Irregular Preterite and other yucky things

We all know that our students will see, hear, and use things like the subjunctive and irregular preterite verbs but it just isn’t any fun to watch them struggle to acquire them when we attack it backward.  I spent many a year chanting, pounding the desks, and sending home 6 conjugations for homework to still get back papers with yo tener in level 4.  UGH…

Several years ago I made some changes in my classroom and began to teach verb chunks as useable structure.  I can teach ANYTHING from subjunctive chunks in level 1 to irregular preterite verbs in context but I am careful to keep it engaging and filled with input!

As I changed jobs and began teaching with a colleague who hadn’t been trained yet in CI, I knew that she was willing and able to use lots of language in class but she didn’t have the training I did!  It was a pickle!  So we bought Martina Bex’s SOMOS curriculum.  I am telling you, this is a magic bullet!  It let her learn all about how to teach in target with clear instructions, through lesson plans, and engaging activities.  Even a nod or two to grammar as she was detoxing from the textbook!

I have always liked using Martina’s units in level 2 because while we’ve been exposed to past, present, and future in level 1, we are really working on narrative in these tenses in level 2!  Martina’s materials have GREAT stories to work all the different idiosyncrasies of the past tenses.  This week we’ve been in SOMOS 2 Unit 6 “El secreto”.

As I was listening to one of my current earworms, Suena el dembow, I realized it had many of the same verbs we were using in Unit 6 and even some we used in the first 5 units!  I was so excited!  Tuve, Supe, Vine, Acercarme (from unit 2)… It was GREAT!

I made this song of the week packet to go along with it.  If you’re looking for a fun way to get reps of past tense verbs in action, maybe this is it!

 

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Medicina o Cura Hook

I just put the finishing touches on a Medicina o Cura unit a couple of weeks ago and it was finally time to try all the new parts with my intermediates.  Many will pursue a career in healthcare and I’d love for them to take away the understanding that our class gives them a skill not everyone has!

We started the unit with a hook.  If you buy my TPT unit, I have the handouts and specific instructions and questions but basically I brought a boiled egg to school and drew on some clothes.

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I needed one per class so I made triplets!

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When they came in, we listened to our song of the week “A mi burro” and did a manipulative activity then I picked up my egg and introduced him.  We talked about what he looked like and what we thought his personality was like.  Then I handed him to this guy, Dash.  IMG_5140

Unfortunately when we finished talking about what great friends “Huevo-bert” and Dash were, Dash passed him to me and he fell…. and cracked.  I didn’t do the best job of making it look natural but most of them bought it.

We took pictures of his injuries on my phone.  This class is small so I didn’t need to project them, we just looked at his injuries together.  We used the structures on our list to diagnose what was wrong with him and then filled in his medical chart. (All docs are available in the unit if you don’t have time and energy to make your own!

Poor Huevo-bert.  He was in bad shape.  Lots of injuries to his spine and head.  A broken arm and a cracked booty! ¡Ay, ay, ay!

I pulled out my first aid kit and we went to work deciding what kind of treatment he needed.  It was a lot of fun and the Spanish was flowing both as we talked about Huevo-bert as an egg friend and about his injuries after he had the great fall.  Day 1- Success!

I’ll post about our other medical adventures!

A.S.K. Me about National Geographic Certification

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My path to proficiency as a language educator has taken many different turns.  From new jobs to new adventures in the language community at large, I have tried to never get so comfortable that I stop moving down the path.

Last summer, at IFLT in Denver, a friend asked me if I had ever considered National Geographic certification.  To be honest, I hadn’t even heard of it.  I’d used many National Geographic video resources over the years but had never gone to the National Geographic Education site and looked at their resources.  What I found when I began to explore put my mind directly into planning mode.  All I could think was “so many resources, so little time”!

The National Geographic certification process was not hard. It took some time and some planning but never anything excessive and it was all very rewarding. I did mine by rebuilding an existing, favorite unit and adding resources that National Geographic had already created.

The first step of the process is to become familiar with the Nat Geo learning framework and its acronym, ASK.  From Attitudes to Skills to Knowledge, National Geographic explained what they looked for in their explorers and I immediately found things that connected with me and with my students.

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Attitudes: Two of the words that jumped out at me immediately were persistant and empowered. When I taught by breaking language down into its component parts, my students’ attitudes toward language were poor.  There were students, typically those who liked playing the game of school, who studied and memorized and did well but they did not persist in their language study!  They were compliant.  They conjugated, accented, and filled in blanks but they never emotionally engaged with the language.  They didn’t feel empowered to use it.  For several years now, I have been shifting my focus from typical thematic units to content as the vehicle of language acquisition. As I looked at the National Geographic content, I realized that it was a perfect complement to the units I’ve been designing to empower my students to use their new language to communicate and to persist in their studies beyond my classroom walls.

Skills: One of the skills that National Geographic values in its explorers is communication.  National Geographic students are storytellers.  What is more important in language class than developing narrative?  Our story as individuals, as a class, and even as part of the bigger world are all narratives that students are learning to tell.

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Knowledge: I’ve taught about the world’s water crisis, climate change, food insecurity, and biodiversity and conservation.  When I read that the three key subject areas of National Geographic’s were “Our Changing Planet”, “Our Human Journey”, and “Wildlife and Wild Places”, I knew that this certification was a perfect fit for my curriculum.  Incorporating new pieces into my well-loved units has let me bring in this year’s current events like the effects of climate change on coffee and chocolate, the melting arctic ice, and the first rainforest city.

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One of my favorite new activities was suggested to me by fellow National Geographic certified Spanish teacher, Abra Koch.  Using the National Geographic table top maps, I can introduce my students to the geography of an area by “map talking” what they see.  For example, we are studying the Civil War in El Salvador and how many fled the war to the United States via Guatemala and Mexico.  I am able to talk about their journey as the students follow along on their maps!  They can draw in details, color and outline important features, and even practice giving directions!

The world is so much bigger than the inside of a textbook. Check out National Geographic certification and see for yourself! If you have any questions about the process, tweet at me (@senoraCMT) and we can connect.