“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” -Charlemagne
A few weeks ago I zigzagged from one Q portable to the next and visited World Languages classrooms. In each class I heard the teachers affectionately refer to their students as “chicos.” The mention of this one word brought memories of my own high school Spanish teacher flooding back. She wore flowing skirts and a large flower pinned behind her ear that matched the color of her lipstick. Her sing-song Spanish filled the room from bell to bell, encouraging us to join her and repeat words and phrases. Together we became a chorus. She immersed us in language and culture. We never felt too timid to speak, never experienced embarrassment at our pronunciation. She ended the class the same way each afternoon: “Okay, chicos. ¡Adiós!”
I felt the same level of comfort and encouragement in our World Languages classes here at Hart. ¡Qué maravilloso!
Here is a snapshot of the learning taking place when I visited:
Veronica Regalado Spanish 2B
The first class I visited was Veronica Regalado’s 5th period Spanish 2B. Students were focused on the present perfect. Every single student was on task, writing questions in Spanish and answering them in their notebooks. All students on task probably had a little something to do with the app Veronica was using on her iPhone. The Class Cards app helps teachers randomly call on students and, as a result, keeps students alert and engaged. Here are the benefits of the Class Cards app according to the desogners…
- Use a randomly generated list of students from a class as an aid for determining which student to call upon.
- Quickly rate the quality of each student’s response.
- View response scores by individual student or an entire class.
- Archive scores to a secure website where you can view class info, print grade sheets, or download the data for importing into an Excel spreadsheet.
- Select a student of your choosing to be the one to respond.
- Email yourself scores for all classes or a selected class.
Every once in awhile Veronica would ask, ¿Hay preguntas? and the students would ask questions and get clarification. The classroom environment was comfortable and inviting thanks to Veronica’s easy-going nature and open invitation for all students to participate ¡Gracias Verónica!
Rich Mickel Spanish 1B
Rich Mickel was discussing Peru when I slipped into his class and took a seat in the back row. He projected images of Machu Picchu, video clips documenting the people and their culture, and even shared his own personal experience. Rich lived in Peru and the students loved hearing stories about the time he spent there. After he piqued their interest he asked, “Why would Machu Picchu be advertising to have more people visit?” One student guessed, “More money?” “Yes! And what is the danger in that? It may not last! So get there.” I heard a student whisper to her neighbor, “I want to go!” I love the encouragement to not only learn a language in the classroom, but to also travel and experience the culture and people first hand. I left as the students were exploring more about Peru in their textbooks, the reading made much “richer” (okay, bad pun, but I had to!) by the inclusion of multi-media and personal narrative. ¡Buen trabajo, Rich!
Vanessa Perez French 3/4
Ahhh, French. I could listen to Vanessa speaking this language of love all day long! Now Vanessa has a unique situation. She teaches a split class of French 3 and 4. She is the queen of differentiation! On this particular day she had the two groups working on different activities. First up, the French 3 students were working on an what she referred to as an “information gap activity.” The students were practicing vocabulary and were given slips of paper with part of the information they need about a place they need to find in a university. They needed to discussed the information with each other, in French, and “fill in the gaps” to find out more about the Registration office and where it located. Awesome activity to hit the Listening and Speaking Standards!
“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”
Vanessa’s French 4 students were reading one of my all time favorites, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry! I imagine it is even more beautiful in French. They have activities to do as they read. For example, they may write and respond to passages or draw scenes. On this day, however, they were comparing what they had read so far to a musical production. Seated in pairs on Chromebooks, the students were engrossed in the performance. This helps them to visualize the text, but it also helps with listening comprehension. Je suis amoureux…
Luis Fernandez Spanish 2B
Luis Fernandez’s Spanish 2B students were presenting business proposals to the class. They created brochures with their ideas for an imagined business. The one below is for a gym. As the students presented their information, the others acted as prospective investors and listened carefully. Then they asked questions that invited the presenters to elaborate. This collaborative activity not only helped to reinforce vocabulary, it also hit our Speaking and Listening (1 and 4!) anchor standards for this year. ¡Fabuloso!
Mayra Perez Spanish 1
Mayra’s students were conjugating “two verbs, two ways” when I entered the classroom. Using the Elmo, Mayra filled in information as the students provided answers. She smiled and prompted them to respond, creating a safe environment for these novice Spanish speakers to practice. At times a student would answer in an awkward way, but the class would encourage the speaker to try again. They laughed together a few times which caused Mayra to smile along saying, “Aye, chicos.” Her class reminded me of my own high school Spanish class! She often stopped and had students repeating words, either individually or as through choral responses. As with all of the World Language teachers, she has mastered listening and speaking activities! ¡Bien hecho!
The last stop on my Q-ville World Languages tour was (fellow Bruin!) Gilda Stubblefield. Known affectionately as “Stubbs” to her students, Gilda was in the midst of a complex vocabulary review. Students were preparing for a future exam and had already completed the written portion of the review prior to class. Responding to her ‘preguntas’ and asking a few questions of their own, students easily engaged with Gilda. She allowed them think time before responding and stopped them often repeat words. I watched her encourage a reluctant student to conjugate a verb and pronounce an unfamiliar term. His attempt received a huge grin from Gilda… One cannot help but be swept up by her infectious smile and quick, Cuban-style Spanish. Ella es buena como un ángel…
Thank you, World Languages teachers!