New Soul - Yael Naim, cover by: Róza Geiger by rozageiger
What's Happening in my Classroom
What went well?This week was our first week back to school, so it was relatively laid back. We started Monday off with a teacher work day, The work day really helped my CT and myself get ready for the students to return to school. We were able to change the work displayed on the bulletin board, plan a mini preterit review session for the short week to come, and set the schedule for which I will be taking over the classes. It looks like I will completely take over her 3 Spanish II classes for 11 full weeks, and I will take over her 1 Spanish IV class for just about half that time. It was great to go ahead and set our schedule, so that I can best make use of my planning time. Although I did not teach this week, my CT allowed me to take a very active role in the planning. Since we only had a three day week, we had both Spanish IV and Spanish II start with three day mini units. Spanish IV spent the three days learning about Spanish countries' New Year's traditions. On Friday my CT and I even created a relay race based on the traditions for the students to participate in. It was such a huge success! The students loved it! We had them divide into teams and pick one person to do each of the following things: eat a bowl of lentils, sweep the floor, run around the pod with a suitcase, put red boxers on, throw coins off of the roof (their desk), and eat 12 grapes in one minute. Then each team had to write down the significance of each of the relay events. The team that completed everything and wrote down the correct significance first won! It was so fun to watch the students compete in these events.
One thing that I really love about MVHS is that on each teacher workday, the administration tries their best to incorporate some form of professional development. The school recently became a "Bring Your Own Device" school, so our professional development was based on ways that teachers could incorporate technology into the classroom. We were allowed to choose 3 of 6 technology based workshops to attend. I thought this was such a great idea, and a huge success. I learned about lots of great ways I can incorporate technology and foreign language in the classroom. I learned about Voki, Animoto, SMORE, and voice threads. These are all awesome programs that can easily be used to enhance a language classroom!
What did not go well?
Overall, I felt as though this week went really well. However, there were a few challenges I faced. One of the major challenges this week is our growth in class size. Two of our classes grew to 37 students. That is a small ARMY! It makes some activities really challenging! On top of that, one of the students we added to our large class is disabled. He has an electric wheel chair which requires a special table like desk. He also has to be seated close to the door for easy in and out access. It would be easy to push this student's table up to a wall, but that would complete isolate him. This is something he of course does not want, and we do not want for him. It was really difficult to fit 36 desks and his table into our classroom and arrange them to where we could still easily use our language lab. In fact it took us rearranging the desks up until he entered the classroom to make it work. This student also has very specific student accommodations listed out in his IEP. I am thankful to have him as a student, as he is teaching me valuable things about students with IEPs and how to meet their needs, but it is a challenge. I have to constantly keep him in the back of my mind when planning activities. This week we played a game where we normally have students run to the board to answer. We had to completely rework the game so that he could participate. That was difficult! I think that as time goes on, things will get easier. I believe I will develop an arsenal of modifications that will come in handy down the road. For now, I just have to be flexible and conscious of his needs.
There was another activity that did not go as well as I would have hoped. After learning about the Animoto program at a workshop on the teacher work day, My CT and I really wanted to incorporate it into a lesson. Animoto is a program that allows students to use their own pictures (or google images) along with captions to create a video. They can even add music and lots of fun things into the video. The program comes with all these styles and templates to enhance the video, and it is so easy to use. My CT and I planned to use the three day week to really review the preterit tense before starting on the imperfect. We thought it would be really fun to have the students create an Animoto about their winter break. This would require them to use phrases in the preterit, but it would be fun too! Animoto is a program that you do have to sign up for, but you can then create as many free 30 second videos as you want. It was easy to explain to the students, and they were even excited to use the program. However, we did run into some issues. The first issue is that we could not figure out how to incorporate accents into the animoto, so students had to type their text in a word document and past it into the animoto for it to have accents. That was very frustrating for my students. Another issue was that to meet the requirements my CT and I set, several of the students would have to go over the 30 second free video limit. It was difficult because we had to adjust the assignment right on the spot, and we will have to modify our grading. I am glad that we tried out the animoto program with our students, but it did show me that when trying out new things you are going to run into some issues.