I am now a middle school teacher! At the end of last school year a position at the middle school in my district opened up, so this year I am teaching 7th and 8th grade students. Although it has only been a couple of weeks I am loving the change. My students can speak so much Spanish! I am blown away by their creativity and willingness to express themselves! My brain is already spinning thinking of endless possibilities of activities that I can do with them this year.
Over the summer I was inspired by the infographic syllabi that I have seen online so I decided to give it a try. I used Piktochart to create a new syllabus for both my 7th and 8th grade classes. I wanted to keep the information concise so I stuck to the following topics: contact information, class overview, classroom expectations, materials and goals. The "I can" goals are from Dustin Williamson's blog. Piktochart was easy to use, but in order to download the syllabus into a printable PDF I had to purchase an account ($20 if you are a teacher).
To start off the year I was inspired by Allison Wienhold's blog Mis Clases Locas. On her first day of class Allison sets up an Instagram photo booth where her students can take photos upon entering class. I decided that an Instagram photo would be a great way for students to introduce themselves and choose a Spanish name. First, I had to create my school specific Instagram photo frame. I used this Instagram template to create my photo booth. After some fancy photoshop magic I took the finished product to Walgreens where I printed it onto a poster-sized foam core. Voilá, one life-sized photo frame!
On the first day of class I handed out a list of popular Spanish names. Each student had to pick a Spanish name and write a hashtag that represented how they were feeling about the first day of school. Students had the option to write their own hashtag or choose from options such as #necesitocafé, #odioloslunes, #megustaespañol, #megustaelverano, #tengosueño. On a piece of paper they wrote their Spanish name (in true Instagram fashion they put the @ symbol in front of their name) and their hashtag. When it was their turn to take a picture, students had the option to put on glasses and hats from my prop bins. Once they had their props on, each student introduced him/herself to the class (we all said hello using that person's Spanish name), read his/her hashtag and then I took the picture. Of course the student photos turned out better than mine, but the picture below will give you an idea of what the end result looked like.
Like what you see? Download the template for your own Instagram photo booth.
I printed out all of the student photos and put them on the bulletin board outside of my classroom for back to school night. The students and parents loved looking at all of the pictures! I loved that this activity gave the students an opportunity to learn their classmate's Spanish names and express their own feelings about coming back to school. It was also a great way to break the ice and show the students that this is a class where you can express yourself and have fun!
What are your favorite beginning of the year activities?
This week in my never ending quest to keep my class novel I stumbled across an amazing tech tool called EDpuzzle. I know that I am probably late to the EDpuzzle party, but that doesn't make me any less excited!
So what is EDpuzzle and how did it completely save my classes this week? EDpuzzle allows you to upload and edit video clips. You can search from clips on YouTube and Vimeo or you can upload your own video. Once the video is uploaded there are endless ways that you can manipulate it to meet your classroom needs.
I found EDpuzzle easy for my students to use. Students either login using their Google email address or they create an EDpuzzle account (all of the students in my district have Google email addresses so I had them login using their Google+ accounts to avoid having to remember yet another password). Once they are logged in they enter a class code--this is a code that EDpuzzle sends the teacher when they create a class. The fact that you can create different folders for each individual class makes it easy to organize your content on EDpuzzle. After the students completed the EDpuzzle assignment I logged in and navigated to the class folder to view each student's individual scores. This was a really quick way for me to assess student comprehension and they felt like they were getting a treat by getting to watch a video. It's a win-win situation!
I created an EDpuzzle video for my Cade meu Rango MovieTalk lesson. My students loved watching the video again and I got great feedback on their comprehension from the multiple choice questions that they answered.
But how can you use EDpuzzle when your lesson doesn't involve a video? This is where you have to get creative...to create a movie from a book I wrote using Storybird I took screenshots of the illustrations in the book. Next I uploaded the screenshots into iMovie to create a video. I added sound effects and music to make the movie more exciting and then uploaded the finished product into EDpuzzle. And there you have it...another way to make re-reading a text novel and engaging for the students!
What tech tools are you using to help keep your class novel and your students engaged?
Having dolls and other toys act out a story is another way to provide your students with novel and comprehensible input. In the following story the roll of the mamá was played by a Barbie and the roll of the bebé was played by a small plastic baby. During the story I had the students duck under a table and hold the dolls above the table (like a puppet show). I told this story to my first graders, but more complex details and dialogue could easily be added for older students. Even with the simple text this story provided my students with compelling and comprehensible input. What more could you ask for!?
The story below focuses on the following structures:
El bebé tiene sed. El bebé quiere café. La mamá tiene café. El bebé bebe el café de la mamá. La mamá está muy enojada. La mamá se vuelve loca. El bebé está feliz. La mamá llora y dice "Mi bebé es mala".
Last summer at NTPRS Von Ray presented an improv workshop based on the book Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation. In the presentation Von spoke of the importance of avoiding preconceived ideas during the storytelling process and instead listening for surprise answers. When I asked my students what the baby drank and someone suggested coffee I immediately knew I had found my story. I found the surprise answer. On a side note, the fact that the coffee cup is larger than the baby helped make this story even more absurd.
While my actors were dramatizing the story with the dolls I had one student drawing the story on my iPad using an app called Educreations. The app itself is free, but there is a version that you can pay for that provides you with more options. Educreations has a lot of great features, but I mostly use the whiteboard screen. I ask for a volunteer to be our classroom artist and have him/her sit to the side of the room and draw the story as I am telling it. I tell the artist to draw each event in the story on a different page (you can easily add pages by clicking the over arrow in the bottom right corner). When the story is done I project the drawings on my iPad using an AppleTV (if you don't have this you could use a document camera) and retell the story. I go through page by page and verify the details with the artist. There is a lot of laughter during this process because the artist has inevitably drawn the main character without eyes, hands, or some other important body part. Retelling the story with the drawings provides you with a novel way to provide even more comprehensible input to your students. They are hearing the story again, but it is novel and exciting to them because they want to see their classmate's drawings.