Vokis used for CI

This is an old tool but many teachers I know use it as a speaking assessment.  Not a bad idea but I'm using it as CI activity. After typing in the text, students listen to a variety of voices from different Spanish Speaking countries before choosing their favorite. Many had to alter the spelling of their name so it was pronounced correctly.  I limited the time to deck-out their character to 10 mintues. The only other paramater I gave was that they had to choose a background that they knew enough Spanish to describe. These avatars will go on each student's blog.

Teaching Colors...NOT

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I haven't been a fan of teaching color for years now. Here's why. I don't think knowing them (or not knowing them) measures proficiency in the language. Nor do I think they are important for beginning language learners. There are many more important words I'd rather my students learn and be able to use. Also, it actually takes a lot (of time and effort) to learn ten different color words.

Recently, a teacher in my building was doing a L2 assessment of her Kindergarten class. They are doing VERY well in Spanish and I suggested, due to time constraints, she not bother with the colors assessment. She decided to test them on the colors anyway. She was surprised that one of her higher kids actually missed a few. However, when asked, ¿Qué color es? Jonas responded,"No sé que color es esto". Bingo. I would much rather a student be able to say "I don't know what color that is" then recall all 10 colors perfectly.

Don't Skimp on the Props

I used a bird and not a turkey in my 5th grade class this morning. I thought they would be more likely to see the word bird next year in middle school. However, for some reason (Day before Thanksgiving Break maybe) I was lazy and I did not put the English translation next to the word pluma (feather) nor did I make a quick drawing to represent the word when some first suggested we use plumas (feathers). So, we had a story about a bird that had no feathers. The word plumas (feathers) came from a student as my main structure was "quiere comprar". However, ten minutes into the story, one boy asked if plumas were clothes. Not too bad as feathers ARE a bird's clothes. That was my hint to make a few yellow feathers as the bird ultimately steals some feathers from Big Bird. I didn't. At the end of class, another student asked (while we were drawing the target words) if plumas were leaves. Apparently he glanced at another boy's drawing and made that assumption. Oops! I had personalized many other parts of the story. The boy who had thought they were leaves had been engaged for much of the story because we used his UGGs as part of the story. That just isn't good enough. The input was not 100% comprehensible. This is just a reminder, for me, not to skip the many ways to establish meaning before (and during) acquiring a new structure. It's easy to draw a few feathers.

Change of Plans

Today I had a lesson plan for second grade. I don't always have a detailed lesson plan, but today I did. However, when Steven asked how to say "I'm thirsty", my plan changed. Twenty minutes later we had created a story around "is thirsty" (tiene sed). First, however, we warmed-up a bit. What were kids thirsty for? Cola Cao de España? Frescolita de Venezuela? Jugo de México? I used some props and did some basic circling. Then, we started the story. There was a girl (Megan) who was thirsty. She was thirsty for milk. She went to Iowa. Iowa is close and there are lots of cows in Iowa. (We live in Colorado) So, she walked to Iowa. She asked Iowa for some milk. Iowa gave her some chocolate milk. She said she didn't want chocolate milk. Iowa thought for a bit and then recommended Argentina. He said there are lots of normal cows in Argentina. It was far they agreed but Megan did go to Argentina. She went in a big helicopter because Argentina is far away. Once in Argentina, there were lots of normal cows (the entire class playing cows). Megan asked a cow for milk. The cow gave her some white milk. She drank and drank and drank the milk. She was no longer thirsty.

This is an example of how my lesson plan (often) changes. The good news is my kids have acquired a new word AND I have a lesson plan for tomorrow.

I Haven't Had a Turn to "Busca"

This was the first thing that one on my students said to me when he arrived to class this afternoon. Kellen is in Kindergarten. I have not seen this group since last Wednesday (6 days ago) and he remembered our target structure, busca (to look for). He knows what the word means, how it's used in our story and he wants a turn. Perfect. These are the comments that motivate me to keep using storytelling with younger language learners.

Carlos y Amie

Aime y Carlos
Hay una mujer. Ella se llama Aime. Ella vive en Summit Cove. Ella trabaja en su casa. Trabaja mucho. Trabaja los lunes, los martes, los miércoles, los jueves, y los viernes. También trabaja los fines de semana por que tiene una familia que la necesita. Ella no gana mucho dinero pero a ella no le importa. Un día, va a la casa de un amigo. El amigo se llama Mark. El no vive lejos. Ella va a su casa en su coche muy muy grande. Cuando llega ella, llama a la puerta pero no hay nadie. Entra la casa. No hay nadie. Claro, Mark está en el Chill. A veces él baila la salsa en el Chill. Pues, ella se sienta en la silla enfrente de la tele muy grande de Mark. Ella mira unas películas de su actor famoso, Gael Garcia Bernal . De repente, ella escucha música. Camina a la ventana. Mira por la ventana. Es Carlos Santana. Ella camina a la calle y habla con Carlos. Carlos le pregunta, ¿quieres bailar y canta? Ella le dice, claro que sí. Carlos le paga mucha plata. Ahora Aime baila y canta con Carlos Santana.