Artista de la semana + Failing Forward

Thanks to influences from my amazing PLN, especially @karacjacobs and @dwphotoski I finally have an organized, streamlined method of doing something I’ve wanted to do better for a long time: leverage students’ interest in music to teach them language skills.  While I have been doing music activities for years, I wanted my students to know more about the artists and culture beyond just the lyrics of their songs.  Kara, Dustin, and I–as well as some other #langchat teachers–have been assembling slide shows about musical artists, and this was the missing piece for me.  I had also begun using Bryce Hedstrom’s idea of Persona Especial in class, so using the slide shows with similar questions is a way of increasing the repetition of high frequency vocabulary, but without it getting boring.

It also allows us to take about a wide variety of topics that connect to the artists and introduce vocabulary that might otherwise not come up, but that is relevant to the conversation and interesting to students:  Sie7e is a vegano and activista para derechos de animales; the founder of NOTA is a neurobiologista.  While these terms might not be in the top 200 most used words in the language, I think it’s important for students to see the people behind the music, and to see that they can understand “big words” even if they are in Spanish 1.  We also look for connections between artists and other famosos, like Shakira & Piqué.

As we work our way through the presentations, students answer generic questions about the artists.  The first slide show of the year for Spanish 1 is about NOTA, (get it here) is below, as are the questions that students completed as they watched.  We followed up with activities from Martina Bex and a quiz on Quizizz.

Let me take a moment to tell you about failing forward, though.  Failing forward is an underlying philosophy of my school.  (You can read more about our school here.) I transferred here this year to be part of the leadership of a school redesign that is incredibly challenging, difficult, messy, and rewarding.  We celebrate failures as steps on the journey toward success, though that in itself is hard.   On Thursday we were doing a lyrics sort activity from Martina and the kids were complaining that it was really, really hard… so I played the song several times.  They still weren’t getting it.  Then, after the fourth time I played the song, I realized why:  I had played the English version of the song every time.  Oh my.  I apologized to the kids, we sang along with the Spanish version, and we moved on.  It’s my hope that modeling this failure gives them permission to try and to fail as well.  It’s also a reminder to me that we need to give ourselves grace when we make mistakes and to encourage younger teachers to recognize that even though blogs, Pinterest, and other social media might indicate otherwise–even the veterans mess it up sometimes.  But tomorrow’s a new day, and Monday is a new artist.

Spanish 1, week 1 questions for Nota presentation:

  • La fecha de hoy es el ___ de _____________.
  • El artista de la semana se llama __________________________________.
  • Es (grupo/dúo/solista).
  • El estilo de música del artista es __________________________________.
  • Es originalmente de __________________________________.
  • Una canción famosa del artista es __________________________________.
  • Otra información interesante:
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Frequency chart

One of the things that has become a key part of my classroom is charts and displays that help students with key concepts. You can find out more about our word walls here.

Today on the CI Teaching page on Facebook Laura A. posted a picture of a chart that she made based on a picture she saw on Pinterest. It is just the kind of thing that I need for a unit we will be doing in a week or two, so I made it into a digital file. I’ll be stopping by Staples tomorrow to print it in poster form!  Download a copy for yourself here Frequency poster.

Update: Michele Whaley has provided the Russian terms for the chart, so now you can download it here: Russian Frequency poster  Thank you, Michele!