Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 24, 2017

Brillante Viernes: March 24

Happy Friday!  We have the faculty-staff basketball game today at the end of the day, then it is Spring Break!  After a long winter, we are all ready for the break.  My son and I will be heading down to Virginia Beach for the week.  Hopefully, it will be warmer down there.  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I keep highlighting Laura’s posts, but she is on fire!  This one about our shifting roles as language teachers doesn’t disappoint.
  • I appreciate a lot of what Mike is working on here in his classes.  I want to look at some of these topics more in depth this summer when I can reflect and think of how to apply them to my classes.
  • This post is a year old, but I just found it this week on Twitter!  I love the Draw 1, 2, 3 idea post storytelling.
  • Check out this awesome new blog about everything from teaching with movies to novels!

Here are some of my other posts from later years:

Posted in Music, Reading

What’s happening in my classes?


What's happening in my classes?

I wanted to give two small updates of what I am doing day to day in my classes.  A few years ago, I shared song activities that I created the song Me Voy by Vazquez Sounds.  I wanted to update it this year for a few reasons.  First, their ages are off by three years now!  Second, I am loving what Elizabeth Dentlinger has been doing with her songs as interpretive listening activities.  I didn’t add as many activities as she has done per song, but I started to incorporate more parts into this song.  I will be honest, part of me wants to move away from the cloze activity; however, I like that it helps with discrete listening.  Here is my updated packet.  The video also would be great to discuss as it is playing.

Second, I really liked how Laura introduced the imperfect to her classes.  I rewrote this story about Douglas Tompkins.  He was the founder of NorthFace and Patagonia.  He bought parts of Chile, and after his death, he donated them back to Chile to form a huge park system in Chile.  I tried to use a lot of imperfect throughout the story to highlight with students.  This year, I am focusing a bit on translation with both preterite and imperfect to teach the differences.  In addition, after reading the story, I showed this video of one of the parks in Chile.  Hopefully, this will demonstrate a different part of the country that my students hadn’t thought about.  Hope these two activities help you in your classes as well.

Posted in conference

Collaborate with me this spring in DC!

Spring Conferences in DC

I wanted to update you on a few conferences that I will be participating in this spring!  My first one will be EdCamp Metro DC in the KIPP-DC Shaw Campus.  If you have never been to an EdCamp, they are for everyone involved in education.  In addition, you decide the topics!  It is also free to attend.  I have been helping to put on EdCamp Metro DC for many years now.  I always take away a few good ideas to implement in my classes.  In addition, I get to network with many other teachers in the area.

The second is the Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language Spring Immersion day.  I will be presenting on the tech tools for the proficiency classroom.  This is a longer presentation from what I presented about in NECTFL.  Hope you can attend one of these, and we can meet in real life!

Posted in Authentic resources

Why not edit the text?

Why not edit the text?

Many teachers tout the phrase edit the task not the text from the book by Shrum and Glisan.  I know the meaning behind it, and I believe that it can be valid.  First, I want to evaluate why teachers want to use authentic resources in class.

  • It can be very powerful for students to use authentic resources which are designated for native speakers.  They give a real world purpose to speech since they are used by native speakers.
  • These resources are also valuable because they have culture embedded in them.  They can also be current and relevant.
  • In addition, I have been able to teach more literacy skills via many of these authentic resources.
  • These can also be good models for presentational writing.
  • Finally, I like that authentic resources use more “authentic” vocabulary instead of the neutral vocabulary that our textbooks use.  For example, our textbook uses lavaplatos.  All of the resources that students saw used “lavavajillas.”  While some students will stick with lavaplatos, some of my students who notice this will remember both terms.

In addition, I would propose that there are very basic authentic resources that can be used in the very beginning levels.  I enjoyed using a TV schedule when students were using days of the week due to the number of cognates in TV show names.  You can check out this as an example.  As many teachers state, infographics are also a great use of authentic resources for beginners due to the use of pictures and text.

However, there are some problems with using authentic resources:

  • Students can quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of text that they do not understand.  Many teachers have noted this especially when they switch to authentic resources after not using them.  This can quickly cause students to become disengaged.
  • Not all vocabulary is always relevant or would be used for beginners.  If you want to support all of the article, you may have to teach too much irrelevant vocabulary.
  • Some of the sections may be relevant for students whereas other sections are superfluous and too difficult.
  • If you are using an authentic resource, it may have a lot of good information, but it may end up being really long.  I found this when I was using the AirBnB website for a travel housing unit.  With only some sections of the website, it was still five pages long!
  • Unless you are going to dissect it over many days, you can’t cover everything, so your questions would not address the whole prompt.  Therefore, a large part of the authentic resource isn’t even needed by students to do the interpretive activity or to do something with it.  I know that I can be guilty of this!

Instead of eliminating authentic resources or continuing to frustrate students, there is another solution!  EDIT the TEXT.  Why?  I believe that students can still get all of the benefits from an authentic resource and eliminate a lot of the disadvantages that also exist.  Using my new, current top favorite authentic resource of AirBnB, you could easily use different sections for different levels:

For a novice level, you could give them the charts.  There are images and a chart:

AirBnB #1


In a more advanced level, you could look at the description:


Studying more about vacations and the city?  Include information about the area around the apartment:

AirBnB 3

Checking out how to write reviews?  There are plenty here!

AirBnB 4

In reality, there are 192 reviews.  You can easily pick a few that your students can understand.  I believe that from these small clips of the text, you are getting all of the benefits of an authentic resource.  If you look at the rubric for the interpretive mode, you are also able to evaluate a students’ work.

What do you think?  Do you ever edit the text?  What are the disadvantages of editing the text for novices and even intermediates?



Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 17, 2017

Brillante Viernes March 17

Happy St Patrick’s Day!  My son is ready to celebrate.  He love his mustaches, and when I found this shirt- it was perfect!  Also, we are one more week until Spring Break!  I know that some people have had their break already (which seems crazy to me!) and others won’t have break until April.  When is your Spring Break?  I am looking forward to the week off, but I am happiest when spring starts to get warm!  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Sara-Elizabeth shares great tips about how to make a video guide.
  • Laura shares some great tips about online Spanish organization.  I love the idea of making announcements on Adobe Spark!  I am going to try that next year.
  • Allison has a great takeaway activity from CSCTFL!
  • This Basta game looks perfect for the end of a class.

Here are some of my posts from previous years:

Posted in Technology

Adobe Spark Video Tutorial

Adobe Spark Video Tutorial

Obviously I love Adobe Spark.  Almost all of my graphics are made as posts in Adobe Spark (including the one that you see above).  Next year, I am excited to teach Spanish V.  Since we have a lot of different electives and choices, we were asked to make a video to explain our classes.  I reached out on Twitter, and a lot of people helped me formulate an idea.  Here is my finished video using Adobe Spark!  This video probably took me 30-45 minutes to put together including the edits and suggestions from others.

If you would like to make your own video, I put together this tutorial to explain how to put one together.  Also, even if you do not want to create a video, I discovered this website which has free music to use for videos!  I searched “Spanish” and came up with a ton of music to use and download.

If you are looking for ideas to use for videos, I published a list here.  Also, I came up with a new activity for my blended students that I am excited to use.  I started a story with two sentences in a Google Doc.  Each student has to add on two to three sentences to form a story.  Then after they create the story, they have to illustrate it using Adobe Spark video!


Posted in Favorites

Friday Activities before Spring Break: Updated!

Friday Activities before Spring Break

I noticed that many people had been looking for ideas for the Friday before Spring Break, and my post was from 2013!  Plus, who is going to use Fakebook anymore?  The students certainly don’t use it!  Here is an updated list of what you can do before any break:

  • BaileViernes has been sweeping Spanish classes everywhere!  Allison has collected 84 videos that have Spanish music and dancing here.  I tried this one Friday, and it was a lot of fun!
  • At ACTFL, I learned about digital storytelling with Noah Geisel (who also gave credit to his students!)  You can have students reenact scenes from a recent story on Snapchat.  Students download them and then submit them to you.  Or if you have been reading, you can do some book snaps!  This is one of my favorite activities to do with students recently because I always laugh at what they create.
  • Sra Sexton has had her students creating memes, and they are awesome!
  • I have shown telenovelas from Netflix before.  I love them for level 2 because the scenes are short.  They provide a nice stopping point, so I can easily discuss what just happened.  Plus the drama normally makes it easy to follow along.  Also, sometimes my students will watch the WHOLE telenovela without any prompting!  Last year, I think at least 3 of my students watched the whole series and came up to me this year to let me know that it was off Netflix!  You can’t ask for more than that!
  • Also grab a trophy and have students celebrate their accomplishments and set goals for the rest of the year.
  • I saw this tweet from the Central States: use these minute to win it games!  Explain it in the TL and then discuss who could and couldn’t do the task in the TL.
  • I really like the Creative Crossword game found here.
  • Students also love to play games like Kahoot, Quizizz or even do PearDecks (or its similar component- NearPod).

What do you like to do right before break?  Share below!

Posted in Technology

Quick Tip: Quizlet Learn!

Quick Tip: Quizlet Learn

Stacey (our tech specialist) shared the new development by Quizlet- Quizlet Learn.  This video introduces it.  Essentially, students can sign up for the date that they have a quiz in Quizlet Learn.  The program will tailor questions for them getting easier or more difficult as it progresses.  It will also send students reminders and encouragement at different checkpoints.  This feature will help students have a study plan leading up to the quiz.

Once students are signed into Quizlet, they find a study set and click on learn:Quizlet Learn.PNG

Then they click on the button which has the lines and circles in the upper right hand corner: Quizlet Learn 2

This pops up with settings, and they can scroll down to set their due date:Quizlet Learn 3

Then students can study and they will get messages about their progress:Quizlet Learn 4

I am pretty excited about this feature!  The only downside is that this is only available for iOS now.  Quizlet says that they will roll out a version for Android and desktop soon!  I know that I have many students who love Quizlet not just for Spanish but for all of their classes.  Hope you check it out and share this with your students!


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 10, 2017

Brillante Viernes March 10

It’s Friday!  Yesterday, we went to the National Gallery of Art, and it was in the 70s in DC.  It was a wonderful trip, and I am always pleased at how much my students can understand the Spanish tour.  If you do not have a Spanish tour guide near you, I would encourage you to take your students and talk to them about the art yourself.  Or you could give them a list of items to find and describe the picture in Spanish.  I guarantee that every art field trip that I have been on has been successful!

Here are some posts from this week for you to enjoy:

  • I love these customized emails!  Wouldn’t it be neat to share thoughts about each student’s proficiency and progress in your class?
  • I really like this idea of 4, 3, 2 talking time.  I started to try it with my blended students, and I forgot that we had a weather drill.  It started off well though!
  • This is a great checklist for interpersonal speaking from Melanie’s blog.
  • Laura’s pizza face conversation is so cool, and I can’t wait to try this with my blended class.

Here are some posts of mine from the past few years:

Posted in Reading

Evolving my interpretive reading even more

Evolving my interpretive reading... even more

With switching to proficiency, I feel like I am constantly evolving.  I am always developing what I am working on with my students to support them more.  Each time I give an IPA, it becomes clearer what holes I have to fill, and I change my teaching.  This current project reflects what I am seeing from my current students and how to help them with literacy strategies.  I am so glad that I went to the session about interpretive reading at ACTFL.  Last year, I developed this activity for interpretive reading about how to decorate a bedroom.  I didn’t do much with it after that- or before that for that matter.  For the pre-reading, I created a word cloud with words using Tagul.  It was SO easy!  And it didn’t ask me for all of these plug-ins like other word cloud websites.  Here is the word cloud:

Word CloudAfter this, I had students identify words that they knew and predict the title/topic of the reading.  While some students talked about “house,” I redirected them based on what words they were actually seeing.  Then, I pulled some pictures from the article, and students wrote sentences about what they saw.

Today, I gave my students the article.  Then, I had students look at the bold words from each section.  It was broken down into numbers, so that helped my students divide the article.  They decided the main theme of each section.  After that, we reviewed the subtopics of each category.  Then, I gave them the questions to answer from last year.  I found that they were able to tackle the document much better.  Many times, students seem to get overwhelmed about all of the Spanish and forget the basic techniques that they use in English.  I am finding that the more I spend on small techniques, I will get more out of my students.  What are some of your favorite pre-reading activities?