Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Notes Book & Chunk Teaching

So this year I am teaching a new way and I have to say, I LIKE IT SOOOO MUCH! The kids are learning faster, they are remembering past material taught, and they are so engaged! I call it "Chunk Teaching" 

So with a language we move from concept to concept...teaching brand new grammar, vocabulary, and conversation...hoping to God that little Johnny didn't forget the past concept I taught him. :/ You know it's true?! I'll be honest I always feel like I'm a good judge of character for my students because I get bored easy just like a bunch of viewpoint is "If I'm bored teaching it...they HAVE to be bored learning it." Sooooo, I switched things up a bit this year. 

First thing you'll need to do is tell every student that they need to construct a little book from blank sheets of paper...I told my kids take 6 sheets of paper, make a booklet, decorate the front ANYWAY you like, and staple it so it will hold together.

So this book? Yeah, IT'S THEIR NOTES! Do you know how easy it is to get them to take notes now? I just say "Sacan los libros" and bam...easy peazy. Something about taking notes on a blank sheet of paper must be a dramatic experience for kids but when they are filling up these books day by day, they are addicted. They can easily look down, flip the page, and see how much Spanish they already know (and need to know). 

The reason I did this....I'm going on maternity leave in the fall (late October to be exact) and I really really needed some way that I knew my kids would have the material at their hands. Also, I can I get through the material a LITTLE quicker than last year...I don't want to leave and the kids have three months of Spanish left with a month to go...ahh, nightmare! 

So here's how "Chunk Teaching" works....I am also a Psychology major as well as Spanish...I know, very diversified but science proves our brain works better and "learns" better and retains the information longer if we learn concepts in "chunks" We can learn multiple concepts but like info must be in chunks "small pieces" so...I figured why not try this in my class?

The first concepts we teach in Spanish 1 are: Alphabet, Spanish Speaking Countries, and Basic Greetings. I usually try to throw a cognate lesson in there as well. So instead of spending two WHOLE classes learning the alphabet and then wondering if they got it....I said "let's open our new fresh books" and title the first page "The alphabet" (but in Spanish). I then taught them 5 to 6 letters (THAT'S IT).....We did pronunciation, we talked about how well they related to English, blah blah blah. Then, I said okay we're going to talk about Spanish Speaking Countries now...start a new page and call it "Spanish Speaking Countries" and then we only did like 5 or 6 with the capitals, talked about each one and done.

Then, last concept....we did greetings...I always teach them "Me llamo (my name is)", Soy de (I am from), and "Como estas" (accents included but keyboard won't do it right at this moment)...this way I can quiz them the next day at the door with telling me THESE 3 things about themselves. 

There are alot of activities to do to practice like presenting each other, presenting yourself, going around the room and filling up a hand (5 peers) by telling them these three things, etc. 

The next's like magic! They actually REMEMBER!!!! You're not OVERLOADING THEM! They can remember like concepts...they can remember chunk information and retain it longer. 

I do this EVERY class...we are on the 11th day of school and my kids CAN: say their alphabet (in Spanish), list and name some Spanish speaking countries with their capitals, know ALL their basic greetings (hello, how are you, i'm good, thanks, where are you from, what's your name, my name is, etc). Also my kids can conjugate in the YO form and the Tu form...they know 15 infinitives, they know adjective placement (putting the adjective AFTER the noun), definite articles, etc. If you don't believe me....take a look at our quiz which was done on the NINTH...yes I said that right....NINTH day of school! 

Chunk teaching....amazing! 

Here is evidence of EXCELLENCE from my freshmen Spanish 1 class: 

Here is the back of the test so you can see what all they did in NINE days of school!!! LOVE CHUNK TEACHING! :))) 

God Bless,
Brittany B. 


  1. I love this idea and I want to try it with my Spanish I classes. Could you post some copies of your lesson plans or more examples of chunk teaching? Thanks!!!

  2. I agree! Please share your lesson plans on chunk teaching. I think this is a great idea! =)Maria

    1. Love your blog and this idea! But I can't find your responses - where you shared your lesson plans for the beginning of Spanish 1. Can you direct me?
      Thanks, Nancy

  3. I agree with this, but I feel it really is effective with a group you see on a daily basis. I do the same with my 4th-5th grade group who I see every day for 7 weeks. However, when I do this with middle school students I see 2x or 3x, suddenly it becomes a lot harder. :(

  4. To add-when I do bite-size lessons with the intermediate students I see 1x per week (another part of my schedule,) it is also most effective.

  5. What an awesome idea!!! I am a first year teacher and have really been struggling with retention. I think next year I will try this. I may not wait till next year... maybe start tomorrow... Thanks for the awesome idea!!!!

  6. Brittany -
    Hace años ya que soy profesor de castellano y yo puedo decirle que tu idea de "chunking" es buena metolodogía. Funciona aún mejor con concepts avanzados. Yo le recomendo que pruebes con los verbos reflexivos. Cinco verbos cada día con chequeos cotidianos ("quizzes" si sea necesario). Con "chunks" y la repetición de práctica los resultos serán asombrosos. Hoy es el 5 de noviembre. Ojalá que sus últimos días de embarazo vayan bien y que su parto pase sin problema. ¡Qué Dios les bendiga como solo él puede! -hal (también - debe ser "Saquen sus libros" no "sacan")

  7. THis is amazing! I want to try this with my classes! Next year we will go to an alternate day schedule and i think this will help them. I am going to do a test run after spring break. I would love to see how your lesson plans or activities break down daily.