Blogging is a bit harder to keep up with during the school year! However I know a lot of people are curious about Sr. Wooly's amazing new graphic novel, Billy La Bufanda. I know I keep watching for someone to blog about it. There are so many great activities you COULD do as a TPRS/CI teacher, it is sometimes hard for me to use my time with the students for anything I'm not sure is going to be a hit. I love reading blogs about an activity before I try it, because it's a great practice run for how the students will respond. However, the students have been drooling over the book for a few weeks now, so I can delay no longer (trying new things is exciting anyway). One of students even came to school wearing her very own "Billy La Bufanda" that her parents ordered for her from the site. :) I watched the tutorials from the creative Sr. Wooly and Carrie Toth, I read the comic, and I decided to begin. You can watch the video of most of the lesson below, and read my breakdown underneath the video. The part of the lesson that addresses 'Billy La Bufanda' starts at about the 9:00 minute mark. I left the start of my lesson in, as I thought teachers new to TPRS/CI might enjoy seeing one way to start a class. You cannot actually see any students in the recording to protect student privacy. The video cuts out at the end when students perform a smalls scene from Sr. Wooly as a few students were in the camera zone, and I caught them in the picture (you can read the scene between Perro y Damita if you get the comic ;). I myself am in and out of the camera.
It is both slightly painful and enlightening to watch myself teach. I see lots of things I like, and lots of things to improve too. :) For example, I probably used 'puntos' more than necessary during this lesson (what can I say, it was a Friday of a long week? I also noticed myself falling out of the TL a few times consistently that I really shouldn't (I keep meaning to say 'punto posibilidad' instead of a 'chance for a punto'). I also fell out of the TL at the end when explaining the game. I could have explained that game to my students in Spanish. However, I only had 5 minutes to teach and play (my classes are only 36 minutes long), so I cheated and explained the game in English. Those are my 'things to improve' personally, however other than that I feel like the lesson went very well and was a lot of fun! Students in this lesson are in 3rd grade, they have been taking Spanish twice a week with me (36 minute lessons) since Kindergarten. They have had a focus of TPRS/CI for 3 years.
I always start class by telling the students 'el plan' with a mad scientist laugh thrown in for fun (and as an attention getter). This always helps focus attention for my students. After this I passed out their name-tags. Students have just finished choosing Spanish nicknames. If you want to know more about this process click here. I try to do this quickly but I have several purposes here. One, I like my students to practice 'eres/soy' and 'estás/ estoy' until it feels natural. This helps them get repetitions in of important phrases. This also gives me a chance to at least briefly, personally connect with each student. I teach 8 classes a day, and in that time I see almost 200 students a day. I like to make sure I talk to each one at least once. Saying their name is powerful, and their self chosen nicknames (words like artist, swimmer, runner, chicken) say things about who they are to me. It also helps them learn a set of personalized vocabulary for the class as they learn each other's nicknames. This year I also introduced rejoinders (I learned about these from Grant Boulanger). Rejoinders are simple phrases like 'that's gross' or 'its obvious' that allows them to respond to things naturally in Spanish. My students love using these, and this gives them a chance to try them out (and often leads to teachable moments). Right now I am giving them a lot of puntos for using them, so that they get used to using them. I will scale back on these as they use them more automatically. If you just want to hear the part of the lesson about Billy la Bufanda, skip to the 9:00 minute mark.
To start my lesson on Billy we used the pictures from my teacher's guide. I projected them up on the screen and talked about them with my students. To get them warmed up, we used the pictures to review old vocabulary and grammar concepts (weather, colors, emotions, etc). After reviewing old information, I talked about the pictures with the specific vocabulary from the comic book. I focused on phrases I thought would give my students a bit of trouble if they read them without guidance. For example, my students know the word 'triste' well. However in the first few pages of the book, there is the phrase 'llena de tristeza' (full of sadness). Some of my kids probably would have got it, most would have go the idea, but that isn't enough. Instead by making 'llena' comprehensible, and having them hear and see the word 'tristeza' with my actions, they were able to understand the phrase easily. This held true in all of my rotations. When I felt like we had been sitting too long, or to help students pay attention we would make faces 'full of sadness' or 'full of happiness'. When they got a little wiggly, we stood up and walked' full of sadness' or 'full of happiness' etc. After picture talking through the first few pages we acted out a very, very short scene between two characters. It gave me a chance to practice a few more quick phrases, and I ended with a 'cliffhanger phrase' set them up nicely for the next phase of the story.
We ended with a 5 minute game. This game is one I adapted from Sr. Wooly as well. In the game, a student stands up and says the phrase ' something is better (or worse than) something else in the TL. For example, "Pepsi is better than Coke" (totally). If students agree with the phrase they stand up, if they disagree with the phrase they sit down, if they don't know (as in they have never tried Pepsi or Coke) they hold up both hands and shrug. Students love this game. I adjusted the game slightly to be 'I like/ I don't like' instead of 'better than/worse than' based on what vocabulary my students are using more currently. I lay down a few ground rules of no saying I like or I don't like any people in our school, and no politics. If you listen to the very end, there are quite a few fun comments from the students. This is a nice quick way to end a lesson. Especially after sitting still for a long time. It gives the students to use their rejoinders a bit, sometimes to learn some new highly compelling vocabulary, and to be the center of attention. Wins all around. I hope this video helps someone!
Entering my 13th year in the classroom; I am a TPRS/CI Elementary Spanish Teacher. Passionate about TPRS/CI, Brain based learning, and using technology to bring the world to our students, and our students to the world.