Sometimes we tend to moan and groan about professional development and how it is worthless. We have been lucky in this county to have two dedicated supervisors (one from Salisbury University and one from the county) who have offered Saturday professional development workshops for language teachers once a month for several years. In one of these workshops, about 5 years ago, the designated topic was videos and how to use them. One of the many recommendations was the series developed by HBO called Classical Baby, which contains three videos, one for classical music, one for art and one for dance.
We (Spanish and French teachers) looked at several clips and brainstormed ways to use them. The clip that appealed to me the most was from Classical Baby Dance called The Hippo Dance. The music is Duke Ellington’s version of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ellington’s version is called Sugar Rum Cherry. So, what, you might ask, does a high school teacher do with a video for toddlers? I found The Hippo Dance an excellent way to continue working with the Spanish preterite and imperfect, something that my students always need to continue practicing and reviewing. Despite what we may be working on at any point in time, I’m frequently injecting past tense review without calling it the past tense, or the preterite or the imperfect.
Before I go through the steps that I use with the video I should say that my 50 minutes of class with my students always involves multiple activities, and I usually do not spend more than 10 minutes on any one thing. Therefore, my activities with The Hippo Dance take place over several days.
- The first day that I plan to use the video class begins with a partner review of some of the verbs that they will need for the activities with the video. In groups of two, I give them 2 – 3 minutes to put the desired verbs in both the preterite and imperfect. I know that this is a rote activity, but it is important that they are reminded of the verbs before we begin the activities with The Hippo Dance. hipo 1 repaso verbos
- We watch the video with no direction given from me (it is 2 minutes in length). They usually are enchanted….I don’t think that the word enchanted is too strong for their first reaction!
- I ask them to list colors in the video, rooms of the house in the video, verbs that would apply to the video, etc. With their partners, they use this brainstorming activity to describe what happened in the video. As they request words that we haven’t had, such as “timer”, I write them on the board. At the end of a minute or two, I ask for volunteer sentences. After that, we move on to something else.
- The next day one of the partner activities will be to identify the chores in the pictures, and to talk about chores they did as a child, and chores they did last week (2 -3 minutes). Los Quehaceres
- We watch the video again. Working with their partner, the students work through guided questions orally, with an emphasis on verbs in the preterite and imperfect (¿Quién regó las plantas? ¿Dónde estaba el niño? ¿Cuándo la mamá estaba pasando la aspiradora, qué hizo el niño?). pret imp questions for El baile de los hipos Combining with another group, the group of four now writes answers. I like for all of them to write, and when the timer goes off, I have the group put all the papers together in one pile and I randomly pick one. All the people in that group write their names on the paper, and that is the one paper that I will assess. Whatever the form of assessment, it will apply to all of the names on the paper….that keeps them all working, instead of just the one person writing. This concludes activity for the second day. (10 minutes)
- On day three I ask them to tell the story of The HIppo Dance to a new partner. We then watch the video for a final time. The students then work once more with that partner to put the story in order El baile de los hipos pon en orden
- El Baile de los Hipos tarea This last assignment is an individual homework assignment that will receive a formal assessment.
- New for this upcoming year, I think that I will add another homework assignment after day two that will use audioboo, an excellent oral assessment tool. I will ask them to tell me the chores they had to do when they were younger, and what chores they did last week; so essentially I will be asking them to repeat what was the warm up activity with a partner from day two. Their recording should be between 30 – 60 seconds.
I purchased the entire series, music, art and dance, and have used several of the videos. To give you an idea of what it sounds and looks like, I’ve embedded two videos: the audio is the first clip, the video is the second ( the second has no sound and The Hippo Dance begins at the 7:59 mark and ends at 10:00).
If you would like an idea of what the sound and video are like together, here are some more samples below