Fun Family Activity

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The teacher I am subbing for left a great family vocab activity that I will definitely use in the future and want to share.  We had already worked with family vocab (mom, dad, uncle, aunt, bro, sis, etc) for a couple of days so students were to the point where they could recognize most of the vocab when they saw it.  Each student received a slip of paper with something like this on it:

Yo soy Luisa Santos de Ramos, la madre de Paco y la tía de Alejandra.

I had 20-24 students in the classes.  There were 2 or 3 different family units, depending on the class size, within the papers.  Students had to walk around and 1) find their family unit, 2) figure out how they were all related and 3) draw a family tree of their family (on the white board).

Students were extremely engaged and focused.  I was honestly surprised at the level of engagement and the great teamwork I saw that went into drawing the family tree.  I was worried there might be a few students who hung back and just sat, and there were a few, but for the most part everyone was really invested.  After students drew their family trees I had them read their slips of paper one at a time and we double checked their family trees as a class.

Students had a great time seeing who was “married” and who were parents and kids of each other.  It was a great activity in which students worked with the target vocab, got to use their problem solving skills, get up and move and draw.

Managing “That” Class

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I am entering week 4 of teaching my 7th grade exploratory Spanish class.  Last year I struggled with junior high since I had no set curriculum and it was my first year teaching.  I was lost to say the least.  This year is SO much better!  I gave up on the outdated textbook I tried to follow last year and instead sat down and asked, “What are the basic building blocks I want to give these kids in Spanish?”  I settled on:

-numbers
-colors
-alphabet
-time
-meeting new people
-likes/dislikes

Now, four weeks in, I think some of that will be changing.  We’ve covered numbers 1-20 and are going to work on 20-60 for time this week.  We’ve done colors and alphabet and will start meeting new people later on this week.  From there I think I’ll see what the students want to learn or where their questions lead me.  I recycle our past knowledge a lot to keep it fresh and students are beginning to  integrate past knowledge into our new activities on their own and tell me what color the clocks are or how many there are.

This class is “that class”.  I am the last teacher in the rotation to have them this year and was warned that they would be a handful and probably my least favorite class.  They are an energetic handful, true.  They are not that motivated by grades or points.  They struggled in other classes to complete assignments and put forth effort.  I have had some students not put forth much effort but they are in the minority and some of them have other factors such as ELL and learning differences contributing to that.

Students that I know tend to struggle in their other classes are doing great in Spanish!  I contribute this to the fact that I have ditched the textbook.  I am challenging them a lot by using lots of Spanish and CI.  I give them a lot to do in activities.  Most activities have involved listening to Spanish and speaking in complete Spanish sentences.  I provide them the stems and they fill in the rest.  I’ve only had to correct students and tell them to use the full Spanish sentences twice in three weeks.  They enthusiastically use the language and ask questions about how to expand upon it.  This is a group that is motivated by doing.  By being challenged.  That would not be happening if I was just using textbook activities.  I am choosing to focus on communication rather than grammar and spelling.  I am spending a lot more time on speaking and listening than I have in the past.  This is a class that wants to talk so why not let them!

“That class” has become one of my favorites.  I do have to stay on top of them when it comes to routines and making sure they know exactly what they should be doing but they do exactly what I ask and more without many issues.  They enthusiastically participate and use TL even when I don’t ask!  I will be leaving my current school at the end of this year and I regret that I will not be able to continue with this class who is quickly earning a special place in my teacher’s heart.

So, if you find yourself in the position of not knowing what to teach or where to begin.  Start with a simple question, “What do I want these students to be able to do when they leave my class?”.  You’ll find it goes quite smoothly from there.

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH

Practicing the Alphabet

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Here’s a quick post about an activity I’ll be doing next week to practice the alphabet with my 7th graders.

I wrote five letter Spanish words my students don’t know on index cards.  The cards are written in the following format:

I will tape a card to each student’s back so they can’t see it.  Student will have to walk around and ask their classmates, “¿Qué es letra uno?”, “¿Qué es letra dos?”, etc.  They can only ask each person one letter.  They will write down the letters as they go.  To up the fun factor we may use our small white boards because they love that or I may have them each pick a colored piece of construction paper or marker or crayon.  The colored items would be a good opportunity to reinforce colors.  Once they think they know they have to check with me to see if they are correct.  If they are they will sit down and look up to see what their word means.

I choose words from the 1000 most common Spanish words.  I have 17 students so thought a five letter word would be a good length.   If the activity goes really quickly, I’ll swap the cards and give students a different word to do.  Hopefully this activity goes well.  If I remember, I will add on and let you know how it ends up!

Until Next Time,

Maestra McH