Adventures in Engagement: Making Spanish Textbooks Engaging with Rondas

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December 2016

Hola Todos!

Do you teach with a Spanish textbook you wish you didn’t have to use? Do your students do page after page of activities with the same mundane results? I know your pain. When I first started teaching Spanish I was at a school that used the Realidades textbook series. As far as textbooks go, it was one of the better options in my opinion; but it still fell short. I found myself teaching vocabulary on day 1 of a unit with Activity 1 & 2. Day 2 we’d review the vocabulary list again and do Activity 3, 4, 5. Day 3… and so on. My students – and I – were in a routine. They were memorizing information for a quiz, but never really having to apply the information. They were practicing each concept with 4-8 sentences or examples and moving on. It wasn’t working.

I knew I needed to find a way to engage ALL of my students while still teaching the textbook. I also knew that my students were NEVER going to be able to conjugate a verb with 4-8 sentences as practice. Finally, I knew that I needed to provide a way for students of all learning levels and abilities to practice at the same time. A fellow teacher introduced me to this idea of Rondas.

What are Rondas? Rondas are differentiated, or leveled, practice rounds with a concept. Students would have 10-15 practice sentences for each concept level, increasing in difficulty and production each time. Students would be allowed to work at their own pace and correct mistakes along the way. I ran with it!

I began creating Rondas for my classes to help them practice conjugating verbs. On level 1 they would have simple Spanish to English translation of short sentences. Before translating, they would identify the subject of the sentence. In level 2 they would conjugate verbs from an infinitive after identifying the subject of the sentence. In level 3 they would translate a short English sentence to Spanish and then identify the subject of the sentence. Finally on level 4 they would write an entire sentence in Spanish.

The results were amazing! My students went from 4-8 repetitions to 45-60 repetitions of conjugation practice in a class period (at the time, 110 minute blocks). Student were self-monitoring their mistakes and making their own corrections. I was getting a first hand look at how to proceed and what I needed to reteach or demonstrate.

Not only was I able to create a method for students to practice, but I was able to differentiate that practice for all levels of learners. If a student finished 1 level in a class- amazing. If they finished all 4 early- wonderful. It was about providing clear differentiation in the Spanish classroom and engaging students outside of the Spanish textbook.

For examples of Rondas I used with my students, click here!

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