Monday, May 27, 2019

Places in the City - Resources for Spanish Class

My fourth graders are finishing up our Welcome to Our Community unit where we talk about places in the city and describing where we live. This unit is really supposed to be about community helpers and where they work but if you read my last post on spiraling you'll know that I'm having to modify parts of my curriculum. In order to get to Novice High in our Let's Explore our City unit in fifth grade, my kiddos need to learn places in the city at a Novice Mid level in fourth grade.

With that in mind I changed around what I did last year. Below are some activities and resources that my students and I particularly enjoyed.

1. I introduced the different places with pictures and describing Lexington. I started with size - students listed cities of different sizes. Then we talked about what Lexington is famous for (horses and UK basketball.) I have this landmark matching game I bought at the Dollar Tree that next year  I hope to use so we can go more global with talking about what cities are famous for but honestly we didn't have time this year.

Get your own posters here.

2. This video is great for introducing places in the city. I love it because it is authentic - it's made for native speakers (really young ones) and my kiddos get genuinely excited to try and guess in Spanish.

3. Google Tourbuilder is a great way to introduce students to different cities around the world and get in some comprehensible input. You can add pictures and text to different places on the map. I had students tour Santiago, Chile. They loved being able to explore the different places by moving around the street view. Check out my tour of Santiago here.

#highlightreal - I did this with fifth grade as well and then had them create a tour of Lexington. Major fail! We wasted two class periods and got very little done. They just weren't ready for that much output. I was asking for sentences when I should have been asking for just labels. If I try this again I will scaffold it better. 

4. I love following teachers on Instagram and Twitter - I get so many great ideas for class. Recently I saw an awesome activity from @MaestraPlata. She had students using spinners to create longer sentences.  I had my students using three spinners to write silly sentences about what they wanted to do, where, and with whom. My students LOVED this activity. Once they wrote several silly sentences, I had them write more serious ones. Get your spinners here!

5. And finally since I didn't get a chance to do Hour of Code this year I took part of this unit to practice not only places but a few direction words and had students code our Beebots around the city. I made large maps from butcher paper and clip art I found online and borrowed the robots from our STEM lab teacher. The kids had a paper that told them where they should start and where they wanted to go. They wrote the code and then tested to see if it was right.  This was another favorite of students.

I will probably make some adjustments next year but overall I'm happy with how my students progressed during this unit. Most could perform at a novice mid level. Next year in fifth grade I hope to continue to spiral places in the city with Berto y Sus Buenas Ideas. Stay tuned!

How do you teach places in the city? Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spiraling in the FLES Classroom

Last year my district implemented a new K-5 curriculum that included benchmark assessments for K, 2, and 5. I'm not a huge fan of standardized tests but the data from these benchmarks did give me some really valuable insights into my students' learning.

So what did I find out? Well, I realized that my kiddos could perform at a Novice Mid level during a unit and at the end of the unit but months later they could barely list a word. I know that spiraling is important and I thought I was doing it but it turns out that I wasn't super effective at it.

One of the things I noticed with my smaller students is that they have to hear things OVER and OVER and OVER before they get it. One of the areas my kindergartners struggled with last year was body parts. So starting on day 1 of class this year we got some wiggles out by singing Cabeza, brazos, piernas, pies.

At a session on the Brain and Learning at SCOLT from Greta Lundgaard, she told us that "Rote memorization can lead to superficial learning" and the "Rote memorization wears many disguises." One of those disguises is a song. My kinders could only name their body parts if they were in the same order of the song.

If you ever get a chance to see Greta present - GO! She always has great information. 

So I also made sure that we practiced body parts along with our rules. Piernas cruzadas, manos dobladas, bocas cerradas, ojos en la maestra - still rote memorization but in a different context and order. Later when we actually reached the body part unit, I told them the story of Caperucita Roja. We played Diego Dice where they had to touch the different body parts and they labeled a worksheet with a character from Caperucita Roja.

Get your Caperucita story and labeling worksheet here.

I did the same things with animals. Instead of waiting to introduce the animal names during the animal unit I had students say Hola and Adios to stuffed animals during that first unit where we practice greetings. Every few weeks I added an animal to the growing zoo on my desk. By the time we reached the animal unit my students already knew the names and it was much easier for them to add Me gusta/No me gusta and describe them.

For both topics, what started out as rote memorization in the initial practice phase was heard and applied in different ways in later units and it worked! My scores this year (if you take out the kiddos who showed up in the middle of the year) were 93% Meets this year. This is actually better than last year's scores when I saw my students more frequently!

I also have benchmark assessments in 2nd and 5th grade and seeing how well my kindergartners did this year I now need to figure out where I can spiral and reinforce vocabulary and language chunks so that they actually do remember them.

For example in third grade students are supposed to learn numbers 1-100 so I've introduced it in 2nd grade during calendar time for temperature. It's not something I spend a lot of time, emphasize or even informally assess but it should give them a jump start next year because it won't have been the first time they've seen the numbers.

And Greta is right. I can't teach as fast. I'm supposed to teach 4 units a year* but I think I'll be taking that down to 3 next year - especially in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. If I want my students to get to Novice High then we need to go deeper rather than broader.

It also means that we need to be singing ALL of our songs from previous years and bringing back content where it makes sense in later units or even introducing it earlier than I would have before so they can go deeper with it during the actual unit I'm supposed to teach the content.

So there you go - not only is spiraling SUPER important but also HOW you do it. How do you spiral content? How do you assess your students' performance? How do you analyze data from assessments? Share in the comments below!

And if you ever get a chance to see Greta present I say go! Here is a post from last year's SCOLT also inspired by a Greta Lundgaard session.

*This curriculum was designed for 90 minutes a week so it's no surprise I don't have time to teach all 4 units in a 6 day rotation.