Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! I’m in Louisiana visiting my dad and brother for the holiday. I flew in day before yesterday from Nashville after the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language 2017 Conference. Oh. My. Gosh. What a cool weekend of learning and networking with other educators! #teachernerd Highlights: won a classroom set of TPRS books from Fluency Matters and got to learn some Swedish in an OWL circle. Still processing it all and I’ll write about it soon!
My dad’s also a teacher (high school U.S. history and geography), and we were “talking shop” about classroom stuff when I realized how great Quizlet Diagrams would be for his geography students. Luckily, they’re one-to-one with Chromebooks, so taking advantage of Quizlet will be even easier. Quizlet's already been a lifesaver for me and my students, and I will talk your ear off about how great it would be for you and your students, too! But today I'll just tell you about how I've started using Quizlet Diagrams. 😆
In my own classroom, at the beginning of each unit, we look at a map of the region or country we’re going to be studying. I create a simple blank map handout for students to label while I project and label the same image on the whiteboard. This is all in the target language, and I got the idea from another blog post that I can’t find this far from my desk. When I’m back in the classroom, I’ll update this post! UPDATE: Found it! "Teaching Basic Geography in the TL" from Elizabeth Dentlinger. Thanks, Elizabeth!
Then, I upload the same map to Quizlet Diagrams and label the 15 or so terms we’ve labeled as a class. Now we can play all the games they love on Quizlet, but using the map we’re studying! I’ve tried it twice so far and it’s worked great. Seniors in IB Year 2 were learning basic geography of Bolivia before watching También la lluvia (Even the Rain) and one student kept mis-labeling Brazil. His teammates, very gently, reminded him, "Brasil es muy grande..." (Brazil is very big...). LOL
You do have to be careful that what you’re labeling is distinct and obvious when highlighted by itself on a map. For example, as a student I might memorize that Cobija is north of La Paz, but when we’re playing Quizlet Live with a diagram, only Cobija’s spot will be highlighted and I can’t use my reference point. Still, a thumbs up/thumbs down vote after playing the game revealed a positive review from the chicos! They like it. 👍
We also play a geography game that I’ve been calling ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?) that I found at MrDonn.org after some Googling. Students in teams create clues that get progressively easier, all leading to a point on a map. Teams read their clues to other teams that have to guess, and the harder the clue, the more points they can earn. This game is great because you can use any map, though it’s been good review for an assessment to use the map we’re studying. Check out my TpT page for a handout for students to play the game in Spanish class!
P.S. I love maps so much (just a quick count from memory: I think I have 5 up in my classroom permanently) that two years ago the senior prank in my room involved pretending to throw all my maps in the trash. 😆
Kids crack me up.
In my experience, teenagers like to express their opinions and they like to win. And I think it’s important for them to use their brains in different ways throughout the school day, so we draw, sing, play games, and act things out, even in high school, even in IB. Something else I learned when I became a Spanish teacher? Day of the Dead is a wildly popular October unit. Holidays are a really great opportunity for cross-cultural comparison, real world applications, and incorporating authentic materials. Plus they’re fun! Today we combined all of these "best practices" of teaching Spanish to high schoolers. 😝
Last Friday I had an idea while I was making copies of last year’s DdeM webquest: I have students this year who will finish this in 20 min. Our class period is 50min… What if they also have to draw an ofrenda (a DdeM altar for a loved one that includes their favorite foods, personal items, candles and flowers, among other things) for a celebrity who passed away in 2016? Lots of options to choose from, nice synthesis of what they’ve learned about DdeM traditions without being overly personal, and I’d get to enjoy their drawings. Genius!
It was. Proof:
Then, I had another random thought early this year: I ask them to draw a lot, but then what happens to the drawing? It usually ends up in recycling bin. I had a bunch of off-brand sticky notes that failed miserably as a reading log bulletin board earlier in the year (not nearly sticky enough…), but they’d work great for kids to vote for their favorite drawing or write a brief description of why they like their classmates’ artwork. So, we’ve used the crappy stickies this way a couple of times with great success! I ask for 2 “Me gusta porque…” and one “Es mi favorito porque…” and they post them on the drawings.
Today I asked the 9th graders in Spanish 2 to look at the juniors’ ofrendas and post 2 “Me gusta porque…” and then they got to pick a Spanish praise sticker to vote for their favorite. Robin Williams won by a landslide, probably because of the very accurate depiction of Flubber. :P The winner was a sweet junior who was very excited about her DdeM mug (90% off at Tuesday Morning). Happy drawing!