I currently hold both a K-12 Spanish endorsement and a 6-12 English Language Arts (ELA) endorsement. While my passion lies in teaching Spanish and it has constituted the majority of my career, my first teacher moments happened in ELA environments. I was in a middle school language arts classroom for my pre-internship experience, and I decided to to add a 9th semester in college to finish up a Communications endorsement so that I would be allowed to teach English 1000 at Western Michigan University. I am so grateful to Dr. Cheryl Almeda for encouraging me to apply and equally thankful for Dr. Erinn Bentley for being the most nurturing boss (and for all of her yummy treats that semester!). Even though teaching English 1000 was an amazing experience, I worried that I wouldn’t get a Spanish internship and I would be doomed to teach ELA for the rest of my life. However, Jody Romine came to my rescue and allowed me to come into her classroom for my internship. Those moments with her students cemented my desire to teach Spanish. I am eternally indebted to her.
As a firm believer in Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS), Comprehensible Input (CI), and Content-Based Instruction (CBI), I have been reflecting on how fortunate I am to have that ELA background. I find that the English 1000 pedagogy aligns well with world language education. The course focused on examining genres while teaching students that writing is a process. The class also highlighted, although did not focus on, writing for a real audience.
Let’s flash forward to this week when two of my classes have finished reading novels. I decided to apply the groundwork I learned by teaching English 1000: I wanted my students to study book reviews and to write their own for the novels they just finished reading. It checks off all of the things I am passionate about: students are not only reviewing but also evaluating the story they’ve read (the TPRS part), I can teach them what a review should contain and look like (the CBI part), and I can do this in a comprehensible manner (CI). Students will have to refine their rough drafts (another CBI concept as this is an ELA idea) and they will then send in their book reviews (hellllooooo real purpose and real audience!) to the authors. Students were really excited to think that their Spanish review could end up being on a website or sent out in a tweet.
Here’s the handout I gave students. Feel free to use what is helpful to you or other teachers, but do not take this handout and present it as your own or sell it.
I gave students paper copies of pages 2+ 3 and we filled in notes “old-school.” While I love the possibilities our new Chromebooks allow, I also find there’s value in students writing down words and there’s less distractions. While working on filling out the notes, I helped students make connections to the concert we had at our school the night before and the superintendent interviews that some were a part of this week. It turned out really well! Students will write their rough draft using page 3 on Monday and then rewrite a polished version on Tuesday to send off. I hope to show you samples using #showumine on Twitter. Make sure to watch for them!