Warm-up Activities As Catalyst for CI – Bryce Hedstrom

We are lucky, to say the least, to have Bryce Hedstrom in our group. He will provide a lot of stuff as we move along – he is not just a reading expert but an author whose materials are used all over the place. This blog entry is a great example of how creative things can get in his classroom, and man is he aligned with pure, high octane CI! Bryce is an AP Spanish teacher here in Colorado. Anyway, he sent this in just today: 
At the beginning of each class I have my students do a “Repasito”.  The Repasito is a sponge activity.  It is a review of what we did yesterday and a link to today.  Sometimes it is just a fun warm up to get them thinking in Spanish.
 The goal of the Repasito is to remind students of yesterday’s material and to give them a mental set for today.  It can also be a comprehension check and a catalyst for PQA.  The Repasito is almost always written in Spanish, the idea being that students are constantly getting getting C.I., even on mini formative assessments.
Sometimes the Repasito turns into a springboard for PQA, and we often spend a lot of time just talking in Spanish about student thoughts and feelings and never actually get around to the lesson.  I am moderating and asking questions and occasionally writing something on the board – like a gifted, empathetic talk show host.  Kids think they are getting away with something when that happens.
Yeah, right, they spend an hour speaking in Spanish and listening to me and to one another in comprehensible Spanish, everyone is listening, most are sharing, and we are “wasting time” and getting away with something.  I will take that kind of “get away” any day.  On those days when it is clicking I feel like I am channeling some weird combination of Oprah Winfrey and Blaine Ray.
Here are some winner Repasitos we have done in the last couple of weeks.  They all got either an enthusiastic response or generated some good PQA.  To keep it simple there are always five questions – that keeps the record keeping easy for me:  1 day = 5 points.  The Repasito is almost always entirely written in the target language on the board, but are translated here for non-Spanish speakers.
Also, as a follow up and a reason to do well on this activity, I often tell the kids that when they are done with their Repasito, they will need to check with a classmate to see if they get it.  This tiny accountability prod gives them motivation to be accurate and cute in their answers.
When almost everyone is finished, I have the entire class stand up.  Each student is to take a specified number of steps to arrive at a classmate and share their Repasito answers.  The task is different each time, but is usually something like “Listen for the most interesting answer.”  It can also be the most boring answer.

Spanish 3:  We are working our way through a story that focuses on the present perfect tense, so most of the Repasitos have focused on that verb form recently; the questions either use that form or encourage the use of it:
–Write five things that you think your parents have done almost all their lives.  This created a bunch of interesting conversational fodder.  If parents only knew what we hear about them—the good the bad and the ugly!
–Write five things that you imagine that Lindsey Lohan has done.  Fun responses; fun like watching a train wreck is fun.  Especially comparing her to when she was a child star.
Write five things that you have done almost all of your life.  Interesting self disclosure.  Most were a lot different from Lindsey Lohan, although a joker or two in each class talked about doing the same things we heard that Lindsey had done from yesterday’s Repasito.
–Write five things you will do this weekend.  We have used the future tense this year and I want them to remember it.  The “weekend” questions are standard fare in many CI-based language classes—on Friday it is “What will you do?” and on Monday it is “What did you do?”
–Write five things you did over the weekend.  As stated earlier, these always generate great PQA.  I almost always want to know some more details and the kids almost always want to share.  And like lieutenant Colombo, I always have a few questions.
–Write five things that another student in this class probably has done this week.  The question sets up the need to use the present perfect again.  Also a great opportunity for light teasing, which is ideal if a safe, trusting environment has been established in the classroom—no one is going to go too far, but we are ware of one another’s foibles.

Spanish 2:   
–Write the five most important Spanish words, in your opinion, and share them with a classmate.  Are they similar?   I like to get the Spanish 2 kids up and moving and talking—maybe it is because my Spanish 2 classes this year are at the beginning of the day and right after lunch when kids are the most passive and lethargic.  Once they had shared and had sat back down, this generated a lot of quick comments and compliments on their insight or character by me as we shared our way around the room.    
–What were five problems in the story?  Compare your answer to a classmate that is seven steps away from you.  The main problem in the story we were working on was that the clerk only spoke English, but there were all kinds of other small problems in the story as well.
–What are your favorite rejoinders?  Compare them with the answers of the person on your right.  We have a big rejoinders poster in Spanish on the wall.  Students can earn P.A.T. points by appropriately using 50+ rejoinders per class.  I do this because using rejoinders is a great way to keep conversations going and getting more input.
–Write five things that you imagine that the person on your left did yesterday.  Another fun opportunity for light-hearted ribbing.

Spanish I: 
–What are the five most important words to tell the story?  We are telling a long story/joke in Spanish I right now.  I want them to reflect.  Even for the slow processors this is not too hard since we pre-taught the most important words with gestures.  ¡Es obvio!
–What are five more important words in the story? (Use different words than yesterday).
–These five questions were written on the board in Spanish for the Spanish I classes’ Repasito on Friday:
1.  When is el cinco de mayo?  I always get this question this time of the year.  Drives me crazy, so I thought I would ask some more obvious questions to match and mock it.
2.  What color was George Washington’s White horse? 
3.  When was the war of eighteen twelve?  (I almost always write out numbers rather than just putting the numeral to reinforce them.  Numbers are so abstract that kids will forget them unless they are used all of the time)
4.  Who is buried in the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant?  I translated the term buried (enterrado) for them.
5.  What was the last name of Abraham Lincoln?  About half the class remembered the Spanish word for last name. We got some REAL interesting ideas here.  Some kids gave the words they thought they were supposed to give: ser, estar, tener, etc.  Others went with the ones their mommas always told them:  please, thank you, you’re welcome.  Still others went with the typical gringo route with expressions like: ¿Dónde está el baño?  But others vaulted off into unexplored territory.  I liked it when they included Why? As one of the most important words.



7 thoughts on “Warm-up Activities As Catalyst for CI – Bryce Hedstrom”

  1. Hi , Bryce
    Thanks for your clear and concrete ideas. I will take them back to school with me when our break is over. Since you teach upper levels, I hope we can get a conversation going on what CI best practices look like with our upper level classes.

  2. Does anybody have a list of German rejoinders? I am trying to get a head start for next year in preparing all of my wall hangings (which is wishful thinking on my part since, as a traveling teacher, I am lucky to even get a drawer in somebody’s desk).

  3. Thanks for the ideas Bryce.
    It’s amazing how dead my brain can be this time of year. My Spanish 1 class started Piratas del Caribe yesterday. To jog their memories and trick them in to reading the chapter one more time before we started telling/acting out chapter 2, I modified your “5” questions and had them find 5 things about Henry Morgan & Antonio Medina.
    PS It is a joy to read Pirates now, after having read Pobre Ana the first semester (February). Almost all of the students understand almost everything and can be star, while the superstars are having fun challenging themselves.

  4. Lori,
    I do not have a list posted anywhere online yet. I do have a couple of posters of rejoinders in the room. the rejoinder mix changes from time to time as I get new ideas from the kids. We have about 60 rejoinders now for all sorts of situations. The categories right now are:
    Those divisions seem to cover most of what kids want to say. If kids are speaking in Spanish, they can blurt out a rejoinder at any time, in fact I expect lots of spontaneous rejoinders at every level in every class. In Spanish 1 the expectation is at least 30, which is easy for them and they often get 70 or more (a volunteer counts them–usually a squirrelly kid that needs a bit more to do).
    I bet that you could come up with a good list for your specific situation, but I would be happy to share them here, perhaps on an upcoming blog. Ben?

  5. Yeah dude. You had a lot of them up there last time I was in your classroom. Just send them to me in an email and I will make a separate blog entry and categorize it under your name and then make another category called “Rejoinder List”. Or, better yet, I can do that and put up the list in the posters page of this site so people outside the wall can use it. I will look in my files for the list I have in French. For me, I never got rejoinders going, as fun as they are. I think it was because there was too much other stuff going on. This stuff really is a giving tree, right? Like, can’t this method stop giving for a few weeks already? For a few years though – about five years ago – I had some real zingers. I put them on yellow folded card stock and the kids came in and headed straight for the pile of cards and took one they liked and brought it to their desk so I could cue them during class to say it at the right moment. But it just got too complex – I don’t have command of the method like you do, and by the way Bryce that image of you being half Blaine and half Oprah is not far from the truth. I keep trying to get that visual going in my head but it ain’t arranging right. Hard to blend Blaine with anybody. Anyway, send ’em.

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