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?
Teaching with Comprehensible Input (T/CI) is at its peak when you have a group of students that are willing to play "the game". By playing the game I am referring to having a group of students that come up with funny story suggestions, enthusiastically play along with said suggestions, and love to dramatically act out stories. I hit the jackpot with my fourth graders this year! They are constantly raising their hands with interesting story suggestions (in Spanish nonetheless), and they all love to act stories out. We are having so much fun!
Last week I did a mini story with my fourth graders to prep them for my Cade meu Rango? MovieTalk. My plan was to tell the mini story for around 15 minutes and then start the MovieTalk, but my students were so involved in the story that it lasted for the entire 30 minute class period. It was awesome to watch all of my students participating and engaged in the story asking process!
This mini story preps the students for the MovieTalk by focusing on the following words/structures:
El iPhone 9 suena
Many of my students referred to my classroom word wall to create endings for this story. Watching my students refer to the word wall made me think of a thread I read on the moreTPRS listserv debating the usefulness of word walls. Some teachers argued that having a word wall was pointless because you are posting words that the students should have acquired, thus they shouldn't need to refer to them. Other teachers argued that they served as a reminder to recycle vocabulary throughout the year. My word wall has been up for less than a year, so I am still experimenting with its usefulness in my classroom. I have found that when I ask my students for ideas on what happens next in a story the word wall helps them take their complex thoughts and articulate them using language they know. Even though most of the words are structures that they have already acquired, the word wall serves as a great tool for students to focus their thoughts in Spanish.
Do you have a word wall in your classroom? If so, do you find it useful? I would love to hear other teacher's ideas on the usefulness of word walls in the T/CI classroom.
When it comes to writing your own classroom stories the possibilities are endless. Stories from a T/CI curriculum such as ¡Cuéntame! are time saving when the school year starts to get hectic, but there is something great about tailoring a story to the interests and humor of your students. I often write stories around a list of new high frequency structures that I want my students to acquire. Other times I see a picture or a prop that inspires me to write a story. When I saw the image below stories instantly started brewing in my mind!
Since it is the beginning of the year I wanted to have a story that used structures that my students would be hearing frequently in class. This list included: se sienta, se levanta, prende, apaga, camina, corre, abre, cierra. I started this lesson by using TPR to review/reinforce the above commands. During the TPR I broke my class up into two groups and gave each group the name of a different Spanish speaking country. Then I addressed each group separately using their country name. I saw Jason Fritze use this technique and I was amazed at how engaged the students stayed during the TPR. Not only did they have to listen to the commands, but they also had to pay attention to which group I was asking to do the command. It was a great way to keep TPR novel!
After reviewing the main structures for this story through TPR (none of these structures were new for my students) we started acting out the story. Here is the basic script:
Hay un chico. El chico se llama Billy. Un día Billy camina a su casa. Abre la puerta y se sienta en el sofá. Billy prende la tele y mira su programa favorito __________. (Here the students came up with different ideas for Billy's favorite TV show and voted on their favorite suggestion. I then gave our classroom artista 3 minutes to draw a scene from the show and we taped it to the TV. Describing the drawing offered great comprehensible input for the students--plus the drawings were hilarious!).
The ending came from reading Mike Peto's blog post about his favorite bailout moves. Mike uses what he calls the "unexpected ending" where the opposite of what the students thinks is going to happen is what happens. In this story I was building up the suspense for the dinosaur to eat Billy, but in the end it was Billy who ate the dinosaur.
What inspires you when you write a story for your students? I'd love to hear about home run stories that you use during the beginning of the year.
Back to school!? Wait...where did the summer go? As I sorted through piles of papers and props that I left at the end of last year (note to self: no matter how exhausted you are always finish cleaning your classroom at the end of the year) activities to start the school year started spinning through my head...
I find the beginning of the year to be a tricky time--I want my students to leave after the first day feeling excited about learning and knowing that they are an important member of our classroom community. This is often a tall order when you only have 30 minutes and a classroom full of squirmy elementary students! My beginning of the year activities are always evolving and they have been largely inspired by Bryce Hedstrom's La persona especial and Ben Slavic's Circling with Balls. I love both of these beginning of the year activities because it gives the students a chance to learn more about one another and it also gives you as the teacher an opportunity to show that you are invested in each individual student. Having said that, I personally have found that at the elementary level students have a hard time staying engaged and focused if I spend 5-10 minutes in a discussion about each individual student. I value the premiss of these activities so I've come up with a few alternatives for the elementary classroom...
How are you beginning the year? Feel free to post your own ideas below!
The end of the school year is rapidly approaching! My department recently shared a collection of activities and games that are helping to keep our students engaged during these last few weeks of school. The list below contains a few go-to games that can be used to keep your students engaged during the end of the year.
Please feel free to comment below with any fun activities or games that are helping you push through the end of the year!
My 3rd and 4th graders dived into reading Brandon Brown quiere un perro and they are loving it! One student said "Señorita T, this is so cool, there are so many words in this book that I know!" It is so gratifying to see that those weeks of pre-teaching the vocabulary for the novel paid off!
If you read any of my previous posts about Brandon Brown quiere un perro then you have heard me rave about the teacher's guide. I used the teacher's guide script for the chapter 3 reader's theatre and my students had a great time acting it out! During reader's theatre all of the students have a copy of the script in front of them and actors (and narrator) are reading their lines of dialogue from the script (no need to memorize anything). Acting out the scene provides the readers the opportunity to associate meaning by working closely with the text; this correlates to gains in vocabulary, comprehension and retention.
My reader's theatre was inspired by a workshop I attended this past summer at NTPRS by Carol Gaab. If you are ever at a workshop and Carol is presenting you must go and see her--she has so many great strategies to keeps students engaged while reading.
Here are some of Carol's ideas that I incorporated into my reader's theatre (thank you Carol!).
The Doritos Goat 4 Sale commercial is great because you can easily target many different high frequency structures depending on what your students are working on. I used this commercial with my first graders who are working on 'busca/ve' and my third and fourth graders who are working on 'estoy'. Instead of a traditional MovieTalk where I pause the video to narrate the story, I took screen shots of the commercial and wrote the story underneath the pictures. This was great because my students were able to read along with me and see the dialogue between the characters. Of course in addition to reading the text I asked comprehension/PQA questions and dramatized the actions to make the story even more comprehensible. After we read the entire story we watched the commercial. I found that some of my student paid closer attention to the story because they were not focused on getting to the end of the video. I also liked this alternative to MovieTalk because my students were reading text along with me (we did some great pop-up grammar).
1st grade story
A Fred le gusta comer Doritos. Fred va a la casa de Francis. Francis tiene una cabra. Francis no quiere la cabra. Francis tiene un secreto...la cabra es muy violenta. La cabra va a la casa de Fred. Fred y la cabra comen Doritos. Fred abre el clóset y busca Doritos. La cabra ve muchos Doritos. La cabra está feliz. La cabra come muchos Doritos, come 42 Doritos. La cabra come más, come 156 Doritos. Fred está irritado. Fred quiere dormir. La cabra abre el clóset y busca Doritos. La cabra no ve Doritos. La cabra está enojada. La cabra abre la puerta y busca a Fred. Fred no quiere la cabra. La cabra cierra la puerta. Fred está enojado.
3rd/4th grade story
Hay un chico que se llama Fred. A Fred le gusta comer Doritos. Un día, Fred dice "Estoy aburrido". Fred recoge sus Doritos y camina a la casa de su amigo.
Once I created the two versions of the commercial I realized that I had a great embedded reading. As Laurie Clarcq explains on her website embedded reading includes three or more scaffolded versions of a text. The scaffolded versions start at the easiest (the baseline story) and slowly progress to more complex and detailed versions of the baseline story. In this unit I used the first grade version of the story as my baseline version of the story. My third and fourth graders were able to read this independently. The third/fourth grade version of the story served as the second version of the reading--this version offered more details and had more complex grammar. Technically I should also make a third even more complex level of the reading, but I've found that my younger students tire of reading the same story. When I discussed this issue with my colleagues they told me that they often change the characters and the details in the harder readings of the story. The first level (the easiest) mirrors a story that you acted out in class, but the subsequent readings have different characters and different (but very similar) problems. Maybe in the third reading there is a sloth that likes to eat tacos--the rest of the story is the same but by making slight character changes the story seems fresh and exciting for some of the younger students.
To celebrate Valentine's Day my classes created stories about...love! Don't worry, it's nothing mushy--just an innocent story about two boys liking a girl and trying to find her the perfect gift for Valentine's Day. To avoid any awkwardness in this story I chose a cast of either all boys or girls and used puppets. Let's be honest, the puppets are dopey, but that is perfect for this story. Embrace the dopey nature of the puppets! Describe how guapo/a they are and let the students have fun trying to pick up the objects in the story with the puppet's hands and mouth. Let your students play!
The story script includes fill in the blanks because each of my classes came up with their own story details. I am still continuing to backwards plan to read Brandon Brown quiere un perro in the spring, so this story introduced recoge and regresa to my students (both words appear throughout the novel).
The story focuses on the following structures:
Es el 14 de febrero, un día muy especial--es el día de San Valentín. Francine, Antonio y Carlos están en ________. Antonio ve a Francine...Antonio le gusta a Francine. Carlos ve a Francine...Carlos le gusta a Francine. ¡Antonio y Carlos les gusta a Francine! Antonio y Carlos buscan el regalo perfect para ella. Van a ________. En ________ Carlos busca el regalo perfecto. No recoge un libro, ¡Qué ridículo! No recoge un lápiz, ¡Qué ridículo! No recoge una pizza, ¡Qué ridículo! De repente, Carlos ve el regalo perfecto. Carlos recoge ________ (have students decide the gift or pull an item from the Caja mágica--the more ridiculous the better). Ahora Antonio busca el regalo perfecto. Antonio no recoge un crayón, ¡Qué ridículo! Antonio no recoge una planta, ¡Qué ridículo! De repente, Antonio ve el regalo perfecto. Antonio recoge ________. Antonio y Carlos regresan a ________. Carlos camina a Francine y le da el/la ________. Francine le dice "¡No me gusta!" Carlos está muy triste y llora. Antonio camina a Francine y le da el/la ________. Francine le dice "¡No me gusta!" Antonio está muy triste y llora. De repente, un chico muy guapo y importante llega. El chico se llama Umberto. Umberto ve a Francine...Umberto le gusta a Francine. Umberto busca el regalo perfecto. Umberto recoge ________. Umberto camina a Francine y le da el/la________. Francine le dice "¡Me gusta mucho!" Francine y Umberto corren a ________ y viven felices para siempre. ¡El fin!
This story also gave my students a chance to practice the third person plural form of verbs. My 3rd and 4th graders can tell me that the 'n' means 'they'!
Last year my fourth graders read Brandon Brown quiere un perro by Carol Gaab. This book is excellent for beginners--while the total word count is 4400, the unique word count is just 100. I know what you are thinking, and trust me I was thinking the same thing last year. How could a book with only 100 unique words be interesting? I don't know how Carol does it, but the book is both captivating and relatable.
Although my students did a great job reading the book, I was not completely prepared to teach it to them. I waited too late in the year to start reading and ended up in a race to finish the book before the end of the school year. This year will be different! I am going to start reading the book earlier in the year and pre-teach more of the vocabulary. My plan is to start reading the book with my third and fourth graders after spring break, and until then I am backwards planning from the book. To do this I looked at the teacher's guide which breaks down each chapter into new vocabulary and cognates (this guide is a must have if you are teaching this book- it is full of great activities and assessments). My first step for backwards planning was taking the words that were new to my students and grouping them together into stories. The plan is for the students to have seen the new vocabulary structures before they start reading the book.
A colleague and I grouped the following structures together:
Next, I picked a student who had a birthday coming up and asked them what they wanted their classmates to make them for their birthday. I put prewritten statements into the Caja mágica and had the students read them to the birthday boy. For example: La clase hace un sándwich de espárrago para tu cumpleaños. La clase hace una sopa de ojos para tu cumpleaños. La clase hace una pizza de cucarachas para tu cumpleaños. The birthday boy would then respond with "¡Qué asco!" My students were excited to see what idea would come out of the box next, which provided me with a compelling way to circle the word hace.
During the next class period I read a book that I created on Storybird (I was inspired by Cynthia Hitz's blog post about using Storybird and by all of the different artwork on the Storybird site). The only issue I had with Storybird was that when I tried to make my story public I received a message stating that stories written in languages other than English cannot be made public. It looks like the link is working now, but feel free to comment or email me if you have any issues. Read the story "Un cumpleaños terrible" here.
Food is one of my students' favorite topics, so it is no surprise that they love this lesson. I introduced tiene sed (he/she is thirsty) after my students know bebe (he/she drinks). Both of these structures are action words, so they naturally lend themselves well to Total Physical Response (TPR). Last year, Jason Fritze gave a workshop in my district and watching him do TPR with bebe and tiene sed was amazing. One of the techniques that he used was to break the class into two different groups (he named each group after a Spanish speaking country) and give each group different TPR commands. This helped the students stay engaged because not only did they have to listen carefully to the commands, but they also had to pay attention to who should be doing them.
After introducing tiene sed through TPR I projected pictures of different pairs of drinks (one normal and one that is not normally considered a drink such as salsa, tabasco, or shampoo). I had the students pretend to be thirsty and asked them to pick one beverage to drink based on the two options I presented. I kept a class tally of their responses and we were able to compare and contrast the results of all of the classes. This activity had everyone laughing together as a class which was great (it was also inspired by Jason Fritze).
Next, I gave my students a survey to find out what their classmates drink. I call these surveys encuestas and I have been using them with my students for years. On Martina Bex's blog she refers to this activity as a "people search". I agree with Martina that encuestas or "people searches" are one of the fastest and lowest-anxiety output activities that you can use in your classroom. I only use these activities when I feel my students have heard a structure enough to truly acquire it (no output beyond the student's level of acquisition) .
Hay un vampiro. El vampiro tiene una cavidad entonces va al dentista. En la oficina hay un chico. El chico tiene sed y bebe Coke. El vampiro está irritado con el chico y grita. El vampiro se levanta y camina despacio a la puerta. La dentista se llama Dr. Helsing. El vampiro abre la puerta y está muy nervioso. Cierra la puerta. Se sienta en la silla. El vampiro está nervioso y grita. Dr. Helsing es muy guapa y el vampiro está feliz. El vampiro abre la boca y Dr. Helsing tiene una medicina especial. ¡Pero hay un problema! El vampiro tiene sed. El vampiro quiere la sangre de Dr. Helsing. ¿El vampiro bebe la sangre de Dr. Helsing? Dr. Helsing se sienta en su silla. El vampiro se levanta y camina despacio a Dr. Helsing. De repente, el chico abre la puerta. El vampiro se cae. ¡El fin!
The rules of the encuesta are simple: Each square can only have one name in it and you can use each name once. I give the students a clipboard and a pencil and they walk around asking their classmates the questions in the various squares. When a classmates answers Sí to one of the questions they have that person sign the box. For my pre-literate learners I include an image in each box along with the words. I usually only spend 5-10 minutes on this activity and then I have the students sit on the rug and share their answers with me. I ask questions such as ¿Quién bebe Coke? and students must look at their paper and tell me the name that they have written down in that square. I will then record the answer on the encuesta that is projected on the Smarboard. Verifying this information with the student and asking for more details provides me with more opportunities for Personalized Questions and Answers (PQA).
Lastly, I show my students the MovieTalk (if you are unfamiliar with this technique you can read more about it here). The video is called "Vampire's Crown" but I call it El vampiro va al dentista.
This MovieTalk focuses on the following structures:
This animated short lends itself well to creating drama. Every time the vampire gets close to the dentist I pause the video and ask the kids if he is going to drink her blood. By the end of the video the students are cringing because I have built up so much anticipation. They love it! Keep in mind that I showed this video to my 1st graders. You could easily add more details to the script to make it appropriate for older students.