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 Interpersonal, Speaking

Scaffolding interpersonal assessment for level 1

Scaffolding Interpersonal Assessment for Level 1

As I always write (but add again because if you haven’t seen it- you need it in your life!), my life changed when I found out about Rebecca’s Interpersonal Bootcamp!  I had always dreaded doing speaking assessments- they seemed stilted and forced and time consuming!  I would either have to dedicate time to talking to each student individually or listening to a TON of recordings and grade them.  However, after interpersonal bootcamp even my level 2 students were starting to have a conversation that they might even have in real life!  And although my classes are smaller (the largest was 19 students), I was able to assess a whole class within our 50 minute class period!  I could also take notes while they spoke, so I would have enough to fill out a rubric after class without having to listen to a lot of recordings.

This year, I started with level one, and I was unsure of how to get my level one students to where they could do an interpersonal bootcamp.  They cannot ask questions yet according to proficiency scales.  It would also be difficult for them to add on thoughts to another student or even ask a follow-up questions.  I was worried that small group tasks would involve them repeating other answers that they heard since they also are unable to form unique sentences.  I was happy to have Wendy help me set it up initially.  In my first trimester, I would ask my students questions one on one.  It didn’t take too long because I would only ask about four questions per student.  They also could only elaborate so much.  I was also able to have a few options, so I wasn’t asking the same questions to all students.  As the trimester progressed, I also added some follow-up questions.  I rated them individually on their response to each question.  My rubric went like this:

  • 0- did not respond
  • 1- responded, but responded inaccurately
  • 2- responded correctly with one word
  • 3- responded correctly using multiple words/a complete sentence
  • 4- responded correctly and added more details by either asking me the same question (¿y tú?) or by elaborating on their responses.  (Also as I added on follow-up questions, I would give them a 4 if they could also answer 1-2 follow-up questions correctly.)

In the next step after one-on-one interviews, I provided a list of questions for students to ask each other in small groups.  They have enough questions available that they can answer different questions and not repeat others’ responses.  I did this for their trimester exam speaking section.  They can add questions if they are able, but for the most part, they will ask the questions that are provided.   At this point, I moved to this rubric:


  1. I have trouble interpreting the majority of the questions, and my responses are difficult for my teacher and peers to understand.
  2. I interpret half of the questions, and my responses can be difficult for my teachers and peers to understand.
  3. Typically my responses are easy to understand by my teacher and peers, and I demonstrate comprehension of the question.  However, a few of my responses do not match the question or cannot be understood by my teacher or peers.
  4. All of my responses are easy to understand by my teacher and peers, and I demonstrate comprehension of all of the questions.


  1. I use an extremely limited amount of vocabulary in my responses.
  2. I am using repetitive vocabulary throughout my responses.
  3. I am starting to expand on my use of vocabulary with only occasional repetition.
  4. I am able to incorporate much of the vocabulary that we have learned from this year so far into a variety of responses.


  1. I only respond in brief responses when students directly ask me.
  2. I am starting to respond in complete thoughts, but I do not ask any questions.
  3. I give adequate responses and take initiative to respond, but my questions have been asked by other students.
  4. I give strong responses to other classmates, and I ask new questions that have not been asked before.

Level of Discourse:

  1. I give one to two word answers to all responses.
  2. I give one or two word answers half of the time, but I answer in complete thoughts the other half of the conversation.
  3. I mostly answer in complete sentences throughout the conversation.
  4. I always answer in complete sentences during the conversation.

In the third trimester, I will have students add their own questions with only 1-2 guiding questions from me.  This will allow students to be prepared to run an interpersonal bootcamp independently by level 2.  Ideally, I would only grade my students on these topics in level 1, but I also have to be realistic for the rest of my department.  They highlight grammar a bit more than I do, so I will add a language control feature in the third trimester.  In my ideal world, I would add it in at the beginning of level 2 or level 3!  How do you scaffold interpersonal communication for level 1?  I am always excited to hear others’ ideas on this!


Posted in Authentic resources, Presentational, Speaking

House resources for novice mid students

House resources for novice mid students

I have started my house unit with level 1.  Another benefit that I have found with dropping the textbook is that I feel like I can integrate previous activities and units more.  With the house unit, I wanted to integrate describing what they were seeing in a house with activities that they did in each room.  One interesting conversation that we had as a result of this topic is to hear how many of my students can cook!  Since they are in 9th grade (and I never cooked that young!), it was fun to discuss what my students could or could not cook.  Here are some of the activities that we have used throughout this unit:

  • On Friday, we did stations.  For the reading activity, I used this article.  (Remember to use Print Friendly to get rid of all of the extra material!  I also deleted a few paragraphs that they didn’t need.)  For the listening activity, I did the simplified version of this site.  When I send it to students, I make sure to download it, so they don’t see the transcript.
  • After that, this week, my students are putting together a short small group presentation on their house.  My speaking activities are both based on ideas from Laura Sexton: her small group presentation and puedos.  I put both here.  The first page has some can do speaking statements and the presentation with the rubric is one the second page.  To prepare, they also did a Flipgrid about different rooms in their house as well.
  • I was trying to find a good “house tour” video for my level 1.  They were all a little too detailed (15 minutes!) or the person spoke too fast.  Then, I stumbled upon this video of a house tour of a Barbie house, so I made this EdPuzzle.
  • Edited to add!  I forgot to include my study guide for the interpretive reading assessment.  While I don’t like to add my actual quiz, my quiz is very similar to this study guide.  And here is the PDF: airbnb_es-2_Dormitorios_2_Duchas_Apartamento

Let me know your favorite resources/ideas for working with the house!

Posted in Interpersonal, No Prep Required, Speaking

One idea to get novice high and intermediate students talking

Get students talking

This trimester, I have started teaching level 5.  I keep encouraging them to speak more in Spanish to various degrees of success.  However, this idea ensured that everyone spoke Spanish evenly.  As I have stated before, I really did not like presentational speaking until I saw Laura’s idea which focuses predominantly on interpersonal speaking.  My level 5 is completing a unit from Kara Jacobs about Ecuador.  (It is AMAZING!)

We started with Si tú la ves which is a standalone free part of the unit.  I personally love this song, and my students have as well!  One student even has downloaded the song and sends multiple snaps of himself singing.  (I mean if that isn’t enough motivation to try it…!)  After the unit, I put together a Google slides of a variety of places in Ecuador.  Students spent some time investigating one of the places.

In a side note, I want to promote encouraging students to use either or the unsplash photos add-on for Google slides.  Many times, students revert to Google Images.  This teaches students legal ways to find pictures.  Plus, these add-ons/website are pretty much as easy to use as Google images.

After they researched their own place, I projected each slide.  The class could read it, and then one by one raise their hand once they had a question for the student who wrote it.  I really like the differentiation of allowing students to ask their question when they are ready.  I ensured that everyone asked a question for each slide/place, and everyone had to answer questions since they had created a slide.  It also reviewed a lot of the places around Ecuador in a bit more depth, too.  You could use this for a variety of topics: restaurants in various cities, famous people, various places in nature, pieces of art or artists, etc.  You could use this in level 2 and up, and it was also low prep for me to set up!

Posted in Speaking

Talking about the Super Bowl


I am a member of the Inspired Proficiency Facebook group.  There has been a lot of talk on how to incorporate the Super Bowl into our classes.  Tomorrow will be the perfect time to talk about the Super Bowl instead of a weekend chat!  I plan on using PearDeck to scaffold and survey my students.  I like that PearDeck can show my students live results, and I can have students respond to a multiple choice poll or write a longer response.  It can also give everyone time to process and respond.  It also goes well with Google accounts.  Finally, it holds everyone responsible because it tallies who has responded.  First, I can survey who watched the show and half time show.  I can ask feelings if they were happy or disappointed with the outcome and half time show.  I also will ask who watched the Puppy Bowl for those students who do not love football.  I will select the top 4 commercials and ask students what their favorite commercials were.  Also, I am going to take some stills of commercials and have students label them in Spanish.  This can be a great review of previous vocabulary.  I love that it is easy to embed pictures, and students can write on them.  This will also continue to involve students who didn’t watch the Super Bowl.  Finally, I will ask students what they ate during the game.

Also, I found this fun authentic resource for the Super Bowl.  It is pre-Super Bowl, but it will work.  I can actually embed it into PearDeck and have students comment on words that they can identify.  ESPN Deportes has some other resources and videos including Latin American fans at the Super Bowl.  (I sympathize with that poor Buffalo Bills fan… maybe next year they will at least make the playoffs…)  Zachary Jones also has a nice collection of football/Super Bowl activities.  Also, you can ask which quarterback is better Joe Montana or Tom Brady with this infographic.  This infographic would go well with the food question, but it does include beer in the infographic.  How will you celebrate the Super Bowl tomorrow?

Posted in Conversation starters, Speaking

Thanksgiving Conversation Topics

Thanksgiving Conversation Topics

I discovered this website which has Thanksgiving table topics.  Some would be perfect for an intermediate language class.  Here are some of my favorites and a few other topics that I added in:

  • Describe tu Día de Acción de Gracias ideal.
  • Tienes que dar gracias por 3 cosas que están en la clase.
  • ¿Qué te gusta comer?
  • ¿Qué NO te gusta comer?
  • Tienes que dar gracias por una persona en tu vida.  ¿Quién es?  ¿Cómo es?
  • Escribe un poema acróstico con tu nombre y cosas especiales en tu vida.
  • ¿Qué es tu postre favorito en el Día de Acción de Gracias?
  • ¿Quién es una persona famosa quien quieres invitar a la cena del Día de Acción de Gracias?
  • Si tienes una mascota que es un pavo ¿cómo se llama?
  • ¿Juegas o miras un partido de fútbol americano?
  • ¿Vas a ir de compras el viernes?  ¿Qué vas a comprar?
Posted in Interpersonal, Speaking

Where I remind myself again that I am much better when I write things down


I am in the current transition out of bellringers.  (And not ready to post QUITE yet.)  If you follow me on Twitter, you know that this is quite the heartbreaker for me!  During the bellringer, I had time to check in with kids individually, check their homework and take attendance.  However, I have noticed that students are MUCH more attentive at the beginning of class since I eliminated bellringers, so I am still running with it.

Today, I wanted to do a MovieTalk with the video Tú by David Pareja that I found thanks to Zachary Jones.  I decided to use MovieTalk because I could recycle the video, and the students could listen to the lyrics again.  In the morning before class, I wrote out ALL of the questions that I could.  I feel that I come up with so many more questions that way!  I can always add questions in, but at least I have a reliable source to fall back on if I forget.  It also helps me to remember what I want students to remember.

I also like these types of chats because the questions are scattered throughout.  I gave each student 2-3 jewels to represent the amount of times that they had to talk.  Kids cannot tell if they answered an “easy” question or a “harder” question because the questions are scattered throughout the video.  They are excited that they answered it!  (And probably excited that they had some pretty jewels in their hands!)  I encourage everyone who struggles to sometimes come up with a follow up question or to focus on what they are saying to write down your questions.  It can seem overwhelming, but I am always glad when I do.  I also like this as I am transitioning into more interpersonal activities.

Posted in beginning of the year, Interpersonal, No Prep Required, Speaking

Take three icebreaker/brain break


Take Three IcebreakerToday, our wonderful Assistant Principal shared an awesome icebreaker.  I enjoyed it, and it could easily be done in levels 2-3 or higher in the target language.  Here is how it worked:

  • Students are in groups of 3-4 people.
  • Everyone says “take three.”
  • One person gives a category to another person in the group.  For example, they could say “favorite foods.”
  • The next person lists their top three foods.
  • Everyone says “take three.”  Then the person who lists his favorite foods gives another category like “favorite classes” to a new group mate.  That person will list their top three classes.

This would keep going until you call time.  For earlier levels, you could put categories on the board to help keep kids in the target language.  That will also give students time to think about their answers.  You could also combine this with Zachary Jones’ Como eres activity where musicians describe themselves in three words.

Posted in Integrated Performance Assessment, Speaking, writing

Interpersonal and presentational writing activity


As the year is winding down, I am preparing my students for their final IPA instead of a final exam in level 3.  Today, they will be completing an interpersonal activity then make a presentational writing activity.  (They have already read this article for an interpretive reading activity.)

Today I will give each student in pairs a health problem based on how they are living their lives.  Each partner has to ask questions to determine what is wrong with their partner.  Then, as a follow-up, they are going to write a letter full of advice to their partner as a bit of a Dear Abby activity.  They will have to take notes on what their partner says in order to successfully complete the second part of the activity.  I am including my activity below if you would like to modify it for your own use.  If you use this in a different way, let me know!  I love input from other teachers on how you use the activities I post.

interview for letter

Posted in Favorites, Speaking

The benefits of becoming a language learner

Mensa Latina

Yesterday, the cool Latin teachers allowed me to take part in Mensa Latina which is when they bring lunch, and all the students speak Latin together.  I know that this is a new trend in Latin, but it is interesting to see it play out as Latin teachers become more like modern language teachers.  The goal was to discuss family and pets.  It was easy for me (a novice) that there was a theme, and we were not expected to just talk about our lives.  One of my main reasons to go was because there was Cava  and baklava (which is amazing if you are in the DC area!), but it was cool to watch other teachers teach and remember what it was like to be a language learner.

Latin foods... and crazy feta

  • I really appreciated that they had everything labelled!  I was able to remember words later when I wanted to say “good bread!”  (It was also easier for me since it was similar to Spanish.)
  • I love that they had the Latin family tree via the Simpsons!  This is such a modern language thing that I see all the time.  I was glad to have the reference.
    Picture of Familia Tuo
  • If I spoke in Spanish (ha!), a student would yell at me “Tantum Latine.” (Only Latin!)
  • I learned the phrase “habeo” and related that to Spanish.  I also tried to speak in Latin by adding “um” to the end of Spanish words- just like a student.

It was exciting to feel like a novice low student again.  Has anyone done a “spoken” language lunch?  How do you set it up?  (If you follow me on Twitter, you can see a video of two of our Latin teachers in action!)