Sunday, March 27, 2016

Los cascarrones

The Easter season brings cascarrones for those in Mexico so it is only natural that we celebrate this in class. I love giving students experiential opportunities and this is a great activity to not only show them then tradition or simply read about or discuss the tradition, but they actually get to role play and act out the custom.

About 20 years ago I came across this reading, but do not recall where it came from or where I found it. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know and I will give credit to the source. José is a young student who finds himself in an American school for the first time and regularly messes up his words, trying to accurately get the customs figured out. By spring time he is feeling quite discouraged that he will never get it right. Finally, the Easter traditions so prevalent in US schools opens a door to sharing his Mexican heritage and ultimately gains newfound friendships.

Yes, you can imagine the numerous themes in this short bilingual reading!

As the students enter the classroom, I hand them a copy of the script on colored paper. Each paper is color-coded:
N         Narrator         white
MM     Miss Martin    pink
J           José                 blue
M         Mamá             red
S          Student          green
T          Timmy            tan
 José’s family               yellow
CLASSMATES          purple

Once the students are in the room and settled, they learn what the colors of the papers mean. They are then instructed to move to a side of the room that corresponds to José's home and the school. The narrator and José are in the middle to start the role play. The narrator begins reading the text and the students act out the story. At the moment that it says they go out to the playground, we all leave and go outside. At first the students look rather perplexed until they figure out that yes, indeed, we are going outside! The story continues as they act out the smashing of the eggs on each other's head. Before returning to class we brush off the confetti from each other so as not to upset the custodial staff when we return to the building.

[This was first period of the day so we got the early morning sun in the photos, too.]

After returning to class and finishing the role play, the students watch a brief video of a woman making and selling the cascarrones in a market. We then discuss some of the themes: immigration, seclusion, religion, language barriers, exchange program experiences, etc.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

El engañabobo

I have been on a quest to create as many different activities for reading comprehension as I can. I have stolen many great ideas from some amazing CI educators. At the iFLT conference last summer in Minnesota, someone presented an imposter activity. While I don't remember the exact details of what was presented without referring to my notes, it sparked an idea for an activity that I needed.

I took small details from the chapter we were reading and grouped them into lists of four. The students received four papers, each on different colored paper, numbered 1-4. One at a time, they saw each list and raise the paper corresponding to the numbered engañabobo. Here's an example from chapter 7 of La Hija del Sastre:

1.Emilia pensaba mucho en Ignacio.
2.Emilia estaba con mucha ilusión del regreso de Ignacio.
3.Emilia usó las fantasías para trabajar más.

4.Emilia quería besarle a Ignacio.
It was easy to quickly assess their understanding of what they read. A few questions revealed some misunderstandings that the students had so we were able to discuss these and get them back on track. It was really a fun activity for both the students and the teacher. 

AIW Piratas

Being new to Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW), I brought instruction to my team for the first time this past week. It has been an great experience getting feedback from colleagues outside of my content area. Their passions are in social studies, special education, family and consumer science, English language arts, and science. Having someone provide feedback that is truly objective, through a lens that may mimic a student's innocent eyes is a fresh perspective.

The lesson I chose to use was a reading lesson in which my Spanish II students were reading Piratas. I condensed a 90-minute lesson to about 5 minutes so these are pieces of the lesson. I tried to help my team by titling the chunked lesson. This also assisted them in understanding better what was happening in the lesson. At the end, one thing a colleague said was, "It has been [cough] a few years since I sat in any language class, and it wasn't Spanish. Just the little bit I heard here, with all the repetition, I was starting to pick up what the words meant." Hallelujah! This is the power of TPRS/CI.

One of my goals is to really push students into higher-order thinking skills (HOTS), going beyond the circling of information using LOTS. I try to pull information not just from the sentence, paragraph, or even current chapter we are discussing; questions come from previous chapters to establish why the characters are doing or saying what they are, and also making predictions of what may come in future chapters, even after the end of the novel.

So, here comes my very vulnerable side. I am posting this to the TPRS/CI world in hopes of getting some content area feedback from my peers. I know this is not a perfect lesson, so please poke holes into this, contact me directly if you prefer or post in comments below. I would love to hear your feedback. A script follows.

Accessing background knowledge (reviewing previous information)
Kim: OK, number 1, Why did Antonio abandon Raquel?
Student: in the market
Kim: huh? Yeah, in the market, but why? Why did he?
Student: because Raquel doesn’t want to go
Kim: yeah, because Raquel doesn’t want to go with Antonio, yeah and Felipe, Felipe gave to a….
Student: note
Kim: note from Antonio and gave it to …
Student: Raquel
Kim: Raquel, and Raquel responded to him…¿no?...What did she respond to him?
Kim: No, Raquel didn’t respond to Antonio wrote the note to Raquel and Felipe gave the note to Raquel…and Raquel told him… Nope, I don’t want to go.

Exploring theme in chapter - Secrets
Kim (while writing): Feminine secret
Kim: It’s Raquel, but there are many secrets in this novel, right? One secret is… (writing on board) Raquel is a woman.
Student: Raquel’s boyfriend is Antonio.
Kim: Yeah, Raquel’s boyfriend is Antonio. Excellent! Another secret?

Kim: Yes, Raquel is a pirate. In reality, is Raquel a pirate?
Student: no.
Student: She has pirate clothing.
Kim: Exactly! She has … What does she have?
Student: clothing
Kim: Yeah, right. She has a jacket, …
Student: pants
Kim: Pirate pants; she has…
Student: hat
Kim: Pirate hat; she has…
Student: shoes
Kim: shoes, boots of a pirate
Kim: but, in reality she’s not a pirate; she’s a fake [new word] pirate. Right? She’s a fake pirate.

Reading the chapter with visuals
Student: CARLOS!
Kim: Carlos is there and the pirates capture him. Antonio escapes with…
Student: Felipe
Kim: Yeah, Carlos and Felipe escape. The pirates speak with… The pirates speak with…?
Student: Raquel
Kim: …with Raquel, and now her name isn’t Raquel. What is her name?
Student: Santiago
Kim: Santiago. Exactly! …and all of them…leave to the south. What does south mean, class?
Student: south
Kim: South, yeah. They escape to the south to the pirate boat. Henry (listen up boys), Henry goes to the south. Antonio goes to the north. Look, Antonio’s boat..

Acting out the chapter
Kim: “Antonio thinks a lot… Antonio thinks a lot…”
student: [shows thinking]
Kim: “…about Raquel” [Hola Raquel] very good. “He doesn’t understand why Raquel abandoned him.”
student: [gestures sentence]
Kim: there you go! “He says to Felipe” Who is Felipe? Felipe is…
Students: good-looking, sad, …
Kim: Who is he?
student: No, Carlos is that one.
Student: Pilot
Kim: Ahhh, the pilot! Exactly. Here, you guys are up on deck. Yep yeah, pilot. “He says to Felipe …”
Kody: “I am an attractive and smart man.” 
Kim: Ahhh, good. OK, just a minute. Class, what does “e” mean?
[mini lesson]

Continue reading and translating for comprehensible input
Kim: “Antonio is frustrated.”
Student: Antonio is very frustrated.
Kim Right. Grrrr “With Felipe
[continue translating]

Writing task – summarizing the chapter
 Kim: What is the topic?
Student: How Antonio wants to shoot down Henry’s ship because Henry is a bad person and he takes over the Caribbean