How does where I live affect my childhood?
How does the past influence the present?
In my family, my mom usually does the gift buying and giving, and my dad signs the card. But last Christmas, my dad went out on a limb and bought a present for all three of the grandsons, ages 6, 7 and 10. It was a little tin filled with old-fashioned games including marbles, pick up sticks, cards and jacks. Jake was curious about the games because he had not really played any of them before, but I wondered how much use they would get next to the iPad and legos he loves so much. In comparison, pick up sticks just didn't seem that exciting to me...
Fast forward to today as I was thinking about this post on childhood games, and I was trying to decide from which angle to approach the topic. A few weeks ago Amanda Hajji from LHS had shared some pictures with me of a game day she had with her Level 3 French students as a celebration of the end of unit 1 (Memories). She said, "Students brought in their own childhood games and childhood foods and we had a field day where they had to stay in the target language throughout the day. I taught them the expressions they would need to play boardgames and they just had fun playing with each other calling each other out and using the fun expressions."
As you can see from the pictures, students were having fun, even though they weren't on an iPad or playing a video game. In the same way, my son has actually loved playing pick up sticks! Who would have thought? It has been a fun time for us to spend together, and he is learning how to keep score and how to be a good sport. :)
Earlier this week I was at PHS, and Victoria Connelly and Katrina Wowaka shared how they had approached the same unit with their students in a completely different way. That's when I decided to showcase all of 3 of their students in this post.
Victoria's German students each picked a person of German descent and researched their life and their childhood. One student picked Anne Frank, and you can see pictures of a few pages of the beautiful book she wrote and illustrated herself.
Victoria also shared how a student from one of her other classes actually played the role of Peter in The Diary of Anne Frank at a local theater in Lexington, and how many of her students went to see it. She described it as a beautiful connection of German and international learning right here in Lexington.
Katrina's students also created books, but they wrote about their own childhood. Below are a few pages from one student's book.
I love all three of these examples because they involve students making personal connections to language learning. They also require students to produce language, and they all give students choices in what they do with the language.
I'm so proud of our students and teachers!
In case you're new, or haven't taught these units before you might be wondering, "HOW do I get my students to this type of creative language production and engagement with the topic and culture?"
Well, here are a few ideas...
To start the unit, you might do a close reading of some images of games from different cultures (like the ones at the top of this post, hint hint). Ask students questions like, "What questions do you have? What are you wondering? What else would you like to know? Where could you look to find answers?"
Here is a link for a Culturally authentic picture archive created by Michael R. Shaughnessy, who says, "As a language teacher and learner, I always seek to connect language, culture, and meaning. This site represents my interest to not only write about language learning, but provide concrete examples... "
You could also try this collaborative brainstorming and writing technique that teacher/blogger Rosalyn Rhodes shares about Telling Childhood Stories. She says, "I’ve been struggling hardcore with my one of my classes recently. They’re an upper-level class, and I feel like we’re doing the same style of thing every day, or most days at least. Their interest in conversation and authentic resources and real-life issues is not really that high, and I’m at the point where I don’t want to try because the class has a weird vibe and it’s stressful..." (Read more)
To practice past tense verbs, you might try some games. For example, Ana Micheli, who used to teach at CSMS had students practice past tense with the ball toss game. Students said, "When I was a kid, I used to _____________," and when they caught the ball, they filled in the blank with a verb in the past tense. The cool twist is that she had them with a partner. When the whole class game was over, they had to ask their partner about some of the things he or she used to do as a child. After this interpersonal activity, they then could volunteer to share with the whole class about their partner's childhood.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking, and below are a few more links that you might find helpful.
Zachary Jones has a lot of resources for Spanish, and Megan and Kara from the Creative Language Class
have a few fun Spanish resources as well.
I found this link to traditional Chinese games, as well as games children play in Russia and Germany.
This is a fantastic website for and by school children in France.
Spring has sprung! We've officially entered testing season, allergy season, spring fever season, etc...
So, I thought this might be a good time to share some tips on classroom management...
Click on the title of whichever article interests you most--and leave us a comment if you have any tips that work well for you.
Having an Off Day: A Letter to New Teachers
If your lesson fails, have a backup, ask yourself why it happened, devise a better plan for the next day, and don't assume you're a bad teacher...
5 Quick Tips for Secondary Classroom Management that Actually (I Promise You) Work!
Classroom management was my biggest struggle in those beginning-teaching years. I went in suspecting I would have classroom management in the bag because I’d had pretty extensive experience working with kids from babysitting, being a camp counselor and other volunteer-type roles. But as it turns out, managing a classroom was way different and way more difficult than anything I’d done before...
The Art of Managing Middle Schoolers
Squirrels. That is what they remind me of. We were all that age once and we were all just like squirrels! Have you ever watched a squirrel? Zoom, freeze for two seconds, flick tail, and repeat. The trick for being a successful middle school teacher is holding their attention for more than just those few seconds. Believing that that is possible requires a huge leap of faith and trust...
8 Things I Know for Sure about Middle Schoolers
Most of the time, when I told someone I was a middle-school teacher I got the same basic reaction: They’d wince, or say whoa, and then add something along the lines of “Tough age.” And I would smile and nod, knowing that tough didn’t begin to cover it. One word could never quite capture the ridiculous, smelly, stubborn, fragile beauty of them all. ♥...
9 Tips for Engaging Middle School Students
Nonetheless, what does a teacher do when her students are too young to think like adults but are trying their hardest to escape childhood? This is the question that faces every middle school teacher. The awkward age that ranges from around 11 until 15 is a challenge for even the best of teachers, but there is hope. Here are some teacher-tested tips for the middle school teachers out there that will help you work with your students’ strengths and minimize their struggles...
Classroom Management Resource Round-up (All Levels)
Looking for information on guiding classroom communities, minimizing disruptions, and developing class routines to help students stay engaged and focused on learning? This resource collection is packed with useful tips, tools, and advice...
One our goals in creating this blog was to provide more opportunities for you to pursue your own professional development experiences. By seeing the work of your peers, other WL blogs, and strategies that really work in the WL classroom, I hope you are continuing to individualize your own path to PD.
Here are a few more ideas and tools for your toolkit:
World Language Week Highlights...
WL teachers at LHS got together and had their students create a Wall of Peace in celebration of WL Week. Students wrote about what peace meant or looked like to them, in all different languages. What a powerful way to connect language learning to a larger perspective on life.
Talk, Read, Talk, Write
TRTW is a literacy strategy that helps you teach through text. It puts the burden of the learning onto the students (remember, whoever is doing the work is doing the learning), and requires active engagement from all students. The article in the examples below is what she used with us at the conference, your article would probably be much shorter, depending on the proficiency level of your students.
"It's not the technology, it's what we do with it that counts." says Kristin Ziemke, co-author of the book Amplify. I had the good fortune to attend her workshop this week, and I'm passing the learning on to you.
First of all, her website and blog are full of great links and information on digital learning and teaching.
She says, "Use tech to bring kids to text." Integrating technology in the classroom does not mean that we are replacing books, we are simply focusing on our students' digital literacy as well.
Kristen encourages a close reading of pictures as text. This gets students talking and making observations, even if they are not yet fluent in the language.
For example, before introducing some reading and writing that students were going to do about Puerto Rico, Liz Carter (LMS) shared a picture of the bioluminescent bay.
This got students wondering, questioning and excited about the topic. She said she saw a real difference between their writing this year, versus when she did the same activity last year, but without the picture. Questions you might ask, "What questions do you have? What are you wondering? What else would you like to know? Where could you look to find answers?" You could tie photos to a place, topic, question, etc.
Here are some other images your students might be interested in.
Weird Toilets of the World (use with caution depending on student maturity level)
What's Going on in This Picture? NY Times
I am pleased to share a video that honors one of our French teachers, Todd Spaulding, from MGMS. It is particularly special because he was nominated by one of his students for News 19's Teacher of the Week. It is not every day that a world language teacher gets featured on the local news, so I thought you would all enjoy seeing the clip that was aired, and congratulating Todd for representing Lexington One so well during his interview. He talked about student learning targets, as well as the emphasis on what students can do with the language. I especially liked how he talked about how languages can open us to other ways of thinking, being and expressing ourselves. The video shows classroom footage and even features the student who nominated him speaking French. We rarely get recognized for our hard work as teachers, so today join me in celebrating student achievement and hard working teachers!
World Language Teacher Support Specialist (and Language Enthusiast)