Reflection on the first half of the year

At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, I set myself some pretty lofty goals.

I planned to:

  1. Create a stronger culture of TL use in the classroom
  2. Get the majority of students beyond the Novice High Level by the end of 8th Grade
  3. Shift the core of the curriculum for Middle School away from exclusive use of TPRS
  4. Use a lot more Non-Targeted CI
  5. Incorporate pen-pal or video-conferencing activities with native speakers
  6. Implement FVR
  7. Use more Novels at more levels

So far, I have felt pretty successful, but let’s start with the things that haven’t gone perfectly:

FVR – I just plain haven’t started this yet. What I do know now is that I’m printing out lots of copies of Revista Literal and class-created stories for students to read at the beginning of their FVR journey in January. It was my plan to implement this in the second half of the year, so check back in a few months for progress updates.

Video-Conferencing with Native Speakers – As I mentioned in the original post about this year’s plan, our school partners with an orphanage in Mexico City. Last year, our students were able to make a book for the students at the orphanage and it was very successful! Unfortunately, though, video-conferencing will not be happening for a while because of internet connectivity issues.

But I have a plan! We will be making video updates for the students at the orphanage. Our students will record all kinds of messages from basic introductions to wishes for a Merry Christmas and lots of other things. More on that as we go on throughout the year.

And now, the successes!

NTCI and Shifting Middle School Away from using exclusively TPRS (and also Novels) – This year, I have stuck to my guns and moved away from only using TPRS as my method of instruction. This year in middle school, students have done more than they ever have in the past and they have risen to meet the challenges. They have read novels, they have created OWI characters, they have followed along and participated in MovieTalk activities, and they have participated in informal conversational activities based on their interests (NTCI) during class.

One Word Images (OWIs) were a huge part of the beginning of the year and have been extremely successful. I have created characters in all grades from 3-8 and it they all have been (for the most part) engaged in the creation activities. My favorite part is the artwork that the students come up with.

Sometimes the OWIs have something to do with a “unit” of study – for example, at the beginning of the year, we used OWI characters and stories to review school supplies: The OWI characters were school supplies (each class had a different thing-pencils, pens, tape, etc) and they would interact with each other in various locations around the school. It was not NTCI, but it was compelling for the students and helped us review information they already knew.

In addition to OWIs, we have been reading a loooooot this year. 8th Grade read Mata la piñata, 7th is reading Leyendas Impactantes (another “unit” of study: myths and legends), and 6th just finished Brandon Brown.

My plan in the new year is to have 5th grade read Edi el elefante starting in January to see how they do. If they are successful, we will move on to Brandon Brown at the end of the year. I’m eager to experiment with novels with 4th grade. I want to see how well they do with Edi el elefante, too.

Building up Proficiency Levels

I recently gave an assessment to get a real look at the students’ proficiency levels in the interpretive listening, interpretive reading, and presentational writing modes. I was very excited to see just how well they were able to do!

Culture of TL use in the classroom

When it comes to interpersonal (and presentational) speaking, the students are significantly behind in their proficiency level than they are in the other modes. This makes a lot of sense for 2 main reasons: 1) Speaking is the last one to come and 2) We don’t practice speaking in the TL very much at all-it’s not a formal requirement in my classroom. Since I haven’t made it a priority that the students always speak in the TL, they have gotten by without doing it. But that has changed as the year has gone on.

A few weeks ago, I implemented a new routine at the beginning of class class called “La Charla,” which I adapted from Señora Chase’s Small Talk (more on “La Charla” in later posts). Using pictures and vocabulary as guides, I guide an informal class conversation where we talk about familiar topics. So far, topics have included the weather, how we are feeling, who won games/competitions, or a variety of other topics. At this point, I am doing most of the talking and calling on the class for choral answers and calling on a few individuals here and there for answers based on what I know they can do (open ended questions for my more proficient students, yes/no or binary questions for my less proficient students). When they answer in English (which is fine), I recast their answers into Spanish.

One Half Down, Another Half to Go

I am very excited to continue this year after Christmas break. I am most looking forward to implementing the FVR program (I just got even more books and am printing and binding stories like crazy!) and to having fun and informal chats with my students during “La Charla.”

It’s been a great year so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of it has in store for us!

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