Guerra Sucia History Fair Performance Based Assessment

We are tying up our study of the Guerra Sucia in Spanish four and are gearing up for a spoooooky unit that is a collaboration with Kristy Placido. I always wonder what is the most authentic way to assess what they know at the end of a long unit like this one…

First let me tell you about our unit study. We watched two films: La Historia Oficial, Cautiva. We read the novel Guerra Sucia. We did many of the cultural activities in the teacher’s guide but also did some of our own cultural studies. One of the things that went really well was a “flipped classroom” project that we did using Evernote. I made an evernote folder of sites with information on those who disappeared during the dirty war. I sent the link to the folder through the app Remind101 so that all of the kids could access the resources. They came to class and shared 5 facts about one person who disappeared during the war. As students presented, the audience wrote down the name of the disappeared person, two of the facts about them and one question they would like to ask the presenter. It kept everyone very engaged as their classmates presented…

Now we have a ton of good information about Argentina and we need a way to present it. Using Kristy Placido’s Spanish Civil War art gallery project as a guide, I created a Dirty War history fair project. I wanted to use infographics as the project format because they are so popular right now but I couldn’t guarantee the school’s sketchy internet service would allow them all to be working at the same time… and a lot of sites want membership fees for access to anything but the templates! So we are doing it as a hybrid. They will use the computers to research and collect the graphics for their project but will print them and create a posterboard infographic.

This morning as I was reading on twitter, I noticed that @sraslb had a great project on her blog She had a cocktail party with her class (sparkling grape juice, appetizers)! This would be GREAT with both Kristy’s civil war art museum and my guerra sucia history fair. I am going to ask younger students to come out of study hall and be the servers during the fair…. I think it will make it very realistic!

I’m sharing the project guidelines and we have completed it, I will share thoughts about how it went! If you decide to do it, I would love to hear what your class thinks!!!Guerra Sucia Infographic and History Fair


Embedded reading with Casa Tomada

La Casa Tomada 3versioncasatomada
Kristy Placido suggested a Spanish 3 unit with a spooky theme. We thought it might be fun to adapt some authentic stories for upper level students through Laurie Clarcq’s Embedded Readings. This is my adaptation of the Cortazar story Casa Tomada.

5 reasons I choose Aquisition

There aren’t enough characters on Twitter to tell you why I choose Aquisition, I need a whole blog post! So I, Carrie Toth, former grammarian, will share the 5 things that caused me to shift my thinking.

5. When I taught grammar explicitly, I had to do it in English. This meant a lot of class time was spent in English. When I spoke Spanish to them, they were not always receptive. They thought they needed the English. Now I start Spanish 1, day 1 all in comprehensible Spanish. They learn that Spanish is the language of the classroom and love it!

4. They still learn grammar but they don’t realize it. In my old classroom, they made grammar errors, even after 4 years. They still forgot the name of grammar concepts after 4 years. That hasn’t changed! I don’t teach formal grammar lessons yet they make less errors, not more. I’m not talking about my top 10. They would do well with grammar however I taught them. I’m talking about the rest of the kids. I clarify for those who need it, I point out patterns, they get all the same grammar… It’s just hidden like the zucchini in my meatloaf!

3. The kids love Spanish. Now that I’m free from the chains of Realidades, I can design lessons around whatever structures will benefit them most. The perk is that I can design cultural units that engage the kids. They are becoming speakers of the language sooner and are seeing many more ways that they will be able to use Spanish after high school.

2. Through Comprehensible input… Especially the content based comprehensible input (CBCI) that Kristy Placido and I are using, I get the opportunity to personalize lessons to the students in my class. It has built an environment of trust where I think we have some very low affective filters and a lot of attempts to use language without fear! I love that we have “insiders” that vary from class to class… For example, 1st hour has a character, Jengo Fairlax, who is the hero of every story. Jengo died but it turns out it wasn’t the real Jengo, there is a factory that makes Jengo clones. The real Jengo is safe in hiding. Only the clones are ever in danger!!

1. No child left behind… I used to give Fs. Not a lot but especially in Spanish 1 where I told myself “some kids just aren’t cut out for learning languages.” When I attended my first TPRS workshop and heard “everyone learned their first language and so they all CAN learn languages” it was a wake up call. I went back to class with a new attitude! You know what? Susie Gross was right! Some pick up language fast and some slow, but they ALL get something. From “Boricua” my star student who is better than some of my low Spanish 4s to my two “Héctor” who are weak in both English AND Spanish, everyone is learning at his or her own pace and no one is failing. Well there’s one but he has chosen that path no matter what I’ve tried! The Hectors cant spell so their writing is atrocious but they can read with the class and can understand and participate in class discussions/stories. In a traditional class they would have been left behind in week 1! 😦

So really I can never go back. That enthusiasm kids have coming into day 1 of Spanish 1 doesn’t get squelched. We have a great time all year. And a side perk is that I rarely and I mean RARELY have a discipline issue because I don’t have kids who are frustrated by the material now!

I’m not saying its for everyone, this is just why it’s for me! We aren’t enemies because we choose different methods! We all want what’s best for our students and do what shows the greatest result in our own room!