I’ve mentioned before that I’m teaching Español para Hispanohablantes for the first time this year, and I’ve recounted my strike-outs and home runs. I go into every class crossing my fingers and saying a prayer, because I honestly never know how it’s going to go. Some days are awesome…and some days are… not awesome. (Although I think we’re making progress. Though they still tell me that they hate reading (ouch!), they’ve stopped complaining about FVR, and today they read for 12 minutes before anyone looked up to check the time. I live for those little victories!)
Heritage Final Project: Narraciones personales
And speaking of little victories, I wanted to share another with you that still has me over the moon. We spent a good part of November and all of December working on their narraciones personales, crafting and editing the stories that they wanted to tell. Since I have no idea what I am doing, the Adventures in Heritage Teaching blog has been my lifeline, and Adrienne and Mary Beth have so much good advice! I first learned about their Writers’ Workshop from their Comprehensible Online Session last year and then read How narrative writing helped my Heritage kids find their voice. Since I’m totally clueless, I thought to myself, what the heck, let’s try it!
So we wrote, we edited, we wrote more, we added sensory details, we added suspense, we rewrote, we edited some more, crafted exciting hooks, edited, worked on our endings, and then edited some more. All of that worked out pretty well, but that’s not what I’m excited to tell you about.
In one of the Facebook Teacher groups, someone (I wish I knew who to credit, ¡Perdón!) suggested creating posters for each paper, and including a QR code as a way to “publish” their work for their peers to read. So, again, I thought, what the heck. Might be a gigantic flop but it might not be and I don’t know what else to do, so let’s try it! My Little Darlings got REALLY into creating their portadas, using Canva to “advertise” their Personal Narrative. (Many students elected to publish anonymously, which was fine by me) Each portada featured a unique QR code linking to their work in google docs and a separate code to leave comments. Their portadas turned out beautifully, but that’s not what I’m excited about either.
I wanted my Heritage kiddos to have an audience. I wanted them to have a reason to write and revise and edit and write some more. I wanted them to feel proud of their hard work. So I got all those beautiful portadas printed in color, inserted in plastic page protectors and hung them in the hallway. (Not our hallway, mind you, because my department was banished, or should I say Spanished out to the portables, but I hung them in a nearby hallway) And then I sent out invitations to our language department, detailing our final project and inviting them to bring their students to read our masterpieces. Then I crossed my fingers, said another prayer and waited. This is what I am really excited about:
In just a few days, Spanish classes of all levels browsed the halls, read the personal narratives. How cool is that?! My Heritage kiddos wrote, our non-heritage kiddos got lots of great reading. Win-Win! a And the icing on the cake?! They left the kindest, most encouraging comments for my heritage kiddos.
If fact, over the course of 3 days, students at my school left over 350 comments for my 19 Heritage Students. I’m not even kidding, I teared up reading the comments; they (mostly) were so sweet! My Heritage kiddos, as a whole, are not very confident in their language skills, and I couldn’t wait for them to read their peers’ remarks!
Today I gave my students their portadas, still in the page protectors, with their personalized comments on the back. They were absolutely giddy reading them, showing their comments to their friends and speculating who wrote what. It made my teacher heart really happy. Some days are rough…but some days make it worth it!
The Nitty Gritty
If you’d like some more details (and to hear about the changes I’ll make next year) read on, my friends!
Fortunately I took my Spanish 4 class to read the narratives early in the first dayday, and discovered that students with Verizon don’t have service in the hallway! I had no idea, being an AT&T user myself, and that left me scratching my head… I thought it would be so slick for them to read and comment from their phones, but that didn’t work as expected! Our IT dept suggested a chrome extension for students to add to their school-issued Chomebooks, so they could scan the QR codes using their laptops. Not as slick as using their phone…but it worked much better!
Because I wanted to have control over the comments (and weed out any potential mean ones!) I created a single google form with the titles of ALL the narrations and then the question ¿Qué te gustó más? I generated a QR code and posted it on google classroom so everyone could insert the image onto their portada. In class, I walked them through the process of sharing their google doc with “anyone with the link”, then showed them how to create a QR code
After all the comments rolled in, it was easy to sort the comments by the title, read them to make sure they were kind and print them out. Some kiddos had a LOT of comments and some kids received only a few, so I wrote in a few of my own to ensure that everyone had at least 12 comments on their writing. Interestingly enough, the negative comments were from the Heritage 2 classes, who were very critical of the Spanish of my Heritage 1 Little Darlings. (I could tell by the timestamp on the comments!) Since the goal was to build confidence in my Heritage Kiddos, I just deleted or modified the negative comments and moved on with my life. They’ll never know and nor do they need to! They have come a LONG way and I am very proud of them!
I didn’t ask for names on the comment form, but two other teachers suggested it would be nice to hold their students accountable. Next year I’ll add a space for them to select their Spanish teacher, their class period, and write their name, to make it easy for my colleagues who want to verify that their students are reading and commenting. When I print out the comments for my Heritage Kiddos, I’ll just hide those columns so they won’t be able to see who wrote the comments.
Overall, I’m delighted with how this project turned out and it all their drafts (and there were a lot…like maybe 7 or 8!) are tucked safely into their portfolios as a measure of their growth last semester.
If you teach Heritage, I’d love to hear from you! I’m still basically clueless and welcome advice!