One of the challenges we face as teachers is finding ways to help students use their language to express themselves fluently. The best thing that we can do for them is to show them how to communicate with fluency with the language that THEY have acquired…to model for them what it might look and sound like. Susie Gross has often said….Shelter vocabulary, not grammar.
But what does that mean? In the past few years I have really practiced this…and I wish that I had “gotten it” earlier because it is an incredibly powerful change in my teaching. But what is it that I have been practicing? Let me try to explain….
In the book that we are working on in, the phrases “brings him/brings her/brings them” show up repeatedly. What I would like to do is to create opportunities to use these phrases over and over and over and over and over again.
It will work because these are high-frequency. It will work if I keep them in front of me…cognitively and physically. It will work if, every time I use them with students, they are comprehensible AND contribute to some sort of interesting interaction. Some opportunities…
1. We start the class with a message on the Smartboard. Here are some ideas …..phrases I could put on the opening message:
The teacher is ready to accept your homework. Bring it to her.
The miners brought rocks home from the mine. Why should, or shouldn’t, they bring them?
The students from France are arriving tomorrow! Our students will be bringing them to school.
2. We use signals to integrate vocabulary and structures and to refocus students on activities. Here are some phrases we could use:
I’m bringing them….to the party!
Bring them…with you
3. Instead of collecting papers from the first person in each row I can ask them to “bring them to my desk.’
Personalized Conversations (aka PQA)/Writing Prompts
I frequently start a conversation with students (or ask them to write a paragraph) that uses a particular structure…with this one I might try…
1. I just received an email from The New York Yankees. They want to come to watch their biggest fan (Dan) play soccer this Thursday. They will need a ride from the train station in Syracuse…..who in class can (will, would, should) bring them to school?
2. Our French visitors have a free afternoon on Friday and we are taking them around the area. They can leave school at noon and must be back for the football game at 7pm. You get to decide where we go….where should we bring them?
3. Silly Bandz is sponsoring a local contest. You can win $500 if you can write a letter that convinces our principal to put on 500 Silly Bandz and wear them to school every day for a week. What would you write in your letter?
4. Start a campaign to convince parents that they should no longer bring their children with them to every family function. What is a function that teens do NOT want to attend and why shouldn’t parents bring them?
5. School policy says “no coffee, no soda” in classes. Should students be allowed to bring them to class? Why or why not?
1. Day of the Dead….a great opportunity to talk about the ofrendas, the people who are honored and what families bring to the ofrenda.
2. Three Kings’ Day…another great opportunity to talk about a Hispanic holiday, who the Kings were/are and what children hope that they bring …
1. Headlines…a quick “Google”ing of the phrase “brings (or brought or will bring etc) them” in
Spanish brought me these headlines:
· Alejandro les lleva al paraíso (Alejandro Sanz concert…)
· Ronald McDonald visita a niños cusqueños y les lleva alegría (RM visits kids in Cusco, Peru and brings them happiness)
· The Cranberries, reunión y gira mundial que los llevará a España (The Cranberries reunion and world tour that will bring them to Spain)
And my favorite….
· ¿Es necesario que los escolares lleven el celular al colegio? (Do students really have to bring cell phones to school? …..)
2. Matching…I like to create short matching activities to use in little contests, extra credit opportunities etc…they are always easy, interesting, structure-focused. Here’s a sample:
1. My cat threw up three times. ____A. Bring them to a recycling container!
2. My Mountain Dew cans are empty. ____B. Bring them to school!
3. My clothes are dirty. ____C. Don’t bring them to your mother!
4. My Mercedes Benz needs a new owner. ____D. Bring it to the vet!!
5. My cousins are the Jonas brothers. ____E. Bring it to me!
Listening Songs….Again….I googled lleva+letra (Spanish for lyrics) and found….
Llevan por Raphael http://www.letras.com/r/raphael/hacia_el_exito/llevan.html
Mil Calles Llevan Hacia Ti por La Guardia http://www.quedeletras.com/letra-cancion-mil-calles-llevan-hacia-ti-bajar-89218/disco-vamonos/la-guardia-mil-calles-llevan-hacia-ti.html
Me Llevaras en Ti por Alejandro Fernandez http://www.quedeletras.com/letra-cancion-me-llevaras-en-ti-bajar-44250/disco-muy-dentro-de-mi-corazon/alejandro-fernandez-me-llevaras-en-ti.html
Imagine how powerful this kind of repetition could be with idiomatic expressions that just don’t “click” easily? It takes some practice to start “thinking” this way, but I promise you…once you get started it is a little like playing around with puns…you start to see them everywhere!!!
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