January 2015 - Island Teacher

Encouraging Student Creativity with Spanish Interactive Notebooks

Since I began using interactive notebooks at the beginning of the school year, one thing that I have really enjoyed is seeing creativity shine in notebooks of my students. Several times I have created an activity to be used in a specific way in my mind, but, then, my students have managed to make it more interesting than I had anticipated. I love seeing this! Not only are they learning Spanish in a different way, BUT they are really "owning" their learning experiences by making their notebooks unique.

This past week we reviewed school supplies vocabulary. We viewed a PowerPoint with school supplies and students filled in a vocabulary list to add to one side of their notebooks. I had created an interactive notebook activity to go along with the topic. You can check that out in my store, HERE. My idea was for them to cut out and attach an entire pocket with a picture of a mochila to their notebooks and then add the school supplies. Here is what I came up with as an example before.

I decided that I wanted students to draw the school supplies on blank templates and add their pictures, along with the Spanish term, to their mochila pockets. That way, students could review by matching the words with pictures or play a memory game with a partner. I passed out the materials and students got to work. As I circulated back around, I noticed that one student had cut out the picture of just the mochila instead of the pocket. Because I harp on the importance of READING the directions on the templates before beginning to cut, I began to remind the student of this. He had a different plan in mind though, and told me that it would be ok! The result? He cut a slit in the top of his backpack (instead of using the entire pocket), and showed me how he could add all of the school supply inserts and create a more "realistic" mochila for his notebook page. Hmmm...maybe I should just hire my students to make my activities?

The point is that, even though this was a whole class activity, students were able to individualize their own notebook page however worked best for them. I LOVE it! I am inspired by and learn from them daily....for that I am thankful! Have your students taught you anything recently?


Structuring a 30 min World Language Class...ready, set, go!

As THE Spanish teacher at a small, private school, I teach a wide age range. I'm currently teaching Spanish to grades 2-10. I see my elementary classes for 30 minutes, one day a week. I sometimes feel like I'm spinning my wheels because we spend a lot of time recapping previous material and it often seems that we move at a slow pace with new material. I thought I'd share an example play by play of 30 minutes in one of my elementary Spanish classes!

Structuring a 30 minute world language class; tips and resources.

Min 1-2 Students enter, greet me at the door (Hola, Buenos días, etc) as they pass by to their seats. I have my students keep folders which they leave in my room. I may hand these out now or wait until later in the lesson depending on what we're doing.
Min 3-5 Oral Review Practice: This may be a Q&A ¿Cómo estás? ¿Cómo te llamas?, etc. We may do a few quick rounds of "I Spy": "Yo veo algo (insert color)" to review colors or we may count around the room.
Min 6-9 Singing: Songs are a great way to teach and reinforce vocabulary. Calico Spanish Songs on YouTube are elementary geared and can be found in a variety of topics. I project these onto the SmartBoard and students sing along. I generally will choose a song or 2 over a topic we have covered or we may learn a new song to introduce a new topic.
Min 10-15 Direct Instruction: This past week we began going over La Familia vocabulary. I showed a PowerPoint on basic family words with graphics. Student practiced pronouncing the words and filled in a vocabulary sheet as we went through the slides. This sheet gets added to their folders.
Min 16-25 Activity/Game: This week, my lower elementary classes are making La Familia vocabulary books, so they began coloring their templates and adding the correct word to the pictures. My upper elementary classes began a family tree diagram from my Mi Familia de Superhéroes set.

While I created this packet for my secondary students, I've found that, with slight adapting, I can use it with my 4th graders on up. They write the appropriate label on each family member and assign a name to each character. Next class, we'll use the diagrams to do some basic oral practice. ¿Cómo se llama la madre? ¿Cómo se llama la hermana? etc.
Min 26-30 Clean up, collect folders, vocabulary recap, final song, line up, back to class....BREATHE! :) 

Do you have short language classes? I would love to hear how you structure these! 

4 ways to get your Spanish students back after the holidays! :)

So it's back to school on Monday for me...I'm imagining it is for many of you as well. It seems that something happens to students over these breaks. I'm going to go ahead and predict it now that I will have students who walk in this week who will appear to have forgotten everything about Spanish that they've been taught....EVER! Does this happen to you too? You're in such a groove with a couple of tiresome weeks heading into the winter break, but you feel like your students are making progress and then...WHAT?! I get a blank stare when asking a simple question. Here are 3 things (plus an extra to think about in the future) that I'm doing this week to get my Spanish superstars back! ;)

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