Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Play Gato (Tic Tac Toe) With the Whole Class- Great Listening Comprehension Activity!

A FRIEND OF MINE FROM COLOMBIA INTRODUCED ME to this version of the traditional game 'Gato' many years ago and I continue to love it! Perfect for my older students (3rd & 4th grade) as well as Middle or Highschool, and a great way to incorporate listening comprehension. Here's how to play:

Gato game for Spanish Class

*Designate a vocabulary word for each square on the Gato board. In the above picture, you can see I have colors, but you could have numbers, fruits, clothes, whatever is familiar to your students.  *Choose a set of vocabulary (different than what you have on the Gato board) that you have been working on or that you want to practice/ review. Write a clue in the target language describing each vocabulary word to correspond to each square on the Gato board. I like to have the vocabulary set we are focusing on displayed as a support for kids-in this version we are practicing vocabulary from our minibook 'Mateo y el mapa del tesoro'.

Gato Tic Tac Toe in Spanish Class A game for older students

Gato Tic Tac Toe Game for Spanish Class

*Have markers for x and o ready to place on the board. I put magnets on the back so they are easy to move and place in the squares.

*Project a Gato board on your smartboard or draw one on the whiteboard or even on a large sheet of paper.
*Divide the class into two teams, one being X's and one being O's.
*Choose one team to go first and call on a student on that team to choose a square on the Gato board by naming the vocabulary word pictured in that square. So, if he/she wanted the center square, he would say 'rojo' for my board pictured above.
*Read the clue out loud and provide the team with adequate time to name the word being described. If the team gets it right, they get to put their X or O in the square. If they don't get it right, the other team has an opportunity to guess. If neither team gets it right, we move on to another square; we can come back to that square for another try later in the game if necessary. (I call on kids randomly within the team, rather than have a 'team spokesperson'; this makes it more likely that everyone on the team will get a turn to speak, rather than a couple dominating the action).
*Continue until either one team has 'Gato' or there is a tie. (un empate)

Have fun!

Want to play the game with your class but don't have time to make the boards and pieces? Grab ours in our shop!


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