Vida y Muerte Chapters 1-5

My Spanish 4 has started their second novel this year. They are reading Vida y Muerte de la Mara Salvatrucha after studying El Salvador Civil War for about three weeks. You can see what my class did here. With our last novel (Esperanza), students completed a choice project board via Elizabeth Dentlinger so I knew I wanted to do something similar with this book. I decided that I would do smash doodles with my students which both Martina Bex mentioned in her blog in addition to Elizabeth Dentlinger. I LOVED what Elizabeth created so I used her format and rubric. I wanted to add that students write sentences from the perspective of one of the characters so I added that portion to her rubric.

Along with the smash doodles, my students are also doing a Twitter Feed a la Carrie Toth. Students have been very creative with names. The anonymous author is referred to @fantasma (ghost) and the mom is referred to as @mamamuerta (dead mom). They take things very seriously which is great to see. I love that students are being creative and having fun with the language.

As I mentioned in my previous blog on how I began Vida y Muerte, I am not very creative in that I have been using ideas from other people’s blogs. I have the older teaching guide which offers a lot (The new, updated one should be coming out soon!), but I have mostly been referencing Carrie’s posts. What I did for each chapter so far is as follows:

Prologue: I was subbing for one of our assistant principals so I had students read the prologue and then answer comprehension questions about the different sections.

Before we read chapter one, I introduced the twitter feed assignment as well as the smash doodle project. I also had a list of vocabulary for each chapter that I gave my students. We will be filling this in as we go so we can ask questions, circle and personalize the chapters.

Chapter 1- Mi iniciación:  We went through vocabulary and I gave some practice sentences. We then went into reading chapter 1 where I asked questions throughout.  I allowed the rest of the class period to be spent working on smash doodles for chapter 1.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.19.50 AM

Chapter 2- Mi madre:  We went through vocabulary.  We followed that by reading chapter 2 where we discussed the events of the chapter.   I allowed the rest of the class period to be spent working on smash doodles for chapter 2.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.20.12 AM

Chapter 3- Mi padre: We went through vocabulary and jumped right into chapter 3. I started  by asking “What are characteristics of an Ideal Dad? Students posted their ideas on the white board and then we read chapter 3. After reading the chapter, the same groups listed characteristics if the author’s dad. Students compared and contrasted in their groups as well as, as a class. There was a lot of discussion on whether or not the author’s father was loving and many argued that he was because the kids knew he did. As mentioned earlier, I love watching students understand and use the language to fit their points of view. Find Carrie’s blog post for Chapter 3 here.

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Between chapter 3 and chapter 4, students listened to the song Tu cárcel performed by Los Enanitos Verdes. Crystal Barragán had an excellent activity for this which you can find here.

Chapter 4- Gustavo: I used this chapter as a reading assessment. You can find the reading assessment here. (Thanks Carrie)

As we were reading chapter 4, I noticed that my students had a lot of questions on sudden and descriptive past endings so before starting chapter 5, we took a break and did some review. I pulled sentences from the different chapters that showcased sudden past and descriptive past separately. We discussed endings and how endings convey meaning.  We spent about two full days on review.

Chapter 5- Mi primera misión: Today I had students read chapter 5 either alone or with a partner. After everyone finished reading, I placed my students into pre-planned groups. I then passed out Carrie’s Conversation Circles Sheet. Students spent the rest of the period holding three minute conversations as I walked around and took a speaking grade. It was very easy for me to listen in on conversations and not only listen to language usage, but also hear the content of the novel I will definitely be repeating this activity.

Tomorrow, I plan to use different pictures  to allow for some more discussion to also have  students create an interview with the author. (Again, you find all this great stuff on Carrie’s blog).  Students are really getting into the book and I cannot wait for them to get into the ‘juicy’ part of the novel. Stay tuned for more!

Hello. My name is Amanda and I am a Hypocrite.

Our district is going through some major changes. Our high schools are going to block schedule and are moving to having academies instead of being comprehensive high schools.  With the new changes, teachers have professional development sessions to attend over the summer. One, in particular, is Highly Effective Teaming, but when our department went to sign up, we read that all teachers should sign up EXCEPT world languages and Phy. Ed.  What? Why not? Aren’t we global within the academies? I spoke up at the department meeting asking why this is and administration didn’t know why, but would find out from the powers above.

Our department chair has done a great job advocating for us and asked us for questions that we want answered. As with any department, not all of our views align so the amount of questions being asked by any given department member go from none to LOTS. I find myself mad that some teachers had no questions. We are supposed to have questions. We are supposed to be nervous. We are supposed to share similar ideas and expectations. We are a united department, right?  As I was sitting at my desk, I was scrolling through Twitter and came upon this picture. (I do not remember who I saw it from so please let me know if it was you. I took a screen shot so I don’t have the name.)

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As I was looking at the picture, I thought to myself:  I am a hypocrite and have been for a while. When I came into my district four years ago, I was super excited to teach Spanish after a year of teaching ESL, but I was also excited to be teaching in my hometown. Because I was new, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so I went by the textbook and followed the curriculum guide. I would change things here and there, but for the most part, I stayed the path. Starting in my second year, I began to discover amazing blogs and CI/ TPRS practices. I learned different methods of teaching that would further my students’ proficiency in the language. Little by Little, I moved away from the textbook and created (with the help of a great friend and colleague) new materials for almost every unit that I was teaching.  In my mind, I knew that what I was doing was best for my students. The kids were responding and I couldn’t have been happier.

I began to be more vocal at department meetings and began to ask questions that pushed the thinking of our department. There was some tension in the department as methods clashed. I kept on my path and kept pushing for change, but it took the picture today and some changes to our department for me to realize that maybe I was wrong in my ways. I sat in meetings pushing for change and speaking what I thought was best for everyone, but I never listened hard enough to hear what others had to say. Although I knew that my students were improving, I never thought about how they would be in other teachers’ classes as well as how my students would do without the same information that other classes were covering. Would my students be behind?  Will they be at a disadvantage? I never considered the position that I put the other teacher in as well. I took my classroom into my own hands, but never considered anyone else’s ideas.  How can I inspire people to change if I myself haven’t been open to others and their points of view?

I came into the district hoping to be in an united department because I hadn’t been in one since I began teaching. I thought it was others who weren’t very accepting, but I am starting to see how I haven’t been either. I am hoping that with time, we can come to some type of agreement and begin to collaborate and work together for our students since they are the ones who will suffer if we don’t. How do we get there? I don’t know, but I will find my way. I have faith in that.