Paper Chain Reading assessment

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After reading Vida y Muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha and watching Sin Nombre, we made a lot of connections and comparisons between the characters. As an interpretive reading assessment, I made paper strips with events from the movie.

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Students created paper chains as they put the events in order. Great assessment and a great brain break! The only problem was that I needed more staplers at “chain making time!”

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Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

My students in Spanish 4 finished a unit in January called Water is Life.  Because I wanted to bring a connection to the communities ACTFL standard, I included some research on my cousin’s non-profit organization, The Bernie Project.  She is working in Uganda, Africa with students from the Wakiso school.  My students received videos from the students at the school in which they discussed their need for water.  They researched ways to bring filtration to the school!  It made the need for water real.  At the end of the unit, we did a two week fundraiser (a snack shop in my classroom) and sent $800 to buy filters for the whole school!  They felt so good about DOING something! 

How can we create this culture of philanthropy at all levels of language study?  I had never done anything like this until last year!  Kristy Placido’s students read the novel Esperanza and did a fundraiser for the Dump the Dump project that was very successful.  I mentioned it to my class of freshmen and they were SO excited about doing the same!  They actually are the ones who came up with the idea for the snack shop!  It has served us well as our go-to fundraiser for our charitable donations! 

From the Dump the Dump project, they moved along to Living on One’s microfinance loan project.  This year we hosted a speaker from Chichicastenango, Guatemala and donated money to the agricultural projects that he is spearheading in his indigenous village.

I live in a cultural vacuum and I have been able to find several good connections, just put out a couple of feelers and I am sure you can find someone too!  If not, and you’re interested in more information about The Bernie Project, Dump the Dump, or Living on One, let me know and I will share!!

This community connection is so important because it lets students see how fortunate we are to have the things that we have here in the United States.  I’m looking for project ideas in other places as well, if you know any organizations that have a food focus, please let me know, it would be great with the unit I am working on now!  (I also just learned about the Pulsera Project and am going to look into that as well!)

Ideas in the works!

Today was our tri-county institute.  The only workshops for language teachers are usually the ones that I offer, so I get to attend a lot of technology and reading sessions in the extra slots!  Here are some big take-aways from the day’s sessions!

1. iPads in a 1 iPad classroom with Gail Lovely- There is an app called AudioNote that allows you to record sound as you type or use your finger to handwrite notes on your iPad.  The key feature of this app is that later, when you sit down to look at your notes, you can touch any part of the writing and it will playback the audio in real-time… So if you aren’t sure why you wrote what you wrote, you tap it and you can hear exactly what was being said as you were writing!  Amazing stuff!!  Sling Note is another great app she shared!  It divides the screen into two separate pages.  On the left side you can open an internet browser and the right a note.  As you read through the website and find something you want to keep, you trace a square around it with your finger and drag it to your note on the right.  I am still thinking about uses but one that occurred to me right away was my upcoming Infographic project at the end of our narcoviolence unit.  Kids could research their topic and grab pictures and facts quickly and easily. 

2. Reading in the secondary classroom- The presenter geared this workshop toward ELA but there are so many ways it applies to reading in SLA as well.  Key features 1. Engage students in conversations that help extend their use of the language.  2. Engage in conversations WITH THE TEXT! 3. Make connections to personal stories.  4. Allow kids to talk at both the opening and closing of the lesson.  5. Consider the TAO of reading: the themes, the actions of the characters and the outcomes.

3. Microsoft office as a powerful tool with Gail Lovely again: 1. In Microsoft word, create a paragraph with several words highlighted.  Their task is to replace the word with a synonym that will not change the meaning much… This would get our kids out of the rut of saying bonita for everything! 🙂  2. Create a document with several questions and add the answers in white.  Students access the document and when they’re ready to check their answers, they use the highlighter tool to reveal the white!  3. Use PPT to create interactive activities.  Create a slide template that has a T chart.  Give each side of the chart a title and in the area around the slide (in edit mode not presentation mode), off the slide surface, place images related to your topic.  Students discuss which side of the chart they belong in and you drag the picture into the correct side.  I was thinking that this might be fun when we talk about family vs. gang in Vida y Muerte.  I could place images off the surface of the slide that reflect things a family would do and things a gang would do and as we looked at each picture, I could have students talk about what they see and debate where it belongs…  4. One of my favorite little things she did was create a slide that was 7.5×7.5, add a little message to it “what part did you struggle to understand?”, add a little clip art, copy the slide 5 more times.  She clicked on print, checked handout and 6 to a page.  She printed it as a test page first then attached a post it note over each of the 6 slides on the printed paper.  She ran the paper through again, this time creating customized post its.  These would be so cute to have when reading a novel.  I could even see creating a “parking lot” on the board where they can post parts that they’re confused about, that they were angry about, that they enjoyed….  Hmmmm… the possibilities!   5. She created a slide template that was 3×7.5 On each slide she wrote one part of a process (or for retelling a story, one part of the story).  Students cut out the slides and hook them together as a paper chain in the correct order….  This would be a great brain break type of activity… formative assessment even! 

It was one of those days where I even learned in my own workshops!  I love leaving a workshop on a “brain’s too full” high!  Any ideas for how to use all of these new things I learned today???

The Silent Conversation

At some point in each novel we read in class, the characters face a difficult decision or make a surprising choice. This is the perfect time to wrap up the chapter with a silent conversation.

Students turn to their foursomes (5 if you have a big class or odd numbers) and each take out a sheet of paper. Throughout the activity they have to remain silent!

1. At the top of the sheet, they should write a question to one of the characters.
2. Pass the paper to the right and each student responds to the question as if the question was directed at them.
3. Pass to the right again and either expand on the response of student 2 or answer it a different way. Students may ask further questions as well.
4. Pass to the right again and respond to any new questions or comment further on the conversation so far. Encourage students to try to see things from a variety of view points and to ask a lot of questions!
5. Collect as a formative assessment.

We ask so many questions when we use language in the real world. This activity can be a great formative reading assessment that also reinforces that question asking skill!!

#chat and Evernote

Have you ever thought of using Evernote during your fast paced weekly chats? It is a great way to quickly organize all of the things you want to look at later!

Open a note and take down any important notes.

Click on any links you’re interested in and use the Evernote clipper to clip them into your note!

So easy and such a great record of the chat! When things have slowed down, you’ll be able to look everything over and enjoy the expertise that everyone has to offer!!!