Sunday, March 19, 2017

6 Tips for Making Craft Projects in the FL Classroom More Language Rich

I ADMIT IT, I LOVE A GOOD CRAFT PROJECT IN CLASS, and over the years I have done all kinds... but, also, I will admit that at one point, they were not always so language rich. The kids had fun, made something cute or culturally connected, and my artistic, creative kiddos in particular had an outlet in Spanish class. But, too much time was spent on creating, cutting, or pasting and not enough target language was woven into the project to make it justifiable linguistically... sound familiar?

6 Tips for Making Craft Projects in the FL Classroom More Language Rich

HERE'S THE GOOD NEWS! This doesn't mean you have to ditch craft projects altogether- although some may need to go if they don't meet the grade- I have dumped many through the years, or altered them to include more language use. Following are some tips that work for me to provide more language input and output during craft projects while still providing a hands on experience:

*MULTISTEP CRAFT PROJECTS are a great way to provide language input as you and the whole class do the project step by step. With little kiddos, giving instructions for each step, waiting until everyone has finished that step, then moving on to the next, provides lots of support and helps kids who have a hard time with multi step instructions- and keeps the activity all in the target language with listening comprehension. A cultural project that lends itself really well to this category is tissue paper flowers- see our post on how to make them here!

*KEEP CRAFT SMALL: There is no rule that says a craft or illustrating project has to be large, especially when a smaller one will do. Consider shrinking the size of drawings, collages, weavings, etc so they don't take as long to complete. This shortens the crafting time while still providing an opportunity for students to engage in these fun activities.

*HAVE STUDENTS SELECT MATERIALS: Reinforce manners and making requests vocabulary in the target language by  giving students the chance to choose some of the materials they will use for the project such as the color of paper or yarn, etc.

*CIRCULATE AROUND THE ROOM WHILE STUDENTS ARE CRAFTING: If your students are doing a craft independently, such as a Huichol yarn painting or making a paper arpillera, circulate around and ask kids about their work as they are engaged in the activity. Questions like 'What color is ___?' and 'What size is ____?' or 'Do you like the color ____?', and so on provide language usage while kids are crafting and connects language to their project. Here is an example of me asking questions of one of my 1st graders while he works on his paper arpillera:

*PREP STEPS AHEAD OF TIME: Some crafts involve a fair amount of steps, or steps that are harder for little hands to do, so if, as a teacher, I still want to do them, I prep some of those steps ahead of time so my students don't have to do them. For example, I make the first fold of tissue paper when we are making paper flowers, and I attach their name tags to the stems prior to class. Having these two steps already done before class also makes finishing the flowers in one 30 minute period less hectic, and means the steps we do do in class can be done in the target language.

6 Tips for Making Craft Projects in the FL Classroom More Language Rich

*PARTNER WITH ART OR GEN ED TEACHERS: There are some crafts that are just too involved to do in class and still get enough language exposure to make it worth it.. and that's where teaming up with another teacher is a fantastic way to ensure your students have an opportunity to do a meaningful cultural craft without you losing valuable class time.

THE CRAFT PROJECTS THAT I STILL DO IN MY CLASSES are all cultural ones at this point, such as making tissue paper flowers, paper arpilleras and 3-D figures, paper shoes for Three King's Day and so on. Every project goes through a litmus test- how can I incorporate more language into the activity? If there is still too much "down time" where they are crafting but not using Spanish then I either modify the activity or ditch it. I don't want to get rid of crafts altogether because, especially at the elementary school, they are some of the most memorable things we do (or, at least that's what the kids tell me!) and... sometimes you've just gotta make a paper & yarn llama! :)

Happy crafting!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Track the Monarch Butterfly migration in Spanish class!

THERE ARE FEW THINGS AS MAGICAL AS THE MONARCH MIGRATION, at least to me! Living in Maine, it blows my mind that these tiny creatures can fly all the way from the Northeast to central México, making it to their destination before winter renders it impossible to continue. As part of my Second Grade curriculum, we follow the monarch migration each fall, and then again each spring, eagerly awaiting their arrival to our playground and back yards!

SINCE MY CLASSES ARE ONLY 30 MINUTES LONG, I integrate our 'monarch map' into our greeting activities, getting a 'two for one as it were' to maximize class time. We do a quicker greeting, using one from Responsive Classroom called the 'Butterfly greeting'- students say 'Hola' or 'Buenos días' to their neighbor next to them in the circle, interlocking their thumbs and waving their other fingers so it looks like their two hands form a butterfly flying. We then move on to the map, taking a look at weekly updates on Journey North's site (click here to visit) which gives us the information we need to be able to mark our class maps as to where the monarchs are.

Tracking the monarch butterfly migration in Spanish class

WHOMEVER IS THE HELPER OF THE DAY has the privilege of adding to our map, using an orange marker to create a dotted line indicating the path of the butterflies, and moving our little butterfly icon up as well. It only takes two minutes or so, but my students eagerly await our updates each week!

AT THE BEGINNING OF SPRING, WE ALSO MAKE PREDICTIONS as to when the monarchs will arrive back in Maine- I use small clothespins with class names on them and clip them to the month on our calendar each class votes on. We all then keep our eyes peeled and see whether our predictions were on mark or not!

Tracking the Monarch butterfly migration in Spanish class

WANT TO TEACH ABOUT BUTTERFLIES AND THE MIGRATION and need resources? Grab our Theme Pack, which includes the butterfly icons seen in the photo above with the map! Your students will love learning about the life cycle of a butterfly with our printable minibook and theme activities- a great way to incorporate cross-content lessons! Add cultural perspectives with the migration to México and an authentic poem along with video links to authentic resources! Click here!

Mariposas Butterfly Theme Pack for Spanish Class

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Build & Maintain Relationships With Your Students in a 90% Classroom

SO, YOU'VE MADE THE COMMITMENT TO TEACH 90% IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE IN YOUR CLASSROOM- great! There's just one thing (ok, a lot of things, but let's focus on this one :) )... how are you going to develop and maintain positive relationships with your students if you aren't speaking very much English? This was my greatest concern when I switched over to 90% (and then 100%)... but it was a fear I most definitely did NOT have to worry about! Of course, it took some time to figure that out, so to save you, my dear teacher reader, some of that time, here are some things that work for me with my students!

How to Build Relationships in a 90% Target Language Classroom

*NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Often overlooked or forgotten as a factor in creating and maintaining relationships is how we interact with our students- the tone of my voice, my facial gestures/ expressions, my body language- regardless of the language I am speaking, my students can tell how I feel about them based on how I look and sound to them. If I am smiling at them, hugging them or patting them on the back, using a friendly, caring tone, being patient with them, this goes a LONG way toward building relationships with my students. We do this unconsciously- the good news here is that you are ALREADY doing things to build a relationship with your students that don't involve language- keep doing them!

*POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT AND CLASS CELEBRATION: It is part of my job to create a safe and encouraging environment for my students to learn in. Celebrating success is vital to this, especially as, in a 90% classroom, students often feel challenged or unsure. Being very vigilant as a teacher to students who need a little extra "you can do it!" and "look, you HAVE done it!" is crucial, without overlooking the rest of the students who also need a morale boost on a regular basis. Whether it's a class applause, a high five, a thumbs up, however you choose to celebrate in class, do it consistently and often. Students will feel cared about and on your radar- who doesn't feel good about someone who is looking out for us?

*STRATEGIC USE OF ENGLISH: In a 90% TL classroom, it becomes really important to strategically plan when you are going to use English (this is a real shift in planning, in my opinion). Purposely use some of that 10% English time to reach out to a kiddo or the whole class, strengthening bonds and forging new ones.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

How to Teach a Lesson in Elementary Spanish Class Using a Video Clip- Step by Step

I LOVE USING VIDEO CLIPS IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES-they are a great authentic source of input, and can generate lots of communication and interaction in the target language. And, of course, my students LOVE watching videos, so I am always happy to tap into that interest to increase motivation.

how to teach a lesson in Spanish class using a video clip

SO, HOW TO TEACH A LESSON USING A VIDEO CLIP? Here's my break down of a short Pocoyó video for Valentine's Day. My goal is to practice vocabulary in context by stopping the clip at intervals and asking a series of questions my students can answer. You will note I make lots of use of the 'either/or' question- these are great for novice learners as the answer is embedded in the question, providing linguistic support for your varied learners, and helps the entire class stay in the target language. I also do a lot of pointing to parts of the video, especially if it is vocabulary that they may not know, but is obvious if I point to it on the screen- 'balsa' (raft) for example. Typically when I am using a clip/ video for a lesson, I will first show the clip, stopping at intervals and asking questions, and then show the clip a second time without stopping so my students can just watch it. Since we've already gone through and asked questions and elicited reactions, that has primed the mental pump and I often have kids calling out vocabulary we've just used during the first run through. Modify the questions to suit your students!

POCOYÓ- Paisajes Románticos:

0:01: ¿Cuál es la fecha?
0:05: ¿Toca la música Pocoyó, sí o no?
0:12: ¿Toca el piano Ely o Pato? (alternate: ¿Toca el piano Pato, sí o no?)
0:12: ¿Es Ely una bailarina o dentista?
0:12: ¿Está llevando Ely un tutu o un sombrero?
0:12: ¿De qué color es el sombrero de Pato?
0:24: ¿Hace frío o hace calor?
0:24: ¿Cuántos icebergs (témpanos) hay?
0:24: ¿Toca el violín Pato o Pocoyó?
0:24: ¿De qué color es la balsa?
0:24: ¿De qué color es el sombrero de Pulpo?
0:30: ¿Tienen Ely y Pato hambre o sed?
0:30: ¿Qué comen Ely y Pato, espaguetis o la pizza?
0:40: ¿Van Pato y Ely en carro o en avión?
0:40: ¿De qué color es la bufanda de Ely?
0:40: ¿De qué color es el avión?
0:40: ¿Es Pato dentista o piloto?
0:51: ¿Qué forma se aparece en el cielo?
1:00: ¿Qué hacen Ely y Pato, bailan o cantan?
1:09: ¿Toca el piano o la guitarra Pocoyó?

¿Te gustó el video?

WANT TO SEE A LESSON IN ACTION? Here is one of my Second Grade classes with the trailer to a movie about Ratoncito Pérez:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

3 Activities to Celebrate 100th Day of School in Spanish Class

IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AROUND THE COUNTRY, 100th Day of School is a big deal! Kids celebrate in many ways, so why shouldn't we foreign language teachers get into the action, too?! Here are three simple activities to make 100th Day of School part of your class:

*MUÑEQUITOS QUITAPENAS: Count up to 100 with our foto of Guatemalan worry dolls! I've arranged them in groups of 10, with a break after 5, so you can count by 5s or 10s for your older kiddos! Just display this foto on your smartboard or AppleTV and count away!

100 Worry Dolls to Count for 100th Day of School

*CIEN PALABRAS EN ESPAÑOL: This is a simple activity with index cards (or get fancy and use scrapbooking paper!)- hand out an index card to each kiddo and instruct them to put a Spanish word on the card. Once they finish, they can take another card. Encourage kids to do 6-8 cards, then collect them all and go through them, weeding out the duplicates. Count how many you now have, and determine whether you need more in order to get to 100 cards. Pass out the required number of more cards and help the class to brainstorm words they haven't written yet. Once you have 100, you can string them together to make a banner!

100th Day of School Activities for Spanish Class

*PLAY MONEY: Print out 100 pesos, guaranies, quetzales, bolivares, soles, etc from a variety of Spanish speaking countries (just do a Google images search) and use a map to match money to country. You can even laminate everything and put velcro on the map and backs of the bills so you can easily attach them to the various countries! *NOTE: for some countries, 100 is no longer in circulation, or not as a bill, so you can either skip or print out vintage bills or coins. (And of course, you could use the money to have kids "buy" and "sell" things in a pretend market..always loads of fun!)

100th Day of School Activities for Spanish Class

Have another idea? Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 23, 2017

9 Minute to Win it Games to Play in Spanish Class

I CONFESS, I LOVE PLAYING GAMES! My family is huge on games, we play whenever we get together, and honestly, we play a lot of games in my elementary Spanish classes. Besides the fact that they are fun, games are an authentic way to build communication skills, motivate those more reluctant learners, and give a reason to participate for even the "coolest" kid. While searching for Valentine's Day activities on Pinterest, I came across a bunch of 'Minute to Win It' games and I was hooked! (Apparently I have been WAY out of the loop because I didn't even realize it had been a TV show until I had been scrolling for maybe 5-10 minutes- oh, boy!) Anywho, I couldn't resist gathering a bunch together, making some adaptions to fit an elementary Spanish classroom (though they could be played in any language or level really!), and ¡ta-chán! here they are:

1) LA TORRE DE CORAZONES: this one is awesome for any grade level (my primary grades play a similar game with stacking a sandwich and it is hilarious! see post here). Head over to the Dollar Store and pick up a bunch of candy hearts- the bags I bought had approximately 180 candy hearts in them, so enough for 18 kiddos- 4 bags + one extra bag and I had enough for one grade level. Put a bag's worth (or so) on paper plates and have kids take 10 hearts each. Set the timer and have them stack the hearts; if the hearts fall over before the minute is up, they have to start over again- the student with the highest tower at the end of the minute wins!

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

2) DE UN PLATO AL OTRO: Who knows what to call this game? Anyway, each student needs two paper plates, a bunch of pompoms on one plate, and a clothespin. Set the timer- the challenge, use the clothespin to transport pompoms from one plate to the other- whoever has the most pompoms on their second plate at the end of the minute is the winner!

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

3) LIMPIADORES DE PIPA: Another take on the pompom idea, each student gets one pipe cleaner and a bunch of pony beads. Depending on the age of your students, you could do this in pairs or as individuals. The pipe cleaner with the most beads when the timer goes off is the winner- bonus points if they create a pattern with the colors! (you would need a variety of colors for this :0) )

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

4) COMIDA MISTERIOSA: This is great for small teams to play against one another! Use Chinese food take out containers (I found these at the Dollar Tree, you can also find them at most any craft store), and put a plastic food (or a picture, or really anything! I just like the idea of a food item since it is a take out container :) ) inside. One student on each team has to describe the food in the target language to the rest of the team without them looking inside the container. The first team to guess correctly before the timer goes off is the winner. You can then rotate the containers and start again.

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

5) EL TARRO DE ESTIMACIÓN: Fill a jar with candy conversation hearts and invite your students to estimate how many are in there, using the target language of course!

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

6) RELLENAR EL MOLDE: Another speed related game, students each have a bunch of pompoms and a cookie cutter. The challenge- stuff the cookie cutter with as many pompoms as possible. Whoever has the most in the cookie cutter when the time is up is the winner.

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

7) CATEGORIZANDO POMPONES: Have a plateful of pom poms in different colors, a clothespin and a muffin tin for sorting the pompoms by color (you could use cups or sorting trays also). Once the timer starts, students need to use the clothespin to sort as many pom poms as possible before the time is up!

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

8) CARRERA CON POMPONES: This is a great game to play outside or in the gym! If you have to play in your classroom, you can do it in shifts of 6 or so students at a time so that there is enough room. Mark a beginning and ending point that students will need to navigate- give each participant a popsicle stick and three pompoms which need to sit on the popsicle stick. Hit 'go' and students must walk as quickly as they can to the other side, without dropping any pompoms. The first across the finish line with pompoms intact is the winner!

Minute to Win It Games for Spanish Class

9) CARRERA CON POMPONES #2: This is an alternate version of the above game, but instead of a popsicle stick each student gets a paper cup with pompoms inside (I put about 5-10, the amount isn't important, though it should be the same in each cup to be fair should the cup fall and someone has to refill their cup before continuing on). Each student places the paper cup on their head, and again, must walk as fast as they can to the finish line. The winner is the first across the line with the cup on their head and all pompoms inside.

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

YOU CAN PLAY THESE GAMES any time of year- they are not Valentine's Day specific, though certainly if you are heading into February vacation, you might consider playing these to keep your sanity! :)

AND DON'T FORGET TO THROW IN game vocabulary while everyone is playing: 'Go!', 'It's your turn!', 'Come on!', 'Oh my gosh!', 'oh no!'. 'yay', 'darn!', 'alright!', 'yes!' etc are all great expressions to keep the games in the target language. Now, go have some fun! :)

NEED A GREAT RESOURCE FOR GAME VOCABULARY? Here's a set of posters plus vocabulary lists!

Games Vocabulary Lists in Spanish

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to make a paper snowflake in Spanish class in the target language

MAKING SIMPLE CRAFTS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES can be a lot of fun- and can be a great use of time if they are done in the target language. Instructions for making things often incorporate high frequency vocabulary, so choosing small projects to do in class can offer your students a new and novel context in which to encounter this vocabulary, something I think is important. Refining knowledge of the meaning of words takes a long time, and various contexts help in that refinement.

ENTER PAPER SNOWFLAKES- since its winter, and snowflakes are a popular craft in most elementary and middle schools, why not harness the fun and make them in your class? Here are instructions in Spanish for how to make a simple snowflake out of paper.

REMEMBER, WHEN DOING A CRAFT OR PROJECT in the target language, have everyone do each step together, waiting until everyone is finished before moving on to the next step. This helps those students who have difficulties with multistep instructions, and keeps everyone in the same place which helps with classroom management. Have fun!

teaching 90% in target language making a paper snowflake