18 July 2014

First Day Fun Stations

The first day will be a day of PIRATE stations this year. After Tuesday's #TLAP chat, I'm all revved up to start the year with choice and activities that get students engaging with the target language from the start. I got some ideas from some whiz-bang kickoffs from colleagues who Teach Like a PIRATE, and I want to try them ALL. I also had some more language-specific ideas myself along the way. And so, due to available resource constraints and general matters of classroom management. and just general greediness on my part, stations seem the way to go. Some may have timed elements, but I'd like to let kiddos go with the flow, as long as they hit all stations.

And I think they will want to hit all of them.

Structures to introduce: Quiero/Me gusta
Tools needed: Phones/iPads
Finished product: Labeled photo
Sandy Otto is a genius. The idea of first-day selfies was bandied about the #TLAP chat, but primarily in the name of "getting to know" kids in the class. I could put a name with a face for 95% of the kids I'll have next year last January. But what I could not tell you is what could motivate them to learn a language. Sure, a goodly number were my Art Club, Creative Writing, or Focus Friday babies already, but let's face it: language is a whole new ball of wax. Setting them loose on my cart 'o authentic resources Day 1 and picking out, say, 7 things they'd want to explore this semester would A) give me a hint as to what makes them tick even before we kick off the pasión, B) suggests how much they think they can--or want to--handle, and C) makes them dig into their options and get a hearty preview. Plus they can get as creative with their selfie presentation as they choose!

Then they could either hashtag them on Instagram or email me with descriptions that include "Quiero leer...porque me gusta..."

Torre de Silencio
Structures to introduce: Necesito
Tools needed: Marshmallows, spaghetti, butcher paper, markers
Finished product: Brainstorm poster
Creativity, innovation: awesome elements to mix into any class. But where does language fit in? They can build their towers, see how tall they can build them, but they must do so in silence. Maybe they'll be able to figure out some gestures to make their points--maybe they'll even figure out they could write notes. But then when they're done, they'll need to add any language they wished they'd had available or any language they snuck in to the class brainstorming poster that says something like "Necesito decir..." at the top. This is way more awesome than my plan for developing an essential class language list from last year--more fun and more engaging. Still, it gives me somewhere to start with a class discussion perhaps later in the week.

Google Translate
Structures to introduce: Soy
Tools needed: Laptops
Finished product: Google Doc with paragraphs in L1 & L2 + new vocab list

It makes sense to get my philosophy on Google Translate out in the open early on, slip in the Commandments. It makes sense to let students see what they can get out of the translator and evaluate its worth rather than pretend it doesn't exist or elevate it to some sacred taboo status. And, you know, I'd kind of like a starting sample of how they write in the L1, just as a base for comparison for my own personal understanding and reference for helping them simplify their expression. So I'll have them describe themselves--something anyone can do without a great deal of research--thus satisfying the adolescent need to talk about "me," giving me--and them--some more essential vocabulary to start with. They'll get to play with the pronunciation feature and figure out some words and structures by comparing. And they'll think they're getting away with something.

Sock Puppets
Structures to introduce: Puedo/sé?
Tools needed: iPads, list of cognates/loan words/basic vocab
Finished product: 30-second videos

What can I say? I'm in love. Plus there is so much Spanish that kids already know (or can easily figure out) coming into Spanish I that they don't even realize they know. Between cognates, loan words, and the most common 100 words, I just want to see what kind of conversation kiddos can cobble together just for laughs. Hopefully it'll establish a risk-taking environment, get a pronunciation baseline, give kids a starting point they know they can improve on, and get some sillies out. Plus I had this idea...
Yes, deleivered. You get the idea.

Thinglink Syllabus
Tools needed: Laptops
Finished product: Comments on syllabus with questions

This one's in English. I link them to the class syllabus infograph on Thinglink and have them poke everything then post their questions. I don't have to read them every word, they know what they need to know, and we can clear up any confusion the next day.

Build Your Own Playlist
Structure to introduce: Me gusta
Tools needed: Desktops
Finished product: Pinterest board

When more than one hard case mentions that they come to class to find out what the week's song is gonna be and you catch others singing the songs in the hall, it seems advantageous to harness the musical angle as soon as possible. Having loosed the young ones to select songs in the past, I think the most effective method for collection was music videos on Pinterest. Accessing Spotify was a pain, and YouTube is so...linear.

14 July 2014

Three Apps, Three Types of Movie Projects

A quality five-minute movie project will suck weeks away from your class time, if done right. Then again, with the right technology--a coupla iPads, apps, and Web 2.0 accounts for example--a decent 30-second video can be churned out in a class period often with just the technology half your kids carry in their pockets.

There are three basic categories of movie project: basic non-edited, edited nonscripted, and scripted edited. that more or less align with different levels of assessment: practice, formative, and summative. The products of these project types are also suited to different audiences: self, teacher/peers, public. Since Christmas came in July, and I now have my very own set of 10 class iPads, I've selected an iPad app to focus on for each movie making level.

Sock Puppets: basic non-edited
It's silly to go through cutting, editing, and fancy bells and whistles for a simple practice level activity that is just meant to get students to briefly apply what they've learned for the day, and Sock Puppets is perhaps the most adorable way to do it.

I cannot thank Bethanie enough for introducing me to this free iPad app that allows you to create 30-second videos with two characters--two socks--talking. They can choose their socks, their backgrounds then record their voices and move the characters around. I believe you can make longer videos with more choices with the paid version, but the basic set more than suits my purposes. I love the simplicity and brevity of the task, and of course as Bethanie would say, how "totes adorbs" the whole thing is: the little chipmunk voices will keep the class giggling in the TL. 

I am excited to use this one for basic end-of-class interpersonal activities: conversational review and application. How much more fun will it be to practice basic greetings with goofy virtual socks with helium voices (instead of their own, in case self-consciousness is an issue)? Plus they'll WANT to listen to themselves, thus sneakily getting them to reflect on their pronunciation and fluency!

Adobe Voice: unscripted edited
A formative assessment might require a little more planning, a little more revision than a simple practice activity, and Adobe Voice is a free, easy way to put together a slightly more polished video.

I owe Jason Mammano for showing me this one--and helping hook me up with some iPads!) Students can combine their own photos or visuals from the app library with their voice in quick, attractive videos--and Voice automatically adds a soundtrack to their story! So students can record and rerecord their lines on the fly without really having to write anything down and still have something beautiful to show for their efforts within the space of a class period!

I can see this app coming in handy for pitches or presentation previews, for groups or individuals to put together what they're thinking of doing before they actually have to do it. Sort of an audiovisual outline, if you will, spitballing cut down to the good stuff in post.

GreenScreen: scripted edited
When students are sending a product out into the world--one that represents them, you, the school--it's got to be good. So it's worth having an app that takes a little more time to do something really cool.

We lucky Pinnacle Leaders in my district got GreenScreen pushed out to all of our iPads gratis, but it's usually $2.99, but really, this is such an involved app, it may be something you only really need on your teacher device. Student groups can do the shooting with student devices but maybe take turns editing on yours having reviewed their video and shared the good ones via AirDrop. (That means there's also an incentive to review and finalize their shots before the deadline!) This app requires a "green screen" or blue screen of your own, and while some taped up green butcher paper would suffice, a nice wrinkle-free green cloth with extra lighting is more ideal to avoid wonky shadows. Heck, if you have a little more decorative autonomy than I, maybe you could talk the boss into letting you paint part of a wall green!

This editing process is pretty involved and requires detailed editing, so of course students would want to have what they say when--even where they move--spelled out ahead of time, then rehearsed, recorded, and probably rerecorded (and probably rererecorded often times). Therefore, this would definitely be for culminating projects at the end of the unit, perhaps for social media campaigns or PSAs. Come to think of it, this could make for a pretty awesome MST3K final project for my Film and Literature class!