Saturday, March 2, 2013

Week in review--sequence of events: emphasis on writing

This posts references the post "Going from PQA to oral story to written story".

I thought that you might like to see the sequence of events from PQA to oral story to written story to story that the students write.  Some that are new might be interested.

Monday:  I showed a video by +Deb Read,  She makes videos in Spanish and French.  This one was about her dog, Renny.  It really had nothing to do with the vocab for the week, but it set up Tuesday's activity.

Tuesday:  New vocab:  sabe (hablar), tiene éxito, se pelea.
First I started by gesturing the words.  I then asked students what sports they knew how to play.  I have lots of football players, so I concentrated on them.  I would find a football player and ask if they knew how to play (sabe jugar) their sport.  Then I would ask if they knew how to speak their sport--I gave the example that everything has its own language.  I know how to speak music (yo sé hablar la música) allegro, andante, moderato, etc.  Once they get it, I asked them again.  If they said yes, I looked for someone who didn't play their sport.  Then I asked them if they knew how to speak football.  Then I asked the other student to speak football to them: inglés o espanol.

I circled tiene éxito by asking what a student played then asking if they were successful in their sport this year.  If they didn't play a sport (unusual in our school), I asked what they were successful at.

I circled se pelea by asking who they fought with.  If the ref makes a bad call, do you fight with the ref?  I brought a wrestler and a non-wrestler up (I have a son who used to wrestle, so I know a little about the sport from watching him).  I had the wrestler take the non-wrestler down, and then I gave the point to the non-wrestler.  I asked if the wrestler fights with the ref over the call.  Emphatic yes.

After that, I brought up the video from the day before and did the story about Deb Read (writer and videographer extraordinaire!! You can find her at and asked a story about her.  I wanted to point out that although I didn't use actors, I can still ask a story because the students can give me needed information, such as sabe hablar español Deb?  Si sabe hablar español,  ¿qué enseña? etc.  No, it's not info that the students make up, but it is putting them in the storytelling process, and it does keep them focused.  It's the teacher's ability to keep them interested that allows them to keep focused on the repetitions, in my opinion.

Wednesday-Thursday (block day--different classes each day): review vocab, written story
I always start the day with a review of the current vocab, which I review simply by gesturing and maybe asking a few questions.  I don't spend a lot of time on it unless I feel that they need review on particularly difficult structures.  Then I might do more PQA.

After we reviewed the vocab, I introduced the story about the boy who knew how to play lots of instruments but didn't know how to be a friend.  I always read the story in Spanish first. I have a smartboard and the story is on the board (24-pt font, if you care :) ).  If the students aren't familiar with a word--it's amazing how a word can be learned just by using it over and over in a story but not teaching it--I write it over the word so they have immediate translation.  I teach Sp 2 and I need to do less and less translation.  At the beginning of the year it would be a word or two per paragraph.  Now it might be a word or two per story.  Then they read the story.  If I have time, I circle, but often a story takes up the whole period, so I don't.

Friday: review yesterday's story, student story

Once again, the day begins with vocab review.  After that, I retold the block day story.  I don't start with a full retell.  I ask the story all the way through.  Usually the story is in the past tenses, but this time it was in the present, so I made sure to retell it in the past.

John knew how to play some instruments, right class?  What instruments did he know how to play?  Students answer with either full sentences or just instrument names--their choice.  It seems that there are some who really want to be proficient, and they take the extra effort.  It's not my call, it's theirs.  I asked the story from beginning to end.  Then I ask it again, this time totally either fill in the blanks or true/false (John wanted to be successful, so he formed a _______.  John knew how to play the piano, right?).  Then I went into English.

Our school is going into common assessments, and so we have agreed that all classes will use the same writing rubric.  Thank God for Joe Neilson!  He understands the proficiency that's attainable by the different levels, so he has taken the AP language writing rubric and given us a grading scale and full explanation of what to look for and what the numbers of the scale mean.  Yes, I teach with Joe Neilson.  He actually is in the classroom next to mine.  You may be suitably impressed :).  This was my class' first time with this rubric, so  I explained to them the difference between what we have done and what we will do.

I guess I should say here that this emphasis on writing is not necessarily TPRS.  I know that there will be an assessment at the end of the year, so I work all year to get my students ready.  From the beginning of the year, we work on the difference between pret and imp.  I don't take a lot of time, but I do keep drilling the idea that imp is longer  hablaba vs habló.  I am a big one for mnemonics, so I remind them that it's longer because it's not perfect so it has to try harder.  I show a movie every block day, and the first one I show is Cinco Amigas.  I show it not so much for the culture as because the girls are very different from one another, the story has lots of action, and I can get a lot of mileage out of that.  The students have to come up with three descriptions of a scene and three things that happened during the scene.  It's interesting to me that the students have more problems with actions than with descriptions.  For example--John wanted a dog comes up as an action.  I have to remind them that feelings aren't actions.  The idea seems new to them.  In my opinion, the majority of student issues with writing (aside from the obvious pret-imp issues) comes about because they really don't know how to write in English either.

I don't use the AP rubric until late third quarter.  I start with a very easy rubric--pret/imp.  If they use the correct form, they get credit.  In other words, a student who writes John iban a la tienda (John they were going to the beach) gets credit.  The only time you don't get credit is if you use present tense.  I know--not TPRS.  But it does open some eyes.  If I didn't have this writing emphasis, I wouldn't start this till later in the year.  I know all about the affective filter.  However, I do writing so seldom that it doesn't seem to make a difference.  I don't make them responsible for anything until I start emphasizing it.  After the él form, we go to ellos, then yo and nosotros.  (third person singular and plural and 1st person singular and plural).  I don't really emphasize the 2nd person in stories--it's not natural to me--I do that in PQA.  In the second semester I start emphasizing the noun-verb correlation (correct person) and the noun-modifier correlation, but they're just notified, not held accountable.  I don't want to overwhelm them, but I start marking their papers to make them aware.

So it goes until this point in the year.  Now, in English, I tell them that they are now responsible for EVERYTHING--make sure that you read your papers before you turn them in.  By year's end, they will have done 4 papers.  The first paper is a baseline.  You can't get below a C.  Classwork grade. The second paper is graded as classwork, but you get what you earn.  The third is a quiz grade and the fourth is an exam grade.  There's actually a fifth--part of the final.  I tell them that I want to see improvement.  If you go from a 2 to a 3, you're fine.  If you go from a 3 to a 2, you need to see me.  The students are given an explanation of the rubric and allowed to correct their work.  I get a lot of students in for tutoring this way.

My school has two tracks--honors and regular.  FL is unusual in that the student can start in one and go to the other.  I teach regular 2 and from there, the student can go to 3 or 3H.  So I give slightly different assignments.

If a student is going to Spanish 3, they are to retell the story as closely as possible to mine.  They are to keep it in the 2 past tenses.  They do not have to go into present unless they choose to.

If a student is going to 3H, they are to write a similar story using the same target vocab.  They may not retell my story.  They must keep primarily to the past tenses, but they must use a minimum of two lines of dialog using present tense.

I just started grading, and most students are getting 2s and 3s--not mastering basic expressions.  That's very common at this point.  Some are getting 5s--excellent--a 6 is the highest you can get in 2nd year.  I know that some of you might be interested in the rubrics and the explanation of numbering--comment here with your email or email me and I'll send you the forms on Monday.  DO NOT go to Sirena.  I can't use FB at school and I don't have the rubric at home.  My email is or .

By the way, let me know if you want to see my student writing.  Some are great; some are not.  I'd be happy to share, but only if you're interested.

Hope that clarifies things.  I know that writing is confusing for the newbie.  Hope this helps.

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