Posted in Music

CI and Music: Level 3+

My Post (61)

As I have noted before, I started telling the story of the song before listening to it a la Kara Jacobs, and I noticed a big improvement in my students’ ability to remember key vocabulary from each song.  My students also really enjoyed it, and it was nice to see that their understanding from the story was reinforced by watching the video.  I also started my class this way at least once a week since I ditched my bellringer.

This year, I will be teaching level 3, so I wanted to develop a some songs for some intermediate levels.  I shared the document before, but I have added to it!

I found Ximena Sariñena’s song ¿Qué tiene? and I love it!  I also wanted to move away from the love theme that my first two songs tackled (Casualidad and Me Equivoqué)  It would be the perfect song to use right after Bomba Estereo’s Soy yo!  Plus, the video takes place in a school.  You could easily tie in any school vocabulary that you would want to after you watched the video.  In the document, I have:

  • A biography with a Google Forms quiz for students to complete
  • A few questions for PQA (personalized questions and answers)
  • A story to tell before watching the song
  • Some ideas for follow-up activities

While the story is targeted for mid to late level 2 or beginning level 3, you could simplify it to level 1.  This song is at the bottom of the document.

In the story, I write that I will describe it and draw it.  This is similar somewhat to a chalk talk.  I will take a few sentences to explain how I would do it.

First, I would state “Todos los estudiantes salieron de la escuela.”  As I was telling this, I would draw a building with a few stick figures leaving and draw arrows to indicate that they were leaving.  If I was teaching a lower level, I may write salieron to help reinforce that word.  Then, I would say that “algunos estudiantes trajeron los globos.  Los globos eran letras.”  On the same picture, I would draw a few stick figures with balloons in the shape of letters.  I would reinforce the letters by circling them as I was describing them.  I would continue.  My drawings are very basic, and it is great because they help me go slow.

Students just really have to listen, and I try to keep my stories relatively short.  For this story, I even put a brain break in the middle of the story.  However, I have some students who struggle to pay attention to this.  I tell my students that they are not required to take notes; however, if they want to write down key words, draw with me or just doddle while I am going over this, they can.  This has helped some of my students engage in the story.  I hope that this can help you incorporate more music into your lessons.  Let me know how you use it!

Posted in beginning of the year, Music, Review

Back to school week: Ways to avoid a review

Ways to avoid a review

Day 3 of back to school week!  If you missed day 1, I talked about my first few days worth of lesson plans.  Yesterday, I discussed curriculum changes that I was making from last year and included an outline of what I taught in level 5 last year.  Today, I will share how I skip the review, but still ease students into the new year!

Many times, teachers plan to start each year with a review.  While you do need to evaluate where students are and where they need to go, there are some ways to make it novel and refreshing instead of just review.  Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite ideas to start the year off fresh:

One way to get to know your students through a Special Person or Star of the Day interview.  I love this idea for both level 1 and level 2.  I love the guiding questions that Kara uses.  There are 20 questions, so I normally pick some to include with each student to change it up.  Plus, with these questions, you can go over any topic!  Want to review food?  Ask students about their favorite food or restaurant.  Since we wear uniforms to school, I like to ask students what they like to wear on the weekends.  Many students play sports, so you can ask the sports questions to those students.  I read about this after we had done our interviews, but I either want to do a Write and Discuss with my students or have them write up summaries of each student to hang around the room.

Another big topic for many teachers is to do a card talk at the beginning of the year.  Each student draws something that they like on a card then the teacher asks questions about it and interviews everyone in the class.  I LOVE this for beginners, and I use this with my level 1.  However, I wanted something where I could go a bit more in depth with levels 3 and 5.  I decided that they can draw their best moment from last year or something they are looking forward to this year.  Then, I will ask students questions about it throughout various classes.  I know some teachers can stretch it out for a whole class, but I prefer to do a few each class.  Also, I know that teachers like to give a pre-assessment to determine where students are and what to work on.  This activity can knock out two pre-assessments.  After they draw their picture, I will have them write a summary in Spanish as a free write.  I will then collect them, so I can see any areas that I need to focus on.  I will also be checking in with their speaking during our interviews.

Two years ago, I developed my Netflix unit for my students because they enjoy talking about what shows they watch.  I really enjoyed it, and I used it again this year.  It could easily be used in a level 3 class as well.  I like how you can cover many of the basic topics from level 1: description, action, reading- all in one unit!  You can think of a way to repackage the old themes in a more comprehensive way like this.

In level 3 this year, I plan to start with a novel.  None of my level 3 students have read a novel before, but this year, it will be required.  When you start the year with a novel especially with students who haven’t read a novel before, I suggest using a novel that is easier for students.  I love Señor Wooly’s graphic novels, and I know that they will be a hit and an exciting way to start level 3.  While I plan on using his newest book this year, I am sure that a lot of my plans will be similar to Billy y las botas.  I know many teachers who like to start with the Brandon Brown books because they are so comprehensible and will boost student confidence.

Finally, the last way that I will weave review into our class is through music.  There are so many wonderful songs out there that it can be very easy to find new ones for students each year.  I have mentioned numerous times and to anyone who listens how much I love Kara’s approach to music.  She starts with explaining the song by drawing the story and labeling it on the board when necessary.  I always let students draw the story or take notes if it helps them to pay attention while I am talking.  Then, students are able to watch the video which further provides more understanding for them.  I have used them with both level 1 and 2.  I LOVED how much my students retained from these descriptions and songs.  Sharon Birch who has pretty much always been the queen of music to me has also tried to do some similar ideas with embedded readings with Fiesta by Kalimba.

This year, I wanted to try this with my level 3 students and up.  I have been excited to have the time to really search for some videos that I like and develop activities to work with them.  I have started to create a story to tell.  I have used Nacho y Ozuna’s Casualidad and Ventino’s Me Equivoqué.  (Casualidad does have a racy lyric or two, but I didn’t focus on that during the song.  I really like the story behind it which is why I used it.)  I am sharing both of the songs here!  Both songs have a story written that you can draw and discuss.  I have also included pre-readings that give background information about the singers along with a Google Quiz Form for students to take.

For Casualidad, I included a follow-up story about a real life encounter on the train and a Quizlet set to play Quizlet live.  For Me Equivoqué, I created a cloze activity and included some personalized questions to use with students for discussion before the story and song.  I encourage you to try this technique while you are using music in your class!  I hope that you will find similar positive results that I did.

ps: Don’t forget that there is a sale at Teachers Pay Teachers today and tomorrow if you have been planning on purchasing something!



Posted in Music, Novel, Reading

Introduction: El Ekeko

Intro- El Ekeko, reading and story listening

On Monday, we are going to start with El Ekeko in Spanish 1!  I am really excited to start this book!  Many people ask how to use news articles.  One way is to find a collection of news articles for each country   To start, I had students read some of my news articles about Bolivia.  I used this article on Gran Chaco and a biologist working there.  I used this article about movies in Bolivia.  Finally, I also used this article on Morales.  I wanted an overview of the country, and I used this article, but I cut out half of it to make it more feasible for my level 1 students.  I like to throw in a menu as well, so I found this one.

On our first day, I asked questions about each article.  I put the answers into a crossword puzzle (which is why I haven’t shared it here!)  But many of the questions include: who the president is, key words in Spanish from each article, different tourist places and food highlights.  For example, I asked which dessert costs 6 bolivars.  Again, I hope that students have an introduction to a country that they haven’t really studied.  (Plus, when we print out the papers, we can go outside to read and complete the puzzle!)

On Mondays, I have started each week with Kara Jacob’s story listening for songs.  I am obsessed, and I have been seeing big gains with my students.  With El Ekeko, I read this post about using the song Latinoamérica by Calle 13.  I decided to take a crack at making my own story script.  On the doc, I shared the script with an idea for four corners activity throughout the story.  I also created a short Kahoot Jumble activity and a translation sheet.  I look forward to using this on Monday!

Posted in Music

The evolution of music in my class

Evolution of music in my class

I love using music in class.  Every time, I think about the value of using music in class, I run into students who recall listening to music in my class and talk about their favorite song.  Or one of my students tell me that they have added a song to their playlist.  My students really do love listening to music.  Throughout the year, I have been playing with how I use music and have blogged about it periodically.  Now, I am putting them all together for this post because I finally feel like I have a direction on what I am doing with music.  While I keep the cloze activity while my students listen to the song, I have been evolving my post and pre-listening songs.

As I wrote before, I really like using some of the activities that Elizabeth Dentlinger shared for her songs of the week.  Each song can be thought of as an interpretive listening activity.  However, how can this be identified with songs?  With interpretive listening activities for songs, I like to include:

  • key word identification
  • main idea identification with supporting details
  • inference of lines (this is easiest to do with songs because they use more poetic language)
  • any cultural points

In addition to doing some post-work, I have also started to add more input before the song.  For example with my favorite song Yo te esperaré, I created this PearDeck.  My students and I love PearDeck because we can all work at the same time, and students can also see each other’s work on the projector.  Plus everyone can respond at the same time to the same question.  I can also click on a student’s answer to highlight it.  If you do not use PearDeck, you could easily have students answer these same questions/drawings on a whiteboard.

To start deciding on the pre-song activities, I describe the meaning and background of the song.  As the teacher, you can start to think about the message of the song.  For example, this song is about a fight between a couple and how the boy will continue to wait for the girl to come back.  This started my structure of the story.  You can highlight any parts that you are going to put in the cloze worksheet in your story to review ahead of time.  For this song, I included “si te vas no vuelves-” if you leave do not come back because that is a big line in the song, and it is easily understood by many of my students.  Be sure to focus and recycle any other parts of the song that you used before in class.  For example, my students still struggle on the differences with ser and estar.  I try to always highlight location and feelings with estar when I do these songs.  After we complete the pre-story, we listen to the song and watch the video.  I have also stopped the song to talk about different aspects of the song- or we just watch the video.

Then post song, I love having students act out parts of the song and caption this in Spanish.  We did this with Te Veo, and students wrote a caption in Seesaw.  This helps them summarize the video and recreate it.  It also allows them to provide some output after the input of the story and the song.  How do you like to engage students with music in class?

Posted in Music, Reading

What’s happening in my classes?


What's happening in my classes?

I wanted to give two small updates of what I am doing day to day in my classes.  A few years ago, I shared song activities that I created the song Me Voy by Vazquez Sounds.  I wanted to update it this year for a few reasons.  First, their ages are off by three years now!  Second, I am loving what Elizabeth Dentlinger has been doing with her songs as interpretive listening activities.  I didn’t add as many activities as she has done per song, but I started to incorporate more parts into this song.  I will be honest, part of me wants to move away from the cloze activity; however, I like that it helps with discrete listening.  Here is my updated packet.  The video also would be great to discuss as it is playing.

Second, I really liked how Laura introduced the imperfect to her classes.  I rewrote this story about Douglas Tompkins.  He was the founder of NorthFace and Patagonia.  He bought parts of Chile, and after his death, he donated them back to Chile to form a huge park system in Chile.  I tried to use a lot of imperfect throughout the story to highlight with students.  This year, I am focusing a bit on translation with both preterite and imperfect to teach the differences.  In addition, after reading the story, I showed this video of one of the parks in Chile.  Hopefully, this will demonstrate a different part of the country that my students hadn’t thought about.  Hope these two activities help you in your classes as well.

Posted in Music

Río Roma: Eres la persona correcta en el momento equivocado

Eres la persona correcta

I just saw this video which is perfect to discuss in Spanish!  It is the music video for Eres la persona correcta en el momento equivocado!  I am a sucker for a good romantic video, but this video kept me on the edge of my seat.  What will the girl finally decide?!  Who will she choose?!

I made a cloze activity with the song.  It would be good to discuss this theme before.  Have they ever seen a movie or video with this theme?  (My Best Friend’s Wedding anyone?)  Then, you can watch the video, pausing it in key moments to discuss.  What just happened?  What did that note say?  What would you do?  Who should she go to?

Finally, I saw a fun activity to do at the end.  The students will take a selection of words from the box and write either a story or a conversation with those words.  It is a nice extension activity to the song.  Check out the video!

Note! In class, I noticed a shot where you can see part of her bra.  This may or may not be appropriate for your class, but check it out before showing it.

rio roma eres la persona correcta

Posted in Music

Selfie Sticks Lesson Plan

"Selfie Stick in Rom." by Marco Verch.  (Feb 2015)
“Selfie Stick in Rom.” by Marco Verch. (Feb 2015)

On FLTeach and MoreTPRS, some people shared the Casi Creativo YouTube site.  In particular, they shared the café video which is truly my life.  The creator (Fred Lammie) has so many awesome videos on there!  There are many that could be used in the Spanish classroom including a great one about eating your vegetables.  (There are also some inappropriate ones, so I would not give my students the whole channel.)

I am starting to develop a unit about daily pop life for my Spanish 2 students.  I decided that the selfie stick video would be perfect for my unit (that is still developing in my head!)  I learned a lot at NTPRS about how to really use a song.  This is a result of the lessons.

First, I would start with PQA.  My main words are llevar and mejor.  Here are some of my questions that I would use as a warm-up and for PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers).

  1. ¿Cuáles son los mejores sitios en los EEUU/Washington DC etc?
  2. ¿Cuál es el mejor equipo de… (fútbol, fútbol americano, béisbol etc.)?
  3. ¿Cuáles son las mejores fotos de Instagram?
  4. ¿Sacas muchas fotos?  ¿Sacas fotos de un paisaje?  ¿Sacas fotos de otras personas?  ¿Sacas muchos selfies?  ¿Qué saca las hermanas Kardashian?

After that, I would introduce the song.  The handout has the rest of this information, but I wanted to explain more here.  I created a word cloud with the words of the song.  I want students to predict a line or a sentence about the song.  They can also use the words to write about themselves.

Next, I found a reading about places that ban selfie sticks.  I simplified the article.  I chose the places, but you could modify the reading if other places will resonate more with your students.  I purposely did not add any questions to this.  I plan to ask my students if they have visited these places.  Also, I have noticed places around DC that ban selfie sticks.  I want to know if my students have seen these signs.  Also, I purposefully wrote that those two soccer teams are the best in England.  I am fully prepared to have some disagreement.

Finally, I included the song with a cloze activity.  The video itself has the words below, so the students can watch the video.  It also gives a lot of explanation to the words.  I included a few follow up questions at the end.  I am really excited as to how this lesson develops (along with my whole unit!)  I included the handout below.

A last note- the video does include a bleeped out bad word.  It is also bleeped out in the transcript.  I decided to use it since it is edited out of both with my Upper School students.  Right now, I am not planning on using this with my Middle Schoolers.  Again, you know your students and school!

Casi Creativo Palo de Selfie

Posted in Music

Jary: Uno en un millón

Now, it is time to start planning for next year!  I felt like for awhile, I hadn’t found any new videos/songs for my students.  Then I found Jary Uno en un millón.  It is a catchy song, and the video would be appropriate for my students.  I made a quick cloze activity with two questions at the end.  I will probably use this with my level 2 students, but this article would go great in level 3.  Enjoy!

Posted in Music, Technology


As my students return, I am going to try something new!  I have been working on a Spotify station with a lot of music that we listen to in class or I just love… (Ave María by David Bisbal… Laura, I am looking at you!)  I am going to invite students to follow my station.  I will add a few disclaimers.  I did not connect this to my Facebook account.  Also, I LOVE Pandora.  I do not plan on listening to Spotify other than appropriate Spanish music.  Therefore, I should not have random inappropriate music that I am listening to pop up on my students’ feed.  I also do not plan on following them back.  I will only be adding music to this feed.  Does anyone else use Spotify?  I know that my students were talking about it, so that is why I decided to give it a try.  Your students can also follow my station if they like!  I entered it as “SraHawkins.”  Have fun!