Posted in Assessments, Integrated Performance Assessment

How to help students prepare for a final IPA

How to help students prepare for a final IPA exam

This year, my Spanish 2 students are taking an IPA instead of the final exam.  Our final exam had to be all on paper or in ExamSoft which can be limiting for foreign languages.  If we only use paper, the exam cannot consist of any listening tasks or any speaking tasks.  It all has to be reading or writing… for two hours.  Luckily, our principal has been supportive of our transition to have students take an IPA before the final exam.  Then, students do not have to take a final exam on the scheduled day.

For the final exam, we decided to include both interpretive reading and listening, in addition to interpersonal speaking and presentational writing.  This allows us to include all four modes even though the IPA typically has three sections.  We separate reading and listening on two separate days as well as speaking and writing, so students do not feel rushed with any topic.  The speaking section is the fastest, but again, we want to give them time to complete the writing for the full block.  Our classes are all 50 minutes long.

We had to also decide on different themes that could cover many different topics that we discussed during the year.  In Spanish 3 last year, we used the theme of natural disasters.  In Spanish 2 this year, we are focusing on vacations and trips.  Using a broad topic can help encompass many of the themes that we have been studying all year.  It also helps when you can find a variety of resources to select.  I wouldn’t suggest tying yourself to a specific theme where it is hard to find resources.

For other tips, I suggest PrintFriendly to print any reading authentic resources from the Internet.  Even if you do not need to edit the text itself, it will convert any webpage into a PDF in case the website will change or go away as we found out today!  Luckily, we had saved it already or we would have had to rewrite a WHOLE section!

During interpretive listening, students are using EdPuzzle.  I use EdPuzzle a lot especially for novice and beginning intermediate students.  It allows students to replay videos and pinpoints the part where the answer is located.  For many students, this helps make authentic resources even more comprehensible.  If you are worried that students can access it, you could even have students write their answers down on a piece of paper.

However, how do you help students prepare for the final exam that is cumulative but more about skills than about actual conjugations or vocabulary or a traditional test?  First, I asked my students what sections they wanted to practice the most.  This helps me to narrow down what they feel confident about versus what areas they feel the weakest.  My students said they wanted to practice both listening and speaking.  This helped me narrow down what I wanted to cover with my students.  Here are a few ideas that worked for us:

  • I used some of Gianfranco’s micro-listening practices to help with listening skills.  This helped my students identify sounds much better.  I used a variety of different videos from University of Texas-Austin.  They are short, and I can download them, so students do not see the transcript.  I will continue to use these micro-listening practices even more next year!  Students felt like it was difficult, but they really helped them.
  • Although I love EdPuzzle, there is something to be said about watching a video as a class and highlighting what others’ hear.  I found a similarly themed video to discuss in class.  Students worked individually or with a partner to brainstorm answers on a whiteboard.
  • I passed around sheets of paper with different themes from this year.  Students brainstormed different vocabulary from the year on each sheet.  They would add as many words as they could then trade papers with another group.  They would read that list and add more words to it.  Then at the end, they received a new list and had to incorporate 6-8 words from their list into a new writing on Seesaw.
  • Also the BEST thing that I did was sit down one on one with each student, talk to them about how they are feeling and answer any personalized questions that they have about the upcoming IPA.  EVERY time I do this (which isn’t much!) I think I SHOULD DO THIS ALL THE TIME!  Maybe if I put it down as my goal for next year?!
  • I may do this if I have a chance to on Friday- but I love these vocabulary puzzles!  Our Latin teachers used this to help with their review this year.
  • To practice speaking, I gave them various topics to practice.  With our first day, I had students brainstorm what they wanted to talk about first before they talked.  The second day, we did a mock simulation without any writing or brainstorming.
  • Finally, before our last writing assessment, we looked at the rubric again and students evaluated their own work.  They decided how to improve based on each different section of the rubric.  Once this was done, they looked at students’ work from other classes and evaluated those based on the rubric.
  • In addition, each night I have a different sample that students can choose to complete.  I believe that this reassures some students as they are completing an IPA and gives them more of a guide to work on.

How do you provide extra help and support when reviewing for an IPA exam?


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 19, 2017

Brillante Viernes: may 19

Happy Friday!  It is mid-May and next week is Memorial Day weekend!  I can’t believe it, but with weather in the 90s almost all week, it feels like summer.  While I am looking forward to the long break, I will miss my students from this year.  Next year, I am going to teach levels 1 and 5.  I will have a lot of my students from a few years ago that I am excited about, but it is always bittersweet to lose a class and the community that only that class can make.  It is the perfect weekend to go outside, but when you find a little time inside, check out these:

  • So many teachers love BINGO– and here is to make it more comprehensible!
  • If you haven’t tried FVR yet- even more reasons why you should!
  • As I continue to develop interpretive activities, I love Kara’s innovative take on them.  Also- check out the amazing authentic resource that she shared!
  • I keep reading about the game Mafia, and I just haven’t wrapped my head around it.  Annabelle’s post has made it much easier for me to understand.
  • Also a bonus if you are as excited as I am for summer reading!

Flashback Friday for many of my previous posts in May:

  • My revised summer proficiency pack for students
  • I didn’t have a chance to do the full telenovela unit that I did last year, but here is what I did last year that you can use this year even though the De que te quiero te quiero is not on Netflix.
  • I love this sentence-picture warm-up, and it is perfect for the end of the year!
  • Cali y el Dandee- Yo te esperaré and how I changed it up this year.
  • Do you subscribe to Intercom?  If not, you should!
  • Videos that I used for Agentes Secretos- I am excited to teach level 1 again to use this book next year.
Posted in Favorites

Thank you!

This week’s #vedchat conversation was about appreciation.  Sometimes we all get so caught up in our day to day lives that we don’t focus on what we are grateful for.  It is also happens even less at the end of the year.  Today, I wanted to share some of the many things that I am thankful for this year.

  • I am thankful for my department head and cadre of Latin teachers.  They are always there to bounce ideas around about how we are transitioning to proficiency.  I have learned countless ideas from them, and they are my face-to-face PD that never let me down.  Also, they support me when I make wild declarations like I am dropping my textbook next year and don’t think that I am crazy.
  • I am very thankful for my middle school friends!  They are always there when I need to grab a quick bite to eat after school or with a funny text at the end of a particularly wonderful or rough day.  We are also very alike with educational philosophies, so I enjoy talking shop with them too.  I love chatting with them over coffee each morning.
  • I am thankful for the technology department at my school.  It goes without saying that I am so lucky to work with one of the best technology coordinators ever.  She is always there any time I send an excited email about EdSurge or want to try out Flipgrid.  But our head of technology will answer any question that I want and make Adobe Illustrator seem SO easy.  While I blog about a ton of technology resources, it is truly because I have their support and help.
  • I am thankful to my school for allowing me to create my own blended class.  I can confidently say that my school has completely changed how I teach.  Not only by infusing technology into my classes, but also the ability to use computers all of the time.  They also encourage smart use of technology and not just using technology for technology’s sake.
  • My principal and assistant principal have been great about allowing the foreign language team to experiment with using more IPAs this year.  They have allowed us to eliminate final exams in some of our classes for a final IPA.  Both my students and I are excited!  Also, my principal has been extremely supportive of my professional development this year.  I could not have gone to all of these events without his support which I appreciate immensely.
  • And it ALMOST goes without saying that I am thankful for my students.  They are willing to try anything that I throw at them, and many times, I throw different technologies at them.  They always give me feedback, and they keep me on my toes.  They push me to be a better teacher because I want them to be successful and like Spanish.  I can’t explain the pride that I have in them inside and outside of class, but I am a better person for knowing and learning from them.
  • Outside of school, I am very thankful for all of my edcamp committee members!  I enjoy working with edcampmetrodc every time, and they push our committee to constantly strive to be better.  They are the only reason why I am semi-confident enough to try my hand at a new edcamp.  I am also so thankful to my newest edcamp co-founder for not telling me that I am crazy when I wanted to form edcampciva!  It is definitely a risk, and  I am so excited for it, too.  I truly believe that this will be the future of PD and can be organized by anyone
  • I cannot leave out all of the bloggers who inspire me day in and day out!  They allow me to keep up to date with the latest trends and what works in their classes.  This has pushed me to try new things like presentational speaking which has changed up how I look at different modes!  Also- my Twitter friends on #langchat continue to offer some of the best free professional development every Thursday night/Saturday morning.  They push my beliefs and ask some hard questions.
  • Finally- my family is wonderful and supportive!  My husband just says “langchat” every Thursday night and doesn’t complain when I ask to order takeout many Thursday nights (… or forget to tell him that I finished cooking because I am tweeting!)  He is also excited for me and always lets me try something new.  I obviously couldn’t   My mom and dad will listen to all of my stories about teaching and my students.  My mother-in-law likes every single post that I have on Facebook!

And you!  Thank you for reading my blog!  You make me feel like I am not talking to myself when you comment.  I was terrified to start blogging.  How would I ever measure up to some of the excellent bloggers that already exist?  But in all honesty, everyone has always been generous and nice.  You give me purpose to keep going and keep blogging!  I hope that this post gives you time to reflect about who you are thankful for.

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 Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 12, 2017

Adobe Spark (84)

Happy Friday!  It has turned rainy this week in the DC area, and I am exhausted!  We still have four more weeks of school left, too.  How much longer do you have?  I know that some teachers will be done before Memorial Day and others teach into mid-June!  We can all make it though!  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Thanks to Laura Sexton, I tried Google Drawings this week.  Check out the Google Drawings Manifesto by Matt.
  • I have always wanted to try a blind taste test in class.  This post makes it seem feasible.
  • Laura has a great post about how to do DIY readings.
  • DiscoveringCI has another post about Goosechase for novels.

Friday fun:

Posted in conference


EdcampCIva logo

My newest labor of love has been that I want to spread good professional development to foreign language teachers everywhere.  But I will start in my hometown of Hampton Roads, Virginia.  I love a good conference just like anyone.  Just this year, I have gone to ACTFL, NECTFL and GWATFL.  I realize that that isn’t in the cards for everyone.  Your school doesn’t support you financially attending or it is not close enough to you.  Even state conferences can be several hours away which is not always possible for everyone.

Enter edcamp!  I love edcamps as I have been working on the edcampMetroDC team for 4 years.  I love edcamps for many reasons.  You only need a few people who want to get together to talk and a school!  And edcamps are free for everyone.  However, the main reason is that the most important part of the room is the room.  Yes- people can start by sharing out what is working for them, but then it becomes a conversation.  It becomes the best teacher’s lounge conversation that we can have.  I love this post about unconferences, and it summarizes so many things that I believe.  In edcamps, you have people who are willing to give up a day on their weekend or summer to become better educators.  You are allowed to have a side conversation with the person next to you instead of just talking to them in those awkward “bond with the person next to you” that people work into their presentations.

Some of my favorite moments during ACTFL was during the unconference put on by Noah Geisel.  I learned how to put Snapchat in my class which I have used regularly from Noah himself- and got to snapchat with Laura Sexton and Kara Jacobs.  I also met a teacher from Maryland that I have been able to stay in touch with via social media who has helped me connect more with teachers in the area.  While I did learn a lot at the sessions I attended, I would venture to say that it was the relationships that I continued or forged that were the best part of the conference.

This summer, I am helping to plan edcampCIVa.  We are getting together in Chesapeake, Virginia on June 27 to discuss comprehensible input and how it works in our classes.  Can you make it?  Sign up here.  Do you know someone in the area?  Forward it to them!  I can’t wait to sit down and spend time discussing a variety of topics with foreign language teachers.  Interested in organizing your own?  Get in touch with me!  Let’s make PD local and affordable for all teachers!

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: May 5, 2017

Adobe Spark (82)

¡Feliz cinco de mayo!  Hope you are enjoying your cinco de mayo whether you decide to celebrate it in your classes or not.  I am not celebrating in my classes, but we did sign my son up for his first “race” which involves a cinco de mayo celebration.  Also- I will get into more details as we get closer, but I am putting together a free conference about comprehensible input for June 27.  It will be in Chesapeake, Virginia.  If you live close, sign up!  And tell your friends that work with you!  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I love these class awards at the end of the year!  And they can be done in the TL!
  • Check out these binge-worthy shows on Netflix.  I am going to be using some Netflix with my Spanish V next year, so I will just call it “research!”
  • One of my colleagues has piloted an online AP Calculus class this year.  She has done some amazing things and many of her ideas could easily apply to any online class.
  • Check out this paragraph shrinking/summary strategy!


Posted in Technology

Goosechase: Try it TODAY!

Goosechase Scavenger Hunt App

Recently I came across the app called Goosechase.  It sets up a scavenger hunt via the website and an app.  It was really easy to create, and my students were able to easily figure out how to play as well.  The directions to set up the game are here.

I logged in and then I set up the game with a name and a password.  Then I started setting up the missions.  I stuck with the photo and video missions.  Students could choose for the most part, but sometimes I wanted actions, so I had them record a video.  You can also add in a text submission.  If you wanted to hide something somewhere with a message and have students write it back, this would be a possibility.  We were working on directions and city vocabulary, so I stuck with many of those words.  I would write a description of what they were supposed to do all in Spanish.  I wrote 14 missions, but students were finishing them faster than I thought.  I was able to add more missions in once the game started which was a nice feature.  I ended up with 24 missions and most of my students finished within 30 minutes.  You may want to aim higher if you want students to have extra questions.  It probably took me about 20 minutes to sign up to create the game and create all of the missions.  The app also provides suggestions which you could translate for students to your TL.

When students came into class, they split up into teams and used the directions under the team tab for how to join the game.  Again, this was pretty self explanatory.  My students only used one phone per group.  I did not see a way to add more phones per team, but this may be a possibility.  With the free version, you can have up to five teams playing the game at once.  Once the teams were in, I clicked on start/stop and set the game for 30 minutes.

Here is the BEST part: while the students are playing, I get an update any time they submit something!  Therefore, I can tell what is going on even though I am sitting back in my room.  Here are some of the videos that I saw coming across my screen:

activity feedactivity feed 2

I could also give bonus points or takeaway points while they were doing this.  If I wanted to add points, I could do that by entering the points.  Using the bonus point feature, I could also subtract points by adding the subtraction symbol with the points (-100 etc).  The students didn’t actually see this though while they were playing.

While they are playing, we can all see the leaderboard.  Then once the game is over, I can see all of the pictures in each section:

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 1.42.30 PM.png

This was a lot of fun for my students to do.  It gives them a lot of input with reading, and it allows them a way to visualize their learning.  Plus they completed about one task a minute- which is a good pace!  I hope you will check out Goosechase!

Posted in conference, Favorites

Takeaway from GWATFL: Lead with Languages

Takeaway from GWATFL

I saw ACTFL’s Lead with Languages campaign, I read an initial post and followed them on Facebook and Twitter.  BUT I hadn’t really explored the website.  Erin Whelchel shared the website and campaign with us- and it is amazing!  I wanted to highlight some of my favorite parts of the website that will be most useful for you as a teacher:

  • They highlight SO many languages- from ASL to Turkish.  As this is a new campaign, they also plan on adding more languages as they go.  Each language has a section on why to learn that specific language.  (My favorite is that you can be a rebel to learn Latin now!)  They also have scholarships for that language and videos of students and adults discussing how they use that language.  You could also pick out a video to highlight in the beginning of the year and at back to school night.
  • They also highlight language programs in different colleges and universities with a section for study abroad opportunities and summer programs for students and college students.
  • In addition, the “language and careers” section explains how people have applied their language knowledge to a variety of jobs.  They also include jobs that students can start right after high school.  The website will continue to be live and updated with new information and more job sectors.
  • If you want to become a language teacher, you can check out this page.  It goes over different routes and what is required in each state.  This would also be helpful for military families or any families who move a lot.  I was on my own to get my license in California.  (A side note: why don’t we just accept other states’ licenses?!  We have a teacher shortage, but then we require teachers to go through all of these hoops when they are ALREADY certified!)
  • The advocacy page is full of information to help your language program if it is in danger.  One of the biggest pushes for language is the Seal of Biliteracy.  It gives you information if your state has adopted the program, but your school or district has not.  You can also apply to help be an early adopter!

I hope that you will check out the page and highlight some of these facts with your students and around your school!

Posted in Listening, Technology

How to make audio QR codes

I have seen a lot of awesome scavenger hunt ideas for a foreign language class.  I wanted to try a QR audio code hunt for a particularly gorgeous Friday day.  It took me about 20 minutes to create and print 10 QR codes.  I found an old tutorial on how to create audio QR codes, and none of the websites worked, so I wanted to update this idea with what I used here.  You could also print double if you have a large class.  Here is how I did it:

  1. First I made my recordings in Vocaroo.  I love Vocaroo because it doesn’t require a log-in, is free and produces a link.  Once you record, you save the recording, and you can copy the link.
  2. Then, I went to this QR code generator.  I put the link from Vocaroo into the website and click “create QR code.”  I downloaded the QR code that they displayed.  When you click on download, an ad pops up.  It is free- you do not have to click, log-in or buy anything!  (Don’t click on the ad!)
  3. I put all of the downloaded QR codes on a Word doc.  I also numbered the codes, so I could keep track if I lost any between classes.
  4. The best part is that students can use Snapchat to read the QR codes.  They aim their screen at it, and take a “snap.”  A few seconds later the link pops up!  I would recommend using this platform for HS students.  I had students recreate the pictures as I described them in Spanish.  You could also have them draw pictures of each one which would be fun as well.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from Friday:  Also share how you use QR codes in your classroom!

QR Code