Our district’s world languages curriculum includes a heavy load of grammar, and I do explicit grammar instruction every block. In general I try not to introduce a new grammar topic unless my students have already been seeing or hearing it in context. Fortunately, with my skits they are almost always being exposed to multiple types of grammar constructions in context, from level 1A on, so that when we sit down with a grammar worksheet, they have some background knowledge or framework to “hang” the grammar rules on. It just makes more sense to them that way in my experience.
I try not to spend a huge amount of time on grammar in any given class period if I can help it. I try to make it seem like grammar’s not a big deal; I tell them conjugating is easy if you recognize some of the basic patterns of Spanish verbs. I make or find worksheets by piecing together exercises I like for each grammar topic from grammar workbooks I found in our department’s storage room or bought online. (See my blog post on Grammar Resources for a list of grammar workbooks I recommend.) In any case, you may want to use your textbook resources, AMSCO materials, or find grammar worksheets in commercial workbooks like I do. (Important: put a little marker at the bottom right-hand corner of your grammar worksheet masters that say what level/what lesson it goes with, such as “3A L4.” That way you can file it in the hanging-files-by-lesson system I described in my article on Getting Started With My Lessons, and it will be there ready for you when you need it next year.)
My basic grammar-instruction sequence goes like this:
Absent student: “What did I miss? Can I get my makeup work?” You: “Uhh…” because you have no idea what they missed without looking up 1) the date(s) they missed; 2) your lesson plans for those dates; and 3) scrambling around in your files or piles of paper looking for the grammar worksheets that go with that lesson.
I know there are a lot of systems for dealing with this problem, but here’s the one that works best for me. I have a plastic file crate (purchased at Staples I think) that holds hanging files. I have a couple of hanging files in it for each prep, labeled with the plastic hanging file tabs, that I put all my extra copies for the day in along with my worksheet notes (the ones that I did under the document camera,) paperclipped together. These groups of copies are in the hanging file more or less in the order we did them in class, so I can usually figure out what a person missed by simply showing them the last group of worksheets and homework assignments in the hanging file for their class. Once they see the one that doesn’t look familiar to them, I give them one of the extra worksheet copies, my notes to copy, and the homework assignment that went with it (which is also in the crate.) And for the vocab they missed, I tell them to ask a neighbor if they can copy it from their vocab list at their desks. Done!
You may have a Spanish textbook you really like, or you may be required to use a textbook as at least part of your Spanish curriculum. I get it. Here is what I recommend:
1. Textbook Vocab. If you need to follow a specific chapter sequence in your textbook, look at my master vocab list in the back of each of my lesson plan books and align it with your textbook’s order of vocab themes. You can then pick and choose the order of my skits you tell to better match the vocab sequence in your textbook. I would guess that your Spanish textbook is probably not all that different from mine (Exprésate,) and you should be able to align at least a good 75 – 95% of my skits with your textbook. (You can check my vocab lists now by clicking on the level you want from my Books page here. From there, click on the level of books you’re interested in and then follow the “vocab list” links on that book’s page.)
If you have textbook activities you like that either introduce or practice the chapter’s vocab, throw ’em in! You could introduce a textbook chapter’s vocab with the textbook, then go to my lessons and teach a relevant skit or two, then go back to the textbook for some reinforcement/speaking/writing/reading activities to go with it.
2. Textbook Grammar. This is an even more obvious area to incorporate your textbook, if you like the grammar presentation and exercises in your textbook. Most textbooks come with a host of ancillary materials that you can use, so if you have some parts or pieces you like, like the student workbook, go for it. There’s no reason you have to teach grammar in exactly the same order that I do in my lesson plan books, so for grammar, just teach it in the order your textbook does. In most cases, it will probably align with what I do fairly closely anyway (present tense in level 1, preterit and imperfect in level 2, subjunctive, future, and conditional in level 3, and so on.)
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