Stay on Task and in the target language with transition videos.
A student studying to be a Spanish teacher asked, “What frase in the target language should I use to get their attention when transitioning to an new activity?”
The shallow answer is “¿listos o no listos?” My students answer in unison “listos” and occassionaly in a playful mood they will tell me “no listos” and I will tell them “no es la respuesta correcta” and we try again and move on.
Transitions can make or break classroom management and a one-size-fits-all approach is a common pitfall for new teachers. As a reflective teacher in her 30th year in the secondary classroom, I have 5 rules for world language class transitions.
1. Do not try to get the class to be quiet, rather you want them to be attentive. Students respond better to giving you a reply than to hushing. Create responses for them and they will all join in.
2. Do not get their attention until you are 110% prepared with the next activity. Getting their attention and then fumbling for the location of the handouts or the track on the CD or link to the video is deadly to classroom management. You will loose them and their attentiveness for future transitions, as they figure you don’t really mean it . . . yet.
3. Support your transitions with a visual, assuming you can project on to a screen or wall. I make a daily tech guide with a slide for each activity and each transition so that the students look up and know what to do even if they can’t quite hear you above all the paired practice speaking going on around them. Make a list of your weekly activities, make a slide for each one and a transition for each one. Use a remote presentation device or wireless mouse so you can stand near certain students while you transition through the class. Click here for videos of my tech-guided classes.
4. If you are using music or a video, embed them in your daily tech guide. This extra prep work will pay large dividends as you minimize down time.
5. Use musical transition videos. Over 50 of them were made by some fairly desperate Venezuelans and all proceeds go to them. They have created the best atmosphere for my level one classes, students delighting in the musical breaks and singing along as they do the transition. My transitions are now seamless.
Scroll down this previous post to get a feel for them – there are examples in six languages. They are a game changer!
1. When I am ready to start, I play the class count down video – students know to be seated and quiet as they count down the 3 -2 – 1 ya! French version below!
Students use this expression spontaneously before beginning anything.
2 I greet them, ask how they are, and tell them the objective of the day and the class activities of the day – all on 3 slides. I play the “Take out the Homework” video and show the answers on the board while I quickly check for completion. Since day two of the school year when I first played it, my students spontaneously tell me ‘la tengo’ or ‘no la tengo’ and if someone doesn’t have it everyone else asks, “¿en serio?”
3. Check for questions and play the musical slide to take attendance – we get nasty emails if we miss attendance for any class! My students tell me” X está ausente” or “no está ausente, en el baño.”
4. Play “The Daily Review”song and complete five minutes of review. My Spanish 1 students can fluently say “cuando necesito gramática perfecta” and “¿Qué hago – repaso, repaso, repaso”
5. Play “Take Out the Vocab List video and they can all mimic “Favor de sacar la lista del vocabulario.”
I also play the self- talk musical slide that reminds students if they don’t get it right to tell them selves – I don’t have it yet! I introduce a chunk of vocabulary, practice comprehension with gestures and then show slides with visuals. My Spanish 1 students use “lo acerté spontaneously in many situations” and even “no lo acerté – todavía.”
6. Play the video about finding a random partner of the week or if we already did it play the musical slide to find this week’s partner.
My students can say ¿Quién sera? even though they won’t be taught this tense for three more years.
7. Practice with partner(s) usually some kind of spontaneous speech activity – there are videos that show the students how to play guessing games. If we have the computers then they will watch “The Take Out the Computer” video, “Practice QuizletLive” video, students practice on their own, play the quizlet live video and finally I play the “Put Away the Computers” video and rearrange the chairs slide. My students quickly learn the games that have songs to teach the vocabulary and create spontaneous dialogues – month two of Spanish One! They can all do “más alto, más bajo” and many others.
8. Slide leading into next activity – could be a listening activity or a reading activity or Simon says. My students all know “vamos a jugar” and can follow it with many games.
9. Tidy up the room.
10.Take out the Agenda video and students write down the homework. My students can say any line from this song at appropriate times.
“ay no me gusta, pero es importante” “Saco mi agenda, escribo la tarea.”
11. Closure – students sing and then tell me something new they learned. My students can spontaneously say “Hoy, hoy aprendi ” and complete the thought.
My public school seventh, eighth, and ninth graders in Spanish One produce spontaneous speech even if they don’t want to – they can’t help themselves because music enters their brains and remains like nothing else that I have tried in these past 30 years. You can make your own songs or use mine.
You can even use my videos, created by native speakers, and offered here on TeacherspayTeachers. Or click here for the starter kit! They help support several Venezuelan families. We are making them in French, Mandarin, German, and Latin, and English. What I love about TeacherspayTeachers is that it helps new teachers to quickly climb the learning curve by selecting tried and true activities from veteran teachers still in the classroom, like me! If you need something new to get your students spontaneously speaking in the target language – this is it!
Tee Denombre asked this great question on the FB page “Spanish Teachers in the US.”
My students respond to compelling Comprehensible Input – especially audio that is supported with a strong visual.
Students (and their parents!) can pull out phrases from a song months after I have played it in class as part of my “song of the week” series. Music seems to attach to the long-term memory fairly easily but I have noticed that many of my students recently seen to just latch on to the chorus while previously students would latch on to the whole song.
I don’t know but this year I started to make brief transition videos and they are ‘sticky’ — students can go through a class and sing the 30 – 60 seconds songs and voice overs for as many as eight transitions.
I’ve also noticed that they work the vocabulary into their conversations in Spanish in class. For example, my seventh graders sing the “Saquen la tarea” song while taking out their homework and really punch the ‘ya’ at the end. Then they start to use it in class – spontaneously.
A chance encounter with some Venezuelans looking for work as musicians started the idea of having native speakers perform these songs and now we are rolling out this series of over 50 transitions on TPT.
How do you get started? Use a remote mouse or presentation device so you can click from anywhere in the room. Make an outline of your lesson, insert a slide for each activity, and then insert a Spanish Transition Video to introduce it.
Soon your students will be trained to use Spanish even for those challenging transitions – you may be surprised that certain students usually looking for opportunities to get off task instead are watching and participating in the music!
Below is a sampling of some of the transition videos.
fun resources that stick in students’ brains and pop out spontaneously,
resources to help you and them stay in the target language,
resources to improve classroom behavior and make your class more fun,
then look below and pick the ones that match your teaching style. Fifteen are available this week with the rest be completed this summer.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ PREVIEW VIDEO CLIP ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Querido Viernes – The perfect pack-up for the weekends song that has students singing in Spanish all weekend.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ If you have an idea for a song or transition video contact me and maybe we can make one for you! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Emma Jones asked an eternal question today on the FB group “Spanish Teachers in the US.” She wrote, “I have one class that REALLY is difficult . . . any tips for dealing with “THAT” class, the one that never stops talking, doesn’t follow directions, and moving students doesn’t help because they will talk to everyone? It’s really discouraging.
Emma, you need more than a few tips — you need a five point action plan, and here it is!
But first, the usual suggestions/tips should be followed, and if they work, then you don’t need the action plan. The usual suggestions are:
- Call Home – find something genuinely positive to say as well as deliver the difficult message.
- Talk to other teachers who have the same students and find out if anyone is successful with them and duplicate what they do.
- Talk to you administration about them.
- Talk to their coaches.
- Use Class Dojo to track class behavior and offer a preferred reward activity for X amount of time of good behavior.
If none of these work, then it is time to start the five point action plan. This will be a lot of work at first, but it will work, and thus be worth the time invested.
Step One: Get Your Head in the Game
No teacher wants to admit this but it is true. When a class acts this way, the students are actually bullying the teacher.
I have learned a lot from my dogs. There is always an alpha dog. When we try to interfere and not let the alpha dog take charge, the other dogs are not grateful; rather they are confused and act worse until the alpha dog returns and re-establishes the pecking order.
Children need to know who is in charge and will act out if the teacher does not lead.
In my most still, reflective moments, I have to admit that when a student has more power in my classroom than I do, it is because a little part of my psyche agrees with the student that I don’t have to be respected.
I can blame that on my family legacy of beating us as kids, and most times I have vanquished it.
Sometimes it crops up when:
- I am stressed with a life event.
- When there is a really bad combination of students who should never be scheduled together, and I am powerless to make changes because Spanish just isn’t perceived to be that important.
- When for whatever reason I will have unwanted consequences if my admin finds I am struggling.
I have a friend who let students talk over and walk over her because she is a French teacher and needs her enrollment. Turns out, only when she took charge did she retain her enrollment. You need to fearlessly address what part of you gives them permission to have more power in the classroom and deal with it.
You need to talk to yourself and tell yourself: I am the adult in charge.
I will be obeyed.
I will not let children take away from those who are here to learn.
When students whine, it is not a moral judgment about me, but more about their own teenage angst. I will not feed their whining and let it grow by responding to it.
I deserve respect and if I don’t get it, that child will be removed for the rest of the period. My other students deserve respect.
There is zero tolerance for talking over me; it undermines my authority and I DO NOT DESERVE IT AND WILL NOT TOLERATE IT.”
Scream it to yourself on your way to school. Buy into it. Believe and live it. (Every teacher has to find his or her own teaching voice. Take my suggestions and change them to reflect your teaching voice, or if you are unhappy with your current teaching voice, borrow mine until you are on firmer ground.)
Step Two: Enlist Your Tribe to Help You
Line up a few other teachers willing to help you. Explain to them that you need them to let the offending student sit in the back of their class and work on their packet. My 8th graders hate when they are sent to a 7th grade class as it makes them look bad. Awww.
Have their phone numbers on a post-it by your phone. If they can be the cool teachers or the respected coaches, even better. You must have worksheet packets lined up for offending students.
Yes, this means 4 or 5 packets each day that relate to the class material so you can’t be accused of giving unrelated busy work.
Step Three: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
You are about to make a big change and you must have your homework done.
You must plan the next week’s lessons minute by minute so that there are minimal transitions.
You must have an extra ten minutes of activities to make sure there is no down time. I would avoid any competitive games as when this kind of class competes it opens the door for trash talk and over-the-top talking.
I suggest you make a Daily Tech Guide (“DTG”) in either PowerPoint or your interactive board’s software. You need to vary the activities, embed the videos, embed the songs, insert pictures of the pages in the text, insert worksheet with the answers, everything so that there are no transitions.
Invest in a remote presentation device or wireless mouse so you can walk around the room and stand next to the trouble-makers as you click through the lesson. If you are pressed for time, these lessons are available from my store. If you want to learn more about making DTGs, read my book, The World Language Daily Tech Guide
If you are still doing paired practices they are not to choose their friends, You choose their partners because you are in control.
Develop signals – my DTGs are sprinkled with “¿listos?” — ready? I say it and they all answer. If some are off task I walk over to them and repeat it and the whole class answers. Then zip into the next activity. Getting their attention is easier than having them be quiet. So train them to do this.
Step Four: Give Your Best Heart-to-Heart talk (or steal mine, changing “father” to “grandfather” or ‘great-grandfather” if it fits better.)
Tell your students, “You need to hear my story.”
In 1921, on my father’s 6th birthday he chased a ball into the street and was run over by a truck. No one stopped to helped him because cars were still so new that only the rich had them and they didn’t want to dirty their cars up. The town drunk found him and brought him to the hospital. They stitched his face up for his wake, in order to lessen his mother’s sorrow, never believing he would awaken from his coma.
His father kept vigil for seven days and did not shed one tear. My father never saw his father cry until he was 15. He found his father weeping that he had been a horrible father. My father asked him why and my grandfather told him “A guy at work was walking with his son past a construction site and realized some bricks were falling right in front of his son and he yelled ‘halt’ and his son halted immediately and the bricks just grazed his toes. If I had yelled halt, you would have argued with me and be dead. I didn’t raise you well enough to keep you safe.”
I have been reading the book on Columbine High school and have been impressed that many students were lead to safety because they listened to a teacher or principal.
I am upset with myself because you don’t listen to me and if anything were to happen, I couldn’t protect you.
I was talking to my brother who hires students to work in his business, and he said if a high school student isn’t trained to show interest, he won’t hire him – and he pays the highest wages.
So by giving you permission to talk over me, I am also neglecting to help you learn how to behave around authority figures and it might cause you to not get a good job or to have the police misunderstand your attitude.
I learned that teachers who train their students with SLANT find that their students do not have this problem. So going forward, to keep you safe, you must not talk when I am talking and you must stop talking when I tell you to do so. Also when I say “slant”, you need to
- Sit up
- Lean forward
- Ask questions about the topic
- Nod your head
- Track the teacher with your eyes (move around the room when practicing this)
If you practice this, you will get a better job, and be surprised that adults believe you are really paying attention, even if you aren’t. We are going to practice this and you should try this elsewhere and let us know the results.”
Then, start practicing it with the students and start your lesson with the most engaging activity. Remind them to slant when you sense they are fading.
Practice the signal to be quiet. If someone doesn’t comply and is blatantly disrespectful, go to step five.
Step Five: Show You Mean It.
When someone disobeys, you call the teacher on the list but don’t say the teacher’s name. “Hi this is Ellen Shrager, I am sending X to you. Thanks.” Go out into the hall and signal the student to join you. (Out in the hall is better and the class will quiet down to hear what you are saying.)
Give the packet to the student and neutrally send him to the other teacher for him to complete the work. “Today isn’t working for you, so you need to finish the class work with Coach Nopardons. I hope tomorrow is better for you.”
No threats, no discussion, the kid is gone for today. Continue with class. Do not let them talk over you. Repeat with a different teacher if necessary. After a week they will know you mean business.
You do not deserve that kind of treatment. Emma, your genuine angst motivated me to write my first blog.
Let us know what you decide to do and if it works for you.
Recently on FLTEACH, a teacher, Joe, asked advice for dealing with a sophomore who swears and is disrespectful in order to get attention. Bill Heller responded with different books including my “Teacher Dialogues.” Joe still isn’t sure how to create a dialogue with this student because of their strained relationship and feared that it would be awkward to probe into the student’s life to figure out what was going on with the student.
Here is my advice:
Joe, we are constantly refining “our teaching voices” because they change with our own life experiences that we bring to the classroom.
As I approach 60, my teaching voice is blended with grandmotherly concern, so my dialogue would most likely be like this:
“I am concerned for you. I’ve taught thousands of students and some of them are now 40 and I keep up with them. Through them. I’ve learned the importance of keeping all options open for a great life.
One way to do this is to be hired for interesting jobs and the folks hiring are the older folks who usually offer jobs to people who know how to be appropriate. This habit of swearing is obviously serving the 16 year old version of (kid’s name) but will it serve the 25 year old version of yourself?
It’s easy to let swearing slip at the wrong moment, especially if you are anxious during a job interview.
As one of the adults in your life, I feel responsible for helping you to be the best version of yourself and to help you to eliminate swearing in my class as an exercise in self-discipline and as a commitment to the vision of the great man you can be.
Maybe if you help me to understand how swearing and being disrespectful in my class helps you now to get through my class, we can brainstorm other ways to meet your needs.”
I would have this conversation privately and I would make sure that I flushed from my attitude any residual resentment towards this student before starting the dialogue. I would make sure I was full of sincere concern so that my tone reflects my words.
Joe, I hope you can use this as a springboard for crafting your own dialogue. Good luck!