Comprehensible Input and Culture
Back in November I was inspired by Martina Bex's session on teaching language through culture at ACTFL. In her presentation, Martina took us through the steps of how to take a cultural product, practice or perspective and create an entire comprehensible input (CI) friendly unit. After her presentation I was inspired to create a CI unit for the Reyes Magos and the result was awesome. It was great to watch my students be engaged while learning about cultural practices! Since that lesson I've dropped the ball...I was busy reading novels with my 3rd and 4th graders and doing typical CI stories and activities with my 1st and 2nd graders. But when I was spending the last of my curriculum budget for the year I found an amazing lesson on the encierro de toros (the running of the bulls) from Martina Bex. Martina already did the work for me by creating an informative presentation with pictures that explains the encierro de toros in comprehensible Spanish (thank you Martina!). I did take some liberties in paring down the language even further for my 2nd graders, but since I am new to this whole CI/culture thing it was great to have Martina's work as a starting point.
After my students learned about the history of the running of the bulls, I created a story about a young girl named Sofía that goes to Pamplona and participates in this exciting event. I tried to find images on Storybird that would fit with the story I wanted to tell, but I didn't see anything that matched the story I had in my mind. I ended up taking images from Google and creating a Where's Waldo-esque story that includes the following high frequency structures:
This story was a hit with my students! What kind of kid wouldn't want to act out the part of the bulls chasing people down the streets of Pamplona!? After we read and acted out the story I saw a project on the Spanish Cuentos website that I wanted to try. If you are not familiar with this site you really should check it out! The website has a variety of different hand drawn videos that are compelling AND focus on high frequency structures! Jackpot! They charge a small fee to unlock all of the videos (I think I paid about $20), but I've used it enough that it was definitely worth it.. On the website there is a video of a very creative digital storytelling project. In the description of the project it says that students were asked to create a story in class using high frequency words. Once the story was written each group made characters and other paper props for their story. After the props were created one student narrated the story (no reading allowed), one student videotaped, and another student manipulated the props. The result was awesome!
I applied this project to my 'Aventura de Sofía' story for my 2nd and 3rd graders. I broke up my students into small groups and gave each group a list of props that they were responsible for making for the story (each separate group made all of the props and recorded a their own story). I gave each group one iPad and one student was responsible for filming the story while the other group members manipulated the props. Instead of having a student narrate the story I decided to read it aloud (this simplified the project for me because it allowed all of the groups to videotape at the same time). The next class period we had a viewing party where the students got to watch all of the videos from their class.
Watching the videos was great because it provided a novel way to hear the story a few more times. Next class period I am thinking of muting one of the videos and asking the class to work collectively to narrate the story (I will pause and ask for volunteers to narrate different parts of the story to the class). This will be new for me because usually my focus is on filling my students with input, but I have a feeling that some of my students (especially my 3rd graders) are overflowing and ready for some output! I'm excited to find out!
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