Thursday, March 31, 2016

90% TL contest is over!

And the winner of my sweetest 4th grade classes! They will be getting a piñata party before the year is up.  If you're unfamiliar with my 90% TL contest it is simple. Last year I used Class Dojo to give points to classes who stayed in the target language most of the class. They got points for me staying in the TL and separate points for them staying in the target language.

Check out my blog post introducing the idea here.

And my other blog post where I reflect on why it went long.

This year I shortened it to the month of February. Why February? Because it's my least favorite time of the year, which means it's also the time of the year I'm most tired and cranky and least likely to be trying to stay in the target language (I definitely suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.)

Was it easy? No. Is it ever easy to get your students to stay in the TL? Is it ever easy to stay in the TL yourself? No, it's not. But it's always worth it. And the students responded well. I am pretty good at staying 90% myself and I use lots of other ways to motivate students to use the target language so it wasn't anything completely brand new or shocking to them but what it did do was keep ALL of us accountable and aware of when and how we were using English in Spanish class. Especially in the middle of winter when we needed extra accountability.

What did I notice between classes? I included 2nd-5th grade, which meant 16 classes battling it out. It was definitely a competition between several classes in second, third, and fourth grade. Fifth graders after winter break suffer from senioritis so I'm not surprised they didn't fare better. The biggest thing I noticed was that the classes that have I have classroom management problems with did a lot worse and the classes where classroom management is a breeze did much better. The class that won has a teacher whose class is my favorite every year (which speaks highly of her ability to create an atmosphere of learning and support for each other year after year.)

This pattern shows me that good classroom management is a MUST in order to create a culture where students are ok with hearing and using the TL nearly 100% of the time.  I already knew which classes are a struggle but this showed me exactly why it's important for me to continue to practicing routines & finding engaging activities. Because without all the integral parts of classroom management they use the TL less!

What would I change for next year? I think the move from all year to just one month was perfect so I would not change that. But in the spirit of always improving, I think next year we can do some more reflection. I reflected after the students left but I want to lead the students in reflecting on when they use English, why, and what they can do to stay in the target language more. I want them to take charge of their own learning.

So I probably still used less target language in February than I normally do but more than I might have because I had students keeping me and themselves accountable. All in all it was a success. How do you encourage target language usage in your classroom? Share in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #earlylang!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Weather Activities For Any Language

We've been working on weather in first grade. To keep it simple I stuck with only sunny, cloudy, rainy, and snowy. Here are 3 activities we used to learn not only how the weather is here in Kentucky but around the world.  I've provided links to versions in Spanish but really these activities would work in any language!

Spin and Draw:

I love a good spinner. When played with a partner it's great practice for asking and answering questions in the interpersonal mode. Use this one in a page protector, dry erase marker, paperclip and pencil. One partner asks ¿Qué tiempo hace? while the other partner spins and answers. Then they draw whatever they spun in the window.  Then erase, switch, and play again. Since we only get 15 minutes of Spanish in first grade we played this for 3 class periods.

My kiddos playing in pairs. One asks while the other spins, draws, and says the answer out loud.

Weather Forecasters:

I used to play this game way back when I was an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in Japan. Back then I used the whole world but since I am trying to introduce my students to the Spanish speaking world I stuck with Latin America this time around. 

The game is simple. Students work in pairs or small groups and decide what they think the weather is in different locations in the target language. Then they write their "forecast" in the square. Then the teacher looks up (or has ready in the case of my technology free Japanese classrooms) what the weather really in in that location and students can see if they are correct. My students always get excited when they're right.

To make it even less prep you can take a globe-I have a beach ball version-and pass it around. Have a student decide where they want to look and do it orally. This game is also great for discussing WHY the weather is different in different places. 

Print, put in a page protector, and give to Ss with a dry erase marker. I have this and the spinner back to back in a page protector for a 2 in 1 game. 

Weather Trackers:

I found this cute craft on pinterest and my students loved it! The version I found had a brad with an arrow but I've never had luck with brads so I bought 100 clothespins at Target for less than $4.00. Students cut out the circles, glued them to the plates, and then colored the different weather in the first 15 minutes. In the second, they finished up their drawings and then cut out the ¿Qué tiempo hace? and glued it to their clip. Then we practiced using them by playing the game above.

The best part of this craft is that it fits into the Take Action of our Global Competency matrices in Kentucky (an important part of our state Program Review!) because students took them home to teach their family weather words as well as keep track of the weather from day to day. 

What activities do you use to teach weather. Share in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #earlylang!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

El Ráton Pérez craftivity

I've written about teaching el Ráton Pérez with kindergarten. It's a great way to connect kid's culture to the classroom and explore different cultural perspectives. Plus my kiddos are already telling me how loose their teeth are and how many they've lost so they might as well say it in Spanish. Read that post here! It has lots of resources!

This year we ended the unit with a cute craftivity that let the students act out and "play" Ráton Pérez at home. First students cut out two circles - one with el diente and one with la moneda. Then they glue them together so that on one side they have their tooth and the coin on the other.

Once they have their diente/moneda piece, they take a piece of construction paper and make la almohada. 

We "played" Ráton Pérez by saying, "¡Se me cayó el diente! Estoy cansada. Buenas noches."  Then we put our diente under our paper almohada and pretended to go to sleep. (Loud snoring is encouraged.) Then we "wake up," flip over our diente and discover that Ráton Pérez has left us some moneda. "¡Oh sí! ¡Moneda para mí! Gracias Ráton Pérez."

There is a little explanation in English so my families can understand exactly what their child is playing when they get home. (Just in case my kindergarteners don't explain it clearly.)  I'm still taking names for our diente poster but this was a good way to formally wrap up our unit. 

Do you teach about Ráton Pérez? What resources do you use? Do you send home items with your students? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Resources for Going to the Doctor

My third graders have spiraled back to body parts and are in the middle of our going to the doctor unit.  We've been working up to playing with my stash of doctor toys in a doctor/patient role play. Here are my top 3 resources I've used for this thematic unit.

1. Mi Burro Enfermo Está

We started out by watching and singing along to the traditional song Mi Burro Enfermo Está. I recommend Traposo because the graphics are cute and it has closed captions you can turn on so students can sing along (that are actually correct. I love to turn on captions but sometimes they can be WAY off!)

2. Jokes in the target language

We've also been learning to tell jokes in Spanish class. It's authentic, it's great presentational speaking and it's age appropriate. The cornier the better!  We've been telling the following joke to practice Me duele _____.  I project it on the SMART board and my students practice it with their face partner using the Kagan structure Rally Robin.

-Doctor, Doctor, si me toco la oreja me duele.
Si me toco la boca, me duele.
Si me toco la nariz, me duele.
Si me toco el brazo, me duele.
Si me toco la pierna, me duele.

¿Qué es el problema, doctor?
El doctor le dice:
– Pues, que tiene el dedo roto.

And we never forget to add the ba-dum-tss at the end! It is, after all, a pretty corny joke. In order to get them to read it with feeling (and to up the ante) I've told them that we will have a joke tell-off with the principal and vice-principal serving as judges.  For more jokes in Spanish check out Spanish Playground's post!

3. Doctor Role Play

I blogged last year about using Doctor dramatic play in first grade. This year I have added a receptionist who takes patients' names and asks them to sit down. Patients can read my Spanish Let's Go Scholastic magazines while they wait to be called back. I also added task cards and my mini doctors can hand out prescriptions on a prescription pad!

We've practiced all the roles and the task cards in whole group and with our partners so that I'm sure they are confident enough to use their Spanish, otherwise, they get so excited and only play in English. We discussed at the end of class how much Spanish they used and how our goal is to increase that each time we play. 

You can expand to include even more depending on the level of your students. I have students visiting radiology to get X-rays and if your students know and need to practice their alphabet in the target language an eye chart is another great authentic way to practice.

What resources do you use for going to the doctor? Share in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #earlylang!