Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cultural activities across the levels

This time of year is the worst for teachers. Students have realized that their grades are not what they should be and are in full panic mode, and parents are on alert as well. The holiday season is also around the corner, and even though Christmas decorations have been up in stores for weeks, I am not ready for the work that comes with the holidays! With all of this going on, it is easy to focus on the negative and the frustrations in the classroom, but I am doing my best to focus on the positives.

This past week was a crazy one, with our fairy tale unit ending. As I have mentioned before, I have been working on a cross-level project between the Spanish 1's and Spanish 3's. I have felt that we spend so much time focusing on the harder vocabulary and more difficult conversations that the upper level students forget how to say some of the most basic things...the conversations that would be most important if they were in a foreign country.

So, the idea behind this project was to have the upper level kids create stores and sell to the lower levels. We planned and wrote assignment sheets and talked about vocabulary. I let my students choose what type of store to have, because as I have mentioned before, I firmly believe we need to give students choices whenever possible. Here is a copy of our assignment sheet. (I also put a copy in the Helpful Docs tab.) We also gave the kids a handout to practice key phrases, and add phrases of their own that they thought necessary.


The students created all types of stores, including music, movie, cafe, clothing, and a party store. I was so proud of my students. They stayed in the target language, even when the principal tried to talk to them in English. They were so generous, giving juice, soda, cookies, party favors, etc. to the lower level students. Since we were using Monopoly money, I had assured students they would get all of their items back.


Now, my PreAp class is during a time when there is no Spanish I, so we tried something  little different. We did a "Tourist Day" between Germany and Spain with the German III students. In this project, some of the students set up stores, and other students were tour guides. The tour guides were in charge of teaching key phrases and helping their groups at the stores. The stores were based on what a tourist would need: a hotel, souvenir shop, tour/ticket office, and cafe. The students then took turns leading the tours and shops.

The kids were excited about this and it went very well. The students learned a few new phrases in a new language. They were also exposed to situations where they didn't understand what someone was saying, or how to respond and had to figure out how to get what they wanted. It was a great communication exercise for all of the students.

I was liberal with the assessment scores. I felt that if they were communicating in the target language during the duration of the activity (about an hour), and they helped the lower level students communicate as well, that was A work.

For me, it was a good week. Students did tons of communicating and had a great time. Hopefully this will be an annual tradition and something the students can look forward to. Now all I have to do is figure out how to do it again in the Spring. I think I will put my students on it! They have the best ideas.