Posted in Novel

Finishing up Billy y las botas… and reflections!


I wanted to wrap up a few activities that I completed with Billy y las botas before break!  I also want to include a few ideas that I would change next time.

  • I was really bad at pre-teaching vocabulary.  I assumed (incorrectly) that students would pick up the vocabulary as I was reviewing it.  When I realized it, I reviewed the vocabulary and made a Kahoot with it!  This was the first Kahoot with videos that I made, and I really liked it!  I used this during the part where the tall man was grabbing Billy and the boots were encouraging him to jump.
  • While many times, I wanted to talk about the book, I recognize that it can be difficult for some students to always pay attention to me.  One day, I broke out the individual whiteboards as we were reading.  Another day, I asked the main questions and put the “bigger idea” questions into PearDeck.  I think it is important to recognize that it is difficult for some students to sit and listen without something else to do.
  • I made sure to complete a cloze activity that I found online for El Burrito Sabanero before that section in the book.  My students enjoyed this song!  It was also a nice way to incorporate culture into the book.
  • At the end, I created a Quizizz for students to complete.
  • I also utilized the Teacher’s Guide for awesome activities like Matamoscas!
  • To finish up our unit, the students completed a Fishbowl activity with the pictures from the novel.  We practiced the Pecha Kucha as well as the students had a chance to complete this activity in small groups before they completed this for an assessment.  I allowed them to pick any four pictures from the novel as long as they had not previously been used by another group in the class.
  • While groups were completing this activity, my other students wrote up different creative versions of this text.  I allowed them to use the book as well.
  • In the end, we had a bit of time for a Smashdoodle.  I wish that we had had more time for this!  Here are some of my students’ mostly unfinished (but still awesome!) Smashdoodles:


There are many things that I liked about my unit!  I really enjoyed Billy, and my students did too based on their feedback.  I would say that this is the most successful book that I have incorporated with my students.  I obviously need to keep pre-teaching vocabulary, and I think that would have been a bit more successful.  I could have stretched this unit out to include a few more days especially post graphic novel including another digital storytelling time and more time to finish the smashdoodles.  I would encourage you to try out this graphic novel with students!

Posted in Novel, Reading

Billy y las botas: Days 4 and 5

Billy y las botas Days 4 & 5

We are continuing our journey reading Billy y las botas!  I am enjoying this change of pace, and my students seem to be enjoying it as well.  Luckily, last week, I caught the #langchat discussion with Carrie Toth.  (The summaries are posted here if you missed it!)  This provided a reminder to me of a ton of activities (including some new ideas, too!)  Here are some of our activities that we completed so far this week:

  • We started with a list of events that I had cut up for students to put in order in small groups.  Manipulatives can seem to take awhile to assemble, but they always seem to engage students.  I will keep cutting!
  • Since I had been doing a lot of the talking, I put together a reading guide for the next few pages.  I used a lot of the questions from the circling guide (which I recommend that you buy!)  I also included a few translations and a few comprehension questions in the reading guide.  This allows me to point students in the right direction to the important parts of the book.  In addition, I used the PowerPoint template to choose a few pictures and have students describe them in Spanish like we did in class.  On the guide, I include the page numbers to help the students follow along.  It is important when you create a reading guide to really think about the important takeaways that you want the students to understand from the book.  This was also a good activity for my blended class as they were working independently online.
  • After the reading guide, we did digital storytelling.  I had students recreate some of the scenes from the book in Snapchat.  (You can use Adobe Spark if they do not allow Snapchat at your school.)  This took about 15-20 minutes for my students to complete 5 pictures.  They also had to caption them in Spanish.  They can download the pictures instead of posting them.  I really loved the creativity that my students showed.  Really, their Snapchats make me SO happy!  I have shared some below that my students did (without their pictures):Billy y las botas snapchatBilly y las botas Snapchat
  • On the next day, we did an abbreviated form of Pecha Kucha from Señor Wooly’s video tutorials.  We have done a lot of practice speaking after the book.  In addition, the students can choose to work with a partner and speak for 40 seconds or speak by themselves for 20 seconds.  I just started with volunteers, so some students could wait to start another time.
  • We continued the story with me asking more questions this time using the circling guide.  I have found that it is important how I vary how I ask the story or students get antsy.  I also provided copies for the students from these sections to add notes.
  • We stopped at the part where the dog tells you to close the book now.  I was very dramatic about having kids close the book.  I yell at them for reading on!  They loved me “calling” kids out for reading ahead.  One of my kids today told me that they couldn’t wait to get to class to find out what happened next.
  • Then with small groups, students completed a graffiti activity with writing.  They had to answer some deeper questions like are life and love cruel?  They also had pictures to describe.  Then the smaller groups would move around to respond to the questions or add more details to the description of the picture.

Overall, my students seem to enjoy the book!  I believe that this is due to a few things.  Señor Wooly really gets kids.  They think his jokes are pretty funny- if not corny, but they like it!  In addition, the pictures have some great details to talk about!  It is fun to really look at pictures the way that you may not in a book.  I highly encourage you to look at this graphic novel if you haven’t!  Also, let me know how you are using this novel if you are!

Posted in Novel, Uncategorized

Billy y las botas: Days 1-3

Adobe Spark (27).jpg

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.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: December 7, 2018

brillante viernes dec 7.jpg

Happy Friday!  I can’t wait to go home to Virginia Beach and go to Christmastown this weekend with my family.  We have a longer stretch before winter break, so I am glad for this time away to recharge.  Bloggers have been out in full force recently it seems, so I made a longer list this week for you to check out!

  • The first one is a three-fer that might take you a few days to get through (but will be well worth it!)  Dorie interviewed LJ Randolph for We Teach Languages this week.  Then, Dorie has published not one but TWO blog posts on intercultural can-do statements!  I feel like I need to understand more about this, so I am excited to really delve into the interview and posts.
  • I want to continue to reflect on how I can think deeper overall.
  • Have you seen Sarah Breckley’s most recent vlog?  This game looks like a lot of fun-especially before break.
  • I want to incorporate more rejoiners into my curriculum, and Grant always has some innovative ways.

And former posts:

Posted in curriculum

Back to school week: Changes and curriculum

curriculum changes and plans

Welcome back to day 2!  Yesterday, I covered my plans for the first few days of school.  I wanted to cover some changes that I made with our curriculum this upcoming year:

One thing that I will be using next year in all of my levels is El Mundo en tus manos!  Martina and I will be producing it this year.  Many times, I put it out for FVR and other times, I find connections to what we are studying.  Then we will all read an article or articles to incorporate in class.  We have worked on the first free edition for this summer.  I also will be including other extension resources for you to use in your class.  Martina has all of the details here!

I am making some changes within my curriculum as well.  You can see my level 1 post here.  My biggest change for next year will be that we are switching from El Ekeko to La Familia de Federico Rico.  I had to decide on books before my class had finished reading El Ekeko, and I worried that it was going to be a little difficult for them.  In the end, it wasn’t, and I really enjoyed the culture that was embedded nicely throughout the book.  Also, it lead nicely to our end of the year IPA.

However, I am excited to use La familia de Federico Rico!  I really like the illustrations and that I can talk about them a la Señor Wooly’s graphic novels.  I plan on teaching La Familia during December.  I will then move Piratas to later in the year.  I will blog about my plans for this unit as I create it!

For level 3, I want to start with one of Señor Wooly’s graphic novels (Billy y las botas or La Casa de la Dentista!)  I have found that ALL students really find success with these graphic novels, and it will be a good place to jump off for novels later in the year.  I taught Billy y las botas in level 2, but I didn’t teach much of level 2 last year, so none of my students will have read it.

My overall goal for the year is that students will be able to talk about the world around them.  We have decided on Robo en la noche (past tense part).  Our first trimester (after the graphic novel) will be about the environment.  I definitely plan on picking up Carrie’s unit on Mar de plástico.

For the next unit, we will focus on current events.  In addition to El Mundo en tus manos, we will do a deeper dive into some of the current topics.  I want to start on some of the natural disasters that have been happening in Central and South America.  Then, I want to work in a unit on immigration.  I am teaching level 3 with another teacher, so we can discuss other topics that he wants to use in level 3.

Finally, we will be discussing entertainment and reading the book Santana.  During this unit, I want to work in a telenovela similar to El Internado.  This new series by Netflix called Élite looks promising!  For level 3, I am also working with another teacher.  I wanted to help by coming up with a general outline, but I want his input as we continue to develop the course.

For level 5, last year we used this schedule:  (Thank goodness for Kara Jacobs and her amazing units!)

So next year, I am making a few changes.  I am changing out Frida Kahlo for Kristy’s Vidas Impactantes.  It turned out that my curriculum covered A LOT of Mexico- Frida Kahlo, narcoviolencia and La Calaca Alegre which is about Mexicans who live in Chicago.  I wanted to change it, so I was looking at other countries as well.  After that book, we will do the Ecuadorian legends unit again and the newest lottery commercial.  Then, I will allow my students to vote again like previous years.  I give them a few units that I am interested in or others have developed units on!  We will see where my class goes.  I will also have to decide on another telenovela instead of El Internado as it is going off Netflix.  I really enjoyed doing De que te quiero te quiero a few years ago, and I am hoping to find a similar one this year.

For level 6, I am going to use the book Vector and Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  I plan on having my students work on a passion project, but I am still figuring out the details.  I want to start with Vector then read Marina in winter.  I also want to continue to discuss a variety of cultural topics similar to level 5.  I appreciate input from my students to make sure that they are invested in the class.  It is also a blended class, so two days they will be working online and the other two days, they will be with me!

I hope this outline helps you as you are planning your upcoming classes!

Posted in Novel

Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto- Chapters 1-3

Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto

I started Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto at the beginning of the month in level 1, but due to snow days/delays and other cancellations, I have only seen my students four times so far.  If you are interested in how I teach novels, you can check out this post here.  My students have been enjoying the unit so far, but I wish that we have had some time for a few extra activities.  I wanted to share some of the resources that I have made for the book so far.

  • To start, I varied an activity by Eric Curts to have students create their own pirate on Google Slides.  Students enjoyed creating a variety of pirates then uploading them to Seesaw.  Seesaw allowed the students to add comments to each others’ pirates as well.
  • I have also created a brainstorm list for each chapter.  After listening to Retrieval Practice, I have my students close the book and write down as much as they remember in Spanish or English after each chapter or the beginning of the next class.  I also encourage them to write down any words that they learned in Spanish.
  • After chapter 1, we did a collaborative mural a la Martina Bex.  This is one of my favorite activities!  I have students upload the mural to Seesaw, then they can discuss it there.
  • I love using Quizizz.  If you haven’t checked it out- do so!  It is a self-paced Kahoot, and it also gives you great feedback on each question.  You can also add questions from anyone else’s Quizizz.  I can assemble a Quizizz game and tailor it to my class in about 5 minutes!  I put together this Quizizz (based on others’ games!) for chapters 1-2.
  • Before chapter 3, I noticed that a few students were struggling with “querer.”  I could also highlight capturar and pistola.  We watched the video Carrot Crazy on YouTube.  I created this outline to help my students.  While I ask many questions while they are watching, I have found that having the key vocabulary in front of them and highlighting a few questions helps to focus my students.
  • After the end of these chapters, I am introducing these Puedos a la Laura Sexton.  I am going to use these to propel an interpersonal conversation.  (If you have any other suggestions for questions, let me know!)
  • I also want to work digital storytelling into my day, but we haven’t had a lot of time!  Here is how I used digital storytelling with the story Billy y las botas (and Snapchat!)

Share your favorite activity to do with books or with Piratas!


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: January 5, 2018

Brillante Viernes January 5 2018

Happy January!  I hope that many of you at least managed a delay this week!  We had a surprise snow day which is always helpful for planning.  I have been thinking about having guest posts for awhile, and Kristine’s post about Google tools was AMAZING!  Make sure you check it out if you missed it.  If you are interested in writing a guest post for my blog, you can contact me, and I would love to set something up!  Here are some more posts if you missed them this week:

  • Check out Laura’s post on “Special Pets!”  While I love the idea, I really like how she is going to have students count the number of words that they know.  I plan on trying this with the first two pages when we start our novel in level 1.
  • I keep going back and forth about setting up a class Instagram account, but Emily’s post about how she highlights students motivates me to DO it finally!
  • Calendar Talk hasn’t been working completely for me this year, but I am going to investigate this amazing looking online calendar!
  • Grammar is SUCH a hot button topic- but I fall in line with many of Megan’s thoughts about how she does it.
  • I found this link on Facebook to better self-care for teachers!

Here are some throwback posts from my blog (which just celebrated 5 years on Wednesday!)

Reference Page

Welcome to my blog!  I have been blogging for almost five years now, and I wanted to create this page for everyone who is new to my blog.  I teach using comprehensible input, and I assess with Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs).  I also use novels to guide my curriculum.  If you are new here, I suggest starting with:

I also have been writing news articles every other week to be used in a high level 1 to level 2-3 classes (and up!)  You can find the category here with all of the PDFs in each post.

This year, I have used novels to help guide my curriculum.  I have used:

In addition, this is how I changed up whole class novels to make them work for me and a list of 21 activities that can be used for ANY novel.

If you are looking for beginning of the year activities, check out:

Finally, here is a list of over 100 authentic resources that I have used in my Spanish classes levels 1-3.

I am slowly adding resources to my Teachers Pay Teachers Page such as IPAs, journal prompts and videos where I explain various topics that I do in my classroom.  You can check it all out here!

This year, I will be presenting at:

Interested in contacting me (marisdemosthenes AT to present?  Here are some of my presentation topics that I have done in the past:

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: December 8, 2017

brillante viernes december 8

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my husband!!!  He is extremely supportive of all of my ambitions with the blog and always listens to me when I discuss Spanish topics.  I wouldn’t be able to do half of the things I do without him.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend.  We have one more week until break!  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week AND the podcast that I participated in this week:

  • I have been LOVING We Teach Languages podcast since I listened to it this summer!  I was SO excited when Stacey wanted to interview me!  I am on this week!
  • Speaking of podcasts, check out Matt’s wonderful curated list of podcasts for education.
  • Jonathan is making a library of non-fiction comprehensible input texts.  I have contributed to this with my news articles.  There are already a lot of French texts!
  • I agree about the big shift in teaching and how much more I enjoy teaching using communicative techniques.
  • For everyone who is working with FVR, check out this post on how to have students love reading.

Previous posts!

  • I loved playing salad game in class- especially in December!
  • Billy y las botas Days 4 and 5 from last year (along with ideas if you are teaching a novel.)
  • My students’ favorite things!
  • How I tried to incorporate more culture into my celebration unit
Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: December 1, 2017

Brillante Viernes Dec 1Happy Friday, and happy December!  December is my favorite month- because it is my husband’s birthday (the 8th), my birthday (the 11th), Christmas AND our anniversary (the 29th- for TEN years!)  I have also been shamelessly watching Hallmark movies since before Thanksgiving!  (Anyone else just LOVE them even though you know that the same EXACT thing will happen?!)  It is a little crazy in the classroom and crazy outside, but I still love it.  We are really enjoying Dustin’s commercial madness and Kara’s lottery commercial information.  Here are some great posts from this week:

  • Path2Proficiency had posts every day this week!  My post was about retakes, and Rebecca’s post also really made me think about grading.
  • I always like to highlight when bloggers post that our lives are NOT always perfect and our classes are just likes yours!  La Maestra Loca sums it up so well.
  • The most recent We Teach Language podcasts with Joe Barcroft on teaching vocabulary were fascinating and included a lot of research that I wasn’t aware of before listening.
  • I keep reading about SO many people using Google Tour Builder, and I think MAYBE I will finally try it.  These tips make it even easier!  (Perhaps in the New Year?)

Flashback to previous years posts:

  • Last year (and this year), I have taught Señor Wooly’s Billy y las Botas in level 2 in December.
  • Do you allow students to use dictionaries on presentational writing?