Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: August 23, 2019

Brillante Viernes: August 23

Happy Friday!  I hope that everyone has had a wonderful week of school or last week of summer.  In true Maris fashion, I did work around the house and read some extra books, but I always take off time from school planning things the week before we are back.  I also FINALLY took my car to get it cleaned- which I have been saying that I would do all summer long.  I had my first introduction day at my new school, and I am so excited to get started!  Check out some of these posts over the weekend:

If you are interested in some of my previous posts at this time, check out:

  • Supplemental CI and authentic resources for units
  • A few songs that I have used for level 3
  • My first unit in Spanish I for introductions and activities
Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: August 16, 2019

Brillante Viernes August 19

Happy Friday!  Yesterday and today I am learning a lot about proficiency from ACTFL workshops.  Although I have read a lot about a variety of levels, each time I hear something new, it continues to shape my instruction and how I think about each proficiency level.  I have found that since I was taught more by grammar and vocabulary, I originally expected more of a variety of levels.  It has taken awhile to shake these ideas and some of my expectations are still forming.

I love August when everyone starts blogging even more again!  Check out these posts:

  • If you haven’t listened to the most recent episode of We Teach Languages (we are back from the summer!), DO IT!  Gianfranco Conti discusses listening.  Part II comes out today!
  • There is a new Sarah Breckley video about how to be comprehensible!  Sarah always inspires me and makes me happy.
  • I am saving all of the elementary Spanish (like these beginning day by Señor Fernie) posts for next year.  I cannot wait!
  • Zachary Jones has been sharing some awesome authentic resources- like this one for school supplies and this video about healthy food from Ecuador.
Posted in Novel

Santana: Resources

Santana: resources

This past year, I taught the book Santana to my level 3 students.  It was a hit!  I personally found it fascinating because I didn’t know much about his personal life.  As I wrote before, I like combining fiction (in this case Robo en la noche) with a non-fiction book to reach all of my students.  I realized that I never shared many of the materials that I made for this novel.

  • To introduce the book and learn more about Mexico, I used this EdPuzzle on Mexico DF.
  • I also had students complete a jigsaw activity to review the book when we reached chapter 9.  I broke students up into smaller groups and then they had to come up with key words, questions to ask their peers and important facts from the chapters.  Then one member from each group would rearrange themselves and they would “re-teach” the chapters to the other members.  The other group would answer the questions and the experts from the chapter could correct the answers.
  • For interpretive reading assessments, I like to shorten a few chapters and leave out some details.  Students have to include new details that are from the book, related to what they are reading and not in the reading.  Then, they identify key vocabulary and answer comprehension questions.  I have found that this gives students a reason to re-read the text, and I don’t have to create a whole new story/text with the words from this story.  This is the practice that students completed.
  • Each chapter begins with a quote.  I gave students a variety of options from the quote and had them explain how the quote related to their own life for a presentational writing assessment.
  • I was looking for a good interpretive listening assessment.  Dreaming Spanish has some excellent videos about other singers’ lives.  Their lives parallel Santana’s life.  I had students complete an EdPuzzle answering questions about the singer’s lives and then later explaining the similarities or differences with Santana’s life.  I used the video about Rosalía and Álvaro Soler.
  • I found/created this Quizizz for chapters 10-12.
  • And finally, I can never figure out how to actually share a Goosechase, but I took screenshots of all of the missions!

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 1.51.25 PMScreen Shot 2019-08-14 at 1.51.09 PMScreen Shot 2019-08-14 at 1.50.59 PMScreen Shot 2019-08-14 at 1.50.45 PM

If you are planning on teaching Santana, I hope you enjoy it as much as my classes did!

Posted in Advocacy, Spanish 5

Global Seal of Biliteracy

Global Seal

I have blogged about our experience with the Global Seal of Biliteracy a bit on my blog, but I haven’t had a chance to give more details about how it worked for us.  It was a great experience, and I am still SO proud of our 19 students who earned the seal.

First, the Global Seal is different from your state seal.  In most states in order to get your state seal, you have to be teaching at a public school that has adopted it.  Plus, not all states have adopted the state seal.  If your state hasn’t adopted it, then you can apply for the Global Seal.  Private or independent schools are unable to apply for their state seals, so these schools must apply for the Global Seal.  Also, this award can be awarded to college students or people in the workforce.  My previous school applied for this for our students because it was an independent school.  Homeschool students can also consider applying for it.

Second, some of your students may have already earned it!  If your students take the AP  language exam as juniors and earned a 3 or above, they have earned it!  Yay!

For your students who will take the AP as seniors or are not in AP, there are a few tests that they can use to qualify.  You can look up all of the resources here.  Our school decided to use the AAPPL because we have used these tests before, and they are the cheapest ones.  Since students have to take form B, it can take a long time.  I gave my seniors a full week to take the tests because in form B, it takes one class period to take the reading and another class period to take the listening.  Also, the writing one takes forever for students who will be able to qualify.  Most students took an hour and a half, but some took longer.  Make sure that you have set aside enough time.

While many of our students were able to qualify the first time they took the AAPPL, some students struggled with the speaking section.  It is awkward to talk to no one and know that they are recording.  We had some students who struggled the first time, but earned I4 or I5 the second time on speaking.  I believe that this is due to the awkwardness of talking to no one that can ask you another question to keep going. We encourage students to talk for as long as they can.

Once we got the AAPPL results, we applied for the Global Seal and sent in the qualifying scores.  We received the certificates within a week or two after submitting the information!  The application process of the Global Seal is extremely painless.  The other amazing thing about the Global Seal is that each student receives a special code with their certificate that they can use on their LinkedIn profile.  It allows students to put this on their job applications.

If you haven’t thought about the Global Seal and you qualify, I highly recommend that you consider it!  You can ask me questions, but Global Seal is also very responsive on Twitter.


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: August 9, 2019

Brillante Viernes: August 9, 2019

Happy Friday!  I hope all of the schools that have started already had a wonderful back to school week!  I have personally found that my productivity and self-care ebb and flow throughout the summer.  In the beginning, I try to take as much time off as I can with a five year old to relax and read a TON.  I have some blips of activity like edcamp, but overall, I am able to take it easy.  Throughout most of July, I don’t get too much done school wise, but that is the beauty of it!  I can work when I feel inspired and stop when I do not- and go back to reading or Netflixing.  Late July and early August, I get bursts of energy to work and get many things on my to do list accomplished.  (Thus the flurry of blog posts you see from me!)  Then, the last week, I soak up even more summer time and son time knowing that the busyness of the first week will be here soon.

Frequently, I read about people worrying about not enough self care because of working too much in the summer.  I believe that it is all about balance.  During the summer, I finally have time to work on some of the longer projects that I cannot accomplish during the school year.  I am also able to take long vacations to both Virginia Beach and South Carolina.  Learn to listen to yourself- if you aren’t feeling inspired, take some extra time to lay by the pool or get a pedicure where they offer you a free mimosa!  (This is evidently a thing in my new town!)  Don’t beat yourself up if you spend extra time one day working on a school project.  It will all balance itself out in the end!

To add one more thing to my much more wordy than normal BV intro- EdPuzzle has AMAZING NEWS!!  You can now PROJECT a video and all students can submit their own answers!  It is similar to a video and PearDeck combined!  I used to love using this feature with Zaption.  While I love EdPuzzle for its ability to differentiate, I like to use the project version the first time we watch a video and at times before an assessment.  That way, we can discuss the answers as we go.

With ALL of that- here are my favorite blog posts from the week:

Posted in Elementary lessons

Parade of alpacas lesson

Parade of alpacas lesson plan

Now that I have completed my two big units for Venezuela and started on Go! (more to come in a week or two!) for 8th grade, I wanted to focus on developing some lessons and units for grades 3-6.

Since we will be reading the novel Edi el elefante from Fluency Matters in fourth grade, I wanted to develop some lessons around animals.  I have been saving some great resources already!

A reader of El Mundo suggested this article for the publication- in Peru this summer, they had the largest parade of alpacas in the world!  We have so many amazing recommendations that sometimes we don’t have space for all of them.  This one fell just outside the cut- but I thought I could do something fun for my fourth grade!  (However, if you have a group of kids who love animals- I would think you could use this for Spanish 1 or 2!)

I designed this unit to be similar to Mike Peto’s Maravillas; however, I changed the reading since it is for a younger class.  I want to play around with the grade levels while I am still remembering everything from eight years ago!

I start with some quick thumbs up/thumbs down personalized questions and answers.  Then, I describe what an alpaca is and have students do a brain break.  After this, I describe the parade and we visit Peru via Google Maps.  I also decided to look at the weather there and put a link that can direct us to the current weather.

During the early language discussion at edcampciva, I am thinking about having students add their “notes” of drawing and labels to notebooks.  I gave them time to do that before watching the video clip and then will allow them time after if they want to add anything.  At the end, we can finish up with a quick true/false formative assessment as they move to the side of the classroom for true or false.

I would love some early language teacher input on this lesson!


Posted in Teachers Pay Teachers

New unit on Venezuela and TPT sale!

Unit on the Venezuelan crisis and TPT sale

This summer, I have had two goals for units that I wanted to develop.  I have wanted to work on a unit for Go! Vive tu manera and a unit to start the year to update my students about what is going on in Venezuela.  As the crisis continues to develop, I want students to have background knowledge, so we are able to discuss it.  To share with everyone, I have developed an introduction to Venezuela through the song Vamo a la calle.

I have included:

  • an introduction to the singers with PearDeck
  • a way to describe the song before students watch it
  • a presentation that describes some of the symbols in the video
  • some extension activities

If you like this, you can check out my full unit on Teachers Pay Teachers!  I have developed a 10 day unit aimed for levels 2-3 Spanish classes.  I have also included optional extension activities if you would like to make the unit longer.  In this unit, I have:

  • an introduction to Venezuela through travel sites
  • a presentation with a timeline to review the political situation
  • a station day about the migration
  • an interpretive reading/presentational writing assessment
  • a final presentational writing assessment/project with rubrics included
  • a MovieTalk script for a video about the food scarcity

I finished this unit today, so you can buy it tomorrow and Wednesday on sale!  (You can use the code BTS19 for 25% off!)  The sale starts on August 6th and goes until August 7th.  While you are there, check out my supplemental activities for Go! as well.

Finally, Martina and I have been working on the summer edition for El Mundo en Tus Manos– but this is your chance to pick it up on sale before our first edition drops.  We are including activities this year, and you can see the preview here.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: August 2, 2019

brillante viernes august 2

Nothing makes me feel like I am back in my routine more than penning a Brillante Viernes post!  🙂  I am still on vacation in Virginia Beach and am enjoying time with my family and friends.  We have been going on field trips and shopping trips.  If you are still on break, I hope that you can find a balance between feeling prepared for school and enjoying summer.  Here are some of my favorite posts from the past week:

  • Gary describes two books to bring LGBTQ inclusivity into the classroom.  This is an important read if you are planning or starting a library.
  • Have you heard the new What in the World? Language podcast?  It is great!  I listened to Sarah Breckley on my way down, and I highly recommend tuning in.
  • Ashley has been doing an excellent job of breaking down key elements of CI for new teachers (and giving other ideas for everyone else in the process!)  Check out her most recent post on assessment.
  • I have been reading all of the iFLT posts this past week!  Check out this recent summary of Kristy’s presentation on authentic resources and how to make them accessible for students.

I hope that this week’s series of posts has you ready for back to school!  If you missed any, they were a summer round-up, emergency sub plans, tips for decorating and how I develop my curriculum.

Posted in beginning of the year, curriculum

Back 2 School: Deciding on curriculum

Deciding on curriculum

(Missed the first few posts in the back 2 school series?  Check out my round-up, emergency sub plans, and decoration posts!)

For the past few years, I haven’t been using a textbook to structure my classes.  However, if you are going to make the jump, it can seem overwhelming.  Many times, you can wonder where to start.  I wanted to share how I personally design my own curriculum, to give some food for thought if you are leaving the textbook as well.  You can check out my curriculum here.

First, I pick a novel or two that will be an appropriate level for my students.  This will typically provide a place to start with my curriculum.  I also think about the country that the book takes place; I make sure that I am not covering these countries in other units.

Next in the beginning levels, I would try to keep some units that were traditionally taught in textbooks.  Since many of my students would be going to other classes where textbooks would be used, I wanted to mimic some of those units.  I have found that typically level 1 discusses students and their lives: characteristics, clothes, house, family etc.  Level 2 starts with themselves and starts to include their community: daily routine, restaurants, travel, community places etc.  Finally, level 3 starts to include the world around them: current events, ecology, entertainment etc.

I pick from these units what I think will be the most relevant to my students and then, I pare down the vocabulary to the essentials.  I think about the structures that they will need and come up with my unit outline sheets.  Again, I like these units because they provide the continuity of a textbook when they will have another Spanish teacher that will expect them to know some of these basics.

As I am thinking of backward planning, I try to think about what my students may actually discuss in the target language.  Then, I can develop my integrated performance assessment.  I have seen some back and forth about whether or not it is realistic to have students discuss something that they might discuss when studying abroad.  On Twitter, I found a compelling argument as to why we SHOULD be thinking in this way.  One professor wrote that many students will just take Spanish courses in literature or culture and not actually cover things that they may talk about when studying abroad or traveling to another country.  That made sense to me, and I would frequently have students come back and tell me that they used their Spanish when traveling to these places.

However, by eliminating a ton of vocabulary and structures and perhaps some units, it gives the class flexibility.  We can explore more resources by throwing in another cultural source like Google Tours.  Or we can go in depth and really look at a fast food menu.  We can add in some of the songs that may or may not connect to the curriculum but students love and if we are discussing them in Spanish help improve proficiency.  We can include more MovieTalks and really work with them by including a few different activities with each one.  It also allows my students a lot of exposure to the structures and phrases in new ways.

Finally, it gives us flexibility when great units pop up, and I want to include them.  I was able to teach about the lottery commercial this year in level 1.  I also included this AfroLatino unit from Martina.  In level 3, we were able to really read a lot about current events.  These units are rich in culture and also allow my students to delve deeper into the topic.  It also allows me to include any cultural information that really interests me like art.

With my upper levels (5 and 6), I planned a bit differently.  I still started with two books and made sure to add in tertulias.  I started checking out some pre-created units that already existed that I really loved like the Ecuadorian legends unit.  I believe that when you are navigating away from a textbook, make sure you borrow and adapt resources from trusted teachers.  If not, you will go crazy trying to plan it all yourself!  I also included the lottery commercials each year.  However, then, I allowed my students to choose the topics.  Sometimes, we would start on a narrow topic like narcoviolencia in Mexico.  Other times, we would start with a country and see where it lead us like this paquete unit in Cuba.

These questions and thoughts have helped guide me as I make the transition and have made my classes more inclusive to students’ needs.  Let me know if you have any questions if you are trying to develop your curriculum as well.

Posted in Uncategorized

Back 2 School: Classroom decorating


Missed the first two posts in the series?  Check out my first post about a summer round-up and my second post about emergency sub plans.

Magnolia designer I am not.  Also, normally I am decorating wayyy past the time of this post.  However, here are some of my favorite tips from previous years!

  • If you have to provide the background paper for your board, I recommend a solid color wrapping paper.  My mom picked up some of these from the Container Store.  While it was expensive, it didn’t fade AT ALL!  I could have easily left it up during the summer and re-used it this year.  (We also used this ribbon to edge the board, but you can find other borders quite easily!  I recommend the dollar spot at Target!)
  • For the past two years, I had THREE bulletin boards!  All teachers need question posters especially if you are teaching lower levels.  My two favorites that I have used are Creative Language Classroom (free- in multiple levels!) and Señor Wooly.  I got Señor Wooly when I started teaching the graphic novels because of the connection.  I also downloaded Kristy’s high frequency past tense verbs.  This is perfect if you are teaching levels 2 and up.  I also like how she translates the verbs.  This has made my own explanations into these two past tenses simpler.  Finally, on the last bulletin board, I put up cultural pictures.  I have used old calendar pictures which are cheap and easy to use year after year once they are laminated.
  • Speaking of calendars, my favorite calendar which makes me happy every time I look at it is Curly Girl.  Each year, I laminate my favorite sayings and decorate with them around my desk.
  • My other posters have come from various places, and I recommend that you think of ways to personalize your own classroom.  I found a bulldog which was my school’s mascot at a Scholastic sale.  I also found a University of Virginia poster there.  Since I went to school there, I snatched that up!  My mom also bought me a few posters when she was in Costa Rica.  I have also gotten some great posters at our local art museum after trainings and at conferences!  My other important staple in the classroom is a hard copy of our schedule!  It was great to be able to reference that in the front of my classroom.
  • I played around with flexible seating last year, and I took a trip to IKEA.  I highly recommend this chair.  I bought two and they held up nicely throughout the year.  I also bought three of these footstools.  They held up nicely.  I was hoping that students would sit on them, but they mostly used them as footstools.  However, if there weren’t as many chairs, students sat on them occasionally.
  • If you are looking for other resources for my whiteboards, I went to Home Depot and got marker board and asked them to cut it up for free.  I ended up with a great set of individual whiteboards that were sturdy.  They have lasted about five years.  My students who were sitting in different spots would use these also to press down on.
  • I mentioned some of my other must haves in previous posts, but to summarize- I LOVE Michael’s Happy Planners!  Just make sure you use your teacher coupon or get them when they are on sale for 40% off (which is frequently!)  I have also picked up some fun banners in the Target Dollar Spot.  I have hung one on a bulletin board and another on my second whiteboard.