B quarter classes should be to give the students lots of comprehensible input and see how enjoyable Spanish/French class can be when there is communication happening.

The current curriculum consists of a variety of traditional "units": greetings, commands, the alphabet, numbers, days of the week/months/date, colors, school supplies and some other similar units. In my opinion, these units are not very communication focused, nor are they very interesting and/or engaging to students. Also, it is difficult to maintain that goal of 90% in the Target Language. Most of these topics can be integrated/embedded into the curriculum in a more meaningful, engaging way. So, I am working with the two middle school Spanish teachers with the goal of using more TPRS and CI to improve instruction and language acquisition. Both of these teachers are very open to the idea, but wanted to see it in action, so I am teaching their classes and doing a mini-unit in each class so that they can see TPRS/CI in action.

These are the reasons I am hoping that we move more towards TPRS/CI in our department:
  • TPRS/CI is much more engaging to students.
  • Differentiation is much easier and almost automatic with TPRS/CI, particularly with the use of technology, such as Textivate, which has such a wide range of activities.
  • TPRS/CI is more communicative. Instead of learning the alphabet and how the language works, students are focusing on chunks of useful language and actually learning about the sound so of different letters in a more meaningful way.
  • TPRS/CI allows the teacher and the students to stay 90% in the TL.
  • Depending on the story, culture can be much easier to include in the curriculum. It is not an "add on," but rather part of the lesson.
  • Grammar is not a focus, but students are acquiring/learning lots of it... without even realizing it.
  • There is such a variety of activities that can be done with a story, including: listening and identify the picture, listening drawing, retelling with drawing, acting out the story, Kahoot, Textivate (put in order, gap fill-ins, etc.), question and answer, creating alternative endings, etc. 
So, my first demo lesson was three days long with an eighth grade Spanish 1 class. This class is "easy" to teach because these students are motivated, high achievers. I used Billy la Bufanda as the "story." Thanks to Carrie Toth and Elena López for creating the slideshow that I adapted here. You can see the mini-unit packet here, along with the "I can" statements and some links to Textivate, Quizlet and Kahoot activities. The mini-unit went pretty well, but I wish I had had more time. Student feedback was good, but some thought it was a bit childish (understandably).

My real test will be with the Spanish B students starting today. I will be teaching them for 5-6 days and using a story that I created using the music video for the song "Chau" by No te va gustar. The slideshow below and this unit packet explain what the goals are, what the unit looks like, and what the evaluación at the end of the 5-6 days is. The last page of the unit packet has my plan for each day that I am teaching this mini-unit.

I thought this story would be a good transition story to TPRS/CI because it still includes some of the traditional vocabulary that is taught in the school supplies unit, but hopefully students will acquire the vocabulary and structures in a much more meaningful, engaging, and interesting way. There is also room for a cultural comparison, as students will see an authentic resource: a music video from the Uruguayan rock band No te va gustar.


 (If you want to use this slideshow and adapt it or embed it, here is the link to make a copy)

I am by no means a TPRS/CI expert, but I think I have learned a lot this year, especially because of the shift I made in my Spanish 1 class. I completely ditched the textbook and went full TPRS/CI (here is the curriculum grid with resources linked - big thanks to Elena López and Amy Zimmer for all their resources and guidance). Hopefully, others can use some of these resources above to make the shift in the beginning levels!




miércoles, 11 de mayo de 2016

Lo Sobrenatural: Cortometrajes




My last unit in my Cultura y Civilización course is called "Lo Sobrenatural," and it is a fun one with tons of fantastic resources. Big thanks to Kristy Placido who shared her Essential Questions, ideas and resources. And thanks to Elena López too for her slideshows!

During the end of the year, we have lots of interruptions with AP exams, field trips, and other things, and yesterday was one of those days when a third of the class was missing. I wanted to do something fun and light, but still related to the chapter. So, here is what we did:


Cortometrajes sobrenaturales:
  • With a group of classmates, watch a cortometraje sobrenatural and write a summary, but leave out the ending.
  • Read the summary to the class. Classmates will draw or act out what they hear. List any new vocabulary on the board.
  • Don't tell them the ending.
  • Classmates will predict the ending.
  • Watch the cortometraje and see the ending.


Cortometrajes:


This was a simple, fun way to keep them engaged and focused on our unit on a day when we were missing many students. Here are the summaries (not edited and/or corrected by me yet) that they wrote. I may even use their summaries with other classes in the future. 

Also, there are so many good cortometrajes (check out Elena López's pinterest boards here and here), this could be done with any type that has a twist at the ending.