Spanish ONE – One Kid, One Structure, One Location, (One Day)

Here is a nice update from Jim Tripp about how his year has been a bit different, how it has evolved for him so far and what he is focusing on:
Ok, so it’s not a novel idea, but one that I’m glad I’ve remembered and stuck to this year so far. I am progressing much faster this year, I think mostly because I am “sheltering vocab” to an extent.
I have been going into my classes (90 min.), since the first week, and picking one kid to talk to that day. (Usually, half of the class is spent reading/discussing the previous day’s situation, and the rest of class developing a new situation.) I have been using Ben’s “name cards” and less often the questionnaires (it seems I rarely need them, maybe because I work in a smaller district and the kids already know each other well).
Once I have the kid, I pick the structure. The structures so far have been verbs, with an accompanying preposition/noun or two. (Examples: pesca, quiere -r, juega al…, puede -r, tiene.) Of course, to break it up, I’ll throw in the couple of minutes of mini-PQA/chant/song/TPR to do numbers or body parts or simple action verbs or prepositions or etc.
Once I have the kid and the structure, I figure out from what I can get a rise out of the kids for a short while. Today, I started class with “se llama” and took an idea straight from PQA in a Wink and named a kids “Pencil Man” because one day he came to class with about 10 pencils. Like Ben, it made me really chuckle to myself. “Se llama” was kind of an extra structure today, not my focus.
My focus structure was “esta/n,” but I could have just as easily used “pone” or “guarda” or whatever to talk about where the pencils are (or where he “puts” or “keeps” them). Turned out, in our class with Pencil Man, 16 pencils are on top of his desk, one is in his bellybutton, and the rest (9) are in his best friend’s (Will Ferrel, a character in class) hair.
Obviously, the potential for repetition on this are huge, and the introduction of a couple of prepositions natural. Plus, when we introduce these, we can take a brain break and TPR the prepositions (I do this by making a fist (stationary object), and using the other hand to move around that depending on what preposition I use.
Also, by focusing on just one student, I am developing a character for them, and a situation they occupy, that will naturally allow for future “problems” in class once we get to stories. I can already see it, Charlie “needs” a pencil, and where is he going to “search” for one? Es obvio!
I am also having individual students take home these mini-readings and illustrate them with drawings/photos/whatever so they can go in our class book and up on the wall, and scanned to computer to discuss via projector for review in future a la Dirk.
My comment: Focusing on one kid per class, building off of one structure, keeping things simple and focused on only one kid for as long as possible, an entire class, and letting funny things naturally emerge in relationship to that one kid, is very wise. It is a kind of narrower and deeper personalization process. It accurately reflects the first two steps of TPRS, but over months. Think of the stories that will come out of this work after Christmas, when any little event in an emerging story script will have a higher chance of finding some relative bit of personalized information from that gathered this fall. If you want to increase your personalization process, now’s the time and making funny stuff up about one kid for an entire period sounds like an excellent way to do it.



8 thoughts on “Spanish ONE – One Kid, One Structure, One Location, (One Day)”

  1. I know you say “one kid per class”, but because you do the reading from the previous day and the previous kid, you are effectively giving each student two days to shine, and creating more variety for yourself in the process. Nice trick.

  2. Yes. It is helpful. Sometimes I don’t get it written up in time, and therefore don’t get the reading opportunity that day, but it comes, and I make sure it gets written up because that kid’s story must be recorded via text/illustration for our class book.
    (I’m beginning to realize how important the book is. And when I say “book”, I’m referring to any artifact that our class can pass on to other classes. It may be a tangible book or a digital book or a video [check out Thomas Young’s blog!].)
    But yeah, having the double day exposure for that kid is better. Repetition, repetition. I have block classes, so I don’t know if a typical 45 min. class is enough for that one kid, unless you leave out all the other little misc. stuff (TPR, chants, songs) that move it all into the grey matter.

  3. “…and when I say ‘book’, I’m referring to any artifact that our class can pass on to other classes. It may be a tangible book or a digital book or a video…”.
    Jim could you expand on this? I’m not clear on the second day reading that Nathan refers to. I probably didn’t read clearly enough but if you or Nathan could clarify a bit on how the day of PQA around the one kid and the one structure turn into a second day of reading/documentation/drawings, I would appreciate that.
    I am thinking that getting a reading out of day of PQA as you describe (reading taken from notes made by a superstar during the PQA, day one) may be a brilliant move. It will allow us on day two to turn our kids into readers way earlier than in the past. (I had heard that Jason says that they can start reading right away.)
    So this day two thing is really intriguing. I will now certainly, at the least, write up the content of the first day PQA around the kid into a reading, adding some newer vocabulary in there, then read and discuss it, and spend day two that way, teaching reading and more CI. This way to spend the two days leads to mega CI, mega reading, and mega personalization.
    Then what about the book, the record created for other classes? Anyway, sorry the question is jumbled, but it’s always that way when we sort out this stuff. I’ve flown by the seat of my pants for so long that I rather enjoy it. Sort it out as we go, I say.

  4. I teach 45 minute classes, and this is how I conduct my quarter-long exploratory middle school classes (1 kid – 1 day to tell story – 1 day to read/draw/dictado story). With 45 class periods and 15-20 kids, I can (theoretically) spend 1-2 days on each student. Jim, do you have any special tricks for drawing out the shy kids?

  5. Sounds like lots of time for personalization Toni, perfect. Special tricks for drawing out the shy kids? Well, I learned personalization from Ben’s materials, and watching other teachers. The cardstock thing is great (I only leave them all on the desks during the first week, until I learn their names, then I only put the one out that we will be discussing, to avoid doodling on cards. I hate distractions on desks, personally). Maybe that is it, that by only them having their card on their desk, and everyone looking at their card and me, the attention goes towards their interest (via me and the card, especially if the kid.) Does that make sense?
    Re Ben’s question about readings. Well, I only have 3 sections, so it is easy for me to remember what was discussed in each class. If it weren’t, I would definitely have a trained recorder to take notes. So far I have 5 readings about 5 students in Spanish 1. After each day’s reading, I give a copy to a student (each student gets this job) and they must illustrate in some way (photos/drawings/clip art) the reading for that student. They can not disparage the student in any ways in the illustration! When I get those back, they go up on the wall in the class. This is all pretty new, so it’s constantly changing in how it’s presented. When the semester is over, I will compile illustrations/texts/(and ancillary audio disc) in a book that will stay in the room, adding to our classroom library and to the buy-in factor.
    Does that make sense?
    If I could learn anything right now re how to improve the reading time and to gain visual reps, it would be how to “change it up” with readings, but still allow for comprehension and on-taskness. Ideas?

  6. Great stuff Jim. I appreciate the detail, and I am starting to do this with my groups of Level 1 students now. One possibility to spice up readings that occasionally do is to ask students to write (in English) “What happens next?” Those students who want to participate take a 1/8 sheet paper (I have bunches of these in all different colors that are pre-cut up) and give me a quick answer. Then when I type up the story I put in one (or multiple) extensions.
    If this sounds like Michele’s student-generated-stories it is. Basically, it’s using applying them in a new context.

  7. Jim, thank you for this thread! I wrote the above right before my 7th grade German class and at the end of that class I found myself in the situation where people’s “Talents” had one person shooting fire out of their hands, another person being a UFC wrestler, and a class asking for a face-off. This, obviously would not be a good situation to act out.
    So, with this thread on the brain, I had everybody write endings to how this will turn out in their composition books right before we took the quiz. Now I’m just choosing 1 or 2 endings (edited for appropriateness) from their choices and sticking it into tomorrow’s story.

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