Sunday, March 23, 2014

Interactive Notebooks

Have you heard of these?  Thanks to Pinterest, I found these gems that have really helped my students.  I just started them in the last couple of weeks, but I've never seen the success with learning AR verbs that I'm seeing from my level one students now.  Usually it takes a while to get the students to catch on, especially with the second and third person forms when subject pronouns are not given.  However, since implementing these notebooks with a foldable AR verbs page last week, I'm seeing a vast improvement on previous years' retention and understanding.  I don't have "better" kids this year, in fact my students this year have proven to be more of a challenge than previous years.  I'm in awe over this right now.  

If you don't know what an interactive notebook is, it's just a composition book that the students use to record notes, practice, vocabulary, etc.  However, it makes great use of color coding things, using foldables, and some (not mine) even focus on left/right side brain functions.  My students are notorious for losing their packets (since I don't really use a textbook) and coming to class with nothing, not even a pen or pencil.  Since last summer, I'd been eyeing up Interactive Notebooks but thought they were too much of an elementary concept.  Finally, a couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that I could use them with my Spanish I classes because what they're really learning is elementary level communication in another language.  So, at the start of the new chapter, we inputted a few important things including chapter vocabulary and a few key verbs (since we didn't start this at the beginning of the year) and then I began my instruction on AR verbs.  When I saw my kids using their AR verbs foldable to complete their work CORRECTLY, I knew I was onto something.  In fact, I wasn't planning on it, but I also introduced it to my Spanish II as well because it's working so well for my Spanish I classes.

Now, let me just say that there are a lot of teachers out there who probably think I should be doing more input based teaching and not necessarily focus on the correct grammar.  I get that and I wish I could.  However, the way my district is set up, this is how we're teaching and this is what works for our kids.  I've tried to sneak in more TPRS based learning and other popular teaching methods, but in a district like mine, it hasn't been working.  So, this is what works for me.  I love activities that get my students to use the language, but when we're just learning how to do something, these Interactive Notebooks are what I've found to be a huge helper.  Do you use Interactive Notebooks?  If you do, please share your experience in the comments section and let me know if you'd like to see more of mine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Object Pronouns

I hate them....object pronouns that is.  Teaching them has always proven to be quite a task and this year was no different.  The textbook series we use teaches Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish I, but last year we never got to them.  Rather than teaching Direct Object Pronouns, teaching ton of other material, and then teaching Indirect Object Pronouns, I decided to mold my latest chapter around both of the object pronouns.  

In years past, I was able to get through Direct Object pronouns relatively quickly.  This year was not the same as any other year.  I think I spent two weeks or more on the concept.  Knowing that I am very far behind compared to other years, I didn't want to spend that long on Indirect Object Pronouns.  I wound up having to teach much more in English than I wanted, and using way too many English examples for my liking, but it was the only thing that seemed to work this year.  Some years are more difficult than others and this is one of my most difficult in terms of achievement (figures, it's the year the state has implemented SGO's and will be monitoring my students progress more than before...oh well.).

Something I found that worked for me was this sentence construction game I played with my classes. Warning, it is a more of a translation based activity, but as I said before, that's what worked for me this time around.  Students were given a list of sentences in English with indirect objects and they had cards in Spanish and all they had to do was create a sentence for each of the English sentences with an Indirect Object Pronoun.  Believe it or not, this did prove to be a challenge but it was one most of my students were able to conquer.  If you'd like to see if your students are up to the challenge, I'm offering the activity at a discounted price on Teachers Pay Teachers for a limited time.  Just click the image below and enjoy!  

If you've had any success with teaching Direct or Indirect Object Pronouns, I'd love to know what you did, so please share in the comments below.