Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The three R's - Reading, Review and Rethinking

So, in response to some of the struggles last semester, I have switched some of my units around, and am doing my Detective Story unit now, then I will do a shorter Spanish Civil War Unit, and do a quick sports (specifically soccer) unit before Spring Break. I am again collaborating with our German teacher to do a project together and we thought soccer would be great. She has exchange students coming for this semester, and I really wanted my students to get an opportunity to interact with them.

Last year, we used readers, and although the students were challenged, they all worked through it and continually improved. By this time last year, on the whole, the students were able to use context clues to help decipher unfamiliar words and move at a good pace through the reading. Part of the reason I moved the Detective Story unit to the beginning of the semester was because the students last year found the books much easier than the Santanilla readers. However, I am finding that this is not the case this year. I am struggling with motivating students to continue to work and try to get through the reading when many of them are complaining that they don't know every third word. Now, having read the books, I know that there is some new vocabulary, but there are plenty of familiar words and words that we have learned this year.

Last year, the students kept summaries and then I gave them comprehension questions at the end of the story. I don't like giving students the questions first, because then all they do is skim for answers, they don't really read. However, this year, I think I may divide the questions up and start passing them out as students get to certain benchmarks. For example, do this after Chapter 6. I also have students make predictions halfway through the book, because it is a mystery, and I think it is important that they can make the predictions in the target language. Of course it also forces them to use some future tense which is nice too.

On the grammar front, my Spanish III students are reviewing the present subjunctive again, because it was clear last semester when I tried to review the highlights that they just weren't getting it. This time, instead of just giving them tons more practice, I assigned a skit/song/game project which requires them to teach the concept via a skit/song/game and give practice to their peers. I have had success with this before, so I am hoping that it will really stick with them this time. Not to mention, many of the kids come up with some great games and songs that I can use with future classes. It is fun to listen to the kids complain that it is hard to teach information and make it fun at the same time. Now they know how I feel!!!  ;)

Having the time to let the students create these projects just reminds me how much I love the flipped class. In the past, to go back and spend this time on reviewing a concept, I would have to eliminate another concept, or do some portions of the curriculum more quickly to have the time. Now I am so glad that with more class time, the curriculum can be tailored to what the students need, not just what I have to get through.