Saturday, April 21, 2018

Gradual Release Model in the FLES Classroom - #SCOLT18

SCOLT was so great this year! I might even venture to say I got more out of it than I did ACTFL this year. All of the sessions I attended were great and I was able to meet and network with a lot of great teachers in the Southeast region.

I don't know what other people do at conferences but I pick sessions in several different ways. One way I pick sessions is based on who is presenting. If they've got a reputation for being a great presenter then I go. So when my co-worker Ben suggested I go to Greta Lundgaard's session because she was great, I went. And guess what? She was great. 

Her presentation was on the gradual release model of teaching and how to use it in World Languages. There are four stages - I DO, WE DO, YOU DO TOGETHER, YOU DO ALONE. Turns out I'm pretty good at stages 1, 2, and 4 but almost never do stage 3 - YOU DO TOGETHER.

While I sat there a light bulb went off in my head. I had just finished having my 4th and 5th graders write a description of themselves to go with self-portraits they had made in art class. They had watched me write a description of myself. We had written one together. And then I sent them off to write their own.

For some kids it was no problem but for most it was like pulling teeth. And I realized it was because we had missed that important step of YOU DO TOGETHER. I also think they could've done with some more initial input but this is my first year with this curriculum and I'm still working out the kinks. YOU DO TOGETHER is also a good time to walk around and check on students or work with groups that need more help. Next year I need to pull my struggling students and work with them in a small group while I let everyone else work together.

Greta also talked about slowly taking away the scaffolding. If they couldn't do it then you put it back and then later take it away again. She used the example of having students write about what they did over the weekend. Even just saying don't forget to use preterite and imperfect is a form of scaffolding. Again, I realized I had been doing that. I say things like "Don't forget to use a complete sentence." And then I point to our sentence frames on the wall ALL THE TIME. It's ok to do this but by the end of the unit/year/5th grade they really need to be able to do that without my reminder if they're truly performing at the Novice High level. 

So what does that mean for this unit next year?

1. More initial input so students can see and hear the structures Soy ____ and Es ______. I have a few authentic resources and some readers I want to add next year to help with this. Our list of words was also way too long. I need to narrow it down so students don't get overwhelmed. 

2. When it comes to writing we are going to do YOU DO TOGETHER where students will write a paragraph describing each other, a famous person, etc. I think we need to do this several rotations so that they can improve on their work each time. Giving them one to correct would also help them recognize the patterns and identify those same mistakes in their own writing. Bonus - this definitely connects to core content and I will ask classroom teachers if there is anything specifically in the writing process I need to emphasize. 

3. Differentiate - while students are working in pairs I will make sure to pull a small group of students who need extra help and work with them where they need it.

4. Pull the scaffolding away. It's ok for me to remind students to write in complete sentences but eventually they need to know to do it on their own.

Hoping next year this unit will go smoother! How do you get your students to write at a higher level? How and when do you pull away scaffolding? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Los Tres Cerditos - An Elementary Spanish STEAM Challenge

I have a brand new curriculum this year and I haven't had as much time to incorporate STEM into my lessons as I've had before but I recently got the chance in third grade.

My third graders recently finished a unit on extreme weather. We practiced counting to 100 and talking about being afraid with Worry Doll Math unit and then we talked about the temperature and extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. The following unit in our new district K-5 curriculum just happens to be Me and My Home so I decided to introduce houses with The Three Little Pigs.

Spanish FLES

First, I told them the story using story props from my favorite site The students helped act it out and we discussed which pig was smart, which house was strong, and who in the story was mean.

Target Vocabulary:

Vivo en...
una casa de paja, madera, ladrillos
Es fuerte.
Es inteligente.
Es simpático.
Es antipático.

To wrap it all up, the students completed a STEAM challenge. They had to build houses out of straw, wood, and bricks that could withstand a tornado, hurricane, and a flood (tying it back to our previous unit.)

I put them in groups of four and they each had to construct a house of either straw, wood, or bricks. There were not allowed to use any English. They had a sheet with a list of phrases they might use which we went over before starting or they could act something out. The paper included all of the supplies, plus interpersonal phrases like more/less, I like it/I don't like it, Very good/Oh no!, I agree/I don't agree. It's important to remember that the more cognitively challenging the task the less TL students will be able to produce which is why we stuck with easy phrases that they had learned in previous units. If they did use English they were sent to the penalty box for a few minutes.

Spanish FLES STEAM challenge 3 little pigs

The straw group had plastic drinking straws cut in half, strips of paper, masking tape, and play-doh. The wood group had wooden craft sticks, masking tape, and play-doh. The bricks group had legos.

I worked it out with my third grade team that I would take their classes for 50 minutes instead of 25 so that we had enough time to build and test their houses. The only English I used was to clarify that to test a house it must have four walls and a roof. Because of our time constraints I didn't worry about a door or a floor. I also explained the English penalty box. Then we flipped the sign back to Spanish and away we went.

I was really impressed at their ability to work together and in Spanish. They didn't resent the penalty box and one class even policed themselves and would put themselves and each other in the box without my direction. After about 25 minutes we tested each house.

FLES Spanish STEAM Los 3 Cerditos

I've seen this challenge on Pinterest done with a hair dryer that has ears and eyes to make it resemble a wolf but since I was connecting it back to our severe weather unit we went with a tornado, hurricane, and flood.L

For the tornado it had to stand up under a hair dryer. For a hurricane we used the hair dryer and a spray bottle. The flood was the hardest and only one house passed (and a straw one at that!) We put them down in a tub of water. It passed if no water got up into the house. Even though we had previously looked at pictures of houses on stilts none of the students seemed to remember that as a solution - they kept trying to make them float.

I think next year I will add a reflection sheet or checklist that they can do after in Spanish, but overall, it was a great way to get out some energy the week before Spring Break. I was very happy with how the students used both their creative and collaboration skills along with some basic Spanish phrases.

Other Resources:

Las Casas Increibles - a great website with easy text and pictures of traditional houses around the world.

Los Tres Cerditos Reader - an easy reader my kiddos loved by Speak Up Language Learners on TpT

What do you teach in your house unit? Have you taught Los 3 Cerditos? Share in the comments below!