Brownies with Spinach
My next big take-aways from the ACTFL 2017 conference come to you from Megan and Kara, the amazing ladies behind Creative Language Classroom. See the notes from my presentation here.
Brownies with Spinach; Take-Away #3: Grammar should be bite-sized!
Do you teach grammar? How do you teach grammar? How much of a role does it play in your classes? Grammar, Grammar, Grammar...
I am not a grammarian. I write and I ramble and I proof-read a bit but I am not a grammarian. Just today I had a conversation with a colleague about grammar and I fessed up and said I'm not a grammar person. In my interview for NJSD I told my administrators that grammar takes a back-seat in my classroom...because it does! It doesn't drive my lessons, sometimes as a back-seat passenger it interrupts where I'm going, sometimes it steers me one-way, it distracts me for a moment and sometimes that back-seat passenger falls asleep and doesn't contribute once in a while...however that doesn't make it not important. Grammar is important- in meaningful, bite-sized bits.
This idea of grammar isn't new to me- perhaps it is to you- but what I took from this session and really love is the analogy: Brownies with Spinach. I've definitely tried to hide Spinach in brownies, cookies, etc. so this hit home for me.
Hide grammar in your lessons and incorporate it in small, bite-sized, meaningful chunks (just like you try to hide spinach into the good-stuff)!
As you develop your curriculum and present grammar topics to your students, ask yourself:
"When teaching PRESENT TENSE, are your lessons COMMUNICATIVE & BITE-SIZED? Are students given opportunities in multiple units to master it?"
"When teaching COMPARISONS, are lessons COMMUNICATIVE & BITE-SIZED? Are students given opportunities in multiple units to master it?"
"When teaching QUESTIONS, are lessons COMMUNICATIVE & BITE-SIZED? Are students given opportunities in multiple units to master it?"
"When teaching PAST TENSE, are lessons COMMUNICATIVE & BITE-SIZED? Are students given opportunities in multiple units to master it?"
Take-Away #4: ACTUALLY connect you students to the "real world" aka Native Speakers aka Authentic Resources
I've been thinking a lot lately about innovation. This take-away was merely an example given by Kara and Megan in their Brownies & Spinach presentation but it has had me thinking. How innovative are these ladies!
Kara and Megan discussed different grammar topics throughout their presentation. While discussing the grammar topic Questions Words (I can ask and answer questions about...), they reminded me of the importance to get students speaking and interacting with native-speakers...on a regular basis. HOW MUCH MORE AUTHENTIC CAN YOU GET!?! I have never in my career brought in a native-speaker (student or otherwise) into my class just to practice Spanish. It was a "why have I never done that" kind of moment for me. Do you have native-speakers at your school? In your community? Connect them with your students!
They also reminded me that in terms of Proficiency, you’re never totally prepared to talk to native-speakers. A little or a lot, I 100% get nervous to this day, EVERY TIME, that I speak to a native-speaker. A great reminder and ah-ha moment.
Okay- the real reason I started talking about take-away #4...
In their unit on Street-Art Kara and Megan give the following I-can statement: I can connect with a Hispanic Artist. Remember our grammar topic is asking questions.
Here was their challenge: Connect with a hispanic artist (on Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc.) and the first person to get a real response gets lunch!
Here are some innovative examples of how their kids connected with native-speakers...on their own!
-Messaged a tattoo artist on Twitter
-Messaged a Super-model
-Messaged a Sand-castle artist, responded on Facebook and email!!
Some of the students went on to continue to message the artists (in Spanish!!) just because they wanted to communicate. How freaking cool. How can you bring the native-speakers to them and how can you get them to reach out to native speakers? Food for thought.
Thanks for reflecting with me. <3 Thank you Kara & Megan for an amazing session!
Hasta la próxima,