wooly and carrie

Señor Wooly and Carrie Toth

iFLT Graphic Content (with Señor Wooly) by Arianne Dowd

Today I had the privilege to spend the afternoon with very the super talented Sr. Wooly. Every time I attend his workshops, he has new compelling content and strategies that are 100% successful with my students! The best part of everything Wooly is that even if you are not at iFLT, you can find his amazing ideas on his blog or in the Facebook Group of Woology that are dedicated to talking about how to use his resources. 

Jim is an expert of graphic novels in the SLA world who explained the many advantages they have in our L2 classrooms. Graphic novels are a great bridge into reading real novels. With an ordinary book, a student will finish it and not pick it up again but with graphic novels, ELA teachers are finding that many students are picking the books back up and rereading them. This repetition is key for L2 learners. In addition it is easier to pick up a graphic novel to continue reading or re read because in the middle or towards the end because the images give the reader context of what point of the book they are in. Finally, there is also a much larger noise tolerance with graphic novels because much of the descriptive language is unnecessary as it is given through visuals. 

One key ingredient to teaching a graphic novel is using predictions. However these ideas for predictions can be easily adapted to any music video, film or Movie Talk. (I have used these ideas with other Movie Talks and they transferred beautifully!) First we reviewed the prediction activity called “Bunch of Hunches”. In the session Jim posted images from the graphic novel, “La dentista”. Each student received a group of cut up papers with statements about the novel such as “This scene is a dream.” or “This the scariest part of the novel.” We took our predictions and taped them up to the picture we thought it best matched. During our debrief we discussed how seeing where other students put their predictions influenced some of our decisions. A key component of the activity is that students make good and strong predictions. Completion is not important. Ultimately this is an excellent activity because:

  1. It gives students the opportunity to re read the predictions. (Repeated exposure to these structures.)
  2. When students add their names to the predictions, their ideas are valued. In addition, when students include their names, they take more ownership about the upcoming lesson. Many want to have the correct predictions. 

After “Bunch of Hunches” the teacher can do some PQA (Personalized Question & Answer) about the images and review the predictions. Jim said that many members of his Facebook group had some variations of this activity during Wooly Week. Some teachers used Google Forms instead of the paper. They uploaded the images to a form and put a series of options below for students to check. Another idea is a Kahoot with the image and then 4 options of text where students vote on the best predictions. These are great ways to reuse the activity in a novel way with other videos. 

The next activity we previewed was Parallel Universe. This is really fun! It includes TPRS skills and lots of student input! Ultimately the goal is to use a still from the video to tell a story. Images from the video are posted on the walls of the classroom. The teacher starts with one of the images posted and asks students about the picture such as the person’s name, where they are going, etc. Then students will signal if they want to participate. In order to participate they choose the next picture that answers the question posted by the teacher. The teacher gives the input and students can give zero or minimal output. This activity is a great way for students attached to a story prior to experiencing it.

Jim shared a wonderful way to spice up Picture Talk. With images from his graphic novel “La dentista”, he set the mood by playing spooky music. Then he asked us questions like do you think the girl is scared? Is she scared of insects? Is she scared of me? These questions matched the mood, they were exciting and interesting to talk about and ultimately were allowing students to open up about themselves with communication. We can take the text even further by exploring what is culturally scary in our target cultures or around the world.

Once students have finally opened their books and have begun to read, you can do something like musical readers theater. Jim coached his actors first. Then he played different types of music like funny or sad and the actors said their lines accordingly. This was hysterical. We had amazing actors who even sang their lyrics. I wish I had video!! It was amazing. I think Marta Yedinak will be posting it soon!

One of the final activities was Pass It Up. Here is a video of Carrie Toth showing you how to play. It was great to actually play it in the session because it gave me a better idea of how to play. Each team has two rows. One of the two rows has speech bubbles in the target language and the other row has images. The teacher will call out a sentence in the target language. The students at the back of one row must pass up the image and the other row must pass up the text bubble to front. The students at the front of row put the items on the board and put the speech bubble to the correct character in the image. The winning team gets a point. Then students rotate seats. Pass It Up is a great way to review a story, add novelty and movement to your classroom! Here is a tip to decide on the winner of a round. I strongly encourage that you bring back these activities to your classroom because they will only make your classroom a richer and more engaging space!


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