Mini-Lessons for the Doldrums and Pesky Schedule Changes – Resources for your Spanish Classroom
This time of year enthusiasm is hard to maintain. In fact, it might be gone. Maybe the weather is dreary; maybe the year isn’t going as planned-and the end seems so far away; and maybe those standardized tests are really messing with your plans. The kids are tired, you’re tired…it’s the third marking period doldrums. Here’s an idea to inject some color on those dreary days and to have the shortened classes still be worthwhile-even if it wasn’t what you had originally planned: min-culture lessons.
You can contract or expand them according to your constraints or needs as imaginative as you want to be. These lessons can be adjusted to all levels of Spanish. You can take the same lesson and adjust it for level I up to a class full of native speakers.
Choose an artist, a movement, or a theme. For example, one of my favorite painters is Goya. Show the class several of his works and provide some biographical information about him. Then focus on specific works. For example, La familia de Carlos IV can be a treasure trove for the mini-lesson. You can have students describe what the people are wearing, who they are (family relationships), what they look like, you have lots of choices. For more advanced students, have them create a story about the work, imagine a conversation between the ‘models’ and the artist-or between the models, have students express their opinions about the painting or what they think the artist is trying to communicate in the work. You might want to use several min-lessons to work with different artists or different works by the same artists. It’s a question of how much time you have for your mini-lessons or how much variety you want to provide your students.
We are so fortunate to have so much fantastic music with which to work. You may choose music from a specific country, a genre, dances, or instruments unique to the target countries: cuatros, gaitas, charangos, or the myriad of percussion instruments. If your mini-lessons are during test week, this is a great thing to do to get the kids moving and let off a little steam. Teach a dance. If you have native speakers who can do this, get them involved too (especially if you can’t dance). You can also make up your own. This is a great time to review body parts, commands, or directions. Imagine the break you’ll give your kids from a morning filling in bubble sheets. If they’re really revved up after this, that’ll be their next teacher’s problem! Seriously, this activity can actually be beneficial for the kids and the teachers because some of that pent-up energy will have been spent.
So when you feel the third-marking period blues; your 50 minute class has been cut to 25 minutes; or your kids are just plain worn out from bubble sheets, try a mini-lesson. Add a little zip and have fun! You’ll beat the doldrums and roll with those schedule changes.
How do you handle this time of year? I enjoy hearing from you and we can ALL learn a trick or two from each other.
"Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different."
- Stephen King
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