Saturday, January 18, 2014

Whole brain teaching - Air punctuation

The whole first part of the year the first graders have been working on the days, months and weather phrases. Since I committed myself to slowing down it has taken us a REALLY REALLY LONG time to get those three things down. But the good news is that they can respond in complete sentences with confidence now. Their performance based summative assessment will be to write a weather forecast and present it to the class as though they are the local weather forecaster.

To work up to this they've been giving me sentences such as "Hoy es martes." I write them down on the board and then we read them together. Right before winter break I started playing around with Whole Brain Teaching air punctuation as we read it. I want to help reinforce what they are learning with their classroom teachers in terms of punctuation as well as get them accustomed to Spanish conventions. So far they've really been into it. Here's how we act out the punctuation as we read.

Capital letters - we put our hand up parallel to each other and then move them down towards each other.

Commas - we don't have these a lot since our sentences are very basic but when they pop up eventually they will be a "swoooop" while drawing a comma in the air.

Period - we "put the brakes on" and say "eeeeet!"

Question mark - WBT says to draw a question mark in the air and shrug your shoulders. With Spanish we do the same thing but draw it upside down at the beginning and shrug as well as at the end of the sentence. So far this and the period are the students' favorites.

Exclamation point - Similar to the question mark draw it in the air but give an excited face and say "Wahoo!" before and after the sentence.

Accent marks - Students are pretty accustomed to the above - minus the upside down marks - but accents are completely new to them. For accent marks we put up two hands with our fingers resting on our thumbs and then flick them out while accenting the correct syllable in the word. If you teach French, a friend suggested putting your arm up across your face to show if it is an accent aigu o an accent grave.

The ñ - For ñ I tell the students that "el bigote" changes the sound of the n. To remember that we put a finger over our mouths like a mustache and pronounce the ñ correctly. Hopefully this is something that will stick since I have so many older students who ignore the mark and pronounce it like a regular n.

Here is an example of a third grade class using air punctuation...

We're not linguistically able yet to write our own oral essay but hopefully the use of our air punctuation will help my kiddos recognize and become comfortable with conventions in Spanish. And who knows maybe I'll be posting an oral essay of my now first graders in a few years as fifth graders "writing" their first oral essay in Spanish!

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