Above is a clip of my students in a WoolyWeek video challenge. What do I love so much about Jim Wooldridge’s (Señor Wooly’s) collection of Spanish stories and music? It’s time to share some of my most excellent reasons with the world. Read-on, people!
Second Language Acquisition
Comprehensible – We acquire language when we understand messages (Krashen). There are many ways that we can make our messages understandable in class, but Wooly does this by pairing stories of all language levels with amazing story-based music videos and engaging graphic novels. It’s a lot easier to understand that La Dentista doesn’t have any teeth when we are looking right at those scary gums!
Compelling – Input must be interesting to maximize comprehensibility (Terrell). Wooly’s videos are so compelling that my students naturally maintain engagement, which distracts them from the reality that they’re subconsciously learning vocabulary and grammar. They’re engrossed in the stories which makes language learning happen naturally, and I know this because their parents tell me that they sing the songs when they’re not at school. It’s hard to imagine similar engagement with spelling and verb chart practice… not that I’ve tried…
But will your students be compelled? Wooly has produced songs in many genres of music, written stories to meet all interests (from horror stories to satirical comedies to even clothing-based romance – just let it happen), created material for ages, and is adding new stories every year. It’s up to the teacher to make the right story available to the students he/she knows the best.
Repetition – In order to achieve a high number of repetitions, Wooly’s stories can be used to facilitate circling, story-asking, socratic seminars, TPRS, MovieTalks, crafts, PictureTalks, story sequencing, TPR, guided & embedded readings, PQA, comprehension games like Running Dictation, and so much more. And the best part is, SenorWooly.com has all kinds of readymade options: pages and pages of printable activities, embedded readings, lyrics, video games, and online activities that can be completed on a mobile phone or a computer. Finally, teaching tutorial videos help us bring many of these learning experiences to the classroom with minimal effort. I had no idea that there were so many unique ways to talk about the price of a red t-shirt! #EsUnaGanga
Contextualized – Memorizing long lists of vocabulary and grammar rules is challenging… and torturous. However, the mental representations that come with Wooly’s TL stories input high frequency structures by default. Learners who hear and see language in a communicative context are able to process for meaning, which is needed for SLA. (VanPatten) Save the children! Share a story!
Targeted/Non-Targeted – These stories compliment all teaching philosophies. There is a tool to search the videos by specific structures, and there are also videos that appear to have no linguistic restraint at all. Therefore, all teachers can find what they feel is best for SLA. I prefer to select the videos based purely on entertainment value, but I understand that we live in an era of like-assessments and large departments.
FVR & SSR/Whole-Class Reading – When our students engage in free choice reading they show better development in reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary (Krashen), and graphic novels especially increase intrinsic motivation, vocabulary, and comprehension (Edwards). Last year I added a few of Wooly’s novels to my FVR library, and students would race to grab the five copies before class started. This demand is why I have chosen to use La Casa de La Dentista as a whole-class reader this year, and the best part is that Wooly has many complimentary resources on his website! Yhhheeeesssssss.
Technology – If you’re a believer in differentiation and learning-styles or not, it’s great to facilitate technology use to mix things up and maintain engagement. The site is incredibly user-friendly in all areas: to watch the videos, to create and track assignments, to download and print the resources, and to edit the language level settings. Your students won’t have any trouble, but if you do, the technical support staff respond to emails so fast you’ll freak.
School & Language Levels – This input-based curriculum is appropriate for all students and grades. Students only see the stories that you make available, so if you want to block a video that seems too scary, you may. There are Novice-Advanced stories and activities, and the teacher can change the curriculum difficulty at the class level or just for individuals. Also, your students may be beginners at Spanish, but that doesn’t mean they need materials written for babies, which is why there are amazing stories with basic language.
If these reasons haven’t convinced you, I totally suck.
Either way, Señor Wooly has a few super videos public on YouTube, so go watch them!
PS. I didn’t get paid for this vlog; not even a high five.
- If you found the fountain of youth, wouldn’t you want your friends to look forever-35, too?
- If there were a box of puppies left on your doorstep, wouldn’t you deliver them to your favorite students without parental permission?
- If TeachersPayTeachers had a technical glitch, and everything was downloading for free, wouldn’t you group-text the news?
- If Trump University made you a millionaire, wouldn’t you enroll your partner?
- If laser hair removal was actually ‘forever’, would I still have a mustache?
YES! YES! YES! YES! No.
PPS. Did you know that Sr. Wooly will be at ACTFL this year, and he loves to take selfies with teachers?
PPPS. Did you know that he actually feels really silly when people ask him for selfies, and that’s the best part?
PPPPS. Yes, I played the role of Feona who married Víctor from the ‘Guapo’ video, but I was a superfan before the affair was ever imagined. Who would have thought that Víctor was a one-woman man, anyway? Don’t discount my opinion because of one little “I do”. It might not even last…
If you have any questions, or if you just agree with me, please leave a message below!