Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cooking as a source of Comprehensible Input

I have a confession.  I am kind of hard core about teaching Spanish.  I am super, super passionate about teaching with comprehensible input and TPRS.  I am obsessed.  I spend much of my free time reading, thinking, planning, and collaborating.  I feel like I have so little time with the students and I need to make sure I am using it in the best possible way.  I hold my kids to such a high standard, and we work incredibly hard.  I HATE taking time to do activities that are not going to give kids comprehensible input.  I do it, but grudgingly.

Cooking as CI 
And my administrator wanted me to relax a little bit.  During my first year teaching middle school,  she really wanted me to do something like go to a restaurant, cook, do projects, etc.  Even at the beginning of my CI journey, I already understood that these kinds of activities were either a) output oriented, and/or b) taking time away from CI.  But, as any good employee does, I wanted to keep my job and say yes.  We compromised on cooking, and I decided to try to make it an input activity.

Well, four years (and several attempts) later, I think I did it.  It is not perfect, but here is how I took a CI unit and extended it to become a comprehensible input-based cooking activity.  And you know what?  It was fun!

Background: In my Spanish 1B class (eighth grade)  I experimented this year with adapting other CI materials to create a unit around food and flavor, based almost entirely on this post from Martina Bex.   It was a great way to start the year, included a parody of Despacito (Elotito!) and I followed it up with one of my favorite units from her level 1 curriculum, Como Agua Para Chocolate.

(Side note- isn't it cool how you can get better at teaching?  I have taught bits and pieces of Gazpacho, Como Agua para Chocolate, and Martina's Comida Latina (unit 8 in the Somos curriculum) several times, and this year I feel like I figured out a lot of pieces- how to make the CI better, more compelling, and more input focused!  This is one of the things I LOVE about being a CI teacher. I get better at it, it gets easier, the kids acquire more, and we all have more fun.)

I finished the whole unit with Martina's free embedded reading and song activity for the song Gazpacho.  

However, based on prior experiences teaching this unit, I added the following activities: 

I read version 2  out loud and we dramatized the action with kids acting as peppers, bread, salt, etc. You can imagine what happens when they all got in the blender (hula hoop on the floor).  It was hilarious.  
Students preparing gazpacho

Then, I laid out pictures of each ingredient and tool in a grid (in a random order) on the floor.  In pairs, students had to draw the path through the ingredients and tools using their reading.  Super weird, but they had fun and it was good practice to set them up for how to navigate clues in a breakout box for future classes!

Next,  kids got into small groups and had a few minutes to decide how they were going to act out their understanding- this is a modification of an activity that was posted on the IFLT/TPRS/CI facebook group.  They had access to props, pictures of food, markers and whiteboards, and they could ask for anything else they needed.  I started to read version 2 very slowly and as a group, they had to act it out.  One group embodied the vegetables, another took turns holding up pictures that they drew, and yet another group held up props in a kind of dance.

Students then received a little cut and paste activity that I created that involved cutting out the steps of the recipe and sorting them in order, and deciding which ingredients and tools they use to make gazpacho and which ingredients (and tools) they did not need to use.  More CI!  

Finally, we listened to the song and read version 3 (the song lyrics).  We then did a quick exit slip to answer the question (in Spanish): What is gazpacho?    Where is it from?  How do you make it?
Reading and re-reading the recipe...INPUT! 

The following day, I set up the following in my classroom: (I made one station for each team- 4-6 kids per team)
Table with cutting board and two bowls

On a separate table, I had the ingredients and tools including bowls, knives, the blender, etc. 

I explained to the kids that this was a competition- they were going to make gazpacho using the written recipe from their notebook and the list of ingredients and tools (from the sorting activity).   They had to send different members of their team to get what they needed.  

On the board, I posted this:

Gazpacho Expectations
1) Wash your hands after touching your face, your mouth, or anything that isn’t clean (chairs, table, notebook, etc.).
2) Spanish ONLY! 
3) Use p. 45 as your recipe.  
4) You only have these liquid ingredients, so you need to decide how much and when to use.
a. 3 cucharas (TBS) de aciete de oliva
b. 2 cucharita (tsp) de vinagre
5) No tenemos un pasapures.  No es necesario.

Preparing for judging!  
Vocabulario Útil
¡Lávate tus manos!- Wash your hands!
Necesitamos....  We need
Yo necesito....  I need
¿Puedo tener....?   Can I have....?
Proximo.... next
Bates - you blend
troceas- you chop
pelas- you peel

It was a blast.  They had to read and re-read the recipe many, many times, and for those that wanted to, they could use complete sentences (using the projected sentence stems from the useful vocabulary list) to ask for things, or they could just use one-word requests.  When they were finished, I made a big deal about tasting each team's effort and using our flavor descriptors (salty, bitter, sweet, acid) to describe each bowl. 

Tip: time saver- cover each table with a disposable tablecloth from the dollar store.  You can use sharpie to write team names, useful vocab, etc. on the cloth.  When they were finished, we just pulled the tablecloth off and threw it away.  Super fast clean up.  Dirty dishes went back to the kitchen on a borrowed cart.  

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