This year I decided to add a second poster option for my Spanish 2 students (primarily 7th graders). About 1/3rd had had me as a teacher last year and I didn’t want them to have to do the same poster over again! Also, it was so successful that I wanted to see if it also worked with our Goals !
In Our Class We Try To…
This week we focused on Respect and Understand as we began to get to know each other and how the class would run. Next week we’ll add Communicate.
These goals, like the statement in the previous post, serve as a touchpoint for us all year long. I was able to use them over and over again just this week.
Check out some of their work above and below!
PS I’ve invited the principal and two assistant principals to come in and choose their favorite poster (from both options) I will color copy and frame them to be hung in their offices!!
The first weeks of school seem “easy” to some teachers. In their rooms, students seem to follow the rules and do what is expected. It is sometimes referred to as the “honeymoon” period, when everything is sweet and wonderful.
I don’t usually experience that, and maybe many language teachers do not. Our expectations are different than the expectations of other teachers. Our rooms are set up differently than the rooms of other teachers. Our relationships with students are often different than those of other teachers. For those reasons, it is extremely important to set the boundaries. What are the parameters of behavior? What is acceptable? What isn’t?
Because I teach using TPRS® (thank you Bryce Hedstrom for this!) my students are going to be in a highly-participatory, interactive classroom. This is new for many of them and it takes some time for us to work it out!! So for me, the first few weeks are very, very important and my brain is highly alert for ways to time, orchestrate and/or take advantage of the first and best opportunities to share HOW this class will work. Once we get things rolling, then I relax a little bit!
For the last decade or so, I have started students with the following statement (or something very similar!_:
The purpose of communication is to put a picture into the mind, and/or heart, of another person.
It is not a quote; it’s one of my belief statements….in the classroom and in life. I use it to “anchor” the classroom.
What do I mean by “anchor”?
Well, teaching can sometimes feel as if you are out on the high seas in the middle of a hurricane. It’s hard, with all that is going on and all that is required, to keep upright and to keep going in the right direction. Sometimes you need an anchor to keep you from blasting off in the wrong direction without meaning to.
So I use all or parts of this statement to come back to over and over again.
It is an introduction to the concept of visualization. I want students to visualize what they hear and read.
It is a reminder that clarity is important. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
It is a reminder that words have power. We should use them wisely.
It is commitment to not only communicate with the minds, but also the hearts, of everyone in the class.
But most of all, it gives me the starting point for checking for understanding? Is the meaning (the picture) clear?
I ask students to create a poster (8″x10″ minimum) with that statement. They keep them in the front of their folders and I post copies of many of them around the room. As always….students blow me away with their work!! (Check out samples from some of this year’s 6th graders above and below!)
I am so excited about the new students that I have!! This week they came up with a great idea…
I was just beginning to ask a story and we had a character, Mia, who was putting on makeup in the mirror in the bathroom on the second floor of her house. The class had decided that it was a full-length mirror. The actress was up in front putting on makeup and it was going fairly well.
In order to get to know the kids better, and for them to connect with me and each other, I have been trying to get as many students involved in as many ways as possible. So, I asked a girl who was similar in height, build and hair color to come up and be the reflection.
She was PHENOMENAL!! It was so funny to watch!! Then the class decided to name her Pia!!!! And now there were double reps! Mia puts on lipstick like Angelina Jolie and Pia puts on lipstick the same way. They put on lipstick like Angelina. (and with sing/plural!!) I thought it just couldn’t get any better than that! And then…..
At one point, Pia, the reflection, wasn’t paying close attention and missed doing something. I said to her in Spanish, “Pia, you are a reflection, when Mia does something you have to do it too.” I was just trying to get in a little more Spanish, but it backfired on me. I could see that she was embarrassed and felt that I had yelled at her. Suddenly one of her friends called out in Spanish, “She wants to be different!”
OH MY!!! A huge smile lit up her face and she said “Yes…I want to be different! I don’t want to be a reflection!” So it was decided, that when Mia was looking in the mirror, Pia did the exact same thing, but when Mia wasn’t looking at the mirror, Pia would do something different.
Oh the fun and the reps we got out of that one!!!! I am definitely bringing Pia back into stories again!!! (hint: at one point in the story, have the actor/actress get very close to the mirror…the actors/actresses end up nose to nose…hysterical!!!!)
Getting to know our students allows us to personalize stories and connect the language to our students. And vice versa!
Today we were working with a skeleton story written by students earlier in the day. The focus structures were: had the desire to, just about to start, and without rest ( the last two from songs we have been using this week….the first because it is a high, high, high frequency structure in Spanish). The skeleton story was this:
Two characters had the desire to win a race. They practiced for a long time without rest. Suddenly they realized that the race was just about to start. Oh no! Would they get there in time?
We had just finished an activity that had gone really well with the other two level one classes this morning…but not with this one. It went…..but not well. When we started with the skeleton story, I wasn’t really expecting bells and whistles. Oh my was I wrong!!
Our skeleton stories often use “characters” so that each class can choose their own. I took suggestions….Pee Wee Herman (how do freshmen even know who he is?!!), Barney, Terrell Owens (we aren’t far from Buffalo)…nothing seemed to click. Then someone suggested Obi Wan Kenobi.
BAM!!!!! The class popped out of their seats!! All of a sudden they were suggesting names for the second character….each one calling out their favorite Star Wars character and using Spanish to explain why that character was a better choice for the story. Three boys who rarely get fired up were falling all over themselves to get involved.
Then one girl raised her hand and said, “Nunca miro Star Wars”. A very quiet kid YELLED, “En serio?” (sorry…I’m on the laptop and cannot do the upside-down interrogative!) Now they wanted to start to tell the story of all seven (?) movies in Spanish lol.
I had absolutely no idea that so many of the kids in this group were Star Wars fans. Had we not started this story, I’m not sure if I would have ever found that out. Now I have a topic that has united about 10 students who have been stubbornly resisting any kind of unification.
Self-proclaimed geeks, jocks, troublemakers, and three Twilight groupies are now uniting to make sure that the rest of the class learns to appreciate the Star Wars saga in all its glory.
So far Obi Wan and Yoda are training without rest on Tatooine, so strong is their desire to participate in and win this race. When they realize that the race is just about to start, and that it is on Coruscant they must use the Death Star 2 to get there in time.
But look at what else we were able to do with those phrases via Star Wars…..
Has the desire to….be a Jedi, help Luke, find his father, join the dark side ( I knew we’d find a good use for “lo mas oscuro” this week!!!!), kiss Leia, etc., etc,
without rest….train to be a Jedi, fight the dark side, protect Leia, etc. etc.
was just about to start…..the war, the search, the battle,
And that was just in the last 10 minutes of class!!!!
I started the activity thinking that they would want to talk about themselves as runners, or their favorite athletes….hoping to use personalization to “hook’ them into the story. Well…it did…just not in the way I anticipated. Personalization leads to great stories….and vice versa!!