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2010-2011 School Year September 2, 2010

Posted by mrsmerritt in Lessons Learned, Other random stuff.
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When the school year started I had 20 native speakers throughout the day. This was the most I had ever had. I was very overwhelmed at the prospect. While I probably had enough books, I didn’t have enough books on tape which is my bridge activity. There is that gap between reading and speaking. I believe that having them follow along with a book on tape for a week or so will bridge the gap faster.

I went to my principal with my various concerns, the leading one was that native speakers were taking over the classes that were designed for monolingual students. In an unprecedented move, she agreed with me and transferred every bilingual student out!

I do have another Junie B packet to add to the collection here. However, given that I have no students using this curriculum this year I will not be actively adding anything else. To anyone who may be using these packets, good luck! I hope you have a great year! You can contact me directly from this site and I’ll help in anyway I can.

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Sept 16 2009 new book releases September 16, 2009

Posted by mrsmerritt in Finding Books, Other random stuff.
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Every time I go to Amazon to check on new releases I find more books that will interest my students. You really can get a better deal with borders.com, but you will pay in aggravation. Breaking Dawn/amanecer the last of the Twilight series is out. The first book in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones/cuidad de hueso by Cassandra Clare is coming out. You can pre-order it. There are 5 Clique books out in Spanish. They include: Clique, los duendes de la camarella, la venganza de las pretenciosas, la invasion de las robachicos. It just makes me want to put on pajama pants, get a spiral notebook for packets and read.

I think back on last year at this time when I was digging every where to find high interest books for middle school students in Spanish. Now, they are practically falling from the sky! The babysitter’s club is still expensive and not readily available. It would be a nice alternative to Goosebumps. But not.

The mania is, my students don’t need this many books. I could stop now and my students would have enough to read for the year. For two years! Plus, I already have a stack 12″ high of Spanish books to make packets for!

Whining Reader September 13, 2009

Posted by mrsmerritt in Lessons Learned, Other random stuff.
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On Wednesday Vicky called to me “Mrs. Merritt, can I not read today and watch and laugh at the class instead?” Vicky is one of my native speakers. She was waving the first of the Magic Treehouse books in Spanish in her hand.

I turned and answered dramatically “noooooooo”. By the time I was done dragging out the word we had the attention of the whole class.

“But reading is hard” she whined.

“I know” and I actually was sympathetic. “So is learning Spanish for my other students.”

At this point the discussion involved everyone in the room and they were on the edge of their seats waiting to see how this conversation played out.

“You don’t understand. That was the very first book I ever read in Spanish.” She pleaded, referring to one of the Blaine readers.

“I know” I answered. And I really did know. I continued very gently. “But what were you thinking, and I really want to know, when you elected a class that said ‘Conversational Spanish. Not appropriate for native speakers. I know that is what it says in the catalog, because I wrote it. You speak Spanish in your home so when you read that, and selected it on the computer, what was running through your head?”

Her eyes were darting around as she looked for some reasonable answer. Coming up short she offered “I don’t know.”

Scooter, an out spoken 8th grade boy sitting in the cheap seats piped up “You picked this class because you thought it would be a blow off class.”

Finally someone articulated what everyone in the room knew was true.

Vicky weakly tried to defend herself with a shake of her head.

Then my teacher’s assistant chimed in with a laugh “That’s why I picked the class last year, I’ll admit it. I thought it would be an easy A.” My teacher’s assistant this year was one of my heritage readers last year.

Vicky completely deflated at this point and murmured “I’ll just read now” as she thumbed open her book.

I turned to the class and began, “Bueno clase, comenzamos.”

Always a surprise September 10, 2009

Posted by mrsmerritt in Other random stuff.
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I am frequently lulled into thinking I can’t be surprised anymore. I mean, I have been shocked out of my mind so many times as a teacher that I think eventually there won’t be anything new and surprising. But there always is.

Today one of my native speakers told me she was through with her first Magic Treehouse book. I checked her log and her packet and she had blown through both in less than an hour. I asked her about the book and she had in fact read it. What that told me was that her reading level was at least at 3rd grade. She looked longingly at Crepusculo (Twilight), and rightly so. That was the book she wanted to choose next. It is as big as all 20 Magic Treehouses combined. I suggested she try maybe a Goosebumps book first. But she just looked hungrily at Twilight. I figured, it is about them reading and improving their literacy. If she can’t understand it she’ll lose interest soon enough.

I gave her the book and a packet. At the end of class, clutching the book to her chest, she asked if she could please borrow and take the book home to read. Sadly, since it is my only class copy I had to decline. The surprise was how badly she wanted to read that book this early in the year. The surprise was that she could read as well as she could. The surprise was that I am constantly being surprised by my students, and sometimes it is in a good way.