Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Featured WL Teacher of the Week: Sherry Schermerhorn

This week's featured seller is Sherry Schermerhorn of The World Language Cafe. You can visit Sherry's TeachersPayTeachers store and her blog The World Language Cafe.

Teaching History:
Taught high school French and Spanish for 9 years before deciding to stay home when I had kids. Currently, I'm raising my kids bilingually (even though I'm not a native speaker - they're definitely my biggest teaching challenge) and I teach a Spanish class in my home for 4-6 year olds.

Favorite Thing about Teaching Languages:
I love it when students get lost in the moment and forget that they're speaking another language because they're having so much fun. I always pride myself on having a somewhat noisy classroom because that means that my students are thoroughly engaged in an activity.

Favorite Lesson:
Famous Hispanics: I created a 20 clue guessing game to teach my students about famous Hispanics. It's a PowerPoint that shows the clues one by one and then a picture of the person at the end. After each clue, they write down a guess of who it is. At the end, the person who got it right first, gets to be the person who clicks and reads the next set of clues. I start out with famous Americans and then move on to famous Hispanics. Afterwards, students make their own set of 20 clues as a homework assignment. To top it all off, we finish by researching additional famous Hispanics and doing mini-presentations about them to the class.

I love this project because it combines, reading, writing, listening, speaking, and culture all in one and the students have a blast. I'm always looking to "spice up my classroom" and this lesson does just that.

One Tip to Language Teachers:When you are planning your lessons, think about how people learn languages naturally when they are kids. We don't learn from doing grammar lessons in a book or conjugating verbs. We learn by using the language every day and hearing expressions repeatedly. Whenever I meet people who say that they tried to learn Spanish in high school and are really bad at languages, I always say, "Well, that's funny because you speak English pretty well!" How we teach is so important. Immersion is a must! Even if your classroom is not an immersion classroom now, you can change that, even mid-year.

Spend every Monday talking about what your students did over the weekend. Have your students leave 3-4 blank pages in their notebook for weekend news expressions. Write common difficult expressions on the board and have them write them down in their notebooks. That way, each week, they can build on what they have learned. Have other students ask follow up questions. Ex. If a student says, "I went to a soccer game", other students can ask: Where was the game? When was the game? Who won the game? Did you go to the game with anyone else? Did you eat anything at the game? Who scored a goal? etc.

Allow time for these discussions to get longer each week as the students get better at speaking. After all, this is the type of language that they will most need to be able to communicate. By the end of the year in my class, we spend almost all of Monday just talking, but all in the target language. Through these discussions, present any grammar that they need, but in the simplest manner possible (as you would to a 2-4 year old) - just give the expression that's needed.

Free Product:

Mexican Flag Spanish Flag Photos and Interesting Facts
When I was teaching about the Hispanic countries and their flags, I realized that flags just aren't enough to teach
students about the countries. Wouldn't it be more fun to see pictures of the people, sites, foods, and festivals? So I began creating a country bundle that includes 6-8 colorful photos, flags, maps, and interesting facts for each of the 21 Spanish speaking countries. I added songs, nationality practice, word searches, and more so that I could teach about 1 different Spanish speaking country per week in my classroom. Instant culture!

Featured Product:

Spanish Speaking Countries Flags, Photos, Maps, PPT for 21 Hispanic Countries

You can also print the photos on cardstock, laminate them and use them as classroom decorations. A great way to inspire your students to learn the language so they can visit all these amazing places.

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