Posted in Authentic resources, Technology

Webquest: Furniture shopping!

Webquest: Furniture Shopping

I love to shop!  When I studied abroad, I loved to wander around stores and supermarkets.  It was so interesting to see what each store had.  Since we don’t have time to pop over to Argentina and wander around stores, webquests are one of my favorite things.  When students navigate a website, they see that sometimes certain countries use different words then what we learn.  We always have a conversation about price.  In addition, websites have so many pictures that support comprehension.

I found this website for the store Falabella in Argentina.  I used this for furniture, but you could use it for clothes, sporting goods, beauty etc.  I created these questions about the website for my students.  We are going to discuss a few things about them tomorrow like what items they wanted to add to their house specifically.  However, with this website you could find so many ideas for other units!

  • You could also give each student a room to decorate and a budget then have them pick out designs for the room.
  • You could have students come up with outfits from the website.  You could even review clothes when you talk about sports because they have a huge list of athletic clothes.
  • They also have a link with job descriptions.  This would be perfect for upper levels.
  • Students could compare the technology that we have with the technology from this store.  What is similar and different?
  • If students look at their Facebook page, they can see some back to school promotions (and discuss why they are going “back to school” now).
  • Too much reading?  Check out their YouTube page for videos on gift ideas, fashion tips and commercials.
Posted in Favorites

A little Fiesta Friday to celebrate my wonderful students!

Fiesta Friday to Celebrate My Wonderful Students

As I mentioned on Friday, I decided to plan a little fiesta for my Spanish classes at the end of the second trimester!  I didn’t want to just turn on a video though, so here is how I developed the idea.  First, we did a #baileviernes to El Perdón thanks to Sara-Elizabeth’s post.  (I used to be a dancer, and I loved doing these dances at home with my toddler, too!)  This was more successful in some classes rather than others, but many students recognized the song, so that was good!  This song is also in our Música Marzo bracket.Practicing for Baile Viernes

Earlier in the year, a teacher gave me his old trophy because I was a quick Tweeter. 🙂  I had it sitting on my desk.  This was the perfect opportunity to use it!  I feel like as I continue to improve in my teaching, I keep wanting to get better and improve.  I want to use even more CI, slow down my pacing, utilize each Authentic Resource more instead of finding another one, change up my grading system more etc.  You get the idea.  However, I do not spend time to slow down and reflect how far I have come.  I don’t reflect how much my students have learned and improved this year.  I want them to see how far they have come this year and not just to think about what they cannot do.  To me, Spanish 2 can be the trickiest time to do this because it is a difficult level- the excitement of level 1 has worn off, and they have so much that they want to communicate yet don’t always have the vocabulary to do so.  So to solve all of our problems- each student took a selfie with the trophy (which was called The Right Stuff- that made it even better!)  Then they had to write what they had improved upon this year in the past two trimesters.  I didn’t want them to think about what else they had to do, but what had they accomplished.  Here is a collage of some of their responses.  It made me so proud to think of how far they have come this year!Trophy Selfies

After that, we did a little taste testing!  I bought two different types of Hispanic cookies from our local Hispanic market.  As the students were eating, they filled out this form.  This allowed me to incorporate a few taste testing words in there!  Finally, we continued to watch Miss XV from the beginning of the year.  We hadn’t watch it in awhile, and students enjoyed the break.  I enjoyed planning a little fiesta for them, and I like that they were learning more Spanish and reflecting as well.  How do you celebrate your students?


Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 3, 2017

Brillante Viernes: March 3

It’s Friday!  This is the last day of the trimester for us.  We finished a test yesterday, so I am planning a little “fiesta” for my classes today.  I will blog about it next week, so you can try one in your classes as well.  One thing that we are doing is celebrating how far we have come.  Many times, I feel like I need to keep pushing myself.  I push myself to evolve my teaching.  I push myself to evaluate what I am doing and how to make it better.  I am sure that my students feel the same way.  But how many times do we stop and actually reflect on how far we have come?  Today is a day for that.  This weekend, here are some great posts to read:

  • Check out these 26 ideas for working with videos in Spanish class!  (I love #13!)
  • I have played a variation of this game and everyone has fun playing it.  I plan on doing Allison’s version next time.
  • I love how Sharon incorporated a trip to the Aquarium and used a ton of TL.
  • Check out La Maestra Loca’s presentations on brain breaks!  She has so many awesome ideas.
  • Finally look at ACTFL’s newest Lead with Languages campaign!

Here are some posts from previous years from my blog:


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 Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: February 24, 2017

Brillante Viernes Feb 24

Happy Friday!  This weather has been phenomenal around DC!  Although it has me ready for Spring Break, and Spring Break is far away.  March is here and with it brings March Music Madness in many FL classes.  I have been updating my Facebook page with all of the brackets across the web.  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I have been focusing on how I am providing feedback.  This post was great.
  • These are some great tips for working with a novel and how to start.
  • I integrated this today!  Have students write 4-word picture stories.
  • I love how Laura is integrating grammar and culture.

Now, #flashbackfriday:

  • How I combined authentic resources
  • Template for an interpretive listening task
  • A small change that I implemented to increase TL use
  • I still love the song Mi Favorita by Renzo!
  • A fashion webquest (one of the links doesn’t work, but you could modify that question)
  • An English website with a lot of conversation starters
  • The game Chaos is people’s favorite post that I wrote
Posted in conference

Summer Professional Development: 2017

Summer Professional Development 2017

Last year, I put together a list of professional development ideas for you to do over the summer.  I wanted to create a new list for you to consider attending- especially when I am on a conference high after NECTFL!

  • AATSP has their national conference this year in Chicago from July 6-9.  It is their 99th conference!  I attended this conference in DC, and I enjoyed it and learned a lot from the presenters.
  • NTPRS is back at San Antonio from July 17-21.  I went there many years ago and learned a lot especially from the elementary strand when I was teaching Lower School.  I went back when I was teaching Middle School and Upper School and also learned a ton of information.  You can read all of my notes to see what a valuable conference this was.  If you cannot make it to NTPRS, TPRS Books has workshops all around the country over the summer.
  • iFLT is in Denver from July 11-14.  This has always been on my list to attend.  Laura attended and posted a lot on her blog about this conference.
  • TELL Collab is also an awesome conference in Austin from July 24-26.  It is a participant driven conference.  Here are Amy’s notes on the conference!
  • We had Sara-Elizabeth visit our school, and we learned so much (and switched to more proficiency based teaching).  She has two BaseCamp Musicuentos: June 15-16 in Louisville, Kentucky and July 10-11 in Warwick, Rhode Island.  She will also offer the Brave Little Tailor July 31-August 1 in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • I learned about LILL  (Leadership Initiative for Language Learning) at the ACTFL conference this year, and many people gave it high marks.  It is June 27-29 in Skokie, IL which is close to Chicago.
  • CARLA institutes also have summer programs.  Some are held at the University of Minnesota, but they have some online as well, so you can complete them from any location.
  • AIM Language Learning has a 2.5 day Summer Institute for French, Spanish and Mandarin teachers that will be July 5-7, 2017 in Niagara area, Ontario, Canada.  It looks fascinating!
  • Connecticut Teaching for Proficiency Institute looks phenomenal with Thomas Sauer!  It will be held June 26-27 in Stonington, CT.

Also, there are a lot of amazing non foreign language related professional developments to attend.

  • ISTE (an instructional technology conference) is being held in San Antonio from June 25-28.  This is on my list of conferences that I really want to attend.  Many colleagues have been and enjoyed this conference.  One of my teacher friends posted about her experience last year at ISTE.
  • Also, if you are near Maine, you can go to a conference with Richard of Free Tech 4 Teachers about BYOD.  I learn so much from his blog that I am sure you would get a lot out of a face to face conference.
  • I have been to an art teacher institute at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va.  I loved it and loved all of that extra time in the museum.  We even got to go behind the scenes and see where they store the art that isn’t on display.  Here are some other art institutes, but I would encourage you to check your local art museum.  The Smithsonian American Art museum has a teaching Humanities through the Arts institute. The NGA has a summer institute on Renaissance art.  Many teachers from my school attended the National Portrait Gallery‘s learning to look institute and learned a lot- one ended up becoming a docent!
  • EdCamps are free and held all throughout the year!  Last year, the department of education in Maryland hosted subject specific edcamps.  I loved the EdCamp Maryland WL, and I met a lot of local teachers which is also fun.
  • I loved Ditch Summit over the winter break.  Check out Matt Miller’s (Ditch That Textbook and former Spanish teacher) list of presentations at the end of his blog posts.  Some may be near you!
  • I just saw these workshops from the EdTech team.  They got really good reviews, and there are locations in many states.

What did I miss?  Message me, and I will add your PD to the list.

Posted in No Prep Required

Jigsaw technique in a FL class

Jigsaw technique

To me, one of the best things about a teacher education program is that you learn techniques that you store away until they make so much sense to use!  Jigsaw is one technique that helped me recently.  Essentially, students break into smaller groups then they recombine to form new groups to teach each other the material.  The article describes this much better than I could.  I had trouble applying this to my current teaching until the other day.

Recently, we did Martina’s unit El Secreto.  I added in the story of Te Veo at the beginning.  For the assessment, I wanted students to compare these stories to a wordless video that they watched.  However, many students had forgotten or confused some of the earlier stories.  I decided to use the Jigsaw method to review the stories.  I had students break into smaller groups based on what story they wanted.  In their smaller groups, they summarized the story in Spanish and wrote 3 comprehension questions for the group.

Then, I regrouped the students in groups of 3-4.  I put one student that had reviewed different stories, so I would have one student from Te Veo, one student from El Secreto and one student from La novia desaparecida.  If I needed a fourth student, I would double up one story.  One student was able to read the recap, and the other partner could read the questions.  This worked really well, and many of the students spoke in Spanish, and seemed to understand what their partners were saying.

I needed my online/blended class to replicate this method.  Instead of working in groups, I put them in partners, and they added their notes to a Padlet.  This helped them all review in one area, and they could see everyone’s notes.

How do you use Jigsaw in your classes?  I have also recently read of a teacher using the Jigsaw method with different authentic resources.  I look forward to trying it again.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: February 17, 2017

Brillante Viernes: February 17

Happy Friday before a three day weekend!  Hurrah!  It is supposed to be warm in DC this weekend which if it isn’t going to snow, I will take.  Hopefully you have time to spend time with friends and family.  Here are some of my favorite blog posts from this week (and I normally post 4, but I just couldn’t limit myself this week!)  You have an extra day, so spend a few more minutes reading:

  • TeachThought has a great post about how to stop praising student work and give specific feedback and this post by Betsy about specific feedback.
  • Martina posts a valuable piece on copyright concern as more teachers post their work online, and Mike adds to this discussion as well.
  • I keep thinking about pre-listening/speaking/writing/reading activities.  Here are some pre-listening activities to do.
  • Also because I couldn’t decide between Bethany’s posts on adding videos to Google slides (and how to use this ability in the FL classroom) and open mind interactive slides.
  • Finally- if you have even more time, check out Sara-Elizabeth’s post on her blogs to watch!

More of my posts from this time in the past years of my blog:

Posted in conference

NECTFL Recap Day 2


You can find the first part of my recap here.  Saturday started bright and early!

  • My first session was with ACTFL TOY Katrina Griffin.  She had some easy, quick ideas to incorporate into my classes.  After an interpretive reading activity, she has students create a headline, three summarizing facts, a slogan and a picture or two.  She also will ask questions and have students vote via legos.  I love this for novice learners!  Then she has students create their own infographic.  Infographics do not have to be flashy- you can have students draw their infographic!  Also, she mentioned doing see think wonder with a reading or topic.
  • I watched my colleagues Andrea Martin and Kate Ramella present on Spanish 4 and AP.  I really like that they have a separate cultural rubric when that is used.  They have also used Google Slides to have students collaborate on presentations.  Kate created a slide with each topic and a student’s name to fill out.  Also, I never seem to have the right programs to create a word cloud.  They recommended Tagul which allows you to rank words in importance to make those words bigger.
  • My last presentation on Saturday was by Lori Langer de Ramirez about the proficiency puzzle.  She always gives a lot of food for thought.  One thing that she emphasizes when switching to a proficiency is to constantly say “PROFICIENT” instead of fluent.  This helps administration and parents make the switch.  Also, she talked about the differences between the European model of levels and ours.  This chart helps explain it (especially if you have found something awesome on Pinterest and have NO clue if B2 is appropriate for your students).
  • On a side note, I saw some awesome tweets from others during this presentation!  Here are a few that were my favorites!  Do two truths and a lie about an infographic (and one I did today)!
  • If you don’t follow, Jim Ventosa on Twitter you should!  He has the best sketch notes!  In his notes, a presenter has students poll about an infographic concept then compare the in class poll to the results on the infographic.

Hope you can take something away to use in your class!  I can’t emphasize how wonderful of a weekend it was.

Posted in conference

NECTFL conference recap: day 1

NECTFL Day 1 recap

Whew!  NYC did not make it easy for me to get in and out of via plane this weekend.  I had two delayed flights, but luckily they were direct.  I also got to meet some awesome FL teachers, see some familiar faces and spend time with my family and one of my best friends from studying abroad.  I had not attended a regional conference before, and it was really manageable, and I learned a lot.  I highly recommend this conference!  Also, thank you thank you thank you to everyone who stopped by my table at the techlab!  I was so nervous at first at the thought of having 10 minutes, and I am not sure I took a breath during the first two sessions.  The other ones were better, so I appreciate your patience with me.

Without further babbling, here are some of my favorite ideas and links from NECTFL day one!

  • I started out learning about how to integrate more interpersonal communication with Glennysha Jorado-Moran and Sylvia Guensch.  One thing that they said that really resonated me was how accepting we are of how toddlers talk, but we expect much more accuracy from our students when they are really learning in some of the same ways as first language learners.  This really cemented to me a lot of my feelings about proficiency development.  They also emphasized how to constantly recycle the question words because many times communication fails when students do not understand these words.  Finally, a tweeter mentioned the charades app to help with circumlocution in addition to the heads up app and to practice interpersonal skills.
  • The next session had teachers from the Penn Charter School who made the switch from traditional textbook teaching to a proficiency based curriculum.  The presenters were David Brightbill and Sarah Aguilar-Francis.  They talked about the process when they switched from proficiency.  One of the things that they mentioned was how much we expect from level one when teachers switch from traditional grammar based tests to proficiency based tests.  In this case, I think they mean that we can expect students to get 100% when we teach traditionally.  They can conjugate/memorize all of the correct verbs or vocabulary.  However, we cannot expect this knowledge to transfer when we switch to proficiency.  Just because a student can fill out a verb conjugation chart doesn’t mean that they will always write perfectly or speak perfectly.  To me, this is really important for teachers to realize.  Finally, one of the awesome authentic resources they mentioned for the Spanish house unit is segundamano.
  • My last session of the day was about how to prevent students from relying on online translators by Amanda Robustelli-Price.  There were a lot of good ideas that I had not thought of initially.  One idea is to allow students to use Word Reference and give them a specific number of words that they can look up before an assignment.  I really like that this takes away the ambiguity from an assignment.  As a teacher, I can see students who use online translators excessively; however, students may not see that or realize that they are relying on a translator while their neighbor is only looking up 3-4 words per section.  When I make my expectations clearer, I can help my students improve.  I also like the idea of a pre-writing strategy called list group label.  Finally, many people (including the presenter!) noted that they will provide key words that you want students to use on a writing practice.  This is such an easy and obvious scaffold, but I didn’t think of it.  Yes, they have Quizlet or their vocabulary lists, but many times they will ignore Quizlet and use their go to reference… the online translator!  This will help them not automatically reference the translator.

Here is a picture from my session of presenting!

NECTFL techlab presentation