La Clase de la Sra. Moloney


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Por vs. Para Telenovelas – Student Work

I promised that I would have student sample work for you from our “Por vs. Para” Telenovela video project and, let me tell you, you will NOT be disappointed.  These amazing students did an UNBELIEVABLE job in making a pretty boring grammar concept into dramatic and fun telenovelas.  Check them all out by clicking on the image below!

 

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Who Are You Calling a Drama Queen?

Ok, so, if you know us in the #niplang department, we love our theatrics and drama.  The more outlandish and outrageous we can be, the better.  Overacting?  YES!  TOO MUCH AT TIMES?  Well…  Our mantra is: whatever works, we’ll do it.

As you also may know, big changes have occurred in #niplang’s approach to teaching world languages.  We are putting an increased emphasis on speaking and listening with the goal of increasing fluency and promoting communication skills.  This skills-based approach has created a new batch of competent, confident speakers who can communicate effectively with others.  However, as much as we have evolved in our language instruction, sometimes, we just have to get back to basics, especially with some important “boring grammar stuff, ” like POR vs. PARA and SER vs. ESTAR.  Differentiating between using ser or estar (the verbs “to be”) in the proper context can be very challenging.  Likewise, deciding between por/para (prepositions than can mean for, by, because of, per, in order to, etc.) can be nearly impossible without a formal introductory lesson.  Unless you learn the proper grammar rules, you can end up making some serious unintentional errors that could significantly change what you are trying to say.

But how do you make a boring grammar lesson fun?  With a little drama, of course!  Next week, students in Level 3 Honors Spanish will begin creating video “shorts” that contrast the uses of ser/estar and por/para.  So, how is this fun, you ask?  Haven’t we done enough videos?

In groups, students will have to execute their series of (10), 10-second video shorts..in the style of an over-the-top, dramatic telenovela such as:

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Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 5.40.04 PMComplete with unnecessary close-ups and overreacting, students have to (over)act out these videos in Spanish, include English/Spanish text subtitles, and articulate their reason for using each respective word in context.

Knowing how creative my students are, I can’t wait to see how these videos turn out!  Check back soon for some sample student work.

 

 

 

 

 

So, how does our ridiculousness help us in our classrooms you ask?


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Student-Designed Learning

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 2.16.56 PMIf you know me, you might notice that I can be a bit “particular” and I like things to be “my way” (AKA perfect..all the time).  Unfortunately, my “control freak” nature (as some might suggest) is not always conducive to learning and can be a bit overwhelming.  This year, I am trying to step out of my comfort zone and surrender more control to my students.  This is not easy for me at all (because I feel the need to give people my opinion, even when not solicited, but I digress), but thankfully, my students have already responded in amazing ways.  (More details to come…)

Student-Designed Rubrics:  This year, I am offering student a few opportunities to create their own project rubrics.  To begin, students are given a problem/challenge/scenario and must create their solution/project/response with very limited guidelines.  As a class, students then collaborate on a Google Doc to identify and explain the objectives of the project and create measurable indicators for these goals.  Then, the class agrees upon the total point value for the project as well as the rubric indicator values.

Student-Designed Benchmarks: Additionally, students choose the due date of the project and identify important “check-in” dates and benchmarks where they can solicit student and instructor feedback on their project prototypes.

Is this going to work?  I’m not really sure, but I am extremely encouraged by what I have witnessed thus far.  So many students have stepped up and taken on leadership roles in this process.  It is not always a “pretty process”, but it doesn’t have to be.

My goal is that students experience a sense of pride and ownership, not just in their final product, but in the learning design process.  I want my students all to feel comfortable delegating tasks within their group and sharing responsibility for a common purpose.

Stay-tuned for updates!


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First Week – In the Books!

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 2.06.15 PMWell, we made it through the big 2 days for Week One of the 2017-2018 school year!  I had an absolute blast getting to know my new students and there is NO doubt my students LOVED competing in a game of Kahoot to learn all about me (Remember how I like my coffee, kids!)  We started all kinds of activities to break the ice and get to know each other.

Since my theme for the year is “OBSTACLES”, our first activity was a paper tower challenge.

In groups, the students were given the task of creating the tallest paper tower with only construction paper and tape.  As they worked, they were given various unexpected “obstacles” such as being blindfolded, that they had to overcome in order to pursue their goal. 

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Students then “debriefed” with the following “Points to Ponder”:

  • What real-world skills did you use to be successful?
  • What did this activity have to do with this class?  Or any class?
  • What obstacles do think you might encounter this year?  So what are you going to do about it?
  • What type of learning would make overcoming the obstacles “worth it”?
  • So what do you want to learn this year?
  • Are you invested in your own learning?

Students understood the connection of this activity to real-life in that we all at some point in time have had challenges and obstacles to overcome.  The students then identified the following skills helped to complete their task:

  • Collaboration
  • Critical-Thinking
  • Flexibility
  • Communication
  • Risk-Taking
  • Humor
  • Guessing

Students then identified specific obstacles that they might encounter this year and brainstormed potential solutions and action steps:

  • Fear of speaking in Spanish/Practice with peers in class
  • Nervous about gaps in vocabulary/Create own personal thematic vocabulary lists
  • Forget some content from last year/Take advantage of personalized content review sessions in class
  • Different learning styles/Give feedback to teacher via survey on activity and project ideas.

The final and perhaps most important question was:

  •  Are you invested in your own learning?

(If they said NO, I ignored them) and told them that the answer is YES!  And so am I, so let’s do this!

Hope you had a great first week of school!

 


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Kindness Rocks Project – In Spanish!

Our Latin American Experience class is all about making connections within the Latino community and reaching out to others in kindness and friendship with the goal of promoting tolerance and understanding.  What better way than to create a Kindness Rocks Project in Spanish!

I first learned about The Kindness Rocks Project this past summer while I was hiking with my children, Eamon and Delia.  We came upon this assortment of beautifully-painted rocks and noticed that they had wonderful, positive messages written on them. Uplifting statements like “May all good things happen to you today” and “Focus on the good” adorned these rocks of various sizes and shapes.  My son and daughter were immediately intrigued and we spent quite some time reading the positive messages and talking about what they meant.  We also noticed the hashtag #thekindnessrocksproject written on each rock and were curious what it all meant.  Looking more closely, we also noticed a small wooden sign that welcomed us to take a rock if we needed some positivity in our lives and to share them with others in need.  It also said to take a photo of the rock and to put it on social media with the hashtag #thekindnessrocksproject.  I was amazed at what we found out when we did a little more investigation at home of how this all began.

The Kindness Rocks Project was started by an anonymous woman in Barnstable, MA.  She liked to collect rocks on the beach and would paint inspirational sayings on them and leave them in places for people to find.  One instance, before her trend went viral, this woman simply left a painted rock at a local Whole Foods and a woman, who had been experiencing many recent hardships in her life, picked it up and posted a photo on Facebook.  She explained how that simple message of hope changed her life and helped her to move forward through difficult circumstances.  And thus, The Kindness Rocks Project was born!

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As she continues to pay it forward, she has inspired people, like us,  from around the globe to create their own Kindness Rocks Project!

Students in our Latin American Experience classes collected up some rocks and painted positive messages and inspirational quotes in Spanish on them  Then, they ventured off to set up their “rock garden” in a local Milford park.  If you were a Spanish-speaker and you came across a rock garden with uplifting messages in YOUR language, how cool would that be?

Learn more about The Kindness Rocks Project here!

Check out some of our student-created Spanish kindness rocks below!


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Nipmuc Celebrates World Language Week

World Language Week will be celebrated at Nipmuc Regional High School from March 13-17. Come check out the amazing work of our Italian/French/Spanish students!

Our Advanced Grammar and Composition Spanish immersion students are painting portraits of famous Hispanics throughout history and writing biographies on their lives and achievements.

These immersion students, as well the AP Spanish Language students, are competing in a writing contest sponsored by The Spanish Resource Center at UMass Boston.

Every day during the morning, students will enjoy the sounds of international music over the loudspeaker, courtesy of the Hispanic Civilization, Literature, and Culture class. These students are also creating ornate “azulejos”, or Spanish tiles for display.

Level 3 language students will be creating and illustrating children’s books and fairy tales in the target language.

Each level 4 student is researching the life and contribution of a famous Italian/French/Spanish figure.  Students will “become” this famous figure for a day, and be able to answer questions about themselves and their respective works in the target language. These students will also be creating monuments and artistic reproductions of famous works of art or indigenous sculpture and pottery.

Students from the Latin American Experience classes are learning about the Aztecs and writing their names utilizing the Ictapa alphabet.

NEW THIS YEAR! – On Thursday, March 16th from 1:00pm-2:00pm, all level 2 world language students will be “competing” in our first annual “Battle of the International Food Trucks”.  In groups, students are designing fictional “food trucks” and serving up some amazing international fare.  Sharply dressed in their newly-created company “uniforms”, students will be glad to tell you all about their food truck concept/theme as well as some fun facts about their country’s/region’s flag, tourist attractions, and signature dish.  We are so excited to welcome some foodies and restaurateurs from local businesses such as Bertucci’s, Acouge Vale Do Aco, and Rebecca’s3 as well as some community connections, like Major League Cuts, that we have made through our Latin American Experience class, to serve as judges.  Students from the Latin American Experiences classes will serve as hosts and assist our visiting judges with the voting process.

That night at 7:00pm, we will proudly induct over 60 members into our newly-chartered Spanish/French/Italian National Honor Societies.  You are cordially invited to join us in the cafeteria for a celebration of our World Language students’ incredible achievements.

Students in Level 1 language classes will be designing and creating unique international t-shirts. On Friday, March 17th from 1:15pm to 2:00pm we will hold our annual Level 1 International Buffet. Join us in the cafeteria to sample some international fare and to judge our annual international t-shirt contest.

We are really looking forward to this year’s World Language Week and hope that you can join us in celebrating cultural diversity, tolerance, and understanding.


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Sticky Sentences… We Need Your Help!

At all levels in language learning, we utilize what we call “sticky sentences” or scrambled sentences to reinforce grammar topics and aid in their integration in context.  In some instances, students cut out each sentence component and manipulate them on the carpet to facilitate collaboration and group input.  Other times, students use them as as a guide to create structured expressions and draw pictures that represent their meaning.

 

Some kids LOVE them; other kids DON’T, but they work and they are a great way to assess comprehension and application of abstract grammar topics.  So, why do we need YOUR help?

We are looking for a way (READ: NOT labor intensive) to transfer this type of activity to the IPads, so that students can manipulate the words/sentence fragments quickly and easily to both facilitate learning and to compare and contrast various language structures.  As an instructor, I would need to be able to “push” out a list/grid of words that all students could utilize to create their sentences.  Some IPad apps we have already thought of/tried without much success are:

Notability
Poetry Creator
Word Mover
Instant Poetry 2
Social Poetry
Sticky Words
Fridge Poems
Google Slides

Do you have any suggestions or ideas that could help us?  Are you a computer coder, engineer, or just all-around genius and would like to create an app for us?  Let us know and get in touch at: tmoloney@mursd.org.   Thanks!