Sunday, August 31, 2014

New Year, New Classes, So Many New Faces

Wow, I can't believe it has been two months since I have posted. Things are crazy with the start of school, getting my oldest off to college and three preps this year. I am also working on a curriculum job (in my spare time) so I guess my poor blog has been neglected. Never fear, I have some great plans for the blog this year including posting some new videos and how to information.

The new year has brought me many new faces. Our Spanish I teacher retired and the decision was made not to replace her. So, I have larger classes than I have ever had before. I still have my small 4 class, and my 3 classes are about the same size, but I have 3 Spanish II classes that are all between 27-30. Now I know many people have classes even larger, but I haven't seen so many kids in a classroom in a while.

I spent much last week struggling trying to get all of these students logged on to computers, set up new email passwords, explaining the blog and how to get to Moodle (where my videos and assignments are posted). So, this week has been full of watching the students and getting an idea of where they are and what they have retained from previous years. I have done this with some worksheets (cringe), listening and writing activities that they students are working on independently. We also began reading short readers in my 2 and 3 classes. My poor 2 students are having small heart attacks because the pace of my class is much faster than their previous 1 class.

We have worked on reading Piratas (by Mira Canion) in level 2 . In my 2 class, we have read the first 3 (of 10) chapters together taking turns reading. This has given me a chance to see where we stand with reading ability and pronunciation. It is slow going because we read basically a paragraph at a time and then students take turns giving me a one sentence summary of what we just read. I am trying to train the students to read like that themselves rather than trying to translate every word (which is really what they want to do). For some, it is tough going, but the majority seem to be getting it done getting the gist of the plot. After each chapter, they have a 3 column chart that they complete. After we completed chapter 3, I turned them loose on chapters 4-6 to complete on their own or in small groups (no more than 3). At the beginning of next week, I will do a comprehension check and then we will read chapter 7 together and then they will finish the rest on their own. When the book is completed, they will complete project(s) of their choice to achieve the desired amount of points. (I have adapted these from Kristy Placido's).

We are doing a similar process with the level 3s using Robo en la noche (by Kristi Placido). I read the first 2 chapters with them, and then they are on their own to read the rest and complete similar choice board projects. The best part about this book for 3 during this review period is that it is that the full story is written in the present tense and then if you turn the book upside down, is written in the past. So I have the students read half of it in the present and half in the past. It doesn't really interfere with their comprehension and allows them to review the past tenses in context so it comes back to them so much faster. ;)

Adjusting to the flipped class has come easier for some students than others. I do have quite a few 2 students that really struggle with the idea that they have a week to get things on a list done. This week, I had some do everything on the first night for homework, and I had others that didn´t complete their work at all. I am giving them all this week as an adjustment period, so if work was not completed, I am giving them half credit and they can earn the other half back if they show it to me at the beginning of the next class completed. Then, there will be no late work accepted.

I am trying something new with the grading of the classwork, and I am curious to see how it flies. I am only giving grades for the work at the end of the week, and it is one grade. This is different than I have done it before where students got one grade per assignment. I was just finding that I was spending so much time putting grades in for students, and the high amount of points was interfering with the grades coming out in a more appropriate fashion. So, for example, I had students that were C students that were ending up with a B- just because they were completing the class assignments. I want grades to be primarily based on what they are able to do on the formative and summative assessments, not the practice class work.

So, we will be beginning week 3 of school on Tuesday, and I am hoping we can get all the norms really established and settled before Homecoming, which is the week of Sept. 15th. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to do Speed Dating with a class of 30......