I learned and processed so much in the last couple of days I can’t get the words on the computer screen quick enough. Let me try and explain what has gone on in class the last few days. I apologize for the long post that may not be as cohesive as I’d like it to be.
My students, after three years of using and practicing verbs like gustar bombed what was suppose to be a grade boosting quiz. So I asked my buddy Leigh for suggestions. She mentioned the song Me gustas tú by Manu Chao, and sent me a couple of wonderful examples of a project her students created using a comic creator site. I owned the song, but had been hesitant to use it in class (even the edited version) because of the refrain “Me gustas tú”. I didn’t want them to become confused with the use of the verb “gustar” in the tú form, when 99% of the time these verbs are used in the third person. I placed a few examples from the song on the blackboard, and asked the kids to explain the grammar to me. A few were able to explain why “Me gustan los aviones”, and “Me gustas tú” were both grammatically correct. Then, on their own, some other students came up with “Te gusto” = You like me & “Les gustas” = They like you. Bottom line, there is a lot of English interference with this type of construction, and the kids will need to continually practice and use before they stop translating from English into Spanish.
I modified Leigh’s gustar project from a comic book to a slide show presentation. I wanted the kids to learn about Google Docs and Flickr. I was shocked to find out that in a class of 24-26 students only 2-3 knew what Google Docs were. However, I was hesitant about asking the kids to create yet another account on the Internet since they already have four accounts for my Spanish class. I made it optional. The kids could create a Powerpoint presentation on Word, or they could do it on Google Docs for a little extra credit. Only one students chose Powerpoint. Now that they know how easy and convenient this web 2.0 tool is to use, we can use with future projects. I stand by my theory that my students will cross a river filled with crocodiles for extra credit, but don’t really want to use notecards for 5 minutes a night to reinforce vocabulary. (I know, I know... I am enabling this behavior...)
I have also been observing what motivates certain students. I’m going to protect the innocent by making a compilation of a few students into two. Let’s name the first one Paco. He may not be getting an A in my class (see notecard issue above), but he is talking in Spanish whenever and with whoever will talk back to him. He wants to read a version of Don Quixote that is appropriate for his language skill just because he is interested. He has figured out how to put accent marks on web pages using laptops, because I asked him to help me. Extra credit never came into any of this (he also was one of the 2-3 kids who used Google Docs before).
Now let me tell you about Dora. She is a straight A student. She only used Flickr because I threw a little extra credit for those who used images from that site instead of a Google image search. I pointed out what gorgeous images Flickr had to offer her presentation, and she agreed, but still preferred a search on Google because it was quicker. This image was fine for her instead of this one. She said she just needed a soccer ball. Nothing fancy. Using a Creative Common search added an extra step she didn’t feel was necessary. She has other classes and commitments, and her time is better spent doing that work. A soccer ball is just a soccer ball.
I’m not saying that Tina doesn’t deserve her A. She does her work, and knows her stuff. She also enjoys talking in Spanish, and does it very well. But darn it, Paco deserves that A also... I’m figuring out a way to make sure he gets it too...