Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Simple Activity to Incorporate STEAM (STEM) in Your Elementary Foreign Language Classes

I AM A HUGE PROPONENT OF TEACHING CONTENT IN THE FLES CLASSROOM, teaching using the foreign language, rather than just teaching the language itself. This has traditionally taken the form of thematic units where science, geography, math, and more are explored and integrated into class- and kids LOVE it! So as STEAM/ STEM gather momentum in the educational arena, I am excited to reflect on activities I already incorporate into my classes, and to learn from others so I can integrate new ideas and activities. (NOTE: a cautionary thought of mine- like doing very involved craft or other types of projects in class, I want to be sure that with STEAM/ STEM I am keeping in mind that my ultimate goal is for my students to acquire language, so designing activities that foster lots of interaction with the language is key, rather than unintentionally set up unstructured situations for which my students do not have enough target language and therefore devolve to English).

EXPERIMENTATION IS A KEY COMPONENT in any science endeavor, and can be brought into the foreign language classroom in a variety of ways. A simple opportunity presented itself today in one of my Kindergarten classes, and though definitely not earth shattering in it's complexity, was rich with language while at the same time providing a fun way to do our greeting activity.

Simple STEAM STEM Activity for Elementary Spanish Class

ONE OF OUR GREETING ACTIVITIES WE DO IN KINDERGARTEN is rolling a ball to one another and greeting the person (see our post here on greeting games with a ball!). As the year progresses, I begin giving them choices of what type of ball we will use, voting on them and then using the ball that gets the most votes. Our last theme of the year is 'Julieta y Mateo hacen un picnic' which introduces fruits and the verb 'querer'...to be a little silly, I start giving fruits as a choice along with a couple of the balls. Today, I opted to have students choose the three items we would vote on, and 'queso' (cheese) was one of them- and won the vote!

HERE'S WHERE THE STEAM STEM comes in! As you can see in the photo above, I have a variety of play cheese, none of which roll very well! But, instead of me choosing one, I decided to have the students decide which rolled/ moved best by experimenting with each. I gave one cheese to five different students and instructed each (all in the target language, btw) to roll/ fling/ send the cheese across the circle. As each was tried, we all gave a thumbs up/ down as to whether we thought it worked well. As it turned out, the flat piece of swiss cheese slid very well across the carpet, so that became the cheese we used for our subsequent greeting!

AS I SAID ABOVE, this was an incredibly simple way to incorporate the concept of experimentation, but was full of language interaction and gave the students lots of chances to add their comments to the process. And, we had a blast!

SEE OUR POST ON A SANDWICH TOWER for another fun way to bring STEAM to your class!

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS YOU INCORPORATE STEAM STEM in your classroom? Please share in the comments!

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