Darcy Pippins

I have been so excited about this session since the iFLT schedule came out.  This session is something that is dear to my heart.  I teach students who are on the path to AP and I want to make sure that I am providing them with the tools necessary to be successful at the AP level.  Today Darcy took us through the AP themes and how we can hit them from the bottom up in our programs.  She indicated that she depends on her lower level teachers to teach a novel based curriculum in order to reach as far as she does with her AP students.  I was happy to know that many of the things that she mentioned are what I am doing in my classroom with my AP track level 3s, and even with my non AP track 4s and 5s.  A unit Darcy uses with level 3 is Kristy Placido’s novel, “Frida”.  This unit provides multiple AP themes including science and technology because of the connection to polio.  It also touches on personal and public identities, personal beliefs and interests and ultimately self image with a wonderful project such as Kristy’s selfie project here.

I was also happy to see that I am doing a lot of the same things that Darcy does with the theme of global challenges.  Some sub themes can be immigration, environmental problems, religion or social conscious.  Her students participate in social outreach and in community service projects.  Some authentic literature  she uses for this theme are “Esperanza renace” in AP with the theme of immigration.  “Senderos fronterizos” is another wonderful AP text that continues the story of “Cajas de cartón”.

Darcy encourages lower level teachers to use film such as “La misma luna” for a short movie talk or in digestible chunks to bring these powerful themes to our students.  Kara Jacobs did it quite successfully in her post here.  However, even just a single scene from a movie can be useful by providing a ton of input while touching upon an AP theme.

Paintings are a great way to highlight the AP theme of beauty and aesthetics, especially with picture talk.  Virtual tours allow our students to view architecture like the  Casa Azul of Frida Kahlo.   Why not use paintings to explore cultural perspectives.  Darcy recommends Carmen Lomas Garza who is a painter from Texas.  She uses her paintings for cultural comparisons of traditions. She mentioned one in particular about  Las Posadas.  Check out her artwork here to see how you can use it in your classroom.  I am really excited that Darcy uses the arpillera project (weavings created by women to protest human rights violations during the Pinochet dictatorship of Chile) because I do this as well..  Now I am more motivated than ever to get the stations I have been meaning to create on this together!  Finally she mentioned dance steps in the target language.  I have actually been toying with this idea for when I teach Felipe Alou to bring Dominican culture alive in my classroom.  Thank you Darcy for validating my ideas today!

One of my favorite moments of the day was when Darcy said, “But what about the grammar”?  Then she showed us this quote by Jim Trelease, the author of “The Read Aloud Handbook”.  “Grammar is more caught than taught and the way you catch is the same way you catch the flu:  You’re exposed to it  By hearing the language spoken correctly, you begin to imitate the pattern–both in what you say and in what you write.”  She encourages us to make the paradigm shift especially because our students will be much happier.

Next we reviewed how to provide our students with input.  She mentioned pqa, tpr, tprs videoclips, music, Señor Wooly’s amazing materials, Readers Theater and commercials.  She also mentioned Newsinslowspanish.com which is something I will be exploring soon.  “El internado” is another way she provides input however it is a treat on Fridays only if her students have used the target language all week.  This television series is excellent for making cultural comparisons.

I am always searching for the perfect gift for my seniors at the end of the year.  This year I gave them personalized cards with pictures from our Readers Theater that I printed at Walgreens.  The students absolutely loved it.  Some even said it was the most thoughtful gift they ever received. However next year I will add on to the gift by including Darcy’s brilliant idea of creating a  Spotify playlist of all of the awesome songs they learned and sharing it with them.  What a great idea!  Totally stealing it :).

Another strategy Darcy uses is speed dating. I have been experimenting with it this year.  Students enjoy it.  Darcy’s twist is that she connects it to AP by having students practice AP simulated conversation.  Now students can practice with at least three different partners.  I am definitely trying this idea out in the fall!  I have begun to practice e-mails and cultural comparisons in my level 3, but I have not yet dove into simulated conversations.  I am excited to tackle this in the fall.

My head is spinning from the amount of awesome ideas I heard today!  I can not wait to bring them to my classroom!  I hope you do too!


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