Sunday, September 30, 2012

Are you a World Language Blogger?

We learn best from our reflections, as all you bloggers out there know. However, we can avoid mistakes and learn from the successes of others too. I want to compile a list of World Language bloggers out there in one convenient place so we can all learn together!

If you are a blogger, please fill out the form below. I will post results on the blog.

Mistakes and old - Reflections on Week 6

This week has been an interesting one. Students have been finishing up required work in class and their culminating projects are due next Thursday and Friday, so they have been finishing those up as well. We should have ended this week with the second benchmark assessment quiz in my level 3 classes.....but we didn't.

Why you ask? Well, I am still not doing a good enough job getting students watching videos and getting work done. I remember that the first unit is a hard one because it is the first time they are expected to learn new material in the flipped classroom. Where did I go wrong? I am not completely sure. At the beginning of the unit, the students watched the videos, did they work (well, most of them). For the second grammatical concept, they all pretty much decided they didn't need to watch the video. The concept is reflexive verbs, and yes, the students have seen some of this before. However, I told them all that there was new information in the videos that they needed to know. Why aren't they listening?

I am concerned that if I can't find a solution to this problem quickly there is going to be more trouble in the future. The teacher that did all of the level 2 last year decided that in addition to teaching his required curriculum, he would teach most of mine as well. I am not sure why. (For you Spanish teachers, this is what he covered in level 2: additional stem changers in the present, preterite, imperfect, the present and past perfect, future, conditional, present subjunctive, in addition to all the vocabulary and smaller grammatical concepts normally covered in level 2.) The result is, I have classes full of students that know a little bit of all of these tenses, are unsure when to use what, and are unsure of conjugations. So, I am going to have to cover these all again in some manner. So, I have to convince students that even if they have seen a concept before, if I am giving it to them again, there is a reason. For example, with the reflexives, I gave them some new verbs that change meaning depending on whether or not they were reflexive.

Now, if you have read previous posts, you know, I believe that if kids haven't done the work and you give them the break and push quizzes back, you are setting  bad precedent. However, when I realized that 80% of my students did not watch the video in all of the classes, I was shocked. I had many who were confused that we were supposed to have an assessment. Well, what was a teacher to do? I could have given the assessment and then spent the weekend grading failing quizzes, only to have to grade many of them again when we did the retake. This sounded like a bad idea (especially since I am behind in grading this week already.) So, I took a look at the schedule and decided I could push the assessment back a day without wrecking other deadlines.

What mistakes do I know I have made?
1.  The grammar practice assignments should be due earlier. In planning I was thinking that giving them more time gave them more flexibility and as long as they had it done prior to the assessment, that was fine. Clearly, that idea isn't working.
2. Even though I found in my notes from last year that we needed to do more fun vocabulary and grammar practice prior to quizzing, somehow, it didn't happen. The students need that to reinforce and continue working with the vocabulary to be more successful on the assessments.
3. A mini-speaking assessment was scheduled during the class period that many of the students were working on the grammar practice. This meant that I was working one-on-one with kids and not able to roam the room and notice that they weren't getting it done correctly the first time - before they finished everything.
4. By not correcting everything as they were going, many students had the entire practice sheet done incorrectly, which resulted in a)I spent forever checking them giving students less time to fix their mistakes in class and b) there were one or two in each class I didn't get to check at all.

Instead of the assessment, I had students write a quick skit with reflexives and vocabulary in groups of three. Then the groups rotated and performed the skits for another small group. It was an informal practice, but it got them to practice the verbs they needed to and reinforce the grammar rules and vocabulary that they needed for the assessment.

As I am finalizing the plan for the Fairy Tale unit, next week, I am going to go back and double check to make sure I am avoiding these mistakes in the next unit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I am still the teacher! - Reflections on Week 5

The last two weeks have been full of changes. The students, who in the beginning were afraid to talk to me, are now opening up more and asking more questions. I still, of course, have quiet students, but the majority of them are realizing that they need to ask me questions.

Many students quickly decided that they liked being able to email me when they have questions. I was shocked however, when I was receiving emails from students that asked if I could help them in class!!! I am constantly moving through the class, as always, looking over shoulders and offering help and suggestions. The idea that a student thought they needed to ask me via email to help them in class was very disturbing. Especially since, you guessed it, he is a student that when I offer to help him in class says "I've got it."

After talking to the student, and thinking about it, I decided that maybe I still did not do good enough job explaining about the flipped classroom. Or, maybe it is something that needs to be consistently brought up and explained in class. Many students are slowly realizing that I am not a babysitter, I am still their teacher. I can offer help and suggestions. Yes, this is a self-paced class, but I am here to help you every step of the way.

For me, I think I may have began the year well, taking it slowly and reinforcing how things work, but as a little time went on, slipped into my pattern......which was great last year when the kids totally got it. However, these students still need reinforcement and reminding about the process. Additionally, since I knew many of my students last year from lower level classes, the relationship piece was already in place. This year, I have to show them how the new system works while establishing relationships.

We are in full project mode in my class, which has been great. Students are getting that they can run ideas by me, ask me to double check scripts and count on me to answer tough questions for them. I am hopeful that as the project due date nears, this will continue and will help us build the relationship that I want to have with them. I want to be their mentor, their guide, and their student. I want to teach them what I know and have them teach me new things as well. I want to continue to get to know each one of them as individuals so they are comfortable coming to me.

I am excited about these projects as I try to implement project based learning more firmly in my class. Giving the students so much freedom of choice is a little nerve racking (for them and me), but they seem to really be getting into the work. I love that these students listen to me that they should not write rough drafts in English and then translate them....they are in Spanish, right from the beginning.

This group might be my best one yet. And I, as their teacher, can't wait to see it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flipping for Fluency Webinar Follow Up

First, I wanted to begin by thanking Taylor Pettis and for hosting the webinar on Tuesday. I think that the webinar went really well and hope that all of the participants got what they were looking for from it. I know some people were looking for more information about assessment and video creation, but I followed the poll from the blog to create the content. They have asked me to do another webinar, and maybe I will be able to focus more on those topics then.

I know there was some time confusion since the time was CST, and there were some of you interested that just couldn't make the webinar. Good news! Here is the link to the recorded webinar.

***I have just added some documents discussed in the webinar under the "Helpful Documents" tab above. This includes our unit planning document, and the assignments and project for Unit 1 - Challenges in Teen Life I use in my level 3 classes.

I am always interested in feedback, so if you attended the webinar live or if you view the recorded version, please fill out the following survey.

Thanks so much for you time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Listening Training

Sorry I haven't updated in a while, but it is hard to keep up with the family, class, and the blog. I will try to do better going forward.

We are two weeks into Unit 1. The students are finally understanding the process of the class, (although I did have a student ask me yesterday if class was going to be like this every day). Now, students are learning not about the flip, but about working to my expectations. Since I allow students to work at their own pace through the material, they can do activities when it works for them, and as many times as necessary.

Nowhere is this as apparent as the listening activities. Listening is an area where students struggle. It is something I struggle with as a teacher. How do I help the students progress and improve their listening without them getting discouraged?  I have spent much of the last two days explaining to students that they have to "train" to listen. Just like a kid isn't going to become a star football player without practice, they aren't going to become good listeners without practice.

Today students are working on a listening where two girls are describing their daily routines to each other. It is a slightly longer listening, about 2 minutes, and a little faster than what we have done before. So many of the students listened two or three times, threw their hands up, and just wrote whatever on the comprehension worksheet. As I was checking work, many of them were shocked that I wouldn't give them credit unless they went back and tried again.

It just reminds me of why I love the flip. In previous years, we would listen two, maybe three times, and their either got it or they didn't. I never really got a good handle on who understood what, and some were lost forever. Now, they are able to take a listening, listen to it in little chunks, discuss it with their classmates, and then move on. Obviously listening to conversations fifteen words at a time isn't ideal, but baby steps must come before they can run!