Posted in Integrated Performance Assessment, Novel

Piratas del Caribe: Wrapping up, assessments and reflection

Piratas wrapping up, assessments and reflection

In my previous posts, I wrote about some of the activities for the first chapters and second group of chapters.  With the last batch of chapters, I tend to repeat many of the same activities that I have done before.  While novelty is wonderful, it has been weeks since we have done many of these activities, so they are not repetitive.  It is also nice not to have to explain some of these ideas not as extensively.  Students continued to work on their retrieval practice from each chapter.  We took a break and play a Kahoot game which reiterates many of the chapters in the book.  It is awesome that you can search within Kahoot and find many Kahoots related to the book.  I also have cobbled together a Quizizz for the final book as well from other people’s Quizizz questions.  We also did another collaborative mural to talk about events in the book as well.

In this post, I will mainly focus on the assessments that I have used.  I believe that you can apply the IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment) format to novels.  I mentioned before, that I gave an interpersonal speaking assessment earlier in the book.  They could discuss characters and their actions.  We would also lightly discuss setting and make a few predictions.  About 3/4 of the way through, I gave an interpretive reading assessment.  I wrote my own story using key vocabulary words from the book.  I realize that ACTFL applies interpretive reading only to authentic resources, but I believe that an interpretive reading assignment with a teacher created story can also be valid.  I use these assessments to see if my students have acquired the language that has been repeated throughout the book.  Once I write a new story, I ask vocabulary identification, comprehension questions and inference questions.

We completed the last two assessments at the end of the novel.  For presentational writing, I give students a variety of creative topics to write about.  I typically always allow them to rewrite the ending to have a different story.  I also had students writing about what happens to Antonio when he wakes up on the beach alone.  Many students really like to be creative, and I often end up laughing at their stories as well.

Finally, I used a different technology tool for their final assessment.  I used Sutori which is a way to create an online timeline.  I only have the free version which allows text and images.  It also allows students to work together at the same time, which is always a great aspect!  I had students collaborate to write a short summary of each chapter and find a picture that represented it.  Then, we used these timelines to participate in an interpersonal assessment.  Students can ask questions about mostly the pictures.  The chapter summaries are just there to help guide them.  As I have mentioned before, I allowed students to brainstorm questions ahead of time, but many times, they used questions off the top of their head.  This is great as they continue to push their proficiency level.

For some reflections for next year, I taught this novel in January, and it was a good time for my level 1 students.  They really seemed to understand it.  As always, at times, I want to drag some of the novel out, but I also believe that students feel that the book seems too long that way.  As I am always cognizant, many students do not love reading.  The purpose of the book is to make them feel successful and help them acquire language.

Many of my students were successful on the IPA tasks, so I am pleased with that.  I like the addition of Sutori at the end; however, doing both retrieval practice and the timeline seemed repetitive.  I also want students to use some of their resources from the unit that they create (like the Goosechase videos or digital storytelling pictures).  I think next year, I can substitute Sutori for the written retrieval practice and have students put their pictures in here instead of our class dropbox.

Posted in Novel

Piratas del Caribe: Chapters 4-8

Chapters 4-8

Whew!  I started to blog about what I was doing with Piratas and then didn’t get a chance to finish up!  One thing that I have been modifying this year is how I assess a novel since I have switched to IPAs.  I believe that this can easily go hand in hand.  As we discussed during edcampCIVa, the importance of a novel is the vocabulary that students acquire through reading.  I am not overly concerned if they remember Raquel’s secret pirate name, but I do want them to acquire more language.  (I will say that I was shocked when I had my students do a write and pass as an exit ticket at the end of the novel how much new vocabulary they have learned!  While I did this at the end, this would be appropriate to use throughout the book.)

This year, I decided to have students complete an interpersonal assessment based on the Puedos that they had previously did (from the last post.)  I changed some of the questions, and I left some of the same.  Students were in small groups, and they could choose some questions to ask each other from a list of questions.  (This aligns with how I am scaffolding interpersonal assessments this year.)  We completed this around chapter 5.  I found that I was able to give students feedback about the vocabulary they were using when they spoke.

After going over chapter 4, I did a jigsaw review of the chapters.  I had students break up into 4 different groups.  They came up with 3 key words from the chapter, 3 key facts and 3 questions.  Then they went to another group with someone from each chapter (1-4).  They shared the facts and words and asked the group the questions.

After reading chapter 6, students created a Play-doh scene.  Then students walk around and guess what scene it is from the book in Spanish.  After, I can circulate and discuss aloud with students what happened in each part of the book.  It helps to again reiterate many of the key structures that I am hoping that they are acquiring throughout the book.

Before chapter 7, I had students create a mind map of key words associated with pirates.  I used Sara-Elizabeth’s example as a guide.  I provided white paper for them to write a word, draw a picture and include a sentence.  I also allowed students to use Google Drawings to create a mind map as an alternative.  (We ended up having a snow day around this time, and I had students do a similar activity on words associated with Spaniards.)

Also, after chapter 7, I had students write responses on whiteboards to a variety of topics a la Whiteboard Splash.  At times, I had them use a vocabulary word from the book in a sentence.  Other times, I gave them a prompt to use as a guide.  Then students walked around and gave feedback.   I really did notice an increase in their writing abilities.  (So much so that I am using this activity today again.)

Then, I did Goosechase.  This by far is one of my students’ favorite activities, and I had students upset that they were going to miss it.  (I am planning another one for my level 5 right before spring break.)  I did a lot of prompts that required students to reread sections to fill in the blank.  A few of my other favorite Goosechase missions include:

  • Any time they could make a video of Henry and Antonio attacking each other
  • Drawing scenes from the book- the fleet, Raquel as Santiago, a map of a secret island etc.
  • Having a teacher read a line from the book (I stole this from the Latin teacher!)
  • Finding a picture of the real Henry Morgan
  • Freeze frame with everyone in the group from a section of the book

In the next post, I will finish up what I did with the chapters and the final assessments.

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 Reading, Warm-up activity

Piratas: Warm-up Post Chapter 3

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.14.26 AM

I found a flash drive with all of my files from my old school computer!  Woohoo!  I have learned that when pregnant (as I was at the end of the school year last year), write everything down!  I still cannot find the key to my file cabinet!  I found this warm-up that I created from Piratas to be completed after chapter 3.  I really like the use of the maps.  Hope you can file it away in a better place than I did for next year!

warm up pirates

Posted in Reading

Piratas: Preguntas

Pirates boat by yeKcim -

At the end of the year, my students read a novel.  In Spanish 1B, they are reading Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto.  This book is by Carol Gaab and Mira Canion, and you can buy it at the TPRS Storytelling website.  It is really fabulous!!  The students love it, and it is really accessible to them.  We have just read through Chapter 3.  I wrote some personal questions for them to answer.  They enjoyed responding to them… except the por que part!  I hope that you can use them if you read this novel.


  •  Para ti, ¿qué es más importante- la familia o su novio/a?


  • Si eres Felipe, ¿das la nota a Raquel o mientes a Antonio?  ¿Por qué?
  • ¿Qué es más importante- la plata o el romance?  ¿Por qué?
  • Si vas a crear una película de este libro, ¿quién sería (would be) Henry Morgan?  ¿Por qué?
  •  Si vas a crear una película de este libro, ¿quién sería (would be) Antonio?  ¿Por qué?
  • Si vas a crear una película de este libro, ¿quién sería (would be) Raquel?  ¿Por qué?
  • ¿Quieres salir de Maryland y de tu familia para ir en un barco a España con su novio/a?
Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: January 18, 2019

brillante viernes jan 18

Happy Friday!  Luckily, we are starting our Friday with a two hour delay, so I have had time to enjoy my coffee even more this morning.  It will help me plan out some of my upcoming conference presentations!  I am so excited for Comprehensible Online AND NECTFL!  Are you attending either one?  If you haven’t signed up for Comprehensible Online yet, you can use the code MARIS19 to get $25 off.  Regular registration ends January 31st!

I hope that you can take some time this weekend to catch up on these posts:

  • If you are going to a conference soon, check out this post on how to make the best of your conference.
  • CLIC has been hosting some amazing webinars!  Check out this recent one on comprehensible input!
  • Storyjumper looks like a really cool tech tool!  I can’t wait to check it out.
  • Noemi wrote an excellent post on how to lead with culture.
  • Finally, I love the Google explore button.  Do you use it?

Previous posts on this blog:

Posted in Favorites

Best of 2018!

year in review 2018

Every year, I like to reflect back on posts that have reached a lot of readers in case you missed them.  This year has been a busy one for me as I have had four preps and two new sans textbook classes.  I am grateful for everyone who shares ideas online that makes my non-textbook life feasible!  I am also grateful for my colleagues who help me reflect and grow.  And of course- my blog readers and my PLC that keeps growing and increasing.

Another big change for me this past year has been working on the We Teach Languages podcast.  You can see my podcasts this year on the guest list.

Here are my top five posts from this past year:

  • My top post was a round up of my news articles from the past year.  You can print out 46 pages to include with your free voluntary reading library!
  • GimKit was one of my favorite games to use in class last year- and it was others’ favorites as well.  If you haven’t used it, you can check out more instructions in my post.
  • As I continued to move to basing my curriculum in novels, many others felt the same way.  My first post on Piratas was the third most popular post this year.
  • It has been fun to connect via Flipgrid this year!  I hope to continue to do so in the coming months.
  • Finally, my fifth most popular post was 21 ideas for teaching with novels.
Posted in Novel

21 ideas to use while teaching novels

21 Ideas to Use while teaching novels

Last year, I made the switch from using novels in addition to the textbook to just using novels without a textbook.  I would add if you are interested in incorporating a novel into your textbook curriculum, I have found a few places that work.  For levels 2 and up, you can use an easier novel at the beginning of the year for a review.  For all levels, you can use a novel at the end to wrap up the year.  I also like to use a novel in December because it is a shorter month with winter vacation at the end.  You can envision it as a mini-mester.

Although I have presented about how I use novels including activities that I enjoy, I haven’t blogged about it here in detail.  This is also a compilation of some of my other posts, so I hope that you (and I!) can save this as a reference.

Pre-reading activities:

  • Ahead of reading the chapter, I write out 5-6 sentences about what will happen in the next chapter.  Students then predict if the sentence is true or false.  Then, you can have the class vote for which sentences they think are true and which ones are false.  As they read, they are checking to verify their answers.  I have tried this as an adult and it was extremely engaging!  (Medium prep: all levels)
  • To change the previous activity to a lower prep activity, have students make the suggestions and predictions.  Then, students can indicate what they think is true or false from the predictions.
  • To introduce culture in the book, I like to find pictures from Instagram from the country featured to discuss in class.  As a class we discuss what we see and make predictions based on the picture.  We can also look at the short caption (which is likely to be comprehensible for most levels) and the hashtags.  You could also put two similar pictures next to each other and compare them.  Finally, if the pictures contain any key words from the reading, you can label them to introduce them as well.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Start with a dictation.  Find 3-4 sentences in the upcoming chapter and read them aloud.  Students record down the sentences as they hear them.  This is when I encourage students to focus on both spelling and accents.  At the end, I project the sentences (or you can write them on the board yourself), and students correct their own sentences.  After this activity, have students translate the sentences.  You can pick sentences that may be difficult, so students already understand them in the text.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • To review and introduce vocabulary before the chapter or the novel, I like to import my Quizlet sets into PearDeck vocabulary.  Students practice writing sentences with the vocabulary or drawing a picture of the vocabulary as they work with a partner.  Then at the end, everyone votes on which sentences and drawings fit and which ones do not.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • Another way to review vocabulary before reading is to review key phrases through PQA or personalized questions and answers.  You can use either the vocabulary or upcoming topics in the chapter to ask students questions about their lives.  For example, before La Calaca Alegre we discussed nightmares and types of nightmares.  Since many of my students were juniors and seniors, we could discuss car accidents before Frida’s accident.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • One of my new favorite ideas last year came from Amy Lenord when she was discussing creating creators called Whiteboard Splash.  You could do this post or pre reading.  In this activity, I would give students key words from an upcoming chapter to use in a sentence.  Or I would give them a personal question that would connect to the chapter.  Students would record their answers on individual whiteboards.  Then, once they are done, other students would give feedback by giving an ! if they were surprised, check for me too, star for well written and a smiley face for like or funny.  I took out the disagree feedback to keep the activity positive.  Sometimes, I would encourage students to rewrite their answer to add more details after seeing others’ work. (Low prep: all levels)

During reading activities:

  • Give students each 4 sticky notes, and as they are reading, they record down four main events of the chapter in the target language.  At the end of the chapter in small groups or as a whole class, the students can organize their sticky notes in a timeline. (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students fill out the main questions for each chapter: who, what, when, where and why.  (Low prep: all levels)
  • I love using reading guides!  Students fill out main ideas, identify vocabulary and visualize scenes by drawing throughout the chapter.  This also helps students focus on the main ideas and concepts from each chapter if they are reading the chapter in pairs or individually.  (High prep: all levels)
  • Give each student a mini whiteboard and ask main questions for them to answer as you read the chapter as a whole class.  You can have students draw, translate, true/false questions- you name it!  Plus, most of my students love being able to write on the mini whiteboards!  (No prep: all levels)
  • Have students pause throughout the chapter, close the book and write down everything they understand/remember.  They could do this in the TL or English.  They then compare their summary with a partner and add anything that they forgot. (No prep: all levels)

Post reading activities:

  • Martina‘s collaborative mural is always one of my favorite activities!  I modified it a bit, so three to four students come up to the board at once and draw different parts of the past events in the novel.  Then, I discuss with the class each drawing.  I always start with the question “who is it?”  After, I will have students take a picture of the board, upload it to Seesaw and explain what is happening in the drawings based on our discussion.  They can do this by adding a voice comment.  (No prep: all levels)
  • For a technology task, I like to use either Kahoot or Quizizz.  For Kahoot, I like to use Jumble because students have to put events in order.  It is harder than the traditional Kahoot.  Other than Jumble, I REALLY prefer Quizizz to Kahoot.  Quizizz is faster because the questions come at the students’ pace instead of the whole class.  You can also assign Quizizz for homework.  When I assign it for homework, I like to give a minimum score for students to earn.  If not, they can just click through and not pay too much attention.  Also, depending on how popular the book is sometimes games have already been created!  (Low to medium prep: all levels)
  • For each novel, I have started creating Puedos from Laura Sexton.  Puedos are can do statements or questions that students can answer about the novel.  I have two columns.  Students can practice twice on each question with different partners and each partner initials that the student completed it successfully.  I also encourage the partners to HELP each other- not just say oh well if someone can’t do it.  At the end, I spot check about 4-5 of their Puedos.  (Here is an example of my Puedos from Piratas.) (Medium prep: all levels) Some of my favorite questions include:
    • Who is your favorite character? Why?
    • List two facts about the country/city in the book.
    • What does X character do?
    • Describe this character.
  • I enjoy doing a jigsaw activity after a few chapters.  I have done this to review after 4 chapters.  I have students break up into groups of 4.  Then each person from the group decides if they will review chapter 1, 2, 3 or 4.  All of the chapter 1 people get together, all of the chapter 2 people get together etc.  Then from their specific chapter, they write down 3 key words from the chapter, 3 key facts and 3 questions.  This year, I want to change it, so students create a hand out with the key words, key facts and questions.  Then, the next day, they will get back into their original groups.  Each person takes the 3 quizzes from the other chapters.  Then the “expert” from the chapter reviews them. (Low prep: all levels)
  • I like to have students recreate different scenes from the book.  One way is to use digital storytelling.  You have students recreate scenes then take pictures of their recreations.  If they use Snapchat or Google slides, they can add effects and captions.  Then you can talk about the photos like a PictureTalk and continue to provide more valuable input (No prep: all levels)
  • Another way is by using play-doh.  With the play-doh, students sculpt a scene.  Then, students walk around and write down what each sculpture represents from the book. As a class, students guess the sculpture and each person reveals the part of the novel that they were intending to sculpt! (No prep: all levels)
  • For reading activities, I like to have students make Google Forms to send out as quizzes for all of the students.  I encourage students to write around 5-6 questions and normally true/false or multiple choice.  Then the students can take their peers’ quizzes.  Not only does it help the students who are reviewing the book, but it also helps students learn how to make a Google Form (which far too few students know how to do!) (No prep: all levels)
  • This past year, I have also made some Google Tours for students to complete that go through locations of the whole book.  While this is DEFINITELY the most time consuming item, I believe that it is worth it!  It is fun to play around with Google Tours, and I believe that Google will continue to evolve this platform as well.  This post explains it more in depth, and it also gives two examples of Google Tours that I made with Bianca Nieves and El Ekeko. (High prep: all levels)
  • In the middle of the book, we have also completed vocabulary mind maps that Sara-Elizabeth suggests.  I like to think of categories to group vocabulary.  For example, in Piratas, I did Pirate actions and Spanish actions.  These are also great to display for when students are reading to help reference the vocabulary. (No prep: all levels)


Share your favorite activities below, and I will add them to the list! (Also if you are interested in learning about how I incorporate IPAs into my novel study, check out my video here!)

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 Authentic resources, Novel

More resources for El Ekeko

More Resources El Ekeko

I have loved reading El Ekeko this year!  Of all of the Spanish 1 books that I have used, I found that this one was the richest in culture.  I feel that I too learned a lot about Bolivian culture.  Previously, I mentioned how I introduced the book to give some background.  I also included how I planned a Google Tour and used Google Slides to practice speaking as well.  Here are some more of my resources that I used with the book:

  • On my May 7th news, I included information about a theater festival in La Paz.  This would be great for an introduction as well.
  • Also, I did some PictureTalks with pictures from this Instagram account.  (It is awesome!)  I also was thinking about it in retrospect that I should have searched for the #alasitas2018 hashtag on Instagram to get more pictures for the festival!
  • I used this video with Alasitas to discuss it.  Then, I had students create a miniature item that they would make for the festival with Play-doh.
  • Here are the puedos that I used with my students.  I also had them comparing the first book (Piratas) and El Ekeko.
  • Also, I was going to be out one day, and I left the book at school.  I came up with this general reading guide.  It can be used for any chapter of any book.
  • I used this Quizizz game around Chapter 9.

Hope these extra resources help you as you plan to teach this book!