Watch out! This is a Grammar-ish post…you purists might get angry, but hear me out!
I have a theory, totally unproven and unscientific, that kids (well, really all of us) only pay attention to the important part of the word. So, when my Little Darlings hear “Mira”, they know it means “Look” so they don’t really care if they hear “Miren” or “Miramos” or “Mirará”, they hone in on the familiar part of the word, and don’t even notice the ending. I think especially when they’re listening (which, in CI classrooms, they’re doing A LOT of!) their brain only catches enough of the word to make sense of, and doesn’t worry about the rest. Again, this is just speculation. Maybe there are studies about this. I’m too tired to look into this any further today. Sorry to let you down. I have a tummy ache because I went to Mexico last week for my February break and I ate street food with reckless abandon and now I’m pounding the Pepto-Bismol. Don’t feel bad for me, totally worth it!
I’ve been experimenting with ways to draw my students’ attention to the verb endings in a way that supports their understanding. For a long time, I would point to my verb charts as I taught, but I’ve found a much easier way! I printed out the present tense verb endings on bright neon paper, and hung them within reach. They’re right at the top of my whiteboard, ready for some point and pause action!
As I talk to my Little Darlings, I point to the verb ending and pause just a moment to give them a chance to capture the meaning before moving on. I don’t have a great video (yet! I’ll try to film one this week!) but it sounds like this:
Hoy, vamos (point to -mos) a hablar (point to -r) del Año Nuevo. ¿Tienen (point to -n) planes para el año nuevo? Antonio, ¿quieres (point to -s)… You get the idea. I’m still gesturing. I’m still checking comprehension and teaching to their eyes…just adding in another step of pointing at the verb endings as we’re chatting. By pointing to the verb endings, students’ attention is drawn to the meaning of the ending. The “n” means “you guys”. And bonus…it slows me down and gives my Little Darlings time to capture my message.
The amazing thing is that my Little Darlings are using these in their writing! More than ever before, they’re not only writing in the 3rd person! During their quick writes, I see them check the verb ending posters as they’re madly writing. At the end of the year I’ll teach them to use the traditional verb chart, because I don’t want any of my kiddos to move to a new school with a traditional teacher without knowing how to read the stupid verb charts, but until then, I’ll be pointing and pausing on these nifty little verb endings.
Now I haven’t gotten too crazy with them yet…I only have the present tense endings up now. As something comes up in the past tense, I just write the new ending under the paper, say, that’s past tense and carry on. I may add some past tense posters, but really I wanted to keep it simple for them to catch and easy for me to use!
You want them, right?! Download the Spanish verb endings free here! And hey French Teachers, Merci to Cheryl Bennett, here are the French -ER verb endings! Danke to Alicia Lucas and Ben Fisher, here are the German verb endings. And if you’re teaching another language and you think this might work for you and your Little Darlings, send me an email via the “contact” link above, and I’ll send you a editable version. (And if you’re feeling really generous, can we post it here for other teachers to use? That’s my favorite part of this little blogcito, seeing work that looks awfully familiar, but translated into languages that I can’t read, yet! It’s sooo cool!)
Oh, and bonus! Here are two more tools I have on my board, that I find super helpful and you might also.
The purple arrows show a positive and negative expression that I change out every few weeks. I don’t test them on them, they’re not their password, they’re just rotating exclamations that they can use to express their pleasure (and displeasure!) during class. Things like ¡Qué emoción! ¡Fenomenal! ¡Híjole! ¡Qué triste! ¡Ay chihuahua!...they get a lot of use, especially when we play games (which if you’ve been hanging around, you know thatI love me some input games!). Here are the Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down papers to print and hang, if you like.
The blue arrow is a lifesaver that I learned from Lisa Larriva, who shared it on the iFLT/NTPRS/CI Teaching Facebook Page. She has a poster in her classroom with different time marks for particular chunks of her lesson, to help manage the pacing of her class periods. Since math is hard, and simple math is not simple for me, I have a schedule hanging on the board that tells me what time is 20 minutes into class, what time is the half way mark, and what time is 20 minutes until the end of class. Here’s my schedule…feel free to make a copy and edit to work with your schedule, if simple math is anything but simple for you, too!
Happy Monday, Friends!