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?
jam-packed sessions full of valuable information to over 140 participants from all over the US (and even from Switzerland). She was extremely gracious and kind and humorous too (bonus!).
I didn’t want to come off as a creepy stalker so I limited my interactions with her to an introduction and a selfie, which turned out quite wonderful if I do say so myself. I hope that if she ever reads this post, or my blog in general, she will know how influential she has been in regards to my teaching career and making the switch to TPRS® and CI.
So, after my initial, “OMG that’s really her and OMG I’m really here!” moment, I got down to the business of trying to soak up every bit of information that came my way. Since my head is still processing all the information (yes, 5 days later!), I’m going to list 5 main takeaways of information that stood out to me to be essential and relevant when it comes to comprehensible input as I understood it.
Disclaimer: To reiterate, these are my “notes” from the information provided as I understood them.
Ultimately, if you ever have a chance to see Martina Bex at a workshop, Do It! The amount of information, tips and tricks to create impactful CI units, and experience that she encompasses are invaluable. For her to impart such knowledge is a genuine treat. I can say I am well-prepared to continue my CI journey, and I feel pumped about it. No matter where any teacher is on his or her CI journey, there is always something new to learn. I was happy that I walked away with tons of new perspectives.
In a nutshell, I am grateful and blessed that I could attend this workshop. And after two days of cramming my brain full of great information and fresh ideas, it was time to leave. You know there’s just no place like home!
Important Note: The hashtag for the workshop was #CIwizards. Search this hashtag if you want to see what others have posted via twitter.
I have literally gone bonkers with Gran Hotel! I never tire of Julio making googly eyes at Alicia, Diego's (and Doña Teresa’s) psychopathic resolve to be in control of nearly everything, or Ándres' delightful facial expressions like the one above. Sigh. Well, since I’m practically in love with the series, I set out to create various activities that supplement the first episode of the show. I wanted to create resources that could be used with any level of Spanish and supply substantial amounts of comprehensible input in novel ways. I came up with an assortment of game activities, which can easily be differentiated for any class.
COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT WITH A COMPETITIVE EDGE
I created a bundle of 5 games and activities that can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes. The purpose of these resources is to enhance the video and give your students continuous amounts of comprehensible input (CI) with a competitive edge. Through game play students will receive lots of repetitions centered around vocabulary and target structures (if you use them). Additionally, your students will improve their understanding of key events that happen in Episode I, as well as the essential characters (12 total) that are introduced.
WHAT is CRISITINA HIDING?
A bunch of secrets obviously! I created a previewing guide to help students build a solid foundation and to understand the premise of the series. The guide provides contextual reference points that will spark discussion and intrigue as you introduce Gran Hotel. This guide also jumpstarts vocabulary and target structure dissemination. For example, students can begin their journey into the world of Gran Hotel by analyzing the letter Cristina wrote to Julio.
WILL JULIO OLMEDO AND ALICIA ALARCÓN EVER BE TOGETHER?
HOW ABOUT READING EXCERSISES?
Well, since I’ve created a previewing guide and an assortment of game activities, I guess the next step is creating some impactful readings for episode I. Since I just wrote that down, I’ll have to follow through! Expect reading guides and activities in the next couple of weeks! However, I do want to mention that Mike Peto and Kara Jacobs have developed wonderful readings for a few episodes of Gran Hotel, which are great for upper-level classes. My readings will be geared towards lower-level classes.