Posted in Presentational, writing

Starting an evolution: presentational writing

My Post (2)

One of the biggest things that attracts me to teaching is how much I can evolve and change as an educator.  The field itself is changing, and as I learn more and figure out how to apply more, my own teaching changes.  This challenges and pushes me.

One point that I am starting to evolve is presentational writing.  Implementing IPAs can appear easy initially.  Most teachers have given students a writing prompt before.  So you give your writing prompt, apply a rubric and BAM!  Presentational writing is done.  (I actually thought the same thing about doing interpretive reading as well!)

However, that is not as easy as it seems.  I have found that both my teaching practice and how I assess students with IPAs continually changes and evolves.  When our department was first discussing presentational writing, we discussed a variety of questions.  Are students allowed to prepare it ahead of time or do they need to write spontaneously without any dictionary help for assessments?  I was firmly in the spontaneous camp.  I believed that the only way I would truly be able to grade my students’ performance on a writing assessment was if they did not have any dictionaries.  Then one night in a discussion on Twitter, a professor mentioned that many students graduate high school without ever writing a paper in Spanish that they work on and revise.  It hit me!  I was teaching a level 5 Spanish class.  I teach a lot of seniors who will have to be writing college Spanish papers in another semester.  Was I preparing them by not having them work on any paper that they could revise in Spanish?  I decided that I needed to ensure that they were able to write a formal paper and revise it.  Although then I had to figure out how to assign a formal paper!

First, I crowd sourced aka asked friends on Twitter to find out how long university professors required papers from their students.  Most required around a page to two pages.  I decided that one page would be manageable for my students.  Many of my students wrote longer than the required page, but I wanted it to seem attainable.  Plus, it was in the range of what would be expected next year for them.  My students had just finished a unit on narcoviolencia in Mexico.  I listed a few topics that we had discussed, but I allowed them to evolve their topic based on the research they found.

I also required them to use a Spanish news article for research.  While I can find information in English, then write it in Spanish, it will be easier for them to find an article in Spanish.  I gave them a list of websites/YouTube news channels that I use to research during our unit.  I also would help them if they were having trouble finding articles on their topic because it is much easier for me to skim read an article than it is for them.

I gave them ample time to work on it in class, so they wouldn’t feel rushed.  I also gave deadlines, so they had to complete certain parts by various times.  Even with older students, I believe that this helps them overall.  The main deadline was to have about half to 3/4 of a page complete, so we could do writer’s workshop in class.

Writer’s workshop allowed me to take the time to give more feedback then as well.  I used guidance from Heather Sherrow and this NECTFL presentation by Noemi Rodriguez and Lucia Zamora.  I created two “lines” of students on my board, and I would rotate one line to be partnered with the other.  Then they would share responsibility of checking one item on each draft.  I like this because some students are better at editing, and this gives students more feedback their essay.  Here is the station rotation model that I used with writer’s workshop.  The one thing that I am trying to help my students with is remembering to use the correct tense.  I have been giving a lot of input, and I am seeing the benefits; however, when they write, I think they can be more cognizant of what they are actually trying to say.

As I have thought about this, I have thought about where to place presentational writing in our curriculum.  I believe that it can be done in level 4 towards the end of the year as well.  As for my class, I will have one due in the next trimester as well.  I hope to have formal presentational writings each trimester in level 5 next year.  This is just the beginning of my implementation.  I would love to hear how others implement presentational writing in upper levels.  What are your suggestions?

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: February 16, 2018

Brillante Viernes Feb 16

Whew!  This week had no snow in sight, so I am glad that I made it to the end of the week!  I forgot to mention that February is also Lead with Languages month.  Check out this great social media kit that the ACTFL team put together.  You can have your class or language team take a selfie and upload it to Twitter or Facebook.  Enjoy your weekend!


Posted in Project

Medieval Bestiary Unit

Medieval Bestiary Project

Today, I wanted to feature a project that my fellow MS Latin teacher Kristin Kvasnyuk created!  She is teaching the other blended program with me.  I am inspired by the activities that she is doing with her classes and how she incorporates projects.  This last unit was on medieval manuscripts and animals.  A similar unit could be done after any animal unit in a modern FL class.  Also, I love how she incorporated a Latin authentic text!  You can find all of the details in her nicely laid out unit here with rubrics. I love how she moved from the input for her students to their output.  For example, she starts with doing a dictation then moves to getting some output on similar texts.  She also had students match the description to the animal.  If you want to reach out to her, she is on twitter @mrskvasnyuk.

If you are interested in writing a guest post or sharing an idea here, let me know!  I would love to include it!

Posted in noticias

Noticias: 12 de febrero

noticias 12 de febrero

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!  I have published my newest edition of news for the Spanish-speaking world for the upcoming week.  These articles highlight:

  • Margot Duhelde, the first female pilot in Chile
  • Colombian boys fighting against machismo
  • Parks in Panama to explore during Carnaval
  • Ice tunnels in Argentina
  • Four Mexicans competing in the winter games

As always, these articles are free to use!  Due to the support of my recent 10 activities, I have included another 10 activities in my TPT store.  I really appreciate everyone who has bought my activities!  I found some more pre- and during reading activities that can be done.  You can also always use some of the activities from my previous pack.  Also, you can modify them to fit your class.  Find which ones you think would resonate with your students and would fit their level as well.  If you ever have an idea for an article, share it with me!  I would love to feature it!  You will find the articles below:

Noticias 12 de febrero

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: February 9, 2018

Brillante Viernes Feb 9

Happy Friday!  I am so sad to miss NECTFL this year, but I will definitely follow along on Twitter.  Check out the #NECTFL18 to glean some great ideas from the conference.  I am excited to check out a professional development for all teachers at our local art museum.  I encourage teachers to look into this because many times it is free or relatively cheap!  I paid $10 to learn more about Miró!

On my snow day, I worked on two events that I have coming up in the area.  I am a huge proponent of Edcamps!  I am helping plan one in DC on March 17 for all educators and a foreign language specific Edcamp in Chesapeake, Va on June 27.  Both registrations are live, and both meet-ups are FREE!  Speaking of more free PD, check out these posts from this past week:

  • I have been working on how I allocate my time on the weekends, but I really like this post on the power of Sunday night.  I want to try some of these techniques.
  • Some of my new favorite things: Matt Miller, Retrieval Practice and Flipgrid!  But I am excited to explore the power of Socrative!
  • This piece from Megan hits the nail on the head and is something that every language teacher needs to read!  You ARE doing it right!
  • I love what Annabelle is adding when she teaches a song.

And in case you missed some of my posts from years past:

Posted in Interpersonal, Speaking

Flipgrid conversations round 2!

Flipgrid Spanish

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has taken the time to reply and make their own videos in Flipgrid for Spanish 1 and 2!  I was so excited every time I got a notification that someone else had added a video to the board!  Spanish 1 had 12 hours of engagement (and students speaking Spanish!) and the Spanish 2 board had a whopping 30 hours of students speaking Spanish!  If that isn’t something to be excited about, I am not sure what is.  However, even if you didn’t get a chance to post on the previous boards, you can join in the two upcoming weeks.  Also, if you have a heritage speaker class, I would love for you to join us too!

Also, I am appreciative if you “tagged” a video.  98% of the videos were wonderful and had so many students speaking in Spanish.  There were a few that were not as appropriate.  If you tag those, you can help me moderate the board.  Also, if a few people tag a video, it becomes “inactive” but if this is done by mistake, I can go back and change the status.

For the next two weeks, I posted a discussion about what students wear to school (based on the weather where they live too) for level 1.  (Shout out to my student William for the idea!)  For level 2, I posted a topic about food that they eat for lunch in the cafeteria.  I am trying to think of topics that will be interesting for students, so they want to learn about different schools/students.  For the other boards, I will leave them “active” through the weekend.  On Monday, I will switch them to “freeze.”  You will still be able to see them, but I want students to add to the current board.

I am hoping that both of these boards will encourage even more conversation!  Do our schools have the same foods in the cafeteria?  Do you have to wear a uniform like we do?  If you have any suggestions for future topics, please leave them below!  Let’s chat!


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: February 2, 2018

Adobe Spark (3)

It’s finally Friday and February!  Did you see the joke that said “It literally feels like January 74th.”  I am not sure why, but this has seemed like a long month!  We finally have had two full weeks of school in January, and I can’t wait to wind down over the weekend.  How is your resolution going?  I am still setting a timer- not every day, but frequently enough that my desk has never been more organized!  Regardless of your resolution, make sure that you take some time over the weekend (or today!) to read these posts:

  • Check out this brand new blog and Señora Chase’s plans on how to tell stories when your students are tired!  I tried this with my Spanish II, and it was a hit!  (Also she has been writing up a storm since the beginning of January!)
  • Speaking of input, I appreciate this list that Timothy created of more ways to get input to students.
  • Have you seen the micro-credential program from Digital Promise?  I really appreciate their program, and I am excited to try some of these micro-credentials!
  • Also, Kara put together an amazing slideshow about Colombia for upper level classes.

Flashback time:

Posted in Authentic resources

Super Bowl Infographic and Activities

Adobe Spark (1)

The Super Bowl is coming up this Sunday!  While some of the ties are not obvious, there are plenty of Spanish speaking articles and infographics that you can find.  Many of my students like to read and discuss football, so that also helps engagement.  Recently, I found this infographic about this upcoming match-up.  (I love to see the different ways that Super Bowl is translated!)  Here is the sheet of questions that I created for the infographic.

Also, I created a Slides with a few polls using Poll Everywhere.  (You have to make a copy and use your own polls!  This is more to serve as inspiration.)  This interviews students on their preferences.  Will they watch the game?  Do they just watch the commercials?  I included an infographic, so they could learn a few more words about food that is eaten.  Although beer is included on the infographic, I didn’t include it as a list item.  Also, you could make this low tech and have students get up and move around the room.

(Thanks to Emily, she converted my Slides to Nearpod if you use that!)

Here is my post from last year with some other ideas.  If you are looking for some readings, I have some here in the past.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of information to update on this front.  Zachary Jones also had a great video with accompanying activities on his website!


Posted in conference

Summer Professional Development 2018

Summer PD for FL teachers

It is never too early to plan for your professional development for this upcoming summer!  I have assembled a list of PD that is relevant for foreign language teachers for you to plan to attend.

  • AATSP has their national conference in Salamanca, Spain from June 25-28.  I have attended an AATSP conference 7 years ago, and it was wonderful.  Plus now it is in Spain!
  • NTPRS is in Boston, Massachusetts from July 9- July 13.  I have attended twice, and I have learned a lot each time.  I highly recommend it!  Here are some of my takeaways from the conference.
  • iFLT is one conference that I am dying to attend!  It is in Cincinnati this year from July 17-20.  It typically sells out, so make sure you sign up soon.  You can read about many of the sessions from last year here.
  • If you are close to Nevada, Iowa mark Comprehensible Iowa for June 9 on your calendar!
  • Also, if you live in Virginia or a surrounding state, we are planning our second annual EdCampCIVa!  It is a free conference/meet-up for teachers who are interested in comprehensible input.  The date is June 27 in Chesapeake, Va!  Here are my reflections from what I learned last year.  (Also you can find some free non-foreign language edcamps here.  It is so valuable to connect with teachers who live around you!)
  • Annabelle Allen (who is full of enthusiasm and awesome ideas!) is planning a CI trip to SPAIN!  You can practice your Spanish while also learning about comprehensible input.  It will be June 15-23.
  • ACTFL has a range of institute workshops that will help you identify proficiency levels.  I am very interested in bringing one like this to our school because as we continue to look at proficiency, everyone needs help in assessing where our students are.
  • The University of Minnesota always offers a variety of summer institutes both at their campus and online.  The topics look interesting like using creativity in the classroom and teaching through the lens of social justice.  Especially if you cannot attend one of these workshops or institutes in person, the online component looks perfect.
  • AIM Language Learning also has their summer institute on June 23 and 24.  It is at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, FL.  AIM is authentic learning that is achieved through scaffolding techniques which use story-telling, gestures, active collaboration and repetition. The use of high-frequency vocabulary, introduced with gestures and contextualized in stories, drama, songs and dance, allows students to rapidly achieve levels of oral and written proficiency rarely seen with conventional methods.
  • CI Liftoff also has published their summer institutes.  I attended last year!  This focuses on non-targeted input in foreign language.  If you would like to learn more, I suggest the YouTube channel.  Over the summer, they will be in Atlanta, Minneapolis, St Louis and Philadelphia.  Check out the website to get details for each location and date.

I also firmly believe in learning from different areas that can enhance your own teaching.  I love being able to look at a variety of topics through the lens of foreign language teaching.

  • I just signed up for the National Gallery of Art’s Saturday workshop on Miró!  The summer institute looks even more applicable to language teachers this year.  The topic is Storytelling and the Visual Arts.  The American Art Museum has a program about teaching Humanities through Arts.  I encourage you to check out your local art museum as many host events for educators.  Although I was an Art History major, I firmly believe that this teaching is very applicable to our classes.
  • Another great museum the National Portrait Gallery has a summer teacher institute with a stipend!  It is for all disciplines.  Many of the teachers from my school have attended and really enjoyed it!
  • The annual ISTE conference is in Chicago from June 24-27.  This technology conference is full of a variety of teachers, and everyone that I know who has attended always raves about it.
  • I am determined to attend an EdTech Summit near me!  These two day conferences focus on Google for Education.  I love learning about these tips because they are very applicable to teachers.

Let me know any professional development opportunities for foreign language teachers or all teachers that I missed!  I will update this list as I hear more.

Posted in noticias

Noticias: 29 de enero

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 7.15.27 AM

I have made the newest edition to my edition of news summaries for Monday.  They include:

  • Madrid Fashion Week
  • Four new frogs in Peru
  • A new superbattery developed in Mexico
  • Rolled ice cream food truck in Uruguay
  • Nicanor Parra, Chilean poet, dies

The edition of the news is here, and is still free! noticias 29 de enero (1)

I have had people ask for follow-up activities for the news or ideas of how I incorporate them in class.  I have come up with 10 activities that you can buy for $1.50 here at Teachers Pay Teachers!  While I want to mainly keep and make more free information here,  I am hoping to start to develop more resources for TPT.  (I have also included my journal topics for my level 1 class if you are interested!)  Let me know what you think!  If people find them valuable, I will continue to produce extra activities in addition to my news summaries.

As always, thank you for your support!