This was an end-of-school-year project that spanned about 8 classes, equivalent to three weeks in our schedule. The project was conducted as part of an all-school Celebration of Learning event, intended to be shared with families. The project’s goal was to provide third-grade students with the opportunity to apply their Spanish skills as novice learners. Through this project, we used the language they had been exposed to through various sources, such as stories, songs, structured routines, and other forms of input during the school year and previous years. Additionally, the project aimed to foster a sense of community by allowing students to read their books to their pre-k buddies.
The majority of my third-grade students demonstrate language proficiency at the novice mid and some high after being in the program for almost five years. They initially had Spanish once a week in the early years, and from first through 3rd grade, it increased to twice a week.This means that most of them can comprehend and use basic phrases and sentences to communicate in the context of our classroom. They do require guidance and support, including visuals in the room, memory aids, and assistance from me.
The Process of Becoming Authors
Reviewing High-Frequency Words and Phrases
Throughout the year, we covered various high-frequency words used in different contexts, such as stories, clip chats, classroom routines, and other activities. We brainstormed some of those words, phrases, and even questions for the students to use in their stories. Additionally, I provided my students a template with suggested phrases to assist them in writing their stories.
Writing The Story
As my third graders are considered novice learners on the ACTFL proficiency scale, they required assistance with certain words. During the story-writing process, students turned to each other for clarification, referred to the list of high-frequency words, and used the provided template. However, because language acquisition is a personal journey, some students needed more support from the teacher than others.
Editing Their Stories
After the students completed their initial drafts, we moved on to editing their work. The students reviewed their work, and then I helped edit it for accuracy.
Typing and Illustrating Their Stories
Once students were ready, I instructed them to use Canva to type up their stories and encouraged them to search for appropriate illustrations to accompany their work. Some students were already familiar with Canva from previous projects with other teachers. To finish the process, the students also worked on their author bios and included pictures of themselves
Recording Their Voices
Next, students recorded their voices reading their stories on Seesaw. We were able to generate QR codes on Seesaw and used them to create a virtual library.
Reflecting on Their Work
Students reflected on their work’s process and provided suggestions to improve this project for next year’s students.
When The Books Were Published…
The books were published, and third graders read them to their PreK buddies during community time.
These books are now part of our classroom library. I read them to kindergarten students, and my second and third-grade students love them since the authors are their friends!
This is an example of one of the fun stories created by my students!
This project was a little messy and required me to be 100% present to support my students, but I still enjoyed it. Thanks to my students’ feedback, I have ideas to make it even better this year, and maybe write a post again!
Rejoinders are those phrases that come naturally in a conversation to keep it going. They add magic to any conversation! They are usually quick and short answers. Using rejoinders in your classes will add authenticity in the conversations, as long as your students know to use them correctly.
I like introducing one rejoinder at a time before posting it on the wall or bulletin board. Keep it simple, there is no need for your students to know so many rejoinders that they won’t get to use. Use the ones that come or feel natural to you. For example, I know that I say “¡Qué chévere!” often, so that one is definitely one that I teach my students and place on the wall.
Feeling inspired to use rejoinders with your elementary students? Click HERE to download a few!
More teaching resources on Teachers Pay Teachers:
As a CI Spanish Teacher for 4 years now, I have seen firsthand how Comprehensible Input can work wonders to best promote Spanish language acquisition in young learners. This involves using language and repetition at the appropriate proficiency level of students and teaching the language in “context” in a variety situations. It capitalizes on young learners’ innate ability to learn languages and is quite different than the way the majority of today’s adults (parents and fellow educators alike) learned languages. It moves away from thematic units where the vocabulary is disconnected, to instead focus on teaching high frequency vocabulary in context.
INPUT, INPUT, INPUT: COMPREHENSIBLE AND COMPELLING
The idea is to provide enough exposure to the input to help young learners feel safe and comfortable in the target language and ensure the teacher uses the target language at least 90% of the time. The goal is not grammatical perfection or even much focus on explicit analysis or writing. In fact, it’s much more important to focus on building oral proficiency and an ear for the Spanish language as well as empathy for and interest in other cultures (where, for example, it’s vital to counter stereotypes and correct misconceptions).
CI IS FLEXIBLE AND YOU WILL NEVER GET BORED WITH SO MANY STRATEGIES TO CHOOSE FROM
One of the things that I love about being a CI Spanish teacher in an elementary world language program is the flexibility of the curriculum and how dynamic the process of creating it can be. I see a curriculum at the elementary level as something that is constantly evolving in relation to the interests of the students, collaboration with other subjects / teachers, use of technology, and attention to current events. I have been lucky enough to be an active part in the creation of the Spanish curriculum at many schools where I have taught. With CI, I feel that I have been able to use an ever greater variety of teaching tools in my professional practice. This image created by Sra. Dentigler’s blog shows different CI strategies, and has inspired me to create a puzzle showing the ones I’ve used the most with my elementary students.
Click HERE to open the link on every piece of the puzzle.
UNDERSTANDING THE DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF YOUR STUDENTS IS IMPORTANT
As an elementary-level teacher, it is also important to understand the different developmental stages of students when planning a curriculum. This is key to learn when to start introducing simple reading and writing skills in the target language and also to plan the kinds of activities needed to support the curriculum. For example, the younger the students are, the more they will need to move! In keeping with the Natural Approach, working on listening skills and allowing space for students to be exposed to a lot of input in the early years will create the foundations for later years. I enjoy being able to inject my own or my team’s creativity in the curriculum. I lately have discovered my love for Story Listening with the younger grades.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOUR STUDENTS CAN DO, NOT ON THE MISTAKES
In practice, I work hard to let my students know that it is okay to make mistakes and that being uncomfortable, vulnerable, even silly is just part of learning a language. My classroom is a safe space to learn by doing, pushing each other out of our comfort zones. I use Spanish without breaking into English approximately 95% of the time. I use gestures and questions to check for understanding. Games and music are teaching instruments that I use a lot in classes.
¡SÍ SE PUEDE! YOU CAN INCORPORATE CULTURE IN YOUR CI CURRICULUM
I am a “culture lover” and enjoy when there is space in the curriculum to share with my students about the cultural diversity of Spanish speaking countries (and yes, I include “La Guinea Ecuatorial”). Of course, being from Colombia means that my students get to learn a little bit more about the Colombian culture (and the great diversity that exists there) than any other Spanish-speaking countries. I use authentic resources and materials in class.
THERE IS ROOM FOR COLLABORATION WITH OTHER TEACHERS
As a specialist (non homeroom) teacher, I feel it is key that the school community works together to provide a rich curriculum and experience for students that is both nurturing and challenging. I work hard to negotiate with and understand the needs and interests of classroom teachers, and I am patient but firm, particularly because this approach to teaching a language requires a fair amount of re-education. See my post on the monarch butterfly migration to learn how I have collaborated with other teachers in the past.
I also recommend Mundo de Pepita’s blog if you are looking to learn more about CI at the elementary level!
Happy CI journey!
iFLT (The International Forum on Language Teaching)
was a mind changing conference for me. I have always been interested in the use of CI (Comprehensible Input)
in Spanish class. I had actually never attended a formal training on this topic before. I had even heard from other teachers that going to iFTL was a waste of money and time and that it was best to look for free videos and train myself that way. In fact, that’s what I have been doing all this time, but after attending iFLT I realized that I still had a long way to go and was far from perfection.
At the conference, I got to see the use of CI and TPRS firsthand in a live demo in an elementary classroom and even sneak a photo op with Dr. Stephen Krashen
during “selfie time.”
Since I am a visual learner, it was best for me to spend time in the language labs. I visited Annabelle Allen
and spent a lot of time watching Jason Fritze
in action. After seeing both of them in action, I felt inspired and got so many ideas to put into practice in the new school year.
Jason Fritze in action during iFLT 2016
I used the word “challenge” in the title of this post because being able to use TPRS and CI in the classroom is not that an easy task. It requires a lot of planning, willingness to fail, humor, patience, stand up comedy skills and a lot of physical activity. Nothing that a teacher with passion lacks, but something that still requires repetition and practice to get closer to perfection.
My question for your now is: Are you willing to join the CI and TPRS challenge? If your answer is yes and you are feeling ready to start the journey, then I recommend that you visit the links below:
How to Implement TPRS in an elementary classroom?
Comprensible Input is the Key
Five Ways to Incorporate Comprehensible Input
CI & TPRS in Action
Enjoy your journey!