My mantra for Spanish 2 is all about simple, slow, and fun. And the underlying foundation of everything I do is showing them that I adore them, and that they are special, and that they CAN DO THIS. Last year was really, really hard in Spanish 2. We lost a 9th grade student to suicide less than a month into the year. I was just starting to build my foundation of trust and develop relationships with my classes. It all just seemed to fall apart after death visited us. The kids, even those who didn’t know the student well, were all really shaken to the core by it. I was shaken as well, and wasn’t exactly sure how to comfort grieving teens that I felt I had only just met. Many of the students were already “at risk” and they just seemed to completely veer off course. Spanish was at the bottom of their priority list. I felt that I disengaged with them somewhat almost as an act of self-preservation because it seemed no matter what I tried were were never going to get into a groove of joyful acquisition. We all survived. I dare say we had a few enjoyable moments. But they were too few and too far between and it was just a hard, hard year.
This year, I feel like I am living in a dream. It isn’t a 100% perfect dream, but I didn’t say heaven, I said a dream! My classes are small, they are very nice kids who seem to be ready to engage with both the language as well as me and each other, and we have just been having fun. I re-adjusted my list of novels for Spanish 2, moving Esperanza to Spanish 3 and adding Brandon Brown quiere un perro as our first class-novel of the year. But even before we begin such a simple novel I wanted to really build a common foundation and make everything simple, slow, and fun. Lots of laughter, and lots of love.
I have been doing some pre-prepared movie talk and ‘news talk’-based stories with them. It has been going amazing, and I can see that they are going to do great with one word images and co-created class stories (TPRS). My first story was a movie talk of the music video Darte un beso by Prince Royce. It is a really great little Cinderella story of a music video. It allowed me to really activate some of the Super Seven verbs and was a great refresher after a summer away from the language and a great playing-field leveler for kids who came from two different language programs and hadn’t been in my classroom before. The second story was Sir Whines a Lot, the CA$Hnip kitty. The kids loved it, and I love cats so I am sure my passion was evident. This story was really just for fun, but it played nicely into my next two lessons on practical jokes which also deal with money and wallets. I have 2 movie talks that center on playing harmless pranks. Let me tell you…9th graders eat this stuff up! The first lesson involves this video in which some teenagers do the old dollar bill on a string trick. The first thing I did was show students my own 20 peso bill on a string that I made. I told them in Spanish how I made it and explained in Spanish how the joke works. I also had volunteers come up and we acted out the joke. Before I showed the video at all, I showed the class some screen shots from the video of the prank happening at 3 different places to 3 different people. The students really enjoyed coming up with back stories for each of the people and some were quite elaborate. Students acted out each “scene.” Finally, we watched the video.
Today, we read the story I wrote about 3 “characters” in the video. As a culminating assignment, in place of a “story retell” I had my students make a video narrating the story in Flipgrid as they acted it out with little paper characters.
Each pair of students got a paper with little stick figures in various poses, a green “dollar” and a string. They then made a little narrated puppet show. It took about 20 total minutes, but they had so much fun! I encouraged them to make their story different from our class stories if they wanted to, but they could also just re-tell my story if they wanted.
Next up, we are going to do my “La Cartera” movie talk lesson, which is another prank video which they are also sure to love!
Simple, slow, fun. The kids are happy, they are acquiring, and I am having one heck of a great year so far!