18 August 2014

Why and How You Should Do Stations on Day 1

I spent less than 15 minutes in front of class the first day. I explained the stations and set them loose. I wandered around just watching, troubleshooting here and there, suggesting where to go next as a group or individual wrapped up an activity.

I think I'll do this every year.

Observe Work Habits
Notice how they cluster. Figure out who has trouble following directions--oral, on the board, online, or on paper. Make a mental (or physical) note of how long they take to complete assignments. Watch how they handle frustration and problem solving. Feel out attitudes--toward the subject, the tasks, each other, you--themselves. See how high they aim and how accurately they judge their ability level and how realistic they are with their goals.

Previews and Goal Setting
Between SSR and weekly coros, students will be engaging with different books and Spanish music regularly. I want to get them interested in it first, maybe get a feel for their preferences and convince them the Spanish-speaking world has something they want. The idea is to get them hooked and comfortable with taking in the language in context, so they are ready for engaging with cultural products. "Shelfies" tap into the teenage drive to take pictures of themselves while familiarizing them with the picture books and magazines available for their consumption in the classroom, and the Pinterest board o' music videos gives a hint of how to stay connected to the language beyond. Shoot, comparing paragraphs they wrote to post-translator paragraphs even demonstrates what could await them if they attempt the "easy" way out.

Instruction Cards
Copy enough of these cards for each student to get one, cut them apart, and set out stacks at corresponding stations. Students should write something to demonstrate their interaction with the station, and then they can tape them into their interactive notebooks!

Random Grouping

I chopped up some index cards and had my six-year-old help me apply a fruit sticker to each card. I had four cards each for fresas, sandia, manzanas, naranjas, bananas, and uvas. Using fruit allowed me to bring up cognates from the start and do a quick check to see if they got which word was a cognate. Also, it was kind of nice not to have to have a seating chart ready before it all started. I mean, I never have to, and really I already had these kids' names memorized months ago (egad I love working at a tiny school!) But the main thing it does is lend a sense of fluidity and flexibility to the beginning of school--but not too much. There is still an order to things, but it's not an order born of desperation for control. Just a logical way to keep things rolling.

Extra Stations
Have at least one station with an assignment students can take home if they don't get finished. This will allow everyone to complete all the work regardless of their pace and also give the high fliers and speed demons something to keep them occupied and productive. I also had a station that when it came down to crunch time that they could totally skip. Really it was something for me to collect ideas from the class collectively (the marshmallow tower to collect essential teamwork vocabulary), so I had what I needed whether or not everyone got to it. And really, their answers were already starting to repeat.

Technology Alternatives
5 of my 6 stations depended on some sort of technology. When the laptops went wonky, that put 2 stations in trouble. Fortunately, between the desktops and iPads, most everyone was able to access that they needed, but there was the one assignment that ended up having to be relegated to the homework zone for 80% of the class that had to skip a station. I might have had to resort to using my SMARTboard as a radio for one station, get students to share their own phones for shelfies and translator activities (with a printout of the assignment), and break out paper bags or popsicle sticks to do real puppets instead of a Sock Puppets app.
The next day, set up Tweetbeam to run through their tweeted shelfies, or throw the emailed ones together in Photopeach (after you quickly "download all attachments" from the flow of emails to Drive--which it helps to have synced on your computer). Cobble the Sock Puppet videos together (I had to hold another iPad in front of each of theirs to record...I don't have the paid version) and let them giggle at a few. Compile and translate the "emergency vocabulary" suggestions into a master list, maybe even copy it and have them tape it to the inside of the back cover of their interactive notebooks. Have them do an alphabet brainstorm on what they expect to do, see, hear, and try throughout the course.

16 August 2014

7 Ways I Used iPads Week 1

Just ten iPads have made my classes and student interactions easier, more engaging, more exciting, and more enjoyable, and all in just the first week!

Policy dictates we review school rules and procedures during the first day, which is not the first day of classes, more of an orientation day by grade level. I had seniors, so I paired them up and gave them a 35-question Kahoot! quiz on what to do and what not to do. You have never seen a group of seniors so ecstatic about rules!

First Day Fun Stations were a hit! Students got a feel for all three modes of communication, the kinds of texts they'd be interacting with, and exactly how far out on a limb they'd be expected to go. 
  • They used the iPads to record themselves attempting a conversation with cognates and the few words they'd picked up from middle school and Taco Bell using the Sock Puppets app.
  • They took "shelfies" with books and magazines from my class library they might like to read and emailed or tweeted them to me.
  • They even used them to pinch hit when the laptop log-ins went wonky and wouldn't let them on so they could explore the class syllabus on ThingLink.
  • A handful even got started on their translator/dictionary introduction assignment through Google Classroom and Google Drive!

The iPads have been especially indispensable in my tiny Film and Literature class where I have half of the seniors. Of course they're loving the Kahoot reading checks (versus the for-credit quizzes I did back before I was a Spanglish teacher), and it's a much more entertaining way to make sure everyone A) did their reading and B) understood what was going on. It's much more helpful to get everyone on the same page and talk through the answers that just spring a Gotcha on them.  I'm also really enjoying watching them interact with The Princess Bride  through a TodaysMeet.com back channel, and it's really made it clear the parallels between film analysis and literature analysis. In fact, next week, we're going to talk about what good readers do and apply those habits to the commenting.
Image via NASSP

On the SAMR model, it's true that most of these activities like Kahoot and Google Drive assignment completion are mostly at the Substitution and Augmentation level, though back channels and interactive syllabuses are certainly approaching Redefinition. The novelty will wear off in the coming weeks, so it will be essential to move beyond the first half of SAMR to maintain the momentum that iPads helped me get going this year.

But it certainly has been a good start, and I look forward to seeing what else we'll do with iPads!

14 August 2014

Proficiency by the Bikes

They say you can't hit a target you can't see, so as we were setting up interactive notebooks today, page 3 (right after Table of Contents, First Day Fun Stations summaries, and an about me section with a lot of "soy")  became "Proficiency."

I stole the bicycle analogy from Srta. Barragán (who got it from Kelly Daugherty and Martina Bex) and basically chopped up the page. I removed the grades and decided to scrap the level labels--as they won't be used as grading descriptors per se--then scrambled the bikes and level descriptions before making copies.

I clipped the bikes to move around on the SMARTboard, too, and added ACTFL proficiency levels through Intermediate Mid (because that's as high as I'd expect anyone to go since there's nothing above Spanish III available at our little early college.)

Everyone got a little scrambled half-sheet to cut apart and rearrange in the following order.

1. Arrange the bike pictures in order of proficiency (arrange together on the SMARTboard). Do not glue.

2.  Discuss which level goes with which bike (It's important to leave the lonely bike by itself without a label).

3. Now glue--but leave space for the descriptors.

4. Check out this Glog made from ACTFL proficiency guidlelines and exemplars, and let's watch Leonor and identify the descriptor that matches her level (Novice Low).

5. Let's watch Jesús now. What level is he? Nope, still Novice Low! (Glue)

6. Let's watch Oahn. What level is she? Yep,[insert Novice Mid descriptor here]. (Glue)

7. And Guadalupe? Yep [insert Novice High descriptor]. (Glue

8. Let's figure out what's the highest next and fill in the rest. GlueGlueGlue (I probably would have gone a little higher with the example videos if I didn't have strictly Spanish I this semester.)

9. Now take a look at this glorious proficiency continuum I made:

Proficiency continuum a la Creative Language Class through Novice High--
because I only have Spanish I right now. And walls.
What's the red? (Yes, Novice Low) The blue? (Yep, Mid) And the yellow? (You guessed it) Why does it go this high? Because NC says your goal in Spanish I is Novice Mid--Novice High if you're a super high-flier. And I can't put anything on the walls.

10. Finally, highlight the level that you want to achieve by the end of Spanish I.

Now they've got a target they can see right in the front of their interactive notebooks! But as we know from the interactive notebook session, the right side is mine to dictate, and the left is for students to reflect (something I'm being extra careful to allow for since the brain session). So tomorrow, we will review their goals, and on the left they will make a web map around 3 circles: INTERPRETIVE, INTERPERSONAL, and PRESENTATIONAL and begin connecting those modes to ways to use Spanish beyond class to set their first personal goal!