Brillante Viernes: December 2, 2016

Brillante Viernes: Dec 2

Happy Friday and happy December!  December is one of my favorite months because it has my birthday, my husband’s birthday and our anniversary!  It keeps us busy but also affords us time to spend with each other and family.  I hope that you are enjoying the month and have some fun and festive activities planned for this weekend!  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Seesaw allows drawing and labeling in pictures now! (Although my students already figured this out because they added Billy to their drawings!)
  • Speaking of Seesaw, I want to explore the blog option more.  This post on messages that teachers should share with parents is awesome!
  • I love Kara’s beginning unit for Spanish 2!
  • This is an amazing unit on clothes for French!  As a Spanish teacher, you could easily adapt some of these activities though!

Here are some more of my posts from the beginning of December in years past:

Billy y las botas: Days 1-3

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Last year, Señor Wooly sent out a request for help on his secret project!  I was lucky enough to respond in time and get a sneak preview of his newest graphic novel Billy y las botas!  I knew that I wanted to use this in my level 2s.  My school bought a class set including the teacher’s guides.  I highly recommend the teacher’s guides!  They are so useful!  You can also watch all of the helpful videos made by Señor Wooly and Carrie Toth here.  Below, I will detail my plans including how I am adapting the graphic novel for my blended class and for my sick child!

For the first day, I had planned to start with the Billy y las botas song on Señor Wooly.  I thought this would be a nice introduction to the book, but you could wait until the end of the novel to show them.  I was planning on using vocabulary introduction and then the cloze song activity from his website.  Then we were going to start with the book.  For homework, I was going to have the students complete a few nuggets from the Señor Wooly website.

THEN! My son woke up sick.  This was going to be my first day back from break, AND I had all of the graphic novels in my car… CUE the teachers’ guide!  Señor Wooly included a PowerPoint with all of the pictures from his book with or without the words.  I was able to cut the PowerPoint to the first three pages and ask students follow-up questions in English.  You could also include some of the questions from the circling guide in Spanish.  I provided these to the students to complete while I was out.

The first few pages introduce Perro’s girlfriend Damita.  As a quick writing activity, I had students make up a short date between Perro and Damita.  For the rest of our class, I was able to have students work on the Señor Wooly nuggets.  These nuggets are wonderful for a sub day!

The next day, I was able to have students start into the next few pages.  I covered a few pages in one class due to my December timeline, but I could afford to go even slower.  I found that it was nice to cover two pages then give my students a minute to describe everything in Spanish.  I have noticed that students are able to speak more about these pages than other topics that I have given.  Also, Señor Wooly includes some brain break ideas with students raising their hands or moving to the room where they stand on an issue.  In addition, I have also allowed students to read a page or two on their own.

After we read about 10 pages, I had my students complete a 1-3-5 free write.  I observed this in another teacher’s class, and it was awesome.  Students write for one minute about what they read.  Then, they count their words.  After, students copy their sentences from the first minute then they keep writing for the full three minutes.  They count their words then for five minutes, copy down their three minute sentences and keep going.  It is pretty motivating for the students and a nice summary activity.

Finally, on my third day, I started with this little chart to recap what my students have read with the characters.  We finished through the section before Billy meets the boots.  Then, I made this Kahoot for my students to play!  Overall, I am enjoying completing this with my students.  They are engaged, and they are having  a lot of fun!  They also are seeming to really understand more Spanish when I am speaking.

Brillante Viernes: November 25, 2016

adobe-spark-26Happy Friday!  I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are finding the time to relax and perhaps shop.  If you are some downtime, you should take some time to read the following posts recently:

  • The new Lotería commercial from Spain is out and both Martina and Kara share ideas about how to use it in class.
  • Speaking of commercials, Kristy shares her ideas about how to use all commercials for comprehensible input
  • A way to incorporate the mannequin challenge into your FL classroom
  • How to use BINGO in your classes

A flashback to my other posts from this time last year:

ACTFL Takeaways Day 2

ACTFL Takeaways Day 2

On the second day, I started off bright and early listening to Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, Paul Jennerman and Lori Langer De Ramirez.  They talked about what started them on the path to proficiency and what kept them going.  Each talk was phenomenal!  Also, you can see Paul and Lori’s talks on Facebook Live at the Musicuentos Facebook.  Sara-Elizabeth talked about how at times we look at how to keep kids in a language class until the higher levels in foreign language, but how do we keep them wanting to learning and practicing the foreign language?  It is inspiring me to connect students with more Spanish-speakers.  Paul talked about how to help kids along their journey as well.  His favorite quote was that we need to allow students to show what they can do while still allowing them to steer back to what is comfortable for them.  Lori reinforced that we need to find the hook and joy for our students.  Here is my storify tweets from this session.

After this, I met up with the #langchat live tweet up!  As I said in the last post, it is so helpful to see everyone face to face and take some time to talk.  It was interesting to hear different class set ups, and Laura diligently tweeted out some of our live side notes!

My next session was Kicking Back with a Cool IPA.  This was an amazing session, and all of the girls who presented it were so much fun.  Some of my takeaways were to make sure that my IPA isn’t too narrow so students can excel.  I need to think of ways to allow students to go beyond my prompt.  Also they talked about how the IPA should let each kid shine.  Finally, they said that you cannot “cannonball” into an IPA- you cannot teach traditionally and assess with an IPA.  Some of their suggestions include using a daily reading.  Again, I really liked using the idea of asking shorter questions each day and stretching out the authentic resource.  They also suggested using two questions of the day.  I like that this shortens some of my speaking activities to make sure that students are speaking each day.  Here is my storify from this session with some slides, too!

At the end of the day, I hung out at an uncon!  I met a ton of great people, and finally got to see Kara Jacobs in person.  We explored how Noah Geisel uses Snapchat.  He does not actually interact with kids on Snapchat, but he has them use it as a quick photo editor.  He will have kids take a picture on it and write a caption in Spanish.  He will also have students use it as a video editor because they can only record 10 seconds.  If you have kids create a 3 snaps it is a 30 second video and, they will be limited to what you can create, and you don’t have to sit through edits and outtakes at the end of the video.  They can also download the snaps, so they do not have to send it to their friends.  You do not have to interact with your students at all via Snapchat to have them use it in class!  (Side note: My colleague also told me that Snapchat has a QR reader, so you could use it that way too!)

Thank you, thank you to everyone that I got to meet, listen to and be inspired by!  It was by far my favorite ACTFL that I attended!  (Also, I am so happy that it is only a two day work week… that was exhausting!)

Here I have created a list of all of the other blog posts about ACTFL, and I will update them as I see more!

ACTFL Friday Recap

ACTFL Takeaways from Day 1

I am coming back today from one of the best ACTFLs that I have attended.  It isn’t because I didn’t get a lot of ideas before, but it is truly because I followed Thomas Sauer’s creating your conference path.  As I further move into IPAs, I really wanted to get more information about how to continue to refine them.  Laura Sexton noted how you start teaching with IPAs, but it takes a few years before you actually get it.  Even though there are so many sessions that I wanted to see, this allowed me to focus and I feel that I have a better plan on where I am moving as a teacher instead of just a few cool ideas or tech tools to implement.

Also, I took the time to hang out with some of my langchat people.  At the langchat hang out, we all said that there were some sessions that we really wanted to see.  I mean Creative Language Class was presenting!  But in the end, we all took the time to sit down and connect face to face (and virtually with our fave Wendy!)  While it is valuable to hear from others, how many times do I get to really hang out, talk, and connect with some of these people who I have learned so much from on langchat.  I also took some time to hang out at the unconference, learned how to use Snapchat and met a fellow Marylander!  So as much as we are there for the sessions, we are also there to hang out with teachers because as Thomas stated “there is no other professional rush, then hanging out with teachers.”  Since I have been addicted to my Twitter account this whole weekend, I will add #sotrue!

Without further ado, here are my takeaways from the first day.  With Creative Language Class, I learned how to make simple changes to incorporate more culture into my lesson plans.  They modified a can do statement of “I can name 10 colors” to “I can describe the uniforms of a World Cup game.”  With my students, I am guilty of believing that because I use authentic resources, music and videos that I am showing them culture.  While there is some truth in that, I could do so much more.  In addition on videos, Megan and Kara add a little box for students to say the culture that they observed.  They give them topics: food, clothes, education, government etc and students have to describe a piece of culture that they saw in the TL and give an opinion about it.  This is such a small adjustment to a video assignment, but it would actually lead to more engagement and learning about the culture.

Also, they shared a way to get students talking.  They give the students statements or tweets in the target language.  Students can rate with 1 star for they do not agree, 2 stars for they sort of agree and 3 stars for they agree 100%.  Then they can discuss with a partner which statements they agree on or do not agree on.  I really love this because then students are focusing more on the speaking instead of writing.  Here is my Storify for more quotes and slides from the presentation.

One of the next sessions that continued my path was with John Cadena on how to scaffold an authentic resource for multiple levels; however, it really should have been called when I realized that I needed to get so much more use out of my authentic resources and not find 20 for each unit.  I loved so many pre-reading strategies that were mentioned.  We discussed not using the whole authentic resource each time.  You do not have to use the full video or article!  (I mentioned Print Friendly again as my favorite was to edit Authentic Resources from web resources!)  Also, he said one of my favorite takeaways how preloading information about an authentic resource isn’t cheating!  That is what we need to do to be successful with our students.

The first idea was to take out the image from the article or a screenshot of the video that you will be showing.  Students can write what they see, what they think will happen/the topic of the authentic resource and what they wonder.  You can also show them the title of the resource to help their predictions.  This will activate prior knowledge.  Then, the first time through the authentic resource students will only be looking to verify their prediction.  The next time through, students can answer questions about the text or video.

This also reminds me of my favorite activity from Nancy Doda.  You give students true or false statements about the article, then students predict if the statement is true or false before even reading the article.  When they read the article the first time, they confirm if their answer is correct.  We did this as teachers, and it really increased our engagement.  It didn’t really matter if your original answers were right or wrong because you really didn’t have any information to go on… but you really wanted to confirm your answers!

Finally, we learned about trailer sentences.  You can cut out main sentences from the video or the article/infographic and show them to students.  Then, students can fill in the vocabulary word that you are targeting into the trailer sentence.  This helps students understand the main reading when they get to it, and many will recognize the sentence as well.  Here is the Storify with more information from the session.

Whew!  This was long!  Hopefully it will help you solidify and understand some of my takeaways!  Feel free to ask me to clarify or give some input as to how you do these things as well.

Brillante Viernes: November 18, 2016

Brillante Viernes: November 18, 2016

I am in Boston at ACTFL!  I have been so excited to meet all of my virtual friends and learn even more.  I can’t wait to share more with you when I get home.  If you can’t make it to Boston, follow along on Twitter #actfl16!  Also, you can read some posts below:

  • I started to do something similar, but I love Laura’s adaptation for a vocabulary blog!
  • Amy’s post is so well-written and powerful.
  • As the langchat topic was on feedback, I appreciate this feedback post on TeachThought.
  • I enjoy reading how others are doing SSR as I continue to use this in my classes as well.
  • Also- I had to edit and add this post from Wendy which is just wonderful about being weary.

Here are some more items from my blog at this time in previous years:

Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Sometimes I feel like even though I am “techy” and can figure things out, there are so many things that I do not know!  Last year, when I would print out an article from a webpage, it would take up 5 pages and would be filled with white space and pictures.  Then a colleague used Print Friendly!  It will turn a webpage into a PDF.  To start, you put the url into the page.  Then your mouse will highlight each section, and you can click on it to delete it.  Finally, you can convert it to a PDF.   This is perfect for authentic resources because it minimizes all of the mess!  I used it on my exam with this ficha from Shakira.  I deleted her Twitter and Facebook account information because it wasn’t necessary.  It looked so much clearer than the original which will make it easier for my students to read.  It was also done very quickly.

How to change slowly


This year, I made a big change for me, but what may seem like a small change for others.  I ditched the cloze song activity on my exam this year which was my listening section.  I really loved (and still kinda love) the song portion.  It was a bit of fun during the exam as many students would ask me to play it again even if they had all of the answers.  Also, I had students practice the song activities throughout the year, so I felt like it was a cumulative activity.  The majority of my students scored well on this section.  I also had students who would reference this song section in later years.  (One group of girls got really excited when they saw one of the songs on my desk just last week!)  Plus, I thought it was so authentic and better than a traditional listening activity from the book.

But this year, I realized that it wasn’t as authentic or relevant as I want.  It doesn’t always mirror what my students need to know or do as Spanish listeners.  This year, I made the decision to replace it with an EdPuzzle.  An EdPuzzle actually assesses their interpretive listening skills, and I can find a YouTube video of a native speaker.  It also mirrors something they may encounter in the outside world.  (Although they will also hear a Spanish song, they do not need to understand every word.  I still hear  the phrase Starbucks lovers when I listen to Taylor Swift’s Blank Space…)

Although this post may not be as helpful or relevant for others, I hope it will inspire you to make a small change.  Many times, it doesn’t seem like our small changes will amount to a lot, and when you want to make a change, small changes don’t always feel important.  It can be difficult to drop an activity that you love and the kids love.  Also, it can be overwhelming to read blogs or posts on Facebook and think that you will never be there like that teacher.  Just make a small change and start there.

Brillante Viernes: November 11, 2016

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran’s Day!  I come from a family of veterans.  My husband, father, father-in-law and grandfathers all served in the military.  Additionally, my brother-in-law is currently serving.  The sacrifices that they have all made consistently amazes me.  I was fortunate to visit Arlington National Cemetery two years ago; everyone should try to visit.  If you are enjoying a long or regular weekend, here are some posts to read:

  • Even if you do not agree with these points, it is interesting to read all points of view about language learning.  Gianfranco posts some mixed messages about language learning.
  • After Thanksgiving, we are diving into Sr. Wooly’s graphic novel, and I really like Elizabeth’s activity post chapter reading.
  • I love this hand jive brain break!
  • I did feedback Friday at the beginning of the year, and I need to start back.

Flashback time!

New EdPuzzle Videos

New EdPuzzle Videos

When I first started to embed questions in videos, I used EdPuzzle.  Then my whole school switched to Zaption, so I put all of my videos in Zaption.  Now, we are back to EdPuzzle.  There are some great features to EdPuzzle that I really like.  It is very easy to grade when you click on quick grade.  Also it does not allow students to change their answer after they have hit submit.  Last year, when my students were doing Zaption practices, they would change their answer to the correct answer.  I assumed that all of my students were really understanding all of the concepts!  I have even used it as a part of the assessments this year.  This allows students to rewatch the parts that they need to rewatch to understand.

Many times with YouTube, a video is removed, or all of the sudden I cannot access it because I do not live in that country.  Also since I have incorporated it into my quiz, I like to have practice EdPuzzles for students to complete.  Here are some of my most recent EdPuzzle activities:

When I am looking for a video, I like to mix things up.  I like to use cartoons, commercials, parts of a TV show or vloggers.  This helps to keep my students engaged.  Many times, I will ask them for one thing that they learned from a section to help them share what they have learned.  Have you discovered any new videos that you are loving recently?