I hope you find the videos useful. There are 2 parts.
Every 9 weeks I have a new group of sixth graders who take Spanish. I usually begin with Total Physical Response (TPR) for a couple weeks and then I start with One Word Images (OWI). This time I started earlier with OWI's. This was our first OWI: El pavo Billy Bob. I am including the videos of the lesson that actually went a little bit too long but the students really wanted to finish the character. The best part was at the end of the class when a student told me that her new favorite animal was Billy Bob the Turkey!
I hope you find the videos useful. There are 2 parts.
Have you ever decided to try something new in your classroom and then you have visitors? After years of reading about running dictations I finally decided to try this activity with my students. We have had some great Spring weather and my students are getting Spring fever so this activity was perfect for them.
How to Play
Basically you take a story that the students have created or listened to recently. You find 9 -15 sentences and print them out in order with the number order. Cut the paper into strips so that there is one sentence on each strip of paper. Have a destination where your students can run to safely. Place the strips of paper out of order around the destination. I used tape to fix them to the walls and other objects. Students divide into groups of 3-4. One person is the secretary and the others are the runners. The runners take turns running to the destination and finding a strip of paper with the number on it. Our destinations were the hallway and the patio. They memorize the sentence. Then run back to the secretary and dictate the sentence to him or her. If they forget then they have to run back to the sentence and reread. They cannot shout the sentence out to their secretary. The first team to have the most correct sentences in order wins.
My classroom is next to an enclosed patio area. It has no roof and the windows from my classroom open to the patio and I can see into the next classroom. From the hallway there is a large window and one can also see into the patio. From the entrance of my classroom I can observe the hallway, my classroom and I can see into most of the patio. Our school has a block schedule with A/B days. I started this with my A day classes and then went on to my B day classes.
A-Day - First Class
This is a semester class of 7th grade students. I have had them since January. I explained Running Dictation in L1 even though I knew I should do it in L2, but it was new for me and I felt unsure about using it. So I continued on and made some great mistakes from which I have learned. First of all, I had way too many sentences (21). Secondly, I did not write the number order on the strips of paper. They really needed that support because the sequence was not as obvious as I thought. This took way too long. The students were exhausted. They ran and had fun finding the sentences of their story and then putting it back in order.
A-Day - Second Class
This is an 8th grade class that I have had all year. To my surprise we hadn’t had a class story recently so I chose to use a story that I used in Story Listening. It worked out well because they felt they knew the story. Again I explained the instructions in L1. This time I only used 15 sentences. It was still a bit too difficult because I did not put the number sequence on each strip of paper. It took them most of the class time to complete. So I knew I needed to change a few things to make this a more beneficial activity.
B Day - First Class
This time I had the instructions up on the board in L2. Sadly, I wrote them out in too complicated. They just were not comprehensible to that class which has only been with me since January. So we started off in L2 but I ended up switching to L1 because too much was out of bounds. The positives were that the students knew the story very well. It was one that they had created and that we had recently reread. Also I had about 6 Mexican straw sombreros and I asked them if any of the students wanted to wear them while they played the Running Dictation. They were a hit. So once again I had students running in and out of my classroom up and down the hallway and in and out of the patio reading the strips of sentences posted all around. This time I did have the number order written on the paper. This was a big help. We had about 30 minutes of class left over. We ended with 10 minutes of FVR and a 10 minute quick write. The students did great!
B Day - Second Class - Surprise Visitors
This time I was really prepared. This is my other year long class. I rewrote the instructions and simplified the language so that it was more comprehensible. Again I used a story from our Story Listening lesson. Again it was only 15 sentences (still a little long but doable). This time I added four extra strips of paper but instead of having the story on them I wrote things like “Try again!” in L2. Everything was set.
The bell rang and in walk my students with guests! Five of my students were chaperoning students from a local Japanese school for the day. The students spoke some English. They were shocked to see that there were no desks in the classroom. The bell rang I started class in L2. As always I was giving directions to my students to unstack the chairs and which set up we needed for the day. I noticed right away that the student chaperones were translating into English what we were doing. In English I told them they were doing a great job and to continue to translate so that our guests do not get bored. I opened with calendar and then decided to jump right into Running Dictation. Just as I started to do this, other visitors show up at my door. Three teachers from the visiting school. So of course I invited them in. Now my room was packed. I am explaining the rules in Spanish, and working the CI magic. All the while the student chaperones are translating into English for the Japanese students and the visiting teachers are discussing my technique of making the language comprehensible.
We put on sombreros and started the running dictation (RD). While the Japanese students did not participate in the RD, a few put on the sombreros and joined in watching the others run and dictate. They seemed quite entertained. While all of this is going on, I had a colleague outside my door observing. So I explained to her what we were doing and why students were running up and down the hallway and in and out of the patio. She helped me monitor the door while I spoke to our visiting teachers who wanted to know why there were no desks. I explained some of the benefits and told them some of the ways that the students use the room. It was a very pleasant experience!
The visiting teachers and I talked for a little bit and then they moved on as my class was still engaged in RD. After the running dictation, we had FVR. Again the student chaperones read and translated to our guests. One student chaperone need to step out for a minute so I took over reading and translating to one of our guests. I wanted to model to the other students what they should be doing. Soon they were all doing the same. Reading slowly and with expression and then translating. A couple students interrupted me and asked if they could go get a copy of the novel I was reading because it sounded interesting. Of course I told them yes. We finished up FVR and I had the students to do a quick write for 10 minutes. The writing flowed! Students were writing so fluently! It was beautiful.
If you are considering trying a running dictation with your class, then go ahead and do it. Do not worry if it does not turn out fantastic the first time. Keep reflecting on how you can make it better and then just run with it!
-Clase, gracias por aprender. (Class, thank you for learning.)
-Profe, gracias por enseñarnos. (Teacher, thank you for teaching us.)
I have the above posted only in Spanish next to the door of my classroom. At the end of each class, the students and I say repeat this as a good-bye. I like the good-bye because it brings closure to the class and teaches the students to respectfully exit a room. I have my students so well trained that if the bell rings and I haven't started the good-bye they will look at me, point to the sign with eyes wide open, waiting for me to begin the mantra. I have enjoyed the short exchange with one exception, the word aprender (to learn). Lately it has not felt right to me, but that is the word the students understand so I have used it. After all the students come to school to learn. But I fear that the meaning of the word may be somewhat distorted in the minds of my students. In my humble opinion, many students seem to think learning is memorizing and repeating that which has been memorized to perfection. Some of my students actually get worried that they do not have conjugation charts to fill out or lists of words to memorize. I do not think the word learn is bad, rather I think we as educators may need to redefine it because it impedes student progress.
Free Voluntary Reading Blocked by "LEARNING"
Other than reading the hallways, I had stopped FVR for a while because I had been afraid that many of my students were not using the time to truly read. I may have started it too soon in the year with my level 1 class and thus made it a chore. It had lost its pleasure factor. I decided to restart my FVR program. I started by going to Bryce Hedstrom's website because he has great resources such as posters and research on starting an FVR program.
I began my class by having the students read one of Bryce's articles, Language Acquisition and Reading. We discussed why we do FVR, how to do FVR and saw that it was research based. We reviewed how to choose books and then began FVR. The majority of the students read for 30 minutes. At the end of FVR I had the students to fill out Bryce's Reading Reflection. Immediately one student in particular wanted to know if they would get a grade for this activity. I calmly said no. I explained that if they have read for pleasure, the research shows that they will have acquired language from the reading and it will show up in their writing and speaking later on. This was my fault. During the discussion of the article I kept saying learn or learning instead of acquire or gain. I really should have established a new definition of what they were trying to accomplish; reading for pleasure as opposed to reading for learning.
The students handed in their reflections and we discussed what they got out of the FVR time. Many were impressed that they could read the whole 30 minutes. One student read an encyclopedia in Spanish. She actually enjoyed it and reported that it kept her attention the entire time. One student was excited because by reading the book Felipe Alou by Carol Gaab, he discovered that Haiti does not speak Spanish but rather Creole. It made him feel good that he was acquiring new information through reading Spanish. Of course he did not use the word acquire rather he used learn.
Another student declared that she learned nothing from reading because that is not how she learns things. The class gasped. I smiled and thanked her for sharing. While the other students were returning their books I asked this student, who declared she did not learn anything from reading, if she had read for pleasure or if she had read to learn. She responded that she doesn't read for pleasure. She only reads when she has to for class but that it is not as effective for her in learning as when she just listens. She was being sincere and honest, she was not saying this in a disrespectful way. I realized that some of my students still equated reading as a task for learning and not as a pleasurable activity. We ended the class by repeating our good-bye: Clase, gracias por aprender. Profe, gracias por enseñarnos. The word aprender left me with a heavy feeling.
Planing for Pleasure reading
In thinking about my students and how some still do not know that they are capable of reading for pleasure, I have decided to focus on pleasure reading for the rest of the year. This week I have had the most success from Story Listening that I have had all year. I told two stories this week. They were not fantastic but they were compelling. I think I am getting better each time I tell a story. You can see some of my Story Listening attempts on my YouTube Channel. I keep rereading Dr. Beniko Mason's research on Story Listening and extensive reading and I see how powerful it is in creating readers for pleasure as opposed to readers for learning. Pleasure readers acquire information. Then they take that information that they have acquired and share it or create something new with it and then share their new idea. That is what happened when my student read about Felipe Alou. He acquired information about Haiti and he proudly shared it with the class. He wasn't directed to learn about Haiti. He will not forget what language is spoken in Haiti nor where it is located. He did not have to memorize any facts about the country. That is the power of pleasure reading.
I will continue to use the Invisibles, and One Word Images because it allows the students to create and be just a little silly. I think there is room for all good comprehensible and compelling input. This input helps build the students' confidence and comprehension of readings in the target language.
FVR will continue now on a daily basis with sharing every now and then. I would also like to hear how students are choosing their reading materials. I think students need to hear from their peers about what gets their attention and why. My last plan for FVR is to have some Free Voluntary Web-Surfing. I think this may be a nice change for some of my more reluctant readers and since I have a dedicated world language computer lab at my disposal, I am going to use it.
Lastly I am going to change the sign on my wall. Here is what it will say:
-Clase, gracias por adquirir, crear y compartir. (Clase, thank you for acquiring, creating and sharing.)
-Profe, gracias por enseñarnos. (Teacher, thank you for teaching us.)
I continue to be amazed at the power of One Word Images (OWI). This evening my daughter and I were again waiting for my wife at a coffee shop and I asked my daughter to help me learn some more Japanese. The last time we did this we made a scone with strawberry eyes. This time I chose the word lid (futa, ふた、蓋 ). We had so much fun talking about this coffee lid and what it looked like. I was amazed at how much I was understanding in Japanese and how much I could express. My sweet daughter even wrote out a vocabulary list of the new words I was hearing. She asked me questions and gave suggestions. We drew a picture and wrote some sentences. When I got home I decided to write up what we discussed.
My Aha! Moment
My daughter had done something incredible. She let the language flow. She didn't hold back language because she thought it might be too difficult for me. She used the ~て form, she used 〜ない form. She would ask me if I knew a kanji or not. When I knew the kanji she wrote in kanji. She made it comprehensible and she made it compelling. She didn't worry if I knew the correct conjugation of the verbs or adjectives. How often do we hold back language from our students because "they haven't learned that yet?" The more I use these OWI with my students the more I see how much language they can handle.
Her name is Tapuchi-san. She is a green coffee lid. She is square. She has two eyes with red around them. She has a mouth. It has purple around it. She lives in China. She is strong because she goes to the gym. She is kind. She has many friends. She has many family. She has an older brother and sister who are not kind. She is 1,006 years old. She doesn't cry, she smiles. Press the button below to read about Tapuchi-san in Japanese:
It all began with a One Word Image
Every now and then the students give you a character that just needs a follow up story. Last semester we created Teresa Taco. That day I had called for a student illustrate Teresa and one student took up the challenge. In the next class she brought me the drawing and we all fell in love with Teresa Taco.
We had a great description but the students were not ready to tell her story, so we moved on to other characters, but we kept that original description.
Out of the Blue and into Compelling
Last week we started talking about our next character, when some students looked over a Teresa on the wall and told me they want to talk about her. So we began talking. We realized she had this background story that needed to be told. How did she end up in Gordon Ramsey's jail? We knew she had committed a culinary crime, but what was it? (Just as a side note: My students respect Gordon Ramsey and see him as a person who cares deeply about the culinary arts.)
We had the basic storyline down in one class and then we wrote out the story while adding details in another class. In the meantime the original artist with the help of others drew an updated version of Teresa Taco. Two other students wrote a second version of how Teresa Taco got in jail. Now we have the class story and the version from the other two students. We now have material to compare and contrast.
The language Boom
As we were creating the story about Teresa Taco we started using language that was higher than novice level. To paint the picture, I was typing on the computer while the students were looking at the projection on a screen. They were copying down the story. We were going slowly so that everyone understood, could write and discuss. At the same time I was having a formal evaluation by my administrator. She understands enough Spanish that she could follow along. She was amazed at how much the students were understanding and how engaged they were in the story.
The language boom was not me forcing the students to learn something. I was just providing the language input they wanted and needed at that moment to tell their story. When I first began using the One Word Images and the Invisibles I was worried that I would be stuck with low level vocabulary and expressions because I only teach Novice level, but I found that my students will let me give them the language they want and need when they are ready.
Click on the button to access the full story of Teresa Taco in Spanish.
At the school where I teach, we are expected to have student work displayed in the hallway along with standards and/or can do statements. I began to display in our hallway, our class created characters called One Word Images (OWI) and stories of student created characters called Invisibles. I have them on poster size chart paper. At first I was just illustrating the character or having the students illustrate the character. Then it occurred to me to have the story or a shortened version of the story on the poster with the drawing of the Invisible. The OWI's have more of a description as opposed to a story. So I put up the work and then showed the students the I can statements and let them read the walls of the hallway. It was their work and their peers' work. They read all of it. Between classes and after school I hear students talking as they go by about their work or their friends asking them to read the posters to them.
I needed a quick assessment so I asked the students to take just 10 minutes to go into the hallway and read as many posters as they could and to write down only the words that they understood. They started by writing down the title and then they could write. For example, if they knew Me llamo = I call myself, they would write that down. When they went to another poster they could not use Me llamo again.
Some students wrote and translated single words, while others wrote whole phrases or sentences. When I asked one student why she was taking the time to write down the whole phrase, she explained that it was just made more sense to her that way. It worked great. As I looked over their papers later I could see the different levels of language acquisition. Some were at a word level while others were well on their way to the phrase and sentence level. I also could see where there were misunderstandings. All of my students walked away from that assessment feeling successful. They all could meet the Can do statements.
Recently I have been working with One Word Images (OWI) and Invisibles from Ben Slavic's book TPRS the Easy Way. I am currently teaching all level one students which makes this all much easier than if I had 3-4 different levels. Nonetheless, I have students who have had a beginning level Spanish class and others with very limited exposure to the language if any. I teach middle school where I have a wheel class for sixth grade every nine weeks, two seventh grade classes every semester and two eighth grade year 1 classes.
As we have been creating OWI, I have been writing up the descriptions in Spanish. Since the vocabulary is non-targeted other than my base twelve high frequency verbs, each class has different vocabulary appearing in their stories. Some of it is already overlapping due to the nature of high frequency words (HFW). As I would write these up in Google Docs, I started making a copy of each story or description. One story would be in Spanish with no support. The other would have footnotes for vocabulary that was new. It was fine for the class that came up with the character description or the story, however, because all classes have shared access to the stories, other classes would need to have more footnotes in order to be able to read the text with 100% comprehension. Soon the stories had from 15-20 footnotes. My students were choosing to read them during our sustained silent reading (SSR), but I just did not like them having to wade through so many footnotes. Some students did not even need so many footnotes while others needed each and every one of them.
This morning I was reading posts on my social media when I came across a post by Jillane Baros at profabaros.weebly.com. She has been embedding the class stories so they are more comprehensible to more students. Genius! Why didn't I think of that! So you should definitely check out her website and embedded stories here. She also has audio to go with at least one version of the story so her students can listen again!
Now that I was inspired by Jillane Baros, I decided to work on one of my class stories and change it into an embedded reading. I kept the footnotes but now there are only 5-6 footnotes per level of reading the same story. I hope that this will help my students have a better opportunity in acquiring the base HFW and also gain new vocabulary through a compelling story written by their friends and classmates. Here are the stories in order in Spanish with footnotes:
Donnie la Dona
If you would like to see demonstrations of OWI and/or Invisibles in a classroom, I recommend watching Tina Hargaden's videos on the TPRS Hangout channel on YouTube. They are mostly French and Spanish.
Some Great Sites
Blaine Ray TPR Storytelling