Friday, May 19, 2017

A Tip to Motivate Your Students to Stay in the Target Language

ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING PARTS OF TEACHING 90% IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE is keeping your students in the target language, too. What are some strategies we can implement to encourage and support our students? Here is an idea that works really well in my classroom for my elementary Spanish students, and is applicable for all levels:

Teaching in the target language

INCORPORATE ACTIVITIES THAT STUDENTS don't want to "lose"...in other words, activities that act like privileges that continue in the classroom as long as the target language is spoken. For example, this spring my 4th graders followed an Iberian Lynx breeding center in Spain via a live cam on the net (link here!). As long as their reactions and comments were in Spanish, the live cam stayed on the whiteboard. If English became the mode of talking about the lynxes, the cam went off. Since it was of such high interest for my students, they stayed in Spanish the vast majority of the time because they didn't want the cam turned off.

THE SAME DYNAMIC can be created with other live cams, videos, games, and more that are high interest and motivating. If speaking in English means the game is now over, for example, most students will strive to use what they know rather than have the game end. As the teacher, in order to support this output, you have to be sure to choose activities that are accessible to students in terms of what they know and can do in the language; if they don't have enough vocabulary to interact, it's not going to work for them, and they will revert to English.

Happy teaching!


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Saturday, May 13, 2017

How I Made a Take a Break Space for my Elementary Spanish Classroom

IN THE FALL, I SET ABOUT ESTABLISHING ROUTINES & PROCEDURES IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES, with an eye to classroom management being the glue that keeps us all together and moving forward smoothly. I am a Responsive Classroom teacher, which means I work hard at proactively modeling and practicing our expectations and building community in my room. A tenet of Responsive Classroom is the 'Take a break' space where students can go when they need to get themselves back in focus. Over the years, I have included a variety of things at the Take a Break space to help kids with this, rather than just have them sit there. I am continually refining what these are; two years ago our entire staff made glitter jars during a staff meeting, which I then included and has been very successful! (Want to know how to make your own glitter jar? Click here)

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

ALONG WITH THE GLITTER JAR, I have a stuffed polar bear to snuggle, and copies of some of our mini books for mental engagement. Some years I've included crayons to go along with the mini books, but since a Take a Break space isn't intended for a long term hang out, I decided to do away with them and just encourage kids to read (or "read" if they are really young) the books and look at the illustrations (they are all old familiar favorites or new adventures they can read on their own).

How to Make a Take a Break Space in an Elementary Spanish Classroom

THIS SPRING I DECIDED I NEEDED TO INCLUDE some sort of activity that would help really active bodies slow their motors down; we have a number of ADHD kids who struggle mightily to keep their impulsivity under control. This unfortunately results in a lot of distracting behaviors and classmates becoming frustrated with them, so finding ways to help them helps everybody. Although I do not practice yoga myself, I have heard and read so many good things about how it can be incorporated in the classroom, I thought I would give it try at the Take a Break space. I created a set of yoga poses cards kids can choose from when at the space (each is a pose which young kiddos can handle without toppling over!) plus a little timer so they know how long to hold the pose. Like all routines and procedures, I needed to introduce how to use the cards and the timer so that it would be effective and kids would know what to do. So far so good! I have only been using them for a short time, so will report back as to how it is going. I definitely think introducing it at the beginning of the year will be even more beneficial!

How to Make a Take A Break Space in your Elementary Spanish Classroom

INTERESTED IN OUR YOGA POSES CARDS? We have them in Spanish, French, German, Russian, and English!

Yoga Poses 12 Cards for Spanish Class
Click here to grab this resource!

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reloj A Fun Card Game from Spain for Spanish Classes of all Levels

AS THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR APPROACHES, and my elementary Spanish students are getting a bit squirrelly, I like to incorporate authentic games in class, whether that be going outside or playing games in the classroom. Many years ago I was introduced to RELOJ, a card game from Spain that is perfect for most levels of students, from upper elementary to high school. (I wish I could remember the teacher's name! It was during a presentation here in Maine about 15 years ago, if my memory is jogged I will give her credit) The object of the game is to go out first, to get rid of all your cards. Students can play in small groups, or as a whole class, which is how I do it with my 4th graders when introducing the game. Once they are familiar with it, I break them into groups of 4-5 to play.

Reloj A Card Game from Spain


PREPARATION
I purchased several decks of cards at the Dollar Store; I particularly like the oversized ones as they are easier to see and manipulate for my students. Remove the jokers and queens- Spanish decks do not have queens, and the jokers are not used in this game.

TO PLAY
Shuffle all the cards- if you are playing with the whole class, combine 4-5 decks, shuffling as best you can.
Deal out the deck(s), just as you would when playing War; all cards are dealt out face down. Students cannot look at their cards, they keep them in front of them in a pile. When playing with the entire class, I usually only deal out 8-10 cards per student, especially while they are still learning how to play.
Going clockwise, first student flips over the top card on his/her pile, puts it in the middle (discard pile) and says 'Reloj' (this card has no penalty for saying it- you will see what I mean!)
Next student flips over top card and says 'Uno', next student does the same saying 'Dos', and so on "around the clock" until you get to 'rey' whereupon you start again with 'reloj'. NOTE: a ten is called 'caballo', the jack is 'sota', and of course the king is 'rey'.

If a student flips over a card and says the same number as is the card he/she flips, he must take the entire discard pile! And since in order to win, you must go out, grabbing the discard pile is not what you want! You can see now why having 'Reloj' be the penalty free card is great- since there is no corresponding card, it's like a safety card. Game continues until one player goes out.

*I usually write the numerals and their corresponding names on the board for my 3rd & 4th graders as an additional support. For older students, this might not be necessary.

Have fun!

AND, TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS STAY IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE while playing, check out our Games Vocabulary Posters! You can find them here.

Games Vocabulary Posters for Spanish Class





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