The beginning of a new journey
I was introduced the the Greater Madison Writing Project in the spring of 2016. It seemed like a great opportunity to think, collaborate, and act on new ways to bring writing into my Spanish class. I was often frustrated by students’ English writing, so how was I going to improve their Spanish?
During the summer we had an intense 2 week collaboration time. We learned to see ourselves as writers and to look at what we wanted our students to accomplish. I was asked why Spanish was important to me during this time. Why did I become a Spanish teacher? I believe it was because language came naturally to me. I loved the patterns in the language, the rules, and the simplicity of the phonetics. But most of all, it was a skill that no one could take away from me. It was a skill I could use in a variety of situations and in multiple locations or jobs. I want this love of the language to be recognized by my students. To see themselves using the language in meaningful ways.
My goal in my classroom became to journal daily for 5–10 minutes at the start of each class, including a sharing time. I started the year with simple prompts to get the students use to writing and to learn where all their resources were. (I made them a journal and a dictionary of their K-5 vocabulary they had learned so far, along with packets of new 6th grade vocabulary.) By journaling daily I envisioned the students increasing their confidence to expand their writing to their own personal lives, to add details, and to create stories.
My co-teacher was willing to jump into the experiment with me. I believe good planning during the summer, resources for the students, and a supporting teacher to touch base with along the way has helped me a lot. Also, I believe with the monthly Greater Madison Writing Project meetings, it helps me refocus on what is important, evaluate what is going good and what needs to be improved, and helps me want to share my story. I believe all of these factors are helping my students improve their confidence in Spanish.