I LOVE summer: World Cup/Cromos/Rainy Day edition

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While life on the blog has been pretty quiet, the opposite is true for life away from it.  We have had an absolute blast this summer!  We were World Cup crazy through June and early July, even going so far as to stream a game on the ESPN app on my phone as we drove through the backwoods of Wisconsin because Argentina was playing.  I have the absolute delight of spending significant amounts of time with a sports-crazed 5 year old during the summer, and in addition to watching for Messi’s magic, we have extended World Cup mania through our cromos albums, and they have been amazing for a rainy day activity.  Tiny guy’s level of engagement in this activity is what we seek in our classrooms–it’s intense, and it has given me some ideas of how to use this resource in class.

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But before we get to that, here’s my true confession:  I had never heard of cromos until this summer, and now I’m almost as hooked as the little guy.  My first introduction was through a blog written by a friend of a friend, talking about her Spanish husband’s obsession with the album.  Then when Zachary Jones did a series of posts on it, I decided to give it a whirl.  So while I started with a few cromos and an album via Amazon, when the little guy showed his fascination with it too, we’ve gone a little nuts.  Basically, the cromos are sold in packs of 7, and they are stickers with numbers on the back.  The numbers correspond to a position in the album, and you peel the stickers and put them in at their designated point.  There are player pictures as well as team photos and logos, and also photos of the stadiums.  Each pack has a variety, and part of the fun is in not knowing quite what you might find.  The boy about pops every time we open a new pack! 🙂

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We are now trading back and forth (he has an ASTOUNDING memory for what he already has) and are talking about so many things along the way.  Where is he from?  Where is that country?  Is it near the US, or far away?  What colors are in his flag?  Who is your favorite player?  Who is your favorite team?  How do you say those things in Spanish?  He is fascinated by it, and since it rains almost every day at some point, it has become our go-to activity in the afternoon.

From a classroom application standpoint, here are ideas that are rolling around in my mind:

  • Use the extras/duplicates to make mini Guess Who boards with a cultural context to practice basics of physical description and spelling names.  Guess Who with names like “Iker Casillas” and “Andrés Iniesta” is inherently more interesting for many kids than made up characters like “Jorge” and “Mario”.
  • Use the extras to review geography
  • Use the collection and articles such as this and videos such as this for reading and listening comprehension practice with rich cultural content.
  • Compare experiences curating collections as kids (state quarters in the US, Pokemon, Yugioh) with this practice

What else can you think of?  Oh, and can you spare a Messi?

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The Aventura Begins…

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A major milestone in my journey of aventuras this year was the post from Creative Language Class about teaching sports and culture through comprehensible input. I’m not sure what it was, but something clicked with that unit that sent me–and more importantly, my students, in a new direction for our Aventuras Nuevas. When the author Megan mentioned that students would already know most of the sports because they were cognates with English, I thought–she’s right!  But now what do we do? And do I really want to teach the unit like I had before?

I knew about CI, and knew a lot of theory, but had previously been in a very tightly controlled curriculum where if it was day #_, then you should be teaching _. Those boundaries made it hard to implement strategies that I knew could be effective.  In truth, even though I knew the “should do’s”, I had had limited practice in implementing them.

Seeing Megan’s lessons and realizing that we could embed deep culture and vocabulary while maintaining TL use at the novice level was profound.  At the time, I was struggling with keeping students engaged in class for the first time in years, and finally, this was our breakthrough.  Borrowing heavily from what Megan shared, I started teaching about Victor Cruz, Robinson Canó, and of course, Lionel Messi. Suddenly students who didn’t seem to care about Spanish were intrigued by salsa lessons, that Messi likes Candy Crush, and that Jay-Z was Canó’s agent, and that there actually is a Lucha Libre name generator to accompany their LL identities–and they got all of this in Spanish.  I was astonished by what they picked up–and continue to be amazed by what they have retained–because of this unit.  A couple of weeks ago, I was about to remind them about the word oro for “gold”, but they thought I was a little loca.  After all, hadn’t we talked about Messi’s Balón de Oro and his Botas de Oro.  Oh, yes.  Yes, we had. 😉

So what to do next? Find a way to keep the enthusiasm alive. After all, we are on this aventura together!