Sharing from The Trenches
Today was my first day back to full classes, and it went better than I had expected. In fact, one student remarked, “Class was very productive, today.” I really appreciate their assessment of the class flow! After teaching today, I asked myself what was so different? Upon analyzing the components of my lesson, especially the pacing and flow, I then had to inquire, “Why can’t I produce lessons such as these on a consistent basis? In light of these reflections, I’d like to share my lesson and the instructional moves that contributed to that level of productivity.
We are finishing up our Day of the Dead unit. The final assessment has to be modified because we’re coming off a 7-day lock-out in Chicago; essentially, classes were canceled for 7 days. Teachers were not allowed to teach remotely, which translated to not being able to direct students on how to study, lack of insights regarding tests, nada! To accommodate students, I boiled our assessments down to two tasks:
- Short interview on Day of the Dead. We’ve had so much prior instruction.
- Vocabulary test: They’d get 10 words and have to match with the Spanish definition (keeping it simple).
We have one week to review before our finals, but I am sure my students will do well!
Instructional move #1 Put Students in The Driver Seat of Their Own Learning
I have to say, this activity occurred to me on the drive to school. Since students are going to have to match vocabulary with the descriptions in Spanish, we worked on coming up with our own definitions today. It made me think of the saying, “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for that day. But teach him how to fish, and he’ll feed himself for a lifetime. That adage framed my thinking today. Inviting them to transform the input they’ve learned into something actionable. Here is how we did it:
- Reviewed the Super 7 verbs
- Make a list of cognates
- Viewed the Quizlet list so we could extract words from there to compose descriptions
2. Modeling the Expectation
I wrote the following words on the board and we wrote descriptions. I encouraged students to use Super 7 verbs as sentence starters. Below are the definitions students came up with during our practice. I was so proud of them!!!
La radio= Hay música.
La mochila: Tiene libros y un bolígrafo
La escuela: Hay profesores y estudiantes
Then, we started working on descriptions for Day of the Dead vocabulary. They won’t have to write their own definitions, but I wanted to offer them insight into context clues, the use of cognates, and circumlocution. I figure this pre-reading strategy would help them greatly. They used the following formula: Super 7 verbs as starters +1-2 Quizlet vocabulary words. So for cementerio, we wrote: Hay tumbas y personas muertas. Some students added ” hay una cruz” etc. They felt so confident, which I was happy for them.
You can see our work illustrated in the pictures posted below. I was super excited about how well the lesson went! I may add this strategy to future lessons. This was a successful lesson!
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Who am I?
I am currently a Spanish Teacher in Chicago, IL. I have 16 years of cumulative experience as an International Baccalaureate middle school teacher, high school teacher, and adjunct instructor. I hold a Master’s in Latin American Literature and Cultures coupled with a Master’s in Educational Leadership. These dual degrees have afforded me a vantage point from both ends of the educational spectrum: instruction and evaluation. I have been sharing my unique perspective on pedagogy and language acquisition for over ten years at national, regional, and state conferences. I am also an accomplished author! I have authored several compelling comprehensible novels that allow students to solidify their language skills while experiencing a wide range of different cultures. Check out my resources below. Thanks for stopping by!
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