Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Metacognitive Conjugation Learning Centers

My students have been struggling through the complex components of the preterit tense in Spanish.  I created some learning centers for them explore and practice the preterit tense in various ways.  My attempt was to focus on the multiple intelligences.  We engaged in 5 of the centers today and will complete the remaining 4 tomorrow.

Center #1 El juego: This board game was created using MSWord.  The students roll a die, move the appropriate number of spaces and then conjugate an assigned form.  If they are correct, they earn the corresponding points.  Some students decided if you got it wrong, you lost that many points and moved back to where you started!  Eventually, after some comfort level was reached, the students were encouraged to begin using the forms in sentences to start getting context.

Center #2 Las sobres: I usually do this with flashcards at the beginning of each class period for a couple minutes as a warm up, bellringer, or review activity.  The students were directing themselves today, choosing the verb forms to conjugate, and selecting the verbs from an envelope.

Center #3 Los dados: This game is a typical dice game that I'm sure is played in many world language classrooms across the country.  The students are given a list of verbs and a list of subjects that correspond to the numbers on a set of dice.  Once rolled, the student create the verb form and use it in a sentence.  For the more competitive students, they can add up the numbers on the dice and keep score.

Center #4 El Arte: Research suggests that large movements of the hands to create letters helps the brain remember the words. So, I got a huge piece of paper for the kids to write their verbs and forms on, emphasizing large movements.  It didn't matter what the paper looked like in the end or even if we could read it.  The important thing was that they were creating words and thinking about the spelling of the new stems and endings of the verbs.

Center #5 El cuento: The students were given a list of verbs that we have been working on in the past tense.  They created a short story using these verbs in the past tense.

Having only 40 minute class periods, we can not possibly get to all the centers in one day so I split up the centers into two days.  This is the division line between the two days.  At the end of today the students were asked to complete two questions:
One strength I have with preterit conjugation is... This is something I am getting comfortable with, a skill I have confidence with, or something that comes easily to me.
One challenge I have with preterit conjugation is... This is something that I still need to work on, something I am still confused about, or something I need a little review with.

Center #6 La música: The preterit tense can be quite complex and overwhelming at first for novice language learners.  A number of my students are musical and like to express themselves through rhythms and songs.  This station will have them creating a song to remember the conjugations and verb forms.

Center 7 El crucigrama: This is another strategy again used in many world language classrooms around the world.  www.puzzlemaker.com does an excellent job of creating a variety of puzzles for students. This activity forces them to think critically since some words have multiple meanings.  They also need to spell the words correctly or may not find the right solution to the puzzle.

Center 8 Wikisticks: These are also called bendaroos.  Students will have a choice with this one.  They can either bend their wikisticks into letters to create the different forms of the verbs or they can create a short story with them, creating characters.

Center 9 La batalla: Classic Battleship right here! Verbs across the top; subjects along the side.  Rather than calling out "B8", you call out "I went".  You can still complain that "YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP!" in the end however.

Center 10 El rompecabezas: Using this pattern puzzle, student match up the sides with sentences, similar verbs or forms, or categorize a verb, stem, or ending.  The squares are cut and the students have to reassemble the puzzle.  The numbers are irrelevant to solving the puzzle, but rather serve a quick visual check for accuracy from the teacher.  There are lots of higher oder thinking skills involved in this one and the kids really don't like thinking that much, but it's good to challenge them once in awhile.

At the end of today, the students were posed with an additional two metacognitive questions:
The station that helped me the most was ______ because ....
The station that helped me the least was ______ because....
It is important for kids to understand how they learn best.  Sometimes activities that they enjoy doing are not the best way for them to learn, and vice versa.  Guiding the students through a reflective activity like this helps them to better understand the kind of learner they are and what is most efficient for them in the learning process.