Posted in Technology

Google Tours and Slides with novels

google slides and tour builder

I have mentioned before that I really love the Google Teacher Tribe podcast!  I have found two of my newest favorite Google uses for the classroom recently.  One is super LOW prep, and the other is definitely high prep, but I have two that you can already use (and I think it is worth the sweat required to make it!).

I have loved the idea of Pecha Kucha since I first read about it on the Creative Language Classroom blog.  I heard them mention it in conferences too, and I thought- I need to do that!  Pecha Kucha is a presentation style where people can only talk about each slide for 20 seconds.  So here it is probably 5 years later, and I am finally getting around to it.  (True story- while there are some things that I implement immediately, there are other things that I just sit on for awhile.  Just because I love an idea, doesn’t mean that I use it right away!)  My students have been reading a variety of novels.  So I made a blank slideshow in Google Slides and invited all students to collaborate on it- that’s it!  That was all of my prep!  Each student had about 5 minutes to find two pictures that represented some part of the book and include their name.

Then, they had to describe the picture and what was happening in the book in 30 seconds (I stretched it a little).  They did this in front of the whole class.  A few things that I did to keep it a BIT lower stress- if they finished early, I would ask them questions.  I also allowed them to stay in their seats if they preferred.  Finally, if they would rather talk with a friend, I allowed them to talk about one picture for a minute by alternating talking with a friend.  My smaller class was easier to do, but I think my longer class dragged a bit.  To help for next year, I want to have students write down two new words that they hear in each presentation.  Since I hope that hearing others on their level will help them remember words to incorporate into their own discussions about the book, this would be effective.

The next idea is to use Google Tours with novels!  (I had only heard about this for one year before using it- so a bit better on the implementation curve! 😉  I am using Bianca Nieves in level 2 and El Ekeko currently in level 1.  However, I am confident that you can find ways to incorporate this into many of the books!  (I wish that I had figured it out sooner for La Calaca Alegre.)  I figured out how to make these tours based on Jen’s super helpful post on Secondary Spanish Space.  Essentially, you can put pins down to create a tour of any part of the world.  Then, you can add pictures, links or videos to each “stop.”  You can also have students drag the little yellow person symbol to the screen and they will get an automatic street view!

I gave my students a handout to write on as they were exploring.  I believe that this is easier than trying to navigate back and forth between screens.  (Maybe because I am getting older??!)  You can see my example of the tour from Bianca Nieves including a trip to a bull farm and the city next door!  (I kept it all in the same town, but you could go to Madrid with the larger Plaza de Toros.)  Here are my guiding questions that I used.  Also, here is my tour for El Ekeko through La Paz.  The questions are linked here.

I would love to hear how you have used either tool!


Posted in Novel

My biggest mistakes using novels (and how I fixed them)

My biggest mistakes using novels and how I fixed them

With my beginning levels, I started teaching novels.  It was going decently, but still many students didn’t enjoy them.  I didn’t feel like I was reaching as many students as I wanted.  However, after studying how more people used novels in class and developing my units, I have realized my biggest mistakes and how I have started to counter them in class.  This has made my novel units much more successful- and now I have at least two novels to read in each level.

My first mistake was almost always reading as a group and translating aloud.  Now this can be valuable, but it also gets tedious as we continued to do this chapter after chapter.  I have found that if you have taught enough of the vocabulary, it is also not always needed.  However, this is typically how I start the first chapter.  This gives students confidence about what they can do.  Then, I change it up.  Instead of reading aloud, I will give them reading guides for a chapter then we can continue to discuss important points.  On my Facebook page, I recently shared a reading guide that I used for chapter 2 with Frida Kahlo.  I also like to have students use whiteboards, and we will pause, so students can illustrate different aspects of the book.  This provides a quick brain break, and I can provide more input- or ask students what they drew!  With my level 5, I am also going to have them read independently and respond to my questions on Flipgrid.  I wouldn’t try this with earlier levels since it may be a bit too difficult.  I have also put some questions on PearDeck which allows students to answer longer questions, multiple choice and also draw.  This provides a nice balance of all of them.  I can put it on student-paced, or we can go through a chapter together with PearDeck.

I have written about this before, but I was also horrible about Reader’s Theater!  I had two main problems- we were reading it WHILE they were trying to act it out.  The actors got antsy.  Reader’s Theater is the best AFTER reading.  This will reinforce the concepts, and students really enjoy it, so they aren’t frustrated that they are hearing the information twice.  Also, my other big mistake was having students reenact the whole chapter!  Even in beginning readers- it was too long.  There were some parts that were not suitable to even reenact.  Again, both readers and actors got antsy.  I suggest keeping it to one page or a page and a half if there is a larger continuous stage.  This year when we reenact it, I will have someone create a video to be included in our year end video.

Also, if you want to include all students in the re-enactment, I suggest digital storytelling!  I have students use Snapchat (although now they could also use Instagram Stories) to take pictures AND edit them.  They can also include a caption in the target language.  It is fun when they also add stickers to explain it more.  Then, they download the picture instead of publishing it.  (Although, they could also publish it.)  This way, they can submit it to you without you even having to be on Snapchat.  Students snapchat so much, they can do this in about 15 minutes.

My last mistake was not incorporating the great culture that is included in the novels.  I tried some, but I could have included much more!  We can listen to music from the country where the novel is written.  In Billy y las botas, we made sure to listen to the song El Burrito Sabanero before the sweater sings it.  Before another chapter in Frida that mentions the Mexican Revolution, I had students complete a short EdPuzzle to give them background before it is mentioned in the unit.  I also put together an EdPuzzle for Chichén Itzá before Billy y las botas go there on a date.  There are so many concepts that could be covered; I encourage you to find some that you know your students will like and you enjoy discussing as well.

Finally, my newest tool to use with novels is Goosechase!  You can come up with a scavenger hunt to give clues throughout the scavenger hunt.  I tried this last year with vocabulary, but Sharon had awesome ideas on how to use it with novels.  If you can, I encourage you to try it!

Originally, I believed that it would be really easy to use novels in class, but it definitely takes some time to figure it out.  How do you incorporate novels?  Were there any lessons that you learned?

Posted in telenovela

Telenovela Days 4-6

End of the Year- Telenovela Unit Days 4-6-De que te quiero te quiero

Here are my plans for the next few days with the telenovela:

Day 4:  We had not watched that much of the telenovela.  I wanted to dedicate more time to showing the episode, so they could get into the episode more.  We started out a la Laura Sexton.  I wrote sentences that could happen next.  The students predicted if these statements are possible, probable or not possible.  (Although some students predicted that it is ALL possible with a telenovela!)  After that we continued the episode with some great lines when Diego and Natalia meet, and he calls her an angel.

For homework, I found a clip online and had students watch it and answer questions in English.

Day 5:  My students took a listening/reading quiz on the telenovela.  I used a clip from episode 3 because I thought that some students may have watched episode 1 to the end.  (Although one student is on episode 7! I felt that if she had watched that much TV in Spanish, she deserved the extra bump on her quiz.)  I used the subtitles in Spanish since this assignment is typically harder than one I would use for this level.  They answered questions in English then I added some questions in Spanish because there was a music scene without any words.  The students described what happened in Spanish.  Overall, I wanted students to be able to explain what was happening in general terms.  They did not always understand line for line, but most of them were able to get the gist of the section.

Day 6:  We continued to watch the video.  I also created a Voicethread for them to complete.  I took screenshots of a few of the clips, and then students described what was happening without using their notes.

Hope this is helping you if you are showing this telenovela or another one!  My students and I are really enjoying it.  I am including my guides below for the study guide and the second part of the telenovela.

de que te quiero te quiero 2

listening practice quiz telenovela

Posted in telenovela

Telenovela End of the Year Unit Days 1-3

End of the Year- Telenovela Unit Days 1-3-De que te quiero te quiero-

Many times, I feel that we rush through the year and at the end of the year we try to push ONE MORE topic on our students.  I decided that I wanted my students to really use what they learned.  I was inspired by Laura’s telenovela unit!  I also wanted to start my students on a Netflix series that they could choose to watch at home this summer.  I decided on the telenovela “De que te quiero te quiero.”

I will go through my first three days, and I will update as I go.

Day 1:

I started with a list of questions for my students in Spanish.  Did they know anything about telenovelas?  Did they know the names of any telenovelas?  Did they watch a soap opera in the US?  Did they watch Ugly Betty or the NBC series Telenovela?

Next, they completed a KWL (Know, Want to know and Learned) chart.  They wrote down what they would want to know.

After this, I gave them a handout.  I asked introduction questions in Spanish: who watches telenovelas, when they watch them, where they are popular, what types of telenovelas exist, why people watch telenovelas and then they can add three additional details specific to their article.  I used the same three articles that Laura mentions.  The students completed that as a jigsaw activity.  (After I was inspired by a recent #langchat conversation!)  They had to divide into groups of three, then each person from the group of three read a different article.  At the end, the original groups all compared their notes.  Different articles highlighted or confirmed different sections, so it required students to complete their individual section.

Day 2:

We reviewed some of the past tense work that we have done.  Then the students watched the preview video here.  Students seemed to get excited to watch the telenovela.  Then we watched the telenovela.  I would pause the video, and we would describe the scene.  They would also fill out the accompanying worksheet below.  We watched about 5 minutes.  At the end, students also included filled out the details for each character.  Then for homework, the students can either predict what will happen or retell the beginning from the point of view of Natalia or Andrés.

Day 3:

For the third day, I found an interview with the male protagonist Juan Diego Covarrubias.  It focuses on his second role more, but it also gives nice background about how he exercises and how he met his girlfriend.  On our LMS, I created a multiple choice question assignment for students to complete.  At the beginning, I asked students to describe both Natalia and Andrés.  Then, we continue with the telenovela for a little over 5 minutes.  We continue to describe the video in addition to filling out the viewing guide.  I am including the viewing guide below.

I hope that if you are planning on showing a telenovela that you consider watching De que te quiero te quiero! (Edited to add: I noticed some typos after I published this!  I updated the document, but please tell me if you see anything else!)

de que te quiero te quiero 1


Posted in Reading

Independent Reading: Novel Project

Washington Memorial
Washington Memorial

Next year, my Spanish II blended students will be reading a novel of their choice at the end of the year.  I am going to give them a choice of three different novels.  They will be reading on their own, and I will have small face to face groups during their class setting.  They will have to keep track of their progress and new words while they are reading.  At the end, they will create a project to demonstrate their knowledge of the book.  I am including my reading log and projects as well.  Many of these ideas I saw elsewhere.  I originally saw the idea by Kristy Placido for Robo en la noche.  I am excited to implement this!


Posted in Project, Reading

Foldable for novels

At the end of each year, my students read a novel.  My students in Spanish 1A read Mira’s Agentes Secretos, and my students in Spanish 1B read her book Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto.  As I have said before, they are great novels, and many of the students feel really successful after reading them because they are at their level.  I wish that I had found this at the end of the year, but I will definitely use it this year!

Students can create a secret door foldable.  Students can create different scenes on each layer.  The YouTube video gives directions on how to assemble them.  I know that many teachers use choice boards to have students express their knowledge of the book.  This would be a perfect activity to add to these boards.

Posted in Professional Development, Teachers Pay Teachers

Video Professional Development for World Language Teachers

Video PD for WL teachers

I am so excited about my latest project!  I have been thinking (and probably over thinking this) for months, but I continually want to work on how I can provide professional development for many teachers.  I recognize that it can be difficult for teachers to go to a variety of conferences throughout the year due to cost and travel.  I also recognize that it seems like the world language profession is changing quickly, and it can be hard to catch up.

I have decided to start creating a few videos to help!  It is definitely time-consuming… as many of these videos had to be remade because I messed up or a little boy came bursting in to tell me something!  My goal for them is that it helps people implement new techniques into their own classes.  I also wanted to start to roll some out this summer when teachers have more time to watch them.

Recently, I have been working on two new videos:  The first is a free video on how to set up Flipgrid and how to use it in the world language classroom.  The second video is on how I integrate IPAs into the novel studies that I do in my classes.  I hope that after you watch these, you feel more comfortable to use them in your classes.  I wanted to keep them under an hour, so people have time to watch them (and I don’t get too wordy!)  However, in both documents, I have shared a linoit link for you to post questions that I can respond to or others can as well!

I would love to hear other videos that you think would be useful!  I have a few ideas in the works, but I want input as I continue to work to bring more professional development to more people.  To celebrate these videos and the recent IPAs that I have added to my store, I am throwing a sale in my TPT store this weekend.  I have put all of my items up for 20% off.  As always, thank you for your support as I continue to develop as a teacher and blogger and now… pesudo vlogger!

Posted in Brillante Viernes

June recap

June Recap

I am back from my vacation, and boy, did a lot of stuff happen!  My favorite PD- EdCampCIVa- just happened last Wednesday, and I am still feeling inspired!  I will be writing a recap of that event soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my favorite posts and news that happened these past few weeks.

First, did you see the announcement that Flipgrid is now free?!  Flipgrid was acquired by Microsoft, and so now ALL users can have all of the same features for free.  They are also rolling out some changes at their Flipgrid Live event later in the summer.  Next year, I plan on continuing the Flipgrids where all students can collaborate.

Stacey has kept producing amazing content with the We Teach Languages podcast.  If you haven’t listened to some of the most recent episodes, I encourage you to download some- especially before a long road trip!  Also, I have been helping Stacey make the mid week newsletter.  That has a lot of updates from previous guests and reactions from others.  Think of it as a modified Brillante Viernes post- but on Wednesday! 🙂

Also, if you didn’t see it, I wrote a post on Secondary Spanish Space about how to include authentic resources with novels this week!  When they contacted me to write it, I wanted to look around and say “who me?!”  But I guess if someone contacts you directly- they are talking to you.  As I start to find what my own voice sounds like in FL education, I know that I straddle both lines- using CI, authentic resources, and IPAs.  I feel that at times, they can be pitted against each other, but I don’t feel that has to be the case.  This post captures a lot of what I do in my classroom to manage both.

As far as other posts, make sure to check out:

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: June 1, 2018

Brillante Viernes: June 1

Happy Friday!  Whew!  It has been a long week!  Yesterday was one of those feet swollen in my flats and driving home barefoot type of day!  My Spanish II class has their exam tomorrow, and my other classes are done with their IPAs.  We are done today except for exams (and they don’t have one in a FL!)  I look forward to some down time next week.  Many teachers are on break, but there are still some awesome blog posts coming out!

  • If you are reading a novel now, check out Allison’s post on 20 activities for any book.
  • Looking for a fun (and quiet!) activity at the end of the year?  Check out Teléfono!  (It can be used in any language!)
  • Secondary Spanish Space has you covered for free PD this summer.
  • This is a new to me blog and I am adding this idea to my novel study next year!

From my blog…

Posted in Review

Incorporating retrieval practice and brain dumps in the FL class

My Post (36)

Matt Miller’s Ditch Summit included Pooja Agarwal who works with Retrieval Practice.  Ever since my methods class with my wonderful professor, I have been hooked on how the brain works.  After the summit, I subscribed to the newsletter, and I make it a priority to read it each week.  (And I only forward it to my principal 50% of the time that I want to!)  The premise is that it is harder to actually recall information from our memory instead of just re-reading information again.  However, the more difficult it is to recall, the more the information sticks in your brain.  So even though it is counter-intuitive and your brain doesn’t like it, retrieval practice is more effective.

Since December, I have been more conscious of trying to weave some of these strategies into my teaching.  I have discussed it periodically, but I wanted to put all of my thoughts in one post.  One activity that I have used for awhile incorporates reviewing vocabulary in a brain dump manner.  Students divide their paper into four sections, and then I give them a theme.  They write down as much vocabulary as they can remember from each theme.  At the end, we review what they wrote.  Not only does this space out the practice, many times, students will add to their list as others are sharing their answers even though I don’t require it.  Also, I have found that students who are reluctant to participate will participate more with this activity because it is so open-ended.  Since I give students about 1 minute per square, the whole activity takes under 10 minutes.

This is also an activity that I like to do at the end of the year during exam time, but I expand on it.  I give each pair of students a piece of paper with a topic or novel that we studied this year.  They write down as many words as they can then pass it to the next group.  That group reads the list and then adds to it.  Then, I remind students that categories that they had difficulty with are the ones that they should review.  After this activity, I have students write a response in Spanish to a question and reference the sheets that they just compiled.  For example, if students are just relying on one verb, I will hand them the verb brainstorm sheet to use some more of those words.  This also helps with my students’ proficiency as it helps them increase the vocabulary that they are using.

Another idea I used with our novel.  Retrieval practice states that it is not as effective for students to re-read either their notes or the textbook.  Instead, students should write as much as they can without any notes or book.  We would do this for each chapter.  (Although I should have done this more with my other novels!)  I encourage them to write as much as they can remember from each chapter- main events in Spanish or English and any new Spanish words that they remembered.  After that, I gave them a minute or two to consult their book and add or change anything.  Overall, I noticed a greater recall of both vocabulary and facts from this book.  With further reflection, I want to add in some sketch notes here to help my students remember even more.

The last brain dump type activity I used was with my Spanish V students.  They had been studying information about Cuba.  They each put different ideas that they remembered on sticky notes about any part of Cuba.  Then, they grouped them by themes on the whiteboard.  I also liked that they had a reason to read the other students’ sticky notes.  Although I used this for an upper-level class, I want to reuse it with novels next year.  I could have students write down as many facts as they can remember.  Then, they can organize it on a timeline on the whiteboard.  The key here is to make sure that they are writing down events from memory instead of using the novel.

How do you use brain dumps in your FL class?  Make sure you subscribe to the Retrieval Practice newsletter if you do not already!