Clothing Lesson

In our Grade 11 Spanish class we have been learning clothing vocabulary, so naturally to practise this vocab my student teacher and I brought in some of our own clothes. The activity was basic. The clothes were piled onto the tables, teams were created, what should have been the only 3 boys in the class were "the models" but one was sick so I had to step in (oh joy), sentences were read out à la "Fui a una fiesta y llevé una falda, un collar y una blusa.", then the team members had to rifle through the clothing, pull out the correct items, dress the model and yell out "Terminado". 
The activity was a huge success, minus a few complaints when the boys saw the bikinis on the table!  We even got in trouble from some of the other teachers who complained that we were too loud!
A very simple kinaesthetic activity, a great listening activity which allowed the students to verify understanding.
Identities have been concealed due to embarrassing factor of outfits.

Large size skirts +  thin boys= funny combination


Mola Activity

Here is the first round of pictures of my students preparing our version of a mola. In a previous post I wrote about the presentation I did for them about the Kunas and about the activity we did.
Click on an image to enlarge it to see some of the detail.

Come back soon to see the final product!

Spot the mistake

Do you always tell your students to revise their work prior to handing it in? You know those kids that finish their test in 10 minutes when it should have taken them at least 30 minutes and then its full of silly mistakes since they rushed through it. Well, today, I modeled the reason why you should always revise your work.
Last night my husband invited me to a concert last minute, therefore the evening's plans changed suddenly. Whereas I had planned on attending an info night at school and then going over my lessons, it did not go this way. We had to drop the baby off at his grandma's which meant we sat in traffic for an hour, eat dinner on the fly, go to the concert, pick the baby up and so we got home at 12:30am which is way past my bedtime. I was exhausted and didn't even think about today's lessons, mainly because I was relying on the fact that my student teacher would be doing the lessons. 
So as I was showering (and it so happens that that is always where I remember things or get really great ideas, but of course do not have anything to write them down on), I suddenly remembered that I had said I would teach the first lesson of the day so my student teacher could observe me. I tried to get to school early so I could revise my powerpoint on les pronoms relatifs, I made some changes, but didn't really focus on what I as doing. 
Come lesson time, there I am yapping away at the front and noticing various spelling mistakes on my slides. I have no problem admitting to my mistakes and will gladly point them out to my students, then I challenge them to try and catch my mistakes, and there were plenty of them today! I fessed up. I told my Grade 9s that because I went out on a school night, I did not revise my work and as a result, here I am teaching and having to correct silly spelling mistakes. I said that of course it is normal to make mistakes, but this was unacceptable, because had I read over my slides, I would have caught the silly mistakes and not had to waste class time correcting.
It even got to a point where we made bets to see if my next sentence would have mistakes, and I forgot a question mark which resulted in them winning an extra day to prepare for their vocabulary test. 
Lesson learned on my part!

Hugh Laurie speaks French

Gwyneth Paltrow speaks Spanish very well


El Mapa

I used a map I found online and edited it so that we could use it to practise our directions in Spanish class.

It doesn't look very clear here, but it was when I printed it out.


I Challenge You...

Sadly, a few would still fail!
I started this with my students this week and it has been interesting so far. I started off with getting rid of the usual "Bonjour, présent, hola, aquí" responses when I do the attendance and have asked my kids to respond with a word in the target language that is not any sort of greeting/goodbye word. I've been getting things like "rouge, le chien, l'ordinateur, Je me brosse les dents" mainly very basic words that a 2 year old could say, a few words/phrases from our units and the rest read from something on the wall. 

In an effort to make it somewhat more interesting for them and in the interest of building vocabulary, I have now stepped up the challenge and have asked them to take one or more things that interest them, be it skateboarding, video games, cats, whatever it is, and to use vocabulary related to that one thing or various things and respond to the roll call with that. Everyday has to be a brand new word and no word can be repeated in class twice. Additionally they are to keep a list of those words at the back of their binders just for the fun of it for now, but I would like to try to come up with an activity using it later on.

This has worked out very well in that, some would get restless during the roll call and start talking, now, they all have to pay attention because they don't want to repeat a word and they are interested to hear what the others are saying so they can catch them out repeating one. It has helped to settle them while they try to remember their word if they haven't written it down and it creates a nice and calm atmosphere to start the class.


Integrating Technology into the Language learning classroom- OMLTA Presentation from 2010

I presented at the Ontario Modern Language Teachers' Association Spring Conference back in 2010 so I thought I'd put up my presentation.

For those who want to try embedding some technology into their lessons, but are nervous, I say, choose one thing from the slideshow and try it out in your class!

Los Kunas- Spanish Class Presentation

As my students begin their projects on the "Making of Latin America", I decided to model what I expected from them and chose to present to them about the Kuna people who have been around since before Christopher Columbus arrived. Below is the slideshow that I used and I will post the pictures from the activity that followed later on.

My students were very interested throughout my entire presentation and I invited them to ask questions at any point, and boy did they have a lot of questions! They were dead quiet (which is rare for this bunch!) as I spoke, but posed thoughtful questions and were very curious. I'm so glad I did a lot of reading prior to presenting to them. They were fascinated by the Kuna way of life and how they are still able to continue their traditional ways. It is a completely different world than that of my students and they expressed how they would not be able to cope with living the same way, but admired the simplicity of their lives and how hard working the Kunas are.

I encourage you to use some or all of my slideshow if you'd like to teach your students about the Kuna people. There is of course more information out there, but I wanted to keep it short and sweet.

My fonts didn't keep during the transfer to slideshare so I've attached the PDF version as well as well as a link to my original file.

PDF Version of Los Kunas

Los Kunas PowerPoint with original font


Speed Dating Speaking Practise

How do you get 28 kids to practise their speaking and listening skills without leaving anyone out?

You do it speed dating style!

We have created what we call at our school Questions Personelles to go with every unit of study. These range from Combien de personnes est-ce qu'il y a dans ta famille? to Quels films d'horreur est-ce que tu aimes? and many many more. As a result, it is difficult to always have the time to ask every individual student the series of questions so that they get a chance to answer all of them prior to the final exam.

In order to do this, I break the class into 2 sections and within those 2 section, they are again broken up into the "Interviewer" and the "Interviewee". We set-up the desks in 2 rows with the "Interviewers" facing me and the "Interviewees" with their backs to me.

The "dating session" starts with everyone having their question/answer sheet out. The "Interviewers" begin asking the questions while the "Interviewees" answer. After about 30 seconds, I make some really loud ridiculous sound by yelling something out or playing one off the internet, or I play part of a song, anything to indicate that the "Interviewees" in the row furthest from the front of the class need to move to the right and those in the front row need to go left, essentially so it all flows and as the "Interviewee" you end up going in a circle. And no matter how many times we do this exercise, there is always someone who tries to go to what I call "their other right or left"! And the person at the end of the row never seems to understand where to go, no matter how many times I've explained the instructions. So, the person on an end of a row will continue on to the next row of tables, still in the "Interviewee" position. As time goes by, I ask them to not look at their sheet when they start to feel confident about answering, sometimes this requires a little coaxing, but I remind them that they cannot use it for the oral exam so they may as well start to get used to that.

Why not throw in a visual?

Meanwhile, I am circulating, listening to pronunciation and going over students' answers on their sheets to correct any major mistakes. At the same time the "Interviewer" is always meant to listen out for mistakes and to offer suggestions as to corrections that can be made. 

Depending on how many questions we have, I usually have them go through the set at least twice in that role, then the roles change. This way, everyone gets a chance to ask and answer questions.

By answering, they get to practise listening to someone other than me asking them the question and can receive constructive criticism from their peers on their pronunciation and quality of answer. Then by asking the questions, they can offer the same service. 

I use this activity a few times throughout the semester and it always seems to go over well and really gives everyone a chance to practise in a very thorough way.


La piel que habito- Nueva película de Almodóvar

La Nación en línea habla de la nueva película de Pedro Almodóvar. Ve el trailer al fin del post.

Antonio Banderas interpreta al cirujano plástico Robert Legard. Inventar una nueva piel le servirá para algo perverso: vengarse y plasmar su pasado en el rostro de otra persona. Romaly/ LN

12:00 A.M. 10/11/2011

Almodóvar encierra el drama en una piel extraña

Con la actuación estelar de Antonio Banderas, Pedro Almodóvar presenta La piel que habito, un filme en el que un perverso cirujano entorpecerá, sin remedio, el curso natural de un ser humano

El doctor Robert Legard es un prominente cirujano plástico, pero ni su experiencia ni sus avanzados conocimientos pueden salvar a su esposa. La frustración puede olerse como carne quemada.

Tratando el tema transgénico como prioridad, la identidad sexual de fondo y la ética de la experimentación humana en un plano destacado, mañana se estrena en Costa Rica La piel que habito (2011), el decimoctavo largometraje de Pedro Almodóvar.

Protagonizada por Antonio Banderas (Legard), Elena Anaya y Marisa Paredes, el drama de Almodóvar llega al país precedido por críticas sobresalientes y una presentación de lujo en la selección oficial del Festival de Cannes.

Tras la horrenda muerte de su mujer, Legard se empeña en crear un tipo de piel con el que hubiera podido salvarla. Doce años después, utilizando el método de la terapia celular, logra cultivarla y la usará con despiadados fines.

“Además de años de estudio y experimentación, Robert necesitaba una cobaya humana y un cómplice sin ningún escrúpulo”, dice la sinopsis oficial del filme.

¿Quien será el conejillo de Indias? ¿Qué pretenderá el Dr. Legard con su experimento? La venganza, la frustración extrema y el apego emocional hacia sus seres queridos se mezclan en la cabeza del perturbado científico. Los límites y los escrúpulos no cuentan para él.

A la oscura misión de Legard se sumará la mujer que lo crió, Marilia (Marisa Paredes), quien se encargará de vigilar todos los movimientos de Vera, la mujer cautiva (Elena Anaya).

“Es una historia durísima de venganza, con un personaje muy diabólico, en cuya piel me costó meterme”, dijo Almodóvar, en sus notas de producción.

El sexo explícito sin consentimiento (violaciones) y los dolores que el abuso sexual genera en las personas, terminan enfermando a todos. Por otro lado, la identidad sexual se pone en juego hasta el extremo de sus consecuencias, utilizando el rapto y las operaciones genitales como medio.

“Hay procesos irreversibles, caminos sin retorno, viajes solo de ida. La piel que habito cuenta la historia de uno de estos procesos. La protagonista recorre involuntariamente uno de esos caminos, es obligada violentamente a emprender un viaje del que no puede regresar”, agregó el cineasta.

El título de La piel que habito sugiere el estado de un ser que, involuntariamente, vive en un cuerpo distinto, aunque su esencia siga gritando por su verdadera naturaleza, no deja de ser hombre. Sin embargo, lo quiera o no, acostumbrarse a vivir así parece ser su única elección.

“Lo que quiere hacer Legard va más allá de la sed de venganza; es un hombre que pretende jugar a Dios”, señaló Banderas a la agencia de noticias EFE.

El hombre que trabajó con Almodóvar en filmes como Laberinto de pasiones (1982), Matador (1986), La ley del deseo (1987), Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988) y Átame (1990), dijo que en esta cinta hace un papel muy distinto a lo acostumbrado, quizás por encarnar a un personaje tan atroz.

“Pedro ha sacado de mí un tono muy distinto a lo que yo venía haciendo previamente, algo que le tengo que agradecer”, aseguró el actor al programa La Mañana de la 1, de Televisión Española.

La piel que habito, cuya duración es de 117 minutos, se grabó principalmente en Toledo, España, donde se ubica la mansión ficticia de El Cigarral. En ese lugar, que es su propio laboratorio, se perpetran los mayores dramas del filme.

Alabada. Con todo el lujo almodovariano, La piel que habito no decepcionó a la crítica especializada del mundo. Para la gran mayoría, el cineasta español hizo de las suyas otra vez.

“Es un filme estimulante, una cinta de Almodóvar con todos los dones que ello implica: técnica lapidaria, perversidad calculada y muy ingeniosa”, escribió Manohla Dargis , de The New York Times.

“La cinta más contenida y minimalista del cineasta. Radical, voraz, quirúrgicamente perfecta”, dijo Luis Martínez, de El Mundo.

One Teacher's View on Deadlines and Their Use in His Classroom

Dave, a high school teacher in Red Deer, Alberta, is trying a new approach with the use of deadlines in his classroom. Below, I have copied his entry from his blog Real teaching means real learning. What do you think about deadlines? This is an ongoing topic of discussion amongst many of us and will be something I visit often.
Why we should not have set deadlines in school

I wonder what school would look like if we didn’t have set timelines or completion dates for the assessments of students.

This is the thought I wanted to address this year in one of my classes.  Instead of having set dates for exams, and a set timeline for project dates, I created a learning environment that is conducive for the needs of every single student in my class.

Let’s first look at the problem of having a timeline for when students must demonstrate their knowledge.

Usually, a teacher makes their year plan around the goal of covering all the outcomes of the course.  This teacher must make predictions on how long it will take to cover each individual outcome, which is usually based upon previous years and other students.  Test dates are then inserted strategically throughout the year to determine when it is best for the class to demonstrate their knowledge.  The problem….the teacher is worrying about the class not the individual students.

I have heard teachers say they teach at a pace such that the “average students” can follow, and my assessment dates are around when the “average student” should be able to demonstrate knowledge.  By definition then we are actually pleasing no one!  Half of the students will feel this day comes too late as they have already learned the material and could demonstrate it classes ago, while the other half believes that the pace is too quick, and they will need more classes until they are comfortable demonstrating the material.  Once again, it is very unlikely that we are meeting the needs of any student by trying to meet the needs of the “average student”.

How have I changed this?

I teach on the same timeline and give students an assessment similar to this.  DA with Derivatives , but instead of taking 3 days for the test (1-2 days for review then the 3rd to administer the exam) I provide the student with 1-2 days to complete the assessment.  Students who understand the material quickly are able to work on the assessment ahead of time and complete it immediately, while students who need more time can use as much time as possible.  There is no set date for completion.

What if a student gets behind?

My first comment would be “Behind what?”  Some teachers have this notion that the pace of the class is the pace every student should be learning at, but does this make sense?  Remember these unit plans are created before even meeting our students, so how can we make a plan that addresses the individual student?  Saying that, if a student is not demonstrating the material at an acceptable standard at a time which you feel is detrimental to learning other outcomes, then instead of giving a bad mark and moving on I sit down with this student at lunch, or after school, and ensure this student learns the material.  Is it not our job to educate students?  By giving a test, and saying “sorry you haven’t learned everything, but I am moving on anyways” is actually not completing our job.

As teachers we must remember, our class sizes may be large and diverse but this is due to the fact that many individual students are making up this group and our assessment style should not be created to meet the needs of the “average student” but the “individual student”.


Bieber Fever Notebook style

Have you ever been to Mr. Smart Trainer's site? It's so creative! According to his profile, John Mein is a sixth grade Language Arts and Reading teacher in Kerrville, Texas and a certified SMART board trainer as well as a SMART Exemplary Educator. On his site he shares SMART Notebook files that you can modify to fit any topic, usually involving a question and answer format, BUT the fantastic thing is that he creates them using very relevant, up to date imagery/topics. 
I happened to be surfing the net 2 nights ago, it was about midnight and I came across his site. When I found the Justin Bieber file, I couldn't resist. I stayed up just a bit longer because I just had to use it with my Grade 9 Academic French classes the next day! We are doing review for an upcoming unit test so I used the Bieber game to practise the passé composé with avoir

*Note* This is the MAC version of the file. On the Mr. Smart Trainer site, near the bottom of the post, there is a PC version you can edit.

Here is my "Baby" (sorry, couldn't resist). 

Main screen

Example of a question once you've clicked on a Bieber

Example of answer screen once you've clicked on the curtain

You can use mine and edit it, or get a blank version of Mr. Smart Trainer's site
To edit: 
- click on a Bieber (this will take you "on to the stage"
- double click in the box where I have my "passé-composé-infinitive example"
- select the curtain to the right and move it over so you can access the answer
- double click in the speech bubble to edit the text
- return the curtain back to its original spot
- click on the spotlight to return to the main page
- repeat


Halloween vs. Ofrenda de Muertos Infographics

The infographic obsession lives on! These ones came via Twitter colleagues (I will post their names once I go back in and locate who tweeted them.)
Without further adue:

¿Son fantásticos, no?