Resources, News, Events

Hook, line and sinker

Introducing the unit, part II
05-29-2018  Featured Post, Teacher Resources, Author Spotlights, All News

By Deborah Espitia

May 29, 2018

 

In the previous post, Packing a punch with pictures, we talked about bringing James Bond into our classrooms.

Alright, so not actually bringing James Bond, but starting the unit off with an activity that pulls learners into the theme and motivates them to want to learn what we want to teach.  But, how about bringing that level of motivation to every lesson every day and not just reserving it for the start of a unit?

 

Remember, motivation emerges from a hierarchy of motivators. 

First, the subject matter should be intrinsically motivating. Think about how we can make the topic or theme interesting.
 
Second, instructor enthusiasm is key. Our excitement for a topic spills over to our learners.
 
Third, there needs to be a focusing event that gains the attention of the learners and hooks them into wanting to know more.  It should introduce or reinforce the content.
 
Last, and not least, elements of fun should be included - not just for the initial focusing event - but, woven throughout the unit.

 

All four of these elements can be integrated to get our daily lessons off on the right foot.  So, let’s take a look at how we can do this by revamping that warm-up activity that generally starts each lesson. Often, students do some sort of drill, such as fill-in-the blanks, conjugations, answering questions, or translations.  As rote exercises, these set a somber tone for the rest of the class. Let’s mix it up and have students engage their brain with higher-level activity that sparks interest, curiosity, or fun.

A great option for higher-level activity is the use of authentic print and audiovisual resources.  To that end, we’ll examine several types of resources and related activities that will provide a transition into the daily content, and in the process, reel our learners in - hook, line and sinker.

 

Still images

Photographs, clipart, and artwork make up the bulk of the resources in this category.  We tend to use still images for most of our vocabulary presentation - as much as possible - and we’ve taken to using art from the target cultures that we speak the languages we teach as well.  For the lesson warm-up or introductory activity, there are a number of options for expanding our use of these staple resources. For example, have learners:

  • Identify items in the image and describe their use.

  • Tell where items are located.

  • Describe the surroundings.

  • Fill in speech bubbles for people in the image.

  • Engage in a conversation with a classmate, taking the role of two people in the image.

  • Work with a partner to take turns describing people or objects in the image and guessing who or what is being described.

  • Make comparisons between two images or works of art.

  • Tell what happened before the image was taken or what will come next.

  • Engage in guided imagery.

 

Guided imagery taps into students’ prior knowledge as well as the affective domain. It really empowers learners since they decide what images represent the vocabulary in question.  An example of this that I’ve used with my learners at the Novice level is around foods at the market. Have learners close their eyes and image they are going to the market with a family member.  The first section they see is the produce section with fruits and vegetables. Ask them questions, such as the following, based on the target vocabulary or previously-learned words and expressions:

  • What fruits and vegetables do you see?  

  • What colors are they?  

  • What shape are they?  

  • What do they smell like?  

  • What do they taste like?  
     

Then, have learners open their eyes.  Have them jot down in one circle of a Venn diagram, keywords for the items they saw, heard, smelled, etc.  Then, show learners an image of a market from the target culture (i.e., an open-air market, a corner store, a supermarket).

In the other circle of the Venn diagram, have learners note items from the image that are unique to that place. In the space provided by overlapping circles, have learners note what’s common between the two. 

Photograph: Mercado de Villa de Leyva, Colombia (photo by Debbie Espitia).

 

Images with text

With the advent of more target-language comics, memes, charts, and advertisements available to us via the Internet, there are a myriad of authentic resources that flaunt the language in authentic contexts.  And, no doubt, the invention of infographics was designed with language teachers in mind. Try having learners:

1. Continue a conversation (i.e., Pon, Ten, Ven). 

 

2. Identify actions that should or should not be done based on what’s happening.

3. Add text to create a new meme (i.e., Tell where they are going and what they will do there).

4. Answer questions posed with original answers (i.e., Écris quatre raisons, Qu’est-ce qu’un bon poisson d’avril pour le 1er d’avril?). 

5. Summarize details.  

Example: Use the infographic to

Create taglines.

Make inferences.

Extract supporting details.

Create a survey.

Act it out.

Source: EntreCulturas 2, p. 299

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video clips

Authentic resources are not limited to print images. Inclusion of video clips brings language to life and can be directed toward visual literacy or aural skills. Select clips from sources, such as gifs, music videos, commercials, announcements, how-to videos, and documentaries. Remember to keep clips to under a minute and a half and don’t hesitate to replay them or have them loop as learners:
 

  • Identify key vocabulary.

  • Identify the purpose.

  • Label or create graphs or charts.

  • Sequence events.

  • Add examples.

  • Narrate scenes.

  • Make comparisons with own environment or experiences.

  • Compose true/false statements.

  • Draft interview questions.

 

Tweets & headlines

In essence, tweets are the new version of headlines. Both, give learners a snapshot into the context, summary, nuance, or inference of a cultural event. Even at the novice level, learners can access the language used, and often get at the heart of the intent as they:
 

  • Identify cognates.

  • Answer WH-questions.

  • Match a headline or tweet to its accompanying photo.

  • Create a new headline.

  • Create an original tweet for a hashtag (use cloze sentences or sentence frames, as needed; for example, En el #soundtrack de mi vida, hay al menos una #Cumbia. or #5ChosesQueJ’aimeJouer  1) jouer aux cartes 2) jouer au football  3) jouer au softball 4) jouer au basketball  5) jouer au hockey)

  • Compare headlines or tweets across countries or individuals.

 

Mad libs

While not actual authentic resources, mad libs are extremely popular among world language teachers and an online search will bring up many examples. These mini-paragraphs are great at reviewing vocabulary and language structures, but their zaniness and hilarity are what our learners find so attractive.  Once learners have written their words, have them take turns to:

  • Read aloud the paragraph with their words while classmates draw what they hear.

  • Act out the paragraph with their words while classmates determine which words they used.

 

Mystery box

We all love a good mystery and our learners are no exception. Hide an object that depicts the vocabulary theme, language structure, or topic under study in a box or a bag (if you have one from a country that speaks the language you teach, all the better). Have learners draft yes/no questions to discover what is hidden in the box or bag. Play a round of 20 questions to try to identify the object and the direction for the day’s lesson. Give clues, if needed.  

 

Tying it all together

Keep in mind that these warm-up activities are short - 3 to 4 minutes, at most. They provide an introduction to the daily outcomes and a priming for activities to follow.  At times, we will use the same resource with additional, extended activities that further engage learners as they develop their interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational skills.  

Ready to have your learners eager to get to class to see what you have in store for them?  Then, get started and let us know in the comments section how you are using authentic resources to start off your units.

 

Resources

  • Schwenkler, C., Cory, M., & Carrión, P. (2017). EntreCulturas 2. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.

 

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Packing a punch with pictures

Introducing the unit, part I
05-14-2018  Featured Post, Teacher Resources, Author Spotlights, All News

By Deborah Espitia

May 14, 2018

Planning a unit is like developing the script of a James Bond film.

That opening scene starts off with a bang! The viewer is immediately thrust into a high-powered action thriller, be it a car racing around hairpin curves, a speedboat jumping a dock, or a hang glider weaving between mountain crevices.  It’s only after this initial thrill, after the viewer is drawn into the story, that the plot plays out and the viewer discovers the connection between that initial drama and mission elements.

That’s how I want learners to experience each unit of study in my classes.
 
Realistically, we may not be able to bring that same excitement that we feel watching James Bond as he chases or flees from the bad guys, but there are a number of ways we can begin our units that connect learners to the content, help them understand why we’re learning that content, and motivate them to want to know more.
 
 

Motivation emerges from a hierarchy of motivators. 

First, the subject matter should be intrinsically motivating. Relevance or pragmatic utility usually play a part in this intrinsic motivation. 
 
Second, instructor enthusiasm is key.  High energy and excitement for the content on the part of the teacher fuels student interest.  And, it needs to be genuine; learners can tell when we’re feigning.
 
 

Third, and this is where James Bond comes in, there needs to be a focusing event that gains the attention of the learners and hooks them into wanting to know more.  It goes without saying that the focusing event should be relevant and connect to the content of the unit.  

 

Last, and not least, elements of fun should be included - not just for the initial focusing event - but, woven throughout the unit.

 

Let’s zero in on focusing events for opening a unit of study. 

A great option for these is the use of photographs, artwork, or even video clips from the target cultures.  Teachers have been using these kinds of authentic resources to introduce units, lessons, and segments of study for longer than most of us have been teaching.  Along the way, we’ve refined the technique to include strategies that move learners beyond simply identifying what they see in the images.  One such technique comes from TCI™’s social studies curriculum, History Alive!. Visual Discovery brings to life compelling visuals as learners discover key concepts. The strategy sharpens visual-literacy skills, encourages learners to construct their own knowledge through higher-level thinking, develops deductive reasoning, and taps visual, intrapersonal, and body-kinesthetic intelligences.

To begin, choose 2 or 3 images to introduce the key concept(s) of the unit.  Make sure they include a combination of the following:

  • connect to the curriculum and student outcomes;
  • illustrate key concepts;
  • graphically show human emotion, suspense, or interaction;
  • are interesting or unusual;
  • have the potential for learners to “step into the scene;”
  • are culturally relevant.

Ask learners carefully sequenced questions that lead to discovery of the key concepts.  Questions move through three levels, from basic identification to higher-order processing.

Level 1 - Gathering evidence (identifying the details)

  • What do you see in this image?
  • What are some details?
  • How would you describe the scene and the people?
  • What do you hear (or smell) in the scene?

Level 2 - Interpreting evidence (providing evidence to support answers)

  • Where might the scene be taking place?
  • What is happening in the scene?
  • What are people saying in the scene?
  • What might this person be thinking?
  • What might have happened prior to this scene?
  • What might happen next?

Level 3 - Making hypothesis from evidence (formulating ideas)

  • What is happening?
  • What does this say about the concept or culture?
  • How do we know?
Have learners interact with the image(s) to show what they have put together by: 
  • taking the roles of characters in the image.
  • inserting themselves into the scene and acting accordingly.
  • creating captions for events depicted.
  • crafting summaries of events.
  • conducting news reports on the scene.
  • interviewing key characters.
 

Let’s look at examples from Wayside Publishing’s Spanish series, EntreCulturas 1, 2, 3

EntreCulturas 1, Unidad 5 - La vida es un carnaval (p. 252)

Productos de la República Dominicana y del estado de Nueva York

Observa las imágenes. ¿Puedes identificar las que representan la República Dominicana? ¿Y los Estados Unidos? ¿Puedes identificar algunas conexiones entre los dos lugares?

Each unit of EntreCulturas 1 begins with a collage such as this one.  Learners note items depicted in the photos (Level 1) and then, make comparisons and connections between the two places on which the unit focuses (Level 2).  From here, have learners make predictions about the kinds of things they may be studying in the unit (Level 3).  Refer them to the unit’s goals and essential questions for additional clues.  Then, have learners identify items in which they are interested and would to know about.

 

EntreCulturas 3, Unidad 2 - #CiudadaníaDigital (p. 58)

¿Cómo se defina la ciudadanía digital?

En esta unidad, vas a explorar el concepto de la ciudadanía digital, algo que afecta a todo el mundo. Para empezar, examina las siguientes imágenes. ¿Puedes adivinar la definición de la ciudadanía digital?

 
Chicos.net con el apoyo de Google. "Todo a un clic". Extrado de http://tinyurl.com/zw8s75h
 
Use the Cooperative Learning structure, “Jigsaw,” to have learners process six images taken from the video they will view, Todo a un clic.  Have learners work in small groups of six members each; assign each member one of the six images.  Then, have learners regroup and sit with classmates who have the same image.  In their “expert” groups, have learners discuss their image using the Visual Discovery approach.  First, they note what they see in the image; have them identify nouns, adjectives, and verbs that apply to the image (Level 1).  Then, have them make inferences about what is taking place in the image.  Have them extend their thinking to identifying consequences of the actions depicted (Level 2).  Finally, have them jot down advice for the viewer: what to do and what not to do (Level 3).  Then, have learners return to their original groups and work together to draft a definition of digital citizenship.  After viewing the video, Todo a un clic, and working through the tasks connected with the opening activity, have groups revisit and refine their definition.  Post the different versions around the room and have learners note similarities and differences.  Have them identify which one component they believe to be most important.  As learners proceed through the unit, have them refer back to the definitions and their choices.  Do they change their mind as they delve deeper into the theme?
 

Want to know more? 

Check out the resources in the reference section and let us know in the comments section how you are using images to start off your units!

 

Resources (used as references in this post):

  • Mar, A., Davis, R., Sloan, M. & Watson-López, G. (2017). EntreCulturas 1. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.
  • Espitia, D., García, P., Cornell, J., & Vásquez Gil, I. (2017). EntreCulturas 3. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.
  • For more information on Visual Discovery, visit TCI™ - https://www.teachtci.com/
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Acquiring vocabulary, part IV

Mental pictures and drawing
05-07-2018  Featured Post, Teacher Resources, Author Spotlights, All News

By Deborah Espitia

May 7, 2018

I see it, I say it, I know it... but, maybe not

In Part I of our series, Acquiring vocabulary: 5 strategies to create meaning in learning vocabulary, we noted that a movement is on the rise in which teachers are shifting from meaningless drill and practice exercises to help students acquire new content, such as vocabulary. Instead, teachers are moving towards authentic resources and communicative tasks to teach vocabulary and language structures in context.

In Part II, Acquiring vocabulary: 9 strategies for creating graphic organizers , we reviewed a few of my favorite types of graphic organizers that support vocabulary acquisition.  

In Part III, Acquiring vocabulary: 10 ways to get students moving with physical models and kinesthetic activity , we reviewed types of physical models and kinesthetic activities along with ideas for applications that support vocabulary acquisition. 

In Part IV, we'll maximize the adage, "a picture paints a thousand words".

 

1. Generating mental pictures

Guided imagery taps into students’ prior knowledge as well as the affective domain. It empowers students since they decide what images represent the vocabulary in question.  An example of this that I’ve used with my students at the Novice level is around foods at the market. Have students close their eyes and imagine they are going to the market with a family member.  The first section they see is the produce section with fruits and vegetables. Ask them questions, such as the following, based on the target vocabulary or previously-learned words and expressions:

 

  What fruits do you see?  

  What colors are they?  

  What shape are they?  

  What do they smell like?  

  What do they taste like?  

  Photo of Mercado de Villa de Leyva, Colombia (photo by Debbie Espitia)

Then, have students open their eyes.  Display pictures of fruit labeled in the target language and ask students to jot down in one circle of a Venn diagram (there are those graphic organizers again) the fruits they “saw” in the market and what color they were, what shape – in Spanish, of course.  Next, have students share with a partner, record the partner’s fruit in the other circle of the diagram, and add in the overlapping space the items they have in common. Debrief by asking a series of yes/no, choice, and wh-questions (this supports pronunciation practice as well as vocabulary building).  Have pairs of students share with others by pointing to and naming the items they have in common. Have a couple of students model this for the whole class, then have students share simultaneously in small groups. Repeat the process with vegetables.


Extend the activity by having students close their eyes again and note where items are located.  Then, have them open their eyes to describe the scene to their partner, who has to draw it. Provide a list of prepositions of location (i.e., on the right, underneath) to use as a reference. Make a cultural connection by displaying a photo of a market from a country that speaks the target language and having students make comparisons between it and the one they imagined.  

 

2. Drawing pictures and pictographs

Creating pictures that are meaningful makes learning personal. Allow students to refer to labeled images or definitions of the new vocabulary as they engage in these activities.  As they use the vocabulary more and acquisition builds, they will not need to refer to these kinds of supports. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

 

Un desfile (A parade):  Give students a copy of a Venn diagram and show them a video clip of a parade for a holiday celebration in one of the countries that speaks the target language, such as el carnaval en al República Dominicana. As students watch the video, have them draw pictures of the items they see in the parade in one of the circles on the diagram.  For example, they might draw masks, costumes, musical instruments, dances, etc. Then, have students draw items they would see in a parade in their community.  In the overlapping area of the diagram, have students write the words for the items the two parades have in common. (Novice Mid)

Llena mi plato (Fill my plate):  Give students a paper plate and have them draw foods that represent a typical meal from the target culture (this can be assigned for homework). Next, have students sit back to back with a partner and take turns describing what abuela served last night for dinner and where it was located on the plate.  As one student describes the plate of food, the other draws it on the flip side of his or her own paper plate.  When finished, students can compare what they had on their plates and how accurate they were at drawing the other’s plate of food. (Intermediate Low)

Dibuja la lectura (Draw the reading):  Have students read a text or a segment of a text and draw one or more scenarios that summarize that text.  Then, have students retell what they have read by using the drawings as a guide. A variation of this is to have students exchange their drawings and write summaries or captions for their classmate’s drawing. This works best when students have read different texts. (Intermediate Mid)

 

Tying it all together

Don’t hesitate to share in the comments section ways that you use mental imagery and drawings in your classes. Want even more ideas?  Take a look at the appendix of additional instructional strategies in the Teacher’s Edition of EntreCulturas 1, 2, 3.  

And those drill and practice exercises?  You’ll want to shred them; you won’t be needing them anymore.

 

For more of the Acquiring Vocabulary blog series:

Part I: 5 Strategies to Create Meaning in Vocabulary 

Part II: 9 Strategies for Using Graphic Organizers

Part III: 10 ways to get students moving with physical models and kinesthetic activity

 

References:

  • Espitia, D., García, P., Cornell, J., & Vásquez Gil, I. (2017). EntreCulturas 3. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.

  • Mar, A., Davis, R., Sloan, M. & Watson-López, G. (2017). EntreCulturas 1. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.

  • Marzano, R., Pickering, D. & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom Instruction That Works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

  • Schwenkler C., Cory, M., Carrión, P.  (2017) EntreCulturas 2. Freeport, ME: Wayside Publishing.

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