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 Favorites, Reading

Summer Reading: Ditch That Textbook

PD Reading

I am on vacation, but I just finished reading Ditch That Textbook from Matt Miller.  It was a great read!  I enjoy all of his posts on his blog, but I felt like I was able to understand more of his whole philosophy by reading the book.  As I have stated before, I have already decided to ditch my textbook for next year, but if you are on the fence, this is perfect for you.  It cemented my ideas for what to do next year.  It is a perfect balance of research and easy to implement ideas.  I took a few book snaps to highlight some of my favorite parts.  For example, I loved this idea about professional development and how to improve as a teacher:

#ditchbook #booksnaps

I appreciate reading books that further strengthen what I believe in and even challenge some of my beliefs.  It is nice to feel like you are on the same page as others since the classroom can be isolating.

In addition, Matt used to be a Spanish teacher.  I appreciate that he can use that point of view to discuss the changes that he made.  He includes all different types of teaching, and his ideas can apply to different subject matters.  However, I traditionally feel that foreign language is an “add-on” to most books.  It normally involves an out-dated approach that relies too much on whatever their method can be applied to grammar and vocabulary.  Matt is able to describe how he practiced everything in his Spanish class without a long list of vocabulary or the resources from a textbook.  I took away many easy to implement ideas, but this was one of my favorites:

#ditchbook #booksnaps #seesaw

I use Seesaw to have students blog.  I need to start thinking about ways to view their blog as I view mine.  I obviously make cumulative work with my posts, and many bloggers create the top 10 lists.  Why not do the same with students?

I highly recommend that you read this book!  I enjoyed reading it, and I read through it quickly on vacation with a three year old.  Plus, I have many new ideas to help me process the changes that I will make next year sans textbook.

Posted in Authentic resources, Reading

Comics in Spanish

Comics in Spanish

Comics are a great way to incorporate easy language into the classroom.  They are also easy to describe in Spanish as well as continuing a conversation.  Part of the difficulty is finding the perfect one when you need it.  I have been searching on this website while I watch Law and Order SVU.  I have also saved all of my favorite comics here on Pinterest that I can use in the classroom.

These would be perfect to use at the beginning of class.  You could start by describing the comics in Spanish by asking students different questions about all of them in a PictureTalk style.  Then students could answer the questions below.  It starts with some easy comprehension questions then moves to some personal questions.

I have developed questions about two comics.  I love the first one because it is about weather, and it could be easily used in the first few weeks of class!  The second one could be used with technology or restaurants.  Since I personally love Yelp, I laughed with this one!

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 Reading

Evolving my interpretive reading even more

Evolving my interpretive reading... even more

With switching to proficiency, I feel like I am constantly evolving.  I am always developing what I am working on with my students to support them more.  Each time I give an IPA, it becomes clearer what holes I have to fill, and I change my teaching.  This current project reflects what I am seeing from my current students and how to help them with literacy strategies.  I am so glad that I went to the session about interpretive reading at ACTFL.  Last year, I developed this activity for interpretive reading about how to decorate a bedroom.  I didn’t do much with it after that- or before that for that matter.  For the pre-reading, I created a word cloud with words using Tagul.  It was SO easy!  And it didn’t ask me for all of these plug-ins like other word cloud websites.  Here is the word cloud:

Word CloudAfter this, I had students identify words that they knew and predict the title/topic of the reading.  While some students talked about “house,” I redirected them based on what words they were actually seeing.  Then, I pulled some pictures from the article, and students wrote sentences about what they saw.

Today, I gave my students the article.  Then, I had students look at the bold words from each section.  It was broken down into numbers, so that helped my students divide the article.  They decided the main theme of each section.  After that, we reviewed the subtopics of each category.  Then, I gave them the questions to answer from last year.  I found that they were able to tackle the document much better.  Many times, students seem to get overwhelmed about all of the Spanish and forget the basic techniques that they use in English.  I am finding that the more I spend on small techniques, I will get more out of my students.  What are some of your favorite pre-reading activities?

Posted in Reading

Working on context clues in the foreign language classroom

Working with context clues in the FL classroom

As I continue to work on interpretive reading, I have found more and more that I want to work on learning how to teach some literacy skills.  (A summer professional development perhaps?)  This most recent quiz, we did a little work on context clues.  Some of the students really struggled on figuring out the context of the words.  I realized that I needed to do more work on some of these skills.  Plus these skills will not only help them in Spanish class but with reading in general.  Here are some of the techniques that I plan to implement with our readings during the rest of the year:

  • One teacher told me that I should remind to kids to look at the whole paragraph first identifying words that they know before concentrating on the specific sentence where the word is located.  They should be able to say what the theme is of the paragraph to help them identify the word.
  • I need my students to look at the structure of the article more in the beginning.  Many times, I feel like they overlook subtitles and that is where some of the questions arise.  If they paid attention to the subtitles, it would help them classify the information in the paragraphs.
  • Also, a few context clues allow for brief pop-up grammar regarding the part of speech.  That will help students determine the word as well.
  • Once the student has a prediction, then students can put the word back into the sentence to see if it makes sense or not.  In addition, it would be good to have students give a reason as to why a word should work in the sentence.  Again, the more that they think about the meaning, the more it will help them.
  • Once I have worked with some of these strategies, I can do a pre-reading activity. I have seen something similar done with an educational consultant, but it would be good to give students a prediction of context definitions before reading.  Once they read the story or article, they could determine if the definitions were accurate or not.  For example, if you were looking at 3 target words, you could give them one or two definitions that matched and one or two definitions that were incorrect.  Students predict which ones are correct and which ones are incorrect.  When they read the words in the story, they decide if the original definitions are true or false.

Overall, I think the biggest thing is not to do ALL of these strategies at once, but the more I work with reading, the more I believe that I need to continue to teach students these skills.  As I work with more and more readings, I can complete one or two of these things to reiterate how to work with words in context.  What are some strategies that you like to employ with context clues?  I would love to add some more to my bag of tricks!

Posted in Authentic resources, Reading, Uncategorized

Evolving my interpretive reading

Evolving my Interpretive Reading

After ACTFL, I was really reflecting on how I used authentic resources.  As I said before, I really need to make sure that I am doing PRE- almost everything.  Pre reading, pre teaching vocabulary before stories.  (Maybe that will be my #oneprefix this year 🙂  I used this infographic which I have used many times.  This time, I zoomed in on the man sneezing.  Then, I had students brainstorm relevant vocabulary as well as a possible theme.  We could complete a quick think-pair-share before we started with the questions.  I really liked using the think-pair-share because it gave students an easy quick way to talk in Spanish.  If a student didn’t know a word, they would check with their partner for confirmation.

As I continue to delve into using more authentic resources, I find myself teaching more about how to use each resource.  For example, we discussed what an infographic was.  I told students how to use a picture in an infographic.  I could also give hints such as read the headlines of each topic.  It can seem overwhelming when a student cannot tell how the infographic is organized.  I am hoping that as I continue to work with these authentic resources, students will become more savvy.  I also hope that I become more savvy into how to work with each infographic!  Many times, I just assume that I only want students to get a superficial knowledge of each resource; however, I am starting to want more from my students as we continue to work with them!

In the future, I am excited to try Seesaw’s new labeling feature.  It would be great to either create something of a “book snap” about what is happening or labeling words throughout.  You could look at Seesaw as a type of Snapchat (without disappearing!)

Posted in noticias, Reading

New Year Predictions

New Year's Predictions 2017

Last year, I had fun putting together predictions for 2016.  I found them from el Nuevo Herald.  If you have an advanced class, they could probably read the article by themselves.  I simplified the Spanish for beginning classes.  Also, there is a great commercial for Doritos with Walter Mercado who made these predictions.  Hope you enjoy them and that they are useful in your class!


Posted in Novel, Reading

Billy y las botas: Days 4 and 5

Billy y las botas Days 4 & 5

We are continuing our journey reading Billy y las botas!  I am enjoying this change of pace, and my students seem to be enjoying it as well.  Luckily, last week, I caught the #langchat discussion with Carrie Toth.  (The summaries are posted here if you missed it!)  This provided a reminder to me of a ton of activities (including some new ideas, too!)  Here are some of our activities that we completed so far this week:

  • We started with a list of events that I had cut up for students to put in order in small groups.  Manipulatives can seem to take awhile to assemble, but they always seem to engage students.  I will keep cutting!
  • Since I had been doing a lot of the talking, I put together a reading guide for the next few pages.  I used a lot of the questions from the circling guide (which I recommend that you buy!)  I also included a few translations and a few comprehension questions in the reading guide.  This allows me to point students in the right direction to the important parts of the book.  In addition, I used the PowerPoint template to choose a few pictures and have students describe them in Spanish like we did in class.  On the guide, I include the page numbers to help the students follow along.  It is important when you create a reading guide to really think about the important takeaways that you want the students to understand from the book.  This was also a good activity for my blended class as they were working independently online.
  • After the reading guide, we did digital storytelling.  I had students recreate some of the scenes from the book in Snapchat.  (You can use Adobe Spark if they do not allow Snapchat at your school.)  This took about 15-20 minutes for my students to complete 5 pictures.  They also had to caption them in Spanish.  They can download the pictures instead of posting them.  I really loved the creativity that my students showed.  Really, their Snapchats make me SO happy!  I have shared some below that my students did (without their pictures):Billy y las botas snapchatBilly y las botas Snapchat
  • On the next day, we did an abbreviated form of Pecha Kucha from Señor Wooly’s video tutorials.  We have done a lot of practice speaking after the book.  In addition, the students can choose to work with a partner and speak for 40 seconds or speak by themselves for 20 seconds.  I just started with volunteers, so some students could wait to start another time.
  • We continued the story with me asking more questions this time using the circling guide.  I have found that it is important how I vary how I ask the story or students get antsy.  I also provided copies for the students from these sections to add notes.
  • We stopped at the part where the dog tells you to close the book now.  I was very dramatic about having kids close the book.  I yell at them for reading on!  They loved me “calling” kids out for reading ahead.  One of my kids today told me that they couldn’t wait to get to class to find out what happened next.
  • Then with small groups, students completed a graffiti activity with writing.  They had to answer some deeper questions like are life and love cruel?  They also had pictures to describe.  Then the smaller groups would move around to respond to the questions or add more details to the description of the picture.

Overall, my students seem to enjoy the book!  I believe that this is due to a few things.  Señor Wooly really gets kids.  They think his jokes are pretty funny- if not corny, but they like it!  In addition, the pictures have some great details to talk about!  It is fun to really look at pictures the way that you may not in a book.  I highly encourage you to look at this graphic novel if you haven’t!  Also, let me know how you are using this novel if you are!

Posted in Quick Tip, Reading, Technology

Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Quick Tip: Print Friendly

Sometimes I feel like even though I am “techy” and can figure things out, there are so many things that I do not know!  Last year, when I would print out an article from a webpage, it would take up 5 pages and would be filled with white space and pictures.  Then a colleague used Print Friendly!  It will turn a webpage into a PDF.  To start, you put the url into the page.  Then your mouse will highlight each section, and you can click on it to delete it.  Finally, you can convert it to a PDF.   This is perfect for authentic resources because it minimizes all of the mess!  I used it on my exam with this ficha from Shakira.  I deleted her Twitter and Facebook account information because it wasn’t necessary.  It looked so much clearer than the original which will make it easier for my students to read.  It was also done very quickly.