Simple successes

Today marked day #13 of our calendar year. However, we’ve only really had about 7 days of normal bell schedule between assemblies, pep rallies, and NWEA testing already. In any case, I wanted to share some awesome things that are happening in my classes right now, with a possibly more detailed post to follow when it’s not 9 pm and I don’t already have a zillion other things to get done by tomorrow.

Cool thing #1:

My freshmen are totally rocking the story-asking-doing. They don’t understand how awesome it is that they’re on day 13 of Spanish learning and they can already read in paragraphs. Short, simple paragraphs, but paragraphs. For my students who struggle so mightily to read in their other classes, the smile on their face when I point out that they can do this!!! is the reason I teach. To a teacher, nothing says ‘you’re doing something right’ like that lightbulb going on when the students can see their own progress in just a few short weeks.

And in a super awesome bonus moment, my 4th period blew me away today. We finished our simple story about Fred wanting chocolate but not having chocolate, and his meeting a girl who also didn’t have any chocolate. She says bye and Fred is sad. A few of my students shouted ‘That’s ridiculous! Why don’t they just go buy some chocolate, I mean, they’re at the store already.’ My teacher heart about exploded. What’s that, children? You want to rewrite the ending to the story? Of course we can! So, with a little chaotic shouting, we worked on the beginning of a new ending that we’ll probably wrap up tomorrow.

Day 13. Kids shouting sentences at me. Sentences that make sense. In Spanish. (They were even accidentally following the story pattern of set up/try to solve problem, fail/solve problem.) If that doesn’t cement that comprehensible input is the strategy for me, then I don’t know what would. My students amaze me every single day.

Cool thing #2

I started using preferred activity time this year. I used Class Dojo last year to keep track of points but I wasn’t very intentional with it, and I think that hurt its effectiveness. This year, I’m using Class Dojo to track participation and my phone to track minutes in Spanish and converting that to PAT (each minute in Spanish = 10 seconds of time, each class point = 1 second of time). I’ve only had one class choose to use their time (the whole 6 minutes of it, haha) so we’ll see how it goes. I only run the clock when we’re doing an actual story telling or reading, not during non-story related activities such as the bellringer, surveys, etc.

Cool thing #3

BLOGGING! For the past few years, I’ve done dialogue journals with my Spanish 3s and 4s. A dialogue journal is basically where the students journal to me in response to a prompt, and then I would respond back in Spanish. I love this activity because for the older students who DO have the skills for sensical output, this is an easy, low-stress way to get weekly writing practice in. The problem was, even with only 25 students, it took forever each week to read each person’s post and write back a short comment in Spanish.

This year, I switched to blogging. I’m using Kidblog for now. They still have to respond to a prompt, and this year I am trying to be more intentional in relating the prompt to what we’re studying in class to get more reps of our focused vocabulary. But instead of me responding to them, each student has to respond to one other in the class. This gives them more writing practice (and specifically, it helps them to express agreement/disagreement and justification) and it frees up some of my time. These students are also most likely going to college, and the discussion post+response format is everywhere now, so the skills of how to properly write a discussion post and thoughtful responses will serve them well in the future.

I have to say, I forgot what good writers my students are. And specifically, seeing the errors that my Spanish 3 students are making, and how by the start of AP Spanish, they have corrected themselves.

Of course, this post became longer than intended and I didn’t even give much detail, but I am so happy that these things are happening in my classroom. I am guiding them, but they’re doing these amazing things on their own. How is your school year going? Post about your own successes! I love reading them!

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