As our first trimester comes to a close, I'm thinking about where we are now and how we got here in the course of three months. It's been an interesting evolution. And, of course, I'm thinking about how to sequence my instruction next year (and in my additional classes which will start in January) in order to help scaffold and guide student success even more. Here are my current thoughts, taking into account that I teach Spanish to my middle school students 2-3 times each week for 70 minutes each time. Non-cognate languages and language that are not phonetic will likely require this timeline to be stretched out. For a flow-chart which explains how I structure my class, please see the flow-chart to the right (click for larger view) and this blog post.
Beginning of the year:
- Auditory Input: Begin with mostly Circling Kids, PQA, TPR, One Word Images, and a song or two.
- Structured/Contextualized Reading: Throughout the year, unfamiliar words are written on the board and pointed to every time I use them. The topics we discuss are documented and used as the reading material (I like Tina Hargaden's idea of "Write and Discuss" in order to document the information with my students). We do lots of structured whole-class reading activities with these materials to build up student success in reading. And, of course, all of this reading is highly contextualized as it is explicitly connected to what we have already discussed.
- Contextualized Formative Assessment: Self evaluation of active listening and reading behaviors. This will help me "norm" the class to what I expect from them when they are listening and reading.
A few weeks in:
- Auditory Input: Continue with the above activities, but add in Story Listening for 10-15 minutes once or twice per week. One Word Images will likely also extend into mini-stories naturally.
- Structured/Contextualized Reading: Continue the above whole-class reading activities with texts that are directly connected with the auditory input.
- Contextualized Formative Assessment: Continue with self-evaluations of active listening and reading behaviors in order to "norm" the class. I may ask for an occasional summary or response in L1.
After the first month or two:
- Auditory Input: Focus mainly on stories that are increasing in length and complexity, balancing Story Asking with Story Listening and adjusting based on the needs of the students and myself. These can be supplemented with other CI activities.
- Structured/Contextualized Reading: Begin differentiating for students by providing opportunities for students to select level and format of structured reading. The reading is still connected to the auditory input, but students can select different levels of the reading (embedded readings), which may include new vocabulary or more complex ideas and details. Low students work in a small group with me starting with the easiest version of the text while middle and advanced students self-select their level and if they would like to read alone or in pairs.
- Contextualized Formative Assessment: Students self-evaluate their listening and summarize or respond in L1 to the reading.
- Formative Proficiency Assessment: After the first six weeks, I may do a formative listening and/or reading proficiency assessment to see where students are at and determine which students I need to focus on to make input comprehensible (these are also the students I need to identify as a subgroup for my WA State-mandated student growth goals).
Month Three or Four:
- Auditory Input: Begin focusing on extended Story Listening (30-40 minutes) supplemented by other CI activities.
- Structured/Contextualize Reading AND Application to Novel contexts through FVR: Further differentiate reading by introducing FVR. Low students work in pairs to read embedded materials directly connected to the auditory input. Middle and high students can select from embedded reading materials or materials from the FVR library. They can also select to read in small groups (up to three people) or independently.
- Contextualized Formative Assessment: Students self-evaluate their listening and may summarize or respond in L1. Explicit assessment of reading may or may not occur. If students can be observed reading successfully, no other assessment is necessary.
- Formative Proficiency Assessment: I continue doing reading and/or listening proficiency assessments every 2-3 weeks (they only take about 10 minutes). I do the first free write (I do a 1-3-10 write) at the end of our first trimester (3 months). This gives me a baseline for what students have acquired so far and is intended to measure growth.
Month Four and Beyond?
This is where I am now. How to proceed? My current plans are to continue doing the plan for months 3-4 until all of my students are able to engage in FVR successfully with partners, and then proceed to where everyone can engage in Silent and Sustained FVR. Right now, I have only a handful of kids reading independently. Of course, many of my students who could read independently are helping their friends in small groups. They are working very productively and it's a beautiful thing when my administrator (or anyone else) walks down the hall (we spread out since it can get loud with everyone in the classroom) and asks me "Are they reading novels in Spanish?!" I'm so proud of them! However, I know that I didn't scaffold the reading enough this year for some students (It was my first year doing this and I now see the need for a well-thought out and differentiated transition, which I included in the plan above), so I'm going to take a step back and provide more structured and contextualized reading for those few students who still aren't ready for FVR. My hope is to have everyone successfully engaged in SSR by the end of the year while I continue to provide whole-class auditory input through Story Listening or other methods.