prepping for a great year!
Oh Anne Matava and Amy Catania, how I love you both! As I’m getting ready for start of the new school year (9 more days, but who’s counting), I’m going through some of the resources that I have on hand to help me not only begin the year strong but ensure great story-asking scenarios— making my job fun and effective and the kids’ job to acquire language stress free! Lower those affective filters, people!
I find that as I’m reading through Amy’s scripts, I am literally laughing out loud. My husband has no idea what’s going on, but when I tell him, he laughs along too. The old lady with the dog on her head (posing as a wig) is great! Anne’s stories are also just as fun. If you are unfamiliar with Anne’s scripts or how to use them effectively, here is a fantastic “how-to” resource from Martina Bex.
What I have been having the most difficulty with is finding a strategy to cover all the topics that I need to cover (based off the Maryland state curriculum and the “¡Qué chévere!” textbook that my school uses). Terry Waltz has a great post that shares some ways to make the pairing of the two work (TPRS + textbook). Martina Bex also shares how you can infuse her curriculum with Realidades and ¡Avancemos!
What tprs is and isn't
Now I know TPRS is meant to be more organic, focused on high frequency structures instead of superfluous vocabulary and stringent grammar exercises. Thematic units also don’t bode well. However, as a new (to the school) teacher and department chair, I need to make sure that I am covering all my bases. And sometimes I fear that I can’t do that with without some major planning and some sort of thematic structure.
In an interview for Startalk, Terry Waltz was asked, “What does a good TPRS teacher do?” Her response was, “…we keep a lot of small balls in the air at the same time. It’s like juggling ping pong balls in a way.” I wholeheartedly believe this! There is so much that TPRS teachers need to do effectively at any given time to make sure enough repetition is provided with 100% comprehensibility. And this takes a lot of planning and practice.
Since I have been out of the game for some time (I taught special ed last year) and have not taught Spanish I for over two years, I need some sound pedagogical support. While I get my TPRS feet wet again, I know that I need some help along the way. And that’s why I love Anne Matava scripts and Amy Catania’s curriculum. Anne’s scripts make it possible to feel comfortable story-asking again, and Amy’s curriculum gives me reassurance that I will be able to cover the curriculum in an enjoyable and novel way. I’m also planning on getting Terry Waltz’s “Circle Up!” cards to practice my circling game.
Although at first seemingly counterintuitive, Amy’s “Cuentos Fantásticos” are designed around vocabulary themes. Be that as it may, she explains that while using TPRS materials in the past that she has “…often wished for a connection between vocabulary themes and the stories.” She goes on to say that giving students this sense of structure provides and important “anchor,” meaning “students see a continuity in their learning.” She later offers reassurance in her introductory comments that with TPRS and “Cuentos Fantásticos” students will be better prepared than ever.
so, what's missing? a key element
The only thing missing is culture. And who does culture better than Martina Bex? While reviewing the ““¡Qué chévere!” textbook, I realized that almost all of the readings about culture were in English (gasp!). It is completely doable and beneficial to teach culture in the target language. This is another reason why textbooks boggle my mind. Why wouldn’t they want culture readings to be in the target language— oh it might be the same reason they focus on memorized dialogues (OK be nice, Arelle!).
So the plan is to have culture, movietalks, and CI games and activities seamlessly dispersed throughout the themes in class. (Speaking of movietalks, have you explored Elena Lopez’s site?!) My goal this year is to give my students a great foundation (inclusive of the sweet 16 verbs) so that in the second semester we can begin to use a telenovela, fingers crossed it will be El Internado.
As you can see, there is A LOT of work to be done and only 9 more days to get in shape!
How do you plan your year?