Posted in Authentic resources, Video

YouTube videos to use in Spanish class

YouTube Videos to use in Spanish class

Recently, I found myself down a YouTube wormhole with a few purposes.  I want to start to find some more videos for my Spanish 1 and Spanish 5 classes next year.  I have also found a ton of female vloggers (including one of my favorites).  I want to find some more videos with males, so they are not all female focused.  Here are some of the videos (and some EdPuzzles that I have created) that I have found to share with you:

  • Cocinemos juntos has some great cooking videos.  He speaks slowly and clearly and the visuals are wonderful.  He also has some Nicaraguan food videos including one on tacos.  It would be great to have students compare Nicaraguan tacos with Mexican tacos.
  • I really like this fashion vlog for men.  I watched a video about different trends for men.  It is easy to come across these for women, so I would like to assign two different videos for the girls and boys in my class.  I also found this video about outfits to wear when you return to classes when it is cold for boys.
  • This YouTube channel has a lot of pop culture (which I love!)  I could see this video about 9 movies to see to be perfect to inspire a conversation about what students want to see or not.  They also have a who wore it best after awards ceremonies.
  • I love some of the themes that many of the vloggers start.  I would use clips of the 50 things about me to get my students started with authentic resources in the beginning of the year (Spanish 2).  I love Tag 20 canciones.  They have some really great conversation topics.  It would be fun to start with two questions each day in the beginning of the year- like what song do you love in secret and what song do you know all of the words to.  The good thing about these themes is that many vloggers post about them, so you have many choices.
  • Kevin Karla y la Banda has some great covers of English songs.  Check out Laura who covers other English songs including Beauty and the Beast! (My son loves this Maroon 5 song!)
  • My students love Starbucks!  This would be perfect for a more advanced group– tips on what to order and what not to order in Starbucks.
  • Looking to spice up your technology unit and not talk about fax machines?  This girl talks about what is on her iPhone and how to edit photos on Instagram.  Maybe it is just because I love technology, but I really enjoy hearing what apps others use.  This is another topic that includes a TON of videos about what teens have on their iPhone.

Hope my journey on YouTube has helped you find some new videos to try in class.

Posted in Favorites, Proficiency

My NOT to do when switching to proficiency

Not to do list

Mistakes, I’ve made a few- according to Queen.  As I have been switching from a more traditional approach to teaching foreign language to teaching towards proficiency, I have definitely grown.  However, here are some “mistakes” that I have made that hopefully you can avoid… or at least learn from my mistakes!

  1. Not switching my grade book categories: Traditional grading allowed me to have tests and quizzes categories.  Now, I would rather have: speaking, reading, writing and listening sections.  This way, I don’t have to jam two parts of an IPA on one day to call it a “test” to distinguish between tests and quizzes.  I just want to be able to call it a “listening assessment” and put it with the other listening assessments.  I believe that this will also hold me accountable to have enough in each category and balance it all.
  2. In an interpersonal assessment, not inserting myself enough: I love have the students talk to each other in an interpersonal assessment.  It pushes my level 2 students to maintain a conversation; however, they do not push the vocabulary level like I do.  They will stick to the same types of questions that their peers can understand.  I need to ask questions to push their understanding and gage what they can understand.
  3. Not really knowing where your students are: I have heard this from numerous people when they switch to proficiency.  You assume that your students have a greater proficiency level than they do.  Once you figure that out, you will be able to develop appropriate assessments and rubrics for your students.
  4. Not reassessing your rubrics: As a department, we designed the rubrics for our IPAs last year.  They served their purpose, and they were a great start.  However, after working with them for a year and further reassessing where our students are, we need to rework them.  However, I would encourage you to give your rubrics a few tries before you change it.  That will help you design a better rubric.  There is no way for you to design a rubric perfectly the first time.
  5. Not shortening my authentic resources to help students: I have recently posted on this, but I have decided especially for novices to delete sections of the text that is not helpful for students.  This will make authentic resources easier for students especially in the beginning levels.  As I switch to teaching level 1 next year, I want to be even more cognizant of the overwhelming nature of authentic resources.
  6. Not NOT having a textbook: I have finally decided that two years after moving in this direction, I am ready to drop the textbook.  I will say that it is easier to shape IPAs around existing textbook units instead of the other way around.  Two years in, I feel that I am using the textbook in small doses that it makes sense to drop it.  I would have been in over my head if I had dropped it sooner.  Also, if you never drop the textbook, that isn’t a problem either.  I think it can become a hot button topic, and you have to do what works for you.  You can find success by adapting a textbook to meet this need.
Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: April 7, 2017

Brillante Viernes: April 7

Happy FriYAY!  I am excited because this Saturday is EdCampMetroDC.  As it has become a yearly tradition, I appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and meet new people.  We still have space if you are in the area!  Here are some other of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I am planning on doing this small group speaking assessment that Laura crafted.  It is great!
  • I love these ideas to “techify” a novel especially because next year, I am going to be focusing on novels.
  • Richard writes the wildly popular blog Free Tech 4 Teachers.  Recently he has been posting about how to start a blog.  This is one of my favorite posts where he explained what he learned.
  • This is a new to me blog in French, but I like these ideas for teaching the weather.  You could complete similar activities in any language class.

And for some posts from me in the past few years…

Posted in Favorites, Uncategorized

Spring 2017: Favorite things!

Spring 2017 Favorites

One blog post that I love to read is a review of the blogger’s favorite things.  I have a few that I have been using recently that I hope you can try too!

  • Google Keep:  This is a great to do list tool.  I normally love checking things off my to do list.  I use it on my laptop and iPad.  If I had space on my phone, I would add it there, too (#mompictureproblems!)
  • Flipgrid:  I have started to incorporate this into my classes, and I love it!  I can record a video and all of my students can respond.  They have 90 seconds to respond.  My students like it, and they do not need an account.  Another great point: it is free to have one board.  On the board, you can create subtopics.
  • Idea: As I wrote on Twitter, I had my students share how they used the target language when they traveled.  Many students were excited to share how they used it.  Two students mentioned that they had to give directions to their Uber driver.  I thought this would be a perfect twist to the usual “directions” unit.
  • Assessment: I finally put together an assessment that I planned two summers ago.  Students read a Yelp review then they also read the menu from the Yelp review.  Finally, they left a Yelp review of their own.  My favorite review was below:FullSizeRender (1)
  • Textbooks: Or lack thereof! I have finally decided to make the plunge and go textbookless next year!  One of my big reasons was I ended up having to find ways to use the textbook instead of not using it.  When the balance tipped for me, I was ready to ditch it.  This is clearly not a decision for everyone, but I am excited to try it.  We will see how that journey goes next year!  Also- my favorite is clearly my PLN who always responded to my requests about what novels to incorporate.

What are your current spring favorites?  I love to add to my list!

Posted in noticias

Noticias: abril 2017

Noticias de abril 2017

Martina has done a wonderful job of writing up news stories, but with everything happening in South America recently, I felt compelled to write summaries for my students.  I have been wanting to write about Venezuela for awhile now.  In this edition, I have stories about:

  • Political changes in Venezuela
  • Mudslides in Colombia
  • Political changes in Paraguay
  • Chocolate festival in Bariloche
  • A Guatemalan fashion designer with Down’s syndrome

I included a few more articles because I don’t want the articles consistently paint Latin America in a negative light.  I worry that while these changes and disasters are important they will perpetuate stereotypes of Latin America.  Pre-reading, I like to have students make predictions about the articles.  Then they can read to determine if they are true or not.  Here is my pre-reading activity:

  1. Nicolás Maduro es el presidente de Venezuela.
  2. El gobierno de Venezuela consiste en dos partes.
  3. Había una avalancha de lodo y rocas en Colombia.
  4. En Paraguay, el presidente puede optar para una reelección.
  5. Los presidentes de Paraguay tienen un término por 4 años.
  6. En Argentina, muchas personas quieren hacer la barra de chocolate más larga del mundo.
  7. En Guatemala, una muchacha que tiene síndrome de Down es una diseñadora de ropa.

To extend the last two activities, you could share a chocolate catalog from the store Del Turista.  Students could choose which chocolate they prefer.  Here is the Down to Xjabelle website and Instagram page.  Without further ado, here is a PDF of the articles:


My main source is BBC Mundo, and the others include information about Bariloche’s chocolate scene, an article about Isabella, and NPR about lack of food and medicine in Venezuela.

Posted in Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 31, 2017

Brillante Viernes March 31

Happy Friday!  We just got back from Virginia Beach!  On the way back, I got to catch up on the Google Teacher Tribe podcast.  If you haven’t listened to it- you should!  I always learn something great.  I was so excited to hear how to add symbols to Google Drive that can help students with dyslexia, I wrote down the directions to share with our learning support.  (The video is here.)  Here are some more of my favorite posts from this week:

  • Sketch 50 has just started!  You can practice sketch notes on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.  Or you can just doodle for yourself!  It is just on day 5- so you can still join!  Here are my sketches (so you know that you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect…)BeFunky Collage 2.06.04 PM
  • I finally took the plunge and applied to present at NECTFL this year.  Then I signed up to present at GWATFL!  I wish I had this post by Señor Fernie to help me out!
  • I LOVE Meredith’s post on technology!  And am excited to use her ideas with Snapchat!
  • And MORE ideas on how to use Snapchat with BookSnaps!

Here are some more posts that I wrote years ago:

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 Brillante Viernes

Brillante Viernes: March 24, 2017

Brillante Viernes: March 24

Happy Friday!  We have the faculty-staff basketball game today at the end of the day, then it is Spring Break!  After a long winter, we are all ready for the break.  My son and I will be heading down to Virginia Beach for the week.  Hopefully, it will be warmer down there.  Here are some of my favorite posts from this week:

  • I keep highlighting Laura’s posts, but she is on fire!  This one about our shifting roles as language teachers doesn’t disappoint.
  • I appreciate a lot of what Mike is working on here in his classes.  I want to look at some of these topics more in depth this summer when I can reflect and think of how to apply them to my classes.
  • This post is a year old, but I just found it this week on Twitter!  I love the Draw 1, 2, 3 idea post storytelling.
  • Check out this awesome new blog about everything from teaching with movies to novels!

Here are some of my other posts from later years:

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 conference

Collaborate with me this spring in DC!

Spring Conferences in DC

I wanted to update you on a few conferences that I will be participating in this spring!  My first one will be EdCamp Metro DC in the KIPP-DC Shaw Campus.  If you have never been to an EdCamp, they are for everyone involved in education.  In addition, you decide the topics!  It is also free to attend.  I have been helping to put on EdCamp Metro DC for many years now.  I always take away a few good ideas to implement in my classes.  In addition, I get to network with many other teachers in the area.

The second is the Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Language Spring Immersion day.  I will be presenting on the tech tools for the proficiency classroom.  This is a longer presentation from what I presented about in NECTFL.  Hope you can attend one of these, and we can meet in real life!