Friday, December 30, 2016

Borrón y nueva cuenta Short reading about a famous saying in Spanish speaking

Borrón y Cuenta Nueva 

Borrón y cuenta nueva, is a common expression around this time of year. It is slowly emerging as my New Year’s Mantra.  As I started to sift through different posts on social media, I became very intrigued as to the origin of this frequently used expression. It made me think about the word Palimpsest that I had learned in graduate school while studying the Chronicles of Columbus. Since Spanish was not Columbus’ first language, Bartolomé de las Casas, transcribed and rewrote 75% Columbus’ journals. The process was compared to a Roman Palimpsest as Columbus' observations were superimposed by those of the Spanish Priest. 
          For the first day back to school after Holiday break,  all my classes will be engaging in some form of  "Borrón y cuenta nueva" goal setting activity. 
This past year, our staff engaged in a considerable amount of PD on resilience, so why not allow it to take root in the language class. I have created two activities below to get my students (and hopefully yours) on the road to starting the year off strategically, thoughtfully and with a bit of cultural context.  The goal setting activities have the aim of making students mindful of their goals, setting objectives that will, Ojalá, guide them through the year. It also serves as an authentic real world activity in where they will use language in a dynamic and goal-oriented way. 

There are two activities below to guide your mindfulness practice. 
  • The first activity is for Spanish 3 and beyond. I am using it for my Spanish 4 students. 
  • The second activity is for Spanish 1, it is totally comprehensible and doable. 

New Year Mindfulness Activity: Spanish 3 and beyond activity (Activity extends well beyond the New Year)

Borrón y Cuenta Nueva for Spanish 3 and beyond. This activity features a 3 -page reading (14 font sized and 1.5 spaced for easy reading) 

Themes included in the text (reading)
Setting New Years’ Goals 
Reference to the 12 grapes tradition 
Short history on the origin of the expression (and its relevance to today)
Statistics on why people don’t stick with their goal (discussion engendering) 
Smart Goals and how to create them
Goal setting worksheet 
Comprehension questions for text (discussion as well)
Footnotes for unfamiliar vocabulary to facilitate reading

Age-appropriate text highlighting the following: 

Language structures: Preterit, Imperfect, some imperfect subjunctive

Vocabulary: Nochevieja, Tradición, Metas, Planificar, Estadísticas etc.  

New Year Culturally Mindful Goal-setting  Activity: Spanish 1 & 2 
Borrón y Cuenta Nueva for Spanish 1 & 2 

Themes included in the reading:
Setting New Years’ Goals 
Short history on the origin of the expression (very comprehensible)  
Smart Goals and how to create them (scaffolded and scaled down)
Goal setting worksheet (samples and structures included) 

Comprehension questions for text (in Spanish and English)
Age-appropriate text highlighting the following: 

Language structures: Tenían (this structured is used to convey most of the information regarding scribes), tener que, -ar, -er and -er verbs. querer+ infinitive, Tener+ infinitive   

Vocabulary: Nochevieja, Tradición, Metas, etc.  

Click here for Spanish 1 & 2 Borrón y cuenta nueva Goal setting activity.

Using Idioms to Gauge Understanding in the World Language Classroom 

        I am a huge fan of idioms. If you have read any of my short stories, El Muerto en el Armario (Spanish 3 and beyond) or La Clase de Confesiones for Spanish 1, you will notice that I squeeze in those lovely yet impactful idioms and the students love them. In La Clase de Confesiones, the teacher in the story said repeatedly << más te vale>> and guess what? They used it so much afterward (along with Patán and Mosquita Muerta).  This New Year, I have decided to incorporate three basic native expressions for students to communicate to me their level of comfort with the material. 

1. Es pan comido- It totally get it!

2. Poco a poco- I am getting it little by little/ slow down

 3. ¡No entiendo ni papa! - I am totally lost or like they say in Colombia- Está más perdido que el hijo de Limbergh. 

A five finger system would probably be more efficient, but I am thinking about the culture and level of discourse when students internalized these expressions. If you have a recommendation for number #2, please let me know. 


Scenario 1 (see scenario 2 below). 

S: Mrs. Q, I turned in my homework, but I have a zero in the Gradebook (this kid, knows he did not turn it in). 

My old routine in response to the scenario: 
I look and am suddenly overwhelmed by a sea of white papers divided into sections. I cannot find his section because they all look alike. The bell rings, he needs a pass, the next class is coming in, “what are we doing today?” one student asks. Now I am flustered and have lost valuable time. I may have mala leche with this upcoming class. 

This continues to be a huge problem for me. I just want to sit, write, create and teach. But that is not possible because it is always the little foxes that ruin the vineyard, case, and point, my whole day could be thwart due to not having things nicely organized- I know I am preaching to the choir and maybe even a few priest here! 

 Long gone are the days with when schools hired teacher helpers- at least in the city-cash-strapped school districts, like mine. Contemplating pilas de trabajo day after day urge me to hacer de tripas, corazón.   I took action. I created a color-coded grading system. It is a very simple system, but for hyper-visual people like myself, it works like relojería Alemana. 

I teach five sections of Español (or Castellano if you live in Argentina or Spain) 
2 sections of Spanish 1 
3 sections of Spanish 4 (ayúdame)

Making Grading Visible 
-I cut up half sheets of different color card stock paper (this lasts longer). 
-I assigned a color to a class: Green- 1st period, Red 2nd period, etc. 
-I wrote “Graded” on one side of the paper and “Collected” on the other side (this makes it easy to flip)
-I purchased  4 trays: 2 trays for Spanish 1 and 2 trays for Spanish 4 (forgot the Tax Exempt for again!).
- divided the trays into-"Pass Back" and "To be Graded/Collected." 

Case revisited: 

S: Mrs. Q, I turned in my homework, but I have a zero in the Gradebook (this kid, knows he did not turn it in). 

I look at my board (I have all the colors with the class periods posted). Then I walk over to my trays as the second class is coming in. 

T: Oh, here is your class. I look through and do not see the paper. 

S: Oh, I thought I turned it in. 

T: No, all the papers are here. I have not graded them yet, do you see that big green sign? That is the color for your class. It's all here!

S: I think it’s at home, did you even put the HM on Google Classroom? (last ditch effort, you got to give this kid some credit).

T: Yes, I did! Half credit buddy!

I can now breath! If you have a better system, comment below!

My next task is to go “all minimalist” on the file cabinets.  This book just came in the mail!

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