Posted in Review

Review: La estatua by Jeremy Jordan

Review of La Estatua

Although I wasn’t at ACTFL, one of my favorite Latin teachers was there, so of course I sent her a long list of new books to buy me to add to my FVR library.  I was so excited to see that Señor Jordan on YouTube has written a new book called La Estatua.  It is a brand new book, and I was hooked.  I loved it for many reasons:

  • The illustrations were great!  It would be easy to discuss the pictures alone if you were going to read it as a class.  You could also just put some up around the room to pique student interest before putting it into your FVR rotation.  When you get a new book in your library, make sure that you do a little “promotion” of the book.  You could easily copy a few pictures, do a picture talk of them and then add it to your library.
  • The Mexican culture embedded into the novel was great and felt natural.  One point, they have huevos rancheros.  I also appreciated how Lola refers to her father as Apá.  Jeremy also manages to discuss the weather patterns of Mexico without it seeming awkward.  The story also revolves around the story of chac mool and the myths around it.
  • I also felt like the language itself seemed more natural.  Since it was made for level 2, the words didn’t seem as repetitive.  Some of the Spanish readers that I have read rely upon a lot of cognates, but this book did not.  (Not that it didn’t seem comprehensible!  The word count is around 300 new words.)
  • As far as grammar, the story is predominantly in the present tense with some past tense scattered throughout the book.
  • I appreciate a new voice in comprehensible novels.  Just like with regular novels, some students will naturally drift to certain authors because they like the way that they write.  Jeremy’s voice provides an great addition to an already amazing cast of authors.  Plus, Jeremy is so popular with many students, so that may engage some reluctant readers.

I would say that the book is a bit scary, so if you have students who do not like scary books, I would be cautious.  As I have noted before, I don’t love scary books, but I wasn’t too scared.  For me, it was more engaging than scary.  I would not use it in Middle School unless I knew that I had a group of students who were really into scary stories.  You could easily use it in High School.  Also, another note, I have read El Ekeko, and I am planning on using it with my level 1 class at the end of the year.  I found some similarities with these two books.  I wouldn’t teach both in the same year; however, if you have a student who loves El Ekeko, I would buy this book as a great follow-up book.  (Same thing goes, if you have a student who loved La Estatua, I would encourage you to purchase El Ekeko to continue on a similar theme and for students to read during FVR.)  It would also be interesting to create literature circles with either book, and then have students compare and contrast the novels at the end.  I highly recommend adding this book to your library/class novel rotation!  Let me know if you have any questions about it.

Posted in culture, noticias

Plans for Post #ACTFL17

Plans for Post #ACTFL17

It is a big Sunday as many of you are winding down from ACTFL and coming back to a two or three day week.  Maybe you are pumped to start implementing something new, but you need a day or two to put it together.  Plus, students are antsy due to the short week.  Here are a few activities that I put together to infuse more culture into these two days.

My plans for Friday were to discuss the Latin Grammy song of the year.  Then, whomp whomp, it was Despacito.  You can open up a discussion on this on Facebook groups or Twitter, and watch Spanish teachers get all in a tizzy about whether or not they would use it in class.  (For the record, I don’t want to use it!)  I focused on the new nominees instead.  I made a Google Slides of everyone nominated for best new artist.  I shared this with my class and allowed they to choose an artist, research them and embed a school appropriate song into the slides.  Then at the end, we listened to all of the music and their slides.  It was low pressure, and at least to me, the class seemed to fly by!  I also chose this for my class because they really love music.  Also, if you would also like to extend this, you could do a fashion police activity!  Have students rate each outfit and explain why they gave each rating.

In addition, I am continuing my news articles, so you can read these with your class on Monday.  They are a little shorter this weekend, but they include information on who is running for the election in Chile.  The election is actually occurring today, so you could discuss the results with your class.  Black Friday is also covered in a variety of different countries.  You could pull up a variety of promotions to look at and compare/contrast.  You could also have students compare the prices of sales in the US to sales in a variety of Latin American countries.  On the Spanish Teachers Facebook group, someone shared this site of El Buen Fin which is also similar.  Finally, the University San Francisco of Quito tried to beat a Guinness World Record to see how many people they could dress up as Star Wars characters!  Here is the newsletter:

Noticias 20 de octubre

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: November 17, 2017

Brillante Viernes November 17

Happy #ACTFL Friday!  I know that even if we are sitting at home, all foreign language teachers are excited by the sharing of ideas that will be happening in Nashville and through Facebook and Twitter this weekend!  If you are going to ACTFL and want to share any takeaways, you can share them in the comments here, and I can collect them and post them as well.  If you are hanging out on your couch, reading tweets like me, check out some of these amazing posts from this week as well:

  • La Maestra Loca is the queen of brain breaks!  Check out her newest PD here!
  • I love Kristy’s ideas to get more input for students.
  • This room is amazing!  I especially love the posters that help with circumlocution.
  • Check out Google’s Arts and Culture section.
  • On Facebook, Angie Dodd shared this AMAZING selection of novice Spanish readers!  I am going to print these off before I start FVR with my level 1.  Now no one has an excuse of not having enough money to get readers in Spanish!!

Flashback to my previous November posts:

  • If you are printing things off the web, use print friendly!
  • How to change slowly (and not drop everything you are doing)
  • My Spanish II class has loved Te mueves tú- so I need to introduce them to Muevete!
  • The Latin Grammys were Thursday night!  Have students do a Fashion Police activity today or Monday!
  • Also, I will do this with my students as well before Thanksgiving.
Posted in Interpersonal, Presentational

Database: Effective prompts

Collaborate: Your best writing/speaking prompts

In my quest to develop IPAs, I have some prompts for interpersonal speaking and presentational writing that end up taking off!  Almost all students write a TON of information and continue to write as much as they can about the topic.  Some ideas flop.  I have students write the minimum required, and really do not elaborate.  While I haven’t found the secret as to why some take off and some flop, I can at least share what HAS worked for me.

Today, I was inspired!  I saw that Rosalyn Rhodes (@spanish_rhodes) shared on Twitter an idea that had her students discuss family traditions and celebrations.  She reported that her students discussed them for 40 minutes!  I decided to do the same prompt for my students, and they also spoke for 40 minutes (and then the class was over!  They probably could have kept talking!)  Therefore, many times, a prompt that works for one person has a higher success rate of working for another.  But, how can we find ones that work?

Enter databases!  I love databases!  I rely upon the MovieTalk database frequently.  (Students always ask me how I find these great videos!)  Sara-Elizabeth started an authentic resource database that I also check out when I need new authentic resources.  I thought that currently, there isn’t a database for solid topic prompts.  What speaking or writing prompt can you give to your students that pushes most of them to express as many ideas as they can instead of barely writing anything before turning in their assignment?  I have already started the database here, but this database is only as successful as the number of people who read it and contribute.  I hope that this becomes helpful for teachers of all languages!

Posted in Authentic resources, Technology

Five authentic resources for novices and how I used them in class

Five authres for novices

I was so excited the other day!  I had actually pinned these videos earlier, and they were PERFECT for my unit!  They are the MasterChef Junior contestants introducing themselves in Spanish!  Each one is between 30 seconds to a minute long.  Instead of putting them into EdPuzzle, we watched them as a whole class.  Students had time to list words that they heard and understood and any facts/information that they understood as well.  I like to have open ended prompts like this from time to time because it really does highlight what students can do- instead of me trying to listen as a novice listener trying to pick out items that they should hear.  If you look on the side of the video, they have a ton of suggested videos that are all the same!  Also, many of my students really like MasterChef in general.

I shared this on my Facebook page recently, but I loved this Coca-cola ad.  I typed up a transcript with some help from the #langchat group to find a word.  We also discussed the phrase “¿cuál elegirías?” where I gave them two options before watching.  This helped scaffold the difficult part at the end.  Students listened twice to focus on the words then watched the video, and I discussed it in Spanish.  Then we went back through and highlighted the descriptions of everyone.

For my unit on activities and how we spend our time, I like this infographic!  I used this to introduce the topic and had students answer questions on this, but you could easily have students create their own schedule on the same chart and compare it to each country.  It doesn’t involve a lot of writing either.

I found this website with a ton of infographics about Thanksgiving in the US.  This is my exam theme for my level 2 class because our exams are right before Thanksgiving.  Plus, it combines many of the themes from level 1 and the beginning of 2.  In addition, when I traveled to Spain, I had to answer a lot of questions about Thanksgiving!  (My favorite was when my friend mistakenly said “polvo” instead of “pavo” and her host family asked if she went to the backyard to gather it!)  Many times, I plan an activity to go with it, but I just opened a blank PearDeck and kept adding questions as I was going.  It was easy to prep on the fly- and I could cover all of the different types of questions.  You could also use some of these for level 1 because students are aware of the celebration, and there are many cognates.

This infographic also discusses families.  I had students look at a word cloud with all of the words ahead of time.  Many of them could start to see the topic before they saw the actual infographic.  Then I had them identify facts that they understood.  Everyone was able to identify at least 4-5 facts, and they also made good observations as they were able to focus on what they could understand.

Edited to add! If you are interested in PearDeck, here is how I set it up if you want to ask questions on the fly.  I set up a PearDeck slide and add a blank slide.

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Then I click the green start presenting button.  Once my students are in and my slideshow has started, I can just click on the add a question.


You have to hover over the bottom of the screen for these choices to appear.  Then this screen will pop up, and I use ask a new question.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.58.56 PM

Here are your choices.  I think the drawing part is part of my premium subscription, but I know that you can choose the other choices.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.59.05 PM.png

If I put text answer, the screen looks like this and all students can put in their answers.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 12.59.14 PM

Many times, I will also write a question on the board to help them if needed.  The beauty of PearDeck if you haven’t used it is that you can display all students’ answers.  Then we can review them all as a class.  It gives everyone a good amount of processing time as well.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: November 10, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 1.22.23 PM

Happy Friday and a happy early Veteran’s Day!  I am a proud wife, daughter, granddaughter, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law of many people who have served our country.  Although I saw my husband’s sacrifice up front, I always like to reflect on how much time he gave to our country.  I am so proud of them.  Don’t forget to thank all of our veterans this weekend.

In a professional part, I was the guest moderator for #langchat last night!  We discussed how to prepare for ACTFL, and how to follow along from home.  Some of my favorite tips were:

  • Reflect on what you think that you need the most help with and attend sessions based on that topic.  You will have a more focused view on how to improve when you go home.  This is my favorite post on how to do make a plan.  Also Valerie mentioned that you could do this at home.  It is tempting to read ALL of the sessions when people share them, but many times, I leave the tabs open for too long.  Think about what you want to focus on if you are scrolling through Twitter at home.
  • Don’t be afraid to take breaks and NOT attend a session.  Take a long lunch, sit down on the couch and chat with a friend.  There are PLENTY of sessions, and you are regaining your sanity by taking a break.
  • Also, go and hang out with Noah Geisel at the unconference!  It is called ACTFL Un-Con from 4-6 on Friday and Saturday.  I did that a few times last year.  It gives you a structured place to just talk with your friends.  You can share what you learned at other sessions.  I met a new friend who lived in Maryland that I now have seen at many subsequent conferences.  I also learned how to play around with Snapchat in the classroom via Noah and Laura and Kara Jacobs.  I used that tip within the first few weeks of returning to school.
  • It is HUGE.  Keith Toda mentioned this as well.  I thought that when I attended, I would run into my virtual friends right and left, but you almost have to hunt them down!  I sent SO many PMs to Laura Sexton to finally meet her in person last year.
  • Don’t be afraid to go to a session in another language if it looks interesting- thanks Bethanie!  This will probably be easier if the language is close to your own language- or you could ask a neighbor to help you translate.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to leave a session!  I know you think that you may offend someone, but many times, they don’t notice.  Last year at NECTFL, one of the sessions I left, I went to another session about avoiding Google Translate by Amanda Robustelli-Price.  It was exciting to meet her, and I was able to incorporate the suggestions immediately.
  • In order to implement change or share your ideas, Señor Pardi suggested having a presenter Skype in to your department meeting.  This is an awesome idea, and I was thinking about doing something similar!  (Do you want me to Skype with your department?!  Let me know- I’m in!)
  • John Cadena also shared how he implements change.  He chooses one idea to implement immediately, one idea to work on a bit before using it and one idea to “percolate” and try later.  I think this is a great idea for how to implement small change without going crazy post conference.
  • Also, you can share your ideas on Twitter or in Facebook groups.  I am loving the information that I am getting from the various Facebook groups that I have joined.
  • Señor Pardi also mentioned that you have to take time and reflect that attending a conference can be difficult.  Many times you feel like you are surrounded by all of these AMAZING teachers doing AMAZING things, and you aren’t.  I am here to tell you that you are doing amazing things in your own classroom.  No one is perfect- not even the Teachers of the Year.  Everyone you meet at ACTFL has problems in their classroom and boring days, but you can also learn from everyone there- from the first year teacher to each presenter!
  • Finally, bring your sweater and water bottle!

Here are my favorite posts from this week:

  • Check out this alternative that will give students’ definitions of words in L1 when they are reading from Noah!
  • I used a variation of this from Laura, and it was AMAZING!  SO many of my students kept talking and the next day, they independently had a 21 minute conversation!!
  • Another thing that I want to try ASAP- this goal reflection sheet!
  • I am addicted to Google Add-ons!  Check out this list of 25!
  • My friend and co-planner for EdCampCIVa Lynne shared this post on Facebook about how to plan a Crime Scene Investigation.

Flashback time!

Whew!  And if you made it this far- thanks for reading it!  🙂

Posted in Novel

Activities for the book Frida Kahlo by Kristy Placido

Frida Kahlo Novel

I chose Frida Kahlo to start the year with my Spanish V class.  This book by Kristy Placido is excellent.  I had a pretty good background about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but I really did not realize how crazy her life was until I read this book.  As I stated in my previous post, I tried to alternate using whole class reading, reading guides for individuals and a PearDeck while we were reading.  Many times, I would also use whiteboards as we were talking about a chapter as well.  Also, I used Kara Jacob’s songs and ideas from Sharon Birch.  (I am not sure HOW I missed these amazing resources for Arianne, but I am adding this to my list of resources for next year.)  Here are some of my resources that I also used:

  • This YouTube video to review the Mexican Revolution.  Many of my students have learned about the Mexican Revolution, so I wanted to reiterate what they had learned in previous classes.
  • We did a Goosechase activity.  Here are my prompts that I used.
  • We did some digital storytelling with a chapter as well (when Frida and Diego get married.)  Students were able to take pictures or a video of them acting out various scenes from the book.  I would discuss who each character was when they talked about it.
  • Also, if you haven’t played the Marker Game with your students, this is always a great low prep activity to do at the end of class.

Finally, at the end, I did a variation of the selfies project that Kristy did.  Our school just built a new MakerSpace/Fab Lab in their building that we call the BITLab.  Our BITLab teacher is AMAZING!  He obviously knows how laser cutters, 3-d printers etc work, but he is also an artist.  I showed him the Frida project, and he said that students could create their own frames on the laser cutter for a selfie!  Their frames would represent certain aspects of their lives that they wanted to highlight just as Frida represented her life in her self-portraits.

To make the frames, students created them on Google Drawings.  They changed the size to 8×10 or 10×8.  Then, they would drag in PNG images that didn’t have any backgrounds from Google Images.  They would make sure to convert this to black and white, and they would also play with the greyscale to create more contrast.  Then, students would add a square or different shape to the center.  This was where their picture would go.  Many students did a generic square shape because they wanted to use their frames later and not just have a picture of themselves.  They turned out amazing!  Here are some pictures:

Laser cut frames Frida

Don’t they look amazing??  I loved them!  Then, in class, students presented why they included each item.  After that, each student asks a follow-up question.  This keeps students engaged and makes the language more spontaneous instead of planned.  Also, even though I have taught some of my students for years, I learned even more information about them.

Posted in noticias

Noticias: 6 de noviembre

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Here is the latest edition of my version of Noticias.  In this edition, I included:

  • Selena’s Hollywood Star
  • November 4th celebration in Panama
  • An update on Venezuela
  • A tourist attraction in Ecuador
  • Lego makes 4 NASA scientists (Thanks Bethanie for the suggestion!)

In addition, here are some extension activities:

  • Listen to Selena’s music!
  • Check out the hashtag #vivapanama on Twitter for some short video clips of people celebrating and includes video clips of the parades.
  • Also, you could listen to the Ruben Blades song Patria.
  • Here is the café that I mentioned in the article on Ecuador and the restaurant as well.  You can have students check out some pictures and the menu.

Enjoy!  (Updated to edit typo on last page!)

Noticias 6 de noviembre (1)

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: November 3, 2017


Brillante Viernes Nov 3Happy Friday!  It was an exciting week for me!  My Spanish II class decided to nominate me for Teacher of the Month in the newest Revista Literal!  I was beyond touched by their words, and I was thrilled.  They are truly a special class, and many times, I feel that I am the lucky one to teach them.  (It sounds cheesy, but it is true!)  Then, my department has been discussing Tea with BVP frequently.  Many times, Thursday afternoon, we get together to listen.  The last time I called for the Diva Challenge, I was third in line, but this time I made it!  And I won the book as well!  I am hoping that my luck continues through my presentation this weekend at GWATFL.  Without further ado, here were some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I love using FVR, and Allison’s tip about how to introduce it in level 1 is important.
  • Laura’s post on how she is changing her listening assessments may be a game changer!
  • Check out this post on how to incorporate culture into classes (and how NOT to incorporate it.)
  • As I wrote before, I think it is dangerous to constantly compare your classes’ work to that on social media.  It is great that so many people are proud of what their students can do, but many times, they just share the highs, and it is easy to get discouraged.  I believe that posts like this of Erin’s are extremely important to read.
  • Jacque Ann shared this video on Facebook with Saludos and Despedidas.  Although it isn’t “authentic,” it is pretty engaging and entertaining!  Plus, it could be used easily in level 1.  It is a whole sitcom series!

Here are some of my previous posts, too:

Posted in conference

GWATFL presentation, Fall 2017

This Saturday, I am presenting at GWATFL in Washington, DC.  I am presenting on how to prepare students for IPAs.  Initially, I heard a lot about how to design IPAs, but I did not know how to change my actual teaching.  This presentation starts to introduce how I planned for IPAs and what I did in my classes to prepare them.  Let me know if you have any questions!