Integrating listening skills into Spanish classes

     SpanishClubHeader

  Integrating listening skills into Spanish classes is essential so that listening and comprehension in Spanish language can be achieved. I have been successfully using some strategies such as getting to know my students and letting them know me. For instance, they enjoy when I share cultural aspects and funny stories related to my trips to Spanish speaking countries. Dr. Vega (2012) in her article: “Active listening: Seven ways to help students listen, not just Hear”, affirms that “students are more likely to listen to someone they view as three-dimensional- as opposed to a talking head”.  Another way to improve listening skills is through activities that integrate speaking and listening comprehension. In this activity, each student will read a debatable prompt. The prompts are chosen beforehand based on the students’ general interests, after reading it out loud, the student will express his point of view. When he is finished, other students will be able to agree or disagree using learned vocabulary and Spanish grammatical structures learned. When one student wants to talk, he’ll raise his hand and wait until the current student is finished talking. My role is to facilitate the debate, indicating who is next in case of confusion, teaching new vocabulary and asking additional questions related to the topic being discussed. One of the most interesting aspects of this activity is that in order to be able to engage in the debate in Spanish, the students must actively listen to the others, make sense of what they are saying and then respond to them.

References:

Artze-Vega, Isis. “Active Listening: Seven Ways to Help Students Listen, Not Just Hear.” Faculty Focus. N.p., 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2015. <http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/active-listening-seven-ways-to-improve-students-listening-skills/&gt;.

Case Study 2-1: Young Adolescents’ Physical, Neural and Cognitive Changes

RV-AF827B_TEENC_G_20120127193902

   Jason certainly is going through a lot of physical, neural and cognitive changes that might be causing him to feel emotionally unregulated. The need for peer acceptance, the fact that he does not want peers knowing that he excels academically, the skin problems, and the growth spurt might result in mood swings. In other words, Jason is able to better regulate his emotions in some situations but not in all situations. I’d recommend having him monitored by parents, teachers and the school counselor in order to make sure there is no substance abused or depression diagnose. According to Manning and Bucher (2012) depression can also be manifested through irritability, negativity, sarcasm, criticism and somatic symptoms in adolescents that are not cognitively mature (35). Therefore, Jason’s parents and teachers should definitely schedule a counseling session with the school’s counselor since he might be exhibiting signs of depression. The counselor could also address Jason’s need of peer acceptance and “fitting in”.

   As for the difficulties on grasping abstract math concepts, I would recommend that teachers vary their techniques, provide extra resource, simplify the steps of a problem, adjust the complexity of the assignments or even give the student an entire different placement. Another interesting point emphasized by Wormeli (2001) is that teachers should constantly look for more professional training (63). That makes sense since we are living in a rapidly changing world that “obligates” people, including young adolescents, to rapidly change as well. As a consequence, teens have been feeling more stressed and unbalanced. The fact that he is doing well in science and social studies and is declining just in math, might be a sign that he is not cognitively ready for abstract thinking or for certain types of abstract thinking such as in algebra. Parents and teachers should monitor his overall progress and adjust the ways he is able to learn. Not being able to grasp abstract concepts might also be stressful to Jason! Few months ago he was just fine and all of a sudden he can’t solve algebra questions. It is equally important that parents, teachers and the counselor are in frequent contact and define a date for the evaluation of Jason’s progress. The progress evaluation meeting would be “Student-Led” (Brown and Knowles, 2007, 201), in order words, Jason should not only be there, but also actively participate in the discussion about his own progress. Based on the conversation, parents, teachers, school counselor and Jason should either change strategies or celebrate his achievements.

The plan would be composed of the following steps:

  1. Jason would meet with the school counselor once a week in order to discuss peer pressure, rule out substance abuse and depression and discuss Jason’s perspectives on all the changes that his body is going through and how that might affect his academic performance.
  2. As Jason decline academically just in math, the math teacher would help Jason through the general adjustment of the subject complexity such as breaking a math problem down, varying his teaching techniques and simplifying steps of an algebra question.
  3. Parents, teachers, counselor and Jason would meet again in 6 weeks to discuss Jason’s progress.

   My plan was very similar to the suggestions given by the text. However, although I should’ve, I did not address the matter of incorporating topics such as peer pressure, substance use and growth spurts in their advisory programs (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 49). Also, I believe that I considered points that the suggestions given by the text did not consider such as depression, stress and include Jason in his own progress evaluation meeting. Brown and Knowles (2007) emphasize the importance of Student-Led conferences since it put young adolescents in a position of responsibility for their academic growth (200).

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Wormeli, Rick. Meet me in the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle-level Teacher. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2001. Print.

Teaching Middle School: a tricky business

   moody-teenager-690x300

   Being a middle school teacher is a challenging and rewarding experience. It requires that teachers are responsive to young adolescents’ physical, neural, cognitive and socio-emotional changes, which in turn, should result in professionals that go beyond their subject matter into actually broadening their clinical skills. Manning and Bucher (2012) corroborate that thought explaining that excellence in teaching depends on how the teachers understand middle schoolers’ uniqueness and how they answer to their needs (28). Middle school educational experiences should reflect young adolescents’ development so that academic requirements could be accommodated according their particular needs and student learning outcomes optimized due to challenging and relevant content. For instance, sleeping patterns, growth spurt, cognitive development and socio-emotional regulation are factors that if not properly addressed, will interfere in middle schoolers’ academic results.

    Besides being knowledgeable about young adolescents’ needs, it is important that teachers are aware of such needs in light of the contemporary issues teens face (Manning and Bucher, 2012, 28). Therefore, the ability to reflectively listen to the students and acknowledge their difficulties and frustrations, will help them learn how to regulate their own emotions while going through this period of drastic changes. I strongly agree with Manning and Bucher (2012) that motivational support is as important as effective curriculum and instruction (28); in other words, by developing a trustworthy and caring relationship with young adolescents and a positive school climate, they’ll feel that the school is a safe place to learn. Brown and Knowles (2007) also agree that community members and teachers can exert strong influence on young adolescents (45). Therefore, guiding them to further maturity through the development of good interpersonal relationships will also improve academic learning.

References:

Brown, Dave F, and Trudy Knowles. What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know. 2nd ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2007. 290. Print.

Manning, M. Lee., and Katherine T. Bucher. Teaching in the Middle School. 4th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.