When I first started teaching I remember frantically trying to come up with activities for every holiday that occurred during the school year. These days there are plenty of times when I don't even acknowledge holidays in my class because the students are already engaged in something else.
This Valentine's Day it seems that the starts aligned for my classes to celebrate because we are between units and it is also Música miércoles! Woohoo! I decided to show Yo contigo, tú conmigo by Morat and Alvaro Soler.
On Música miércoles the students complete some sort of activity using the lyrics of the song for their warmup (I post the lyrics digitally on Schoology in English and Spanish). Examples include:
Once the students have interacted with the lyrics we read about the artist and watch the music video. Afterwards, the students talk to their partners and share their reactions to the song/video (they must back up their opinions with evidence from what they heard/saw). If your students don't have the language to do this yet you can project a slide with adjectives and other phrases that they will need to express their opinions.
To complete our Valentine's Day fun students will complete one of the following activities:
Who else is excited to celebrate the Day of the Dead with their students!? This year I'm doing a long unit about Día de los Muertos, but I still want to teach my students about it. Tomorrow we will have a Día de los muertos inspired Música miércoles (thanks Allison Weinhold). Last year we listened to 'La Calaverita" by La Santa Cecelia. This song is awesome because it captures the celebratory nature of this holiday.
This year my students are going to begin class by reading Martina Bex's articles on Día de los muertos. This is an awesome resource because Martina includes various versions of the Day of the Dead reading--perfect for differentiating the materials between different grade levels. After reading about the holiday, my students are going to read the lyrics to 'Día de los muertos' by El-Haru Kuroi.
This song is much more serious in comparison to the Santa Cecelia song, but I like that it shows real families celebrating and remembering their loved ones on this important day. After discussing the lyrics as a class, students will watch the video using this EdPuzzle activity. The EdPuzzle incorporates the song lyrics as well as information in Marina's Day of the Dead reading.
I also want to incorporate footage from the Día de los Muertos parade in México City. Below I've posted are several videos that capture this awesome parade, as well as a beautiful ad from British Airways.
What are you doing to celebrate Día de los Muertos with your students?
On Saturday my amazing colleague Rebecca Collora and I had a great time presenting our session Storytelling 101: How to Create Comprehensible Stories for Young Learners at the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ICTFL) conference in Tinley Park, IL. During our presentation we focused on using narrow language (Terry Waltz's Super 7) to create comprehensible and compelling stories using digital storytelling platforms such as Storybird and Book Creator. Below is a pdf of our session in case you want to learn more about digital storytelling and assessment activities to use with stories.
Here is the link for the Storybird story I used to backwards plan for Brandon Brown quiere un perro.
Rebecca and I are also thrilled to share that our book 'Daniel el detective' is officially available for purchase through TPRS Books. This level 1 reader (150 unique words) is a story about a boy named Daniel who lives in Spain. Daniel wants to go to the Tomatina with his friend and he is excited when his parents give him a ticket. One day he wakes up he finds that his ticket is missing! What happened to his ticket? Will he be able to solve this mystery and find his ticket before the Tomatina?
We hope that you enjoy our book!
Anyone else using the AAPPL test to assess your students? All of the feeder schools in my area give the 8th grade Spanish students this assessment to determine who is going into Spanish 2 vs Spanish 3 in high school. Last year was our first year administering the test, and although it was a bit of a headache with our tech issues, the test provided us with useful information about our student's proficiency levels.
Although I don't want to 'teach to the test' I do want to make sure that my students are prepared for the types of tasks that they will be asked to complete during this assessment. When my colleague and I took the practice test we noticed that one of the main themes on form 'B' of the test was having the students compare/contrast their country with another and make recommendations for people visiting their town. I wanted to find a way to prepare my students for these types of tasks through a Comprehensible Input friendly approach that was in keeping with topics we were already studying this year.
I was thrilled when I found Carrie Toth's Si tú la ves + Free Unit of Study on Ecuador blog post. I just finished the María y los cuyes Movietalk I did last year to pre-teach vocabulary for Bianca nieves y los 7 toritos, and Carrie's unit was the perfect segue to continue learning about Ecuador and also focus on cultural comparisons for the AAPPL test.
After we finished the Movietalk about the cuyes in Ecuador, we watched Nicky Jam's video for the song Si tú la ves. Before watching the video the students studied the lyrics and read the following information based on an article in People en Español.
After watching the video I printed out the pictures and information in Carrie's lesson on all of the places they visit in the video (Quito, Baños, los Andes, las islas Galápagos y Guayaquil) and made stations with the information. Students had to work in small groups to read the slides and write down the following information in their notebook.
1. Nombre del lugar
2. Actividad turística
3. ¿Te gustaría visitar este lugar? ¿Por qué?
As soon as the students had visited each of the stations we had a classroom discussion about what was the most adventurous, beautiful, and crazy place they read about. We also discussed what place was the most similar/different to the city where they live. Overall, I was impressed by the cultural comparisons the students were able to make after watching the Nicky Jam video and reading Carrie's slides.
Next, played a game where I provided students with information about the activities that someone who is visiting Ecuador likes to do. Students worked in groups to write a recommendation for what activities that person should do on their trip to Ecuador and why. I gave each group a point if they came up with a recommendation that made sense based on the interest of the tourist, and I gave two points to the team with the most interesting/creative recommendation.
The students finished the unit by comparing/contrasting a place in Ecuador with the city in which they live. They also had to make recommendations to someone from Ecuador who is coming to visit their city. I felt like our study of Ecuador killed two birds with one stone: I pre-taught vocabulary needed for Bianca nieves y los 7 toritos AND the students got to practice making cultural comparisons for the AAPPL test. Oh, and we also got to learn about the people and practices of the beautiful country of Ecuador!
Do you give your students a standardized test in your target language? What do you do to prepare them for the test?
I know that I feel like this every year, but I can never believe how fast the summer flies by! Tomorrow we have an institute day and the following day will be my first day with my new students. Last year was my first year teaching middle school Spanish and there were so many times where I thought to myself "Oh no...I should have done this differently!" This year I'm excited to learn from my mistakes and make this year even better than the last.
Last year I started class off with an Instagram photo booth for the first day (read more about last year's first day plans here), but this year I wanted to shake things up! For the first day of school I will show the students a power point introducing myself with pictures of my summer. While I am explaining the pictures the students will be playing "strip" bingo. I will write high-frequency words from my presentation on the whiteboard and students have to fill in each of the five squares on their bingo strip with a different word. When they hear me say a word that is on the end of their bingo strip they get to tear it off. Whoever tears off all of the words first is the winner. This is a great game because it helps the students stay engaged while they are listening.
On the second day of school I will let the students pick a Spanish name and then we will play Speedball to help learn everyone's name and build our classroom community. I got this game from the 'Mis Clases Locas' blog which has some really great ideas for the beginning of the year. After playing speedball I am going to give my students a survey to fill out about their summer (you can download the 'vacaciones de verano' survey below.) Each student will walk around the room with a clipboard and paper and ask their classmates the questions on the survey. If a student answers 'yes' to one of the questions he/she signs the box containing the question. More advanced students can give a full response using the prompts at the bottom of the square. The object of the game is to get a different name in each square. Once the students are done filling in all of the squares we play bingo! To play bingo I randomly call out names and if a student has a square with the name that I call out they mark it with an 'X'. If someone gets a bingo they have to read the answers back to me. For example, "María fue a las montañas, Juan comió en un restaurante, etc."
Last year I created my syllabus on Piktochart. This year I went onto their website and revised my syllabus to include more detailed course goals and information about homework and grading. I copied my course goals from the syllabus on the Creative Language Class blog and I copied the section about proficiency from a syllabus on a different blog that I can't find now (if you recognize where this section came from let me know--I'd love to cite the blog here.) You can download a copy of my 7th grade syllabus below (the 8th grade syllabus is the same except the novels are Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos & La Llorona de Mazatlán.)
What are your favorite activities to use during the first weeks of class?
I'm completely obsessed with Bomba Estéreo's new song 'Soy yo'!
I originally found out about the song through Kara Jacobs' awesome blog. I used Kara's story as a starting point, but I changed the language to better fit the needs of my 7th graders. After I wrote the story I took screen shots of the video and added text to the images (at this point my students didn't know that the images were from a music video.) You can download a pdf version of the story below.
After reading the story together in class the students watched the video for música miércoles. It was so fun to see the surprised looks on their faces when they saw that the story we had read was actually a music video!
After watching the video we played "Who would say it?". I gave students quotes and they had to decide which character would say them. Below are a few examples that I used during the activity.
I was inspired by Carol Gaab's Higher Order Thinking (HOT) presentation at Comprehensible Midwest for this activity. Students have to use inference to determine if Las chicas or Carmen would say each quote. These quotes also lead to great PQA (personalized questions and answers) discussions. Do you know someone that looks at you with a lot of attitude? Why? How do you react?
Students also created a comic documenting what Carmen did later that night after she went home with her dad. After writing their ideas in the four squares of the comic, the students illustrated their work. When they finished creating their comics I posted them around the room and we had a gallery walk where the students walked around the room and read their classmate's work. If you are trying to target specific vocabulary words you can ask that they include those words in the comic, or you can give them more freedom and have them use whatever words they choose.
Here is the link for the Storybird story I used to backwards plan for Brandon Brown quiere un perro and a pdf of Rebecca's Book Creator story Un mono para Gloria.
Thanks again for everyone who attended our session! It was great to connect with all of you!
I'm excited to read Bianca nieves y los 7 toritos by Carrie Toth this year with my 8th graders! In my backwards planning I read through the novel and pulled out all of the structures/words that I need to pre-teach to my students. I found a great video about guinea pigs in Ecuador that I used with the following structures:
I showed the video using a MovieTalk format, pausing and asking the students a lot of questions while we were watching. The video sparked some great conversations in my class. Do these guinea pigs suffer? Does María (main woman in the video) actually care for the guinea pigs with love and affection? After watching the video I gave the students an infographic (inspired by this infographic, but modified with comprehensible language). Students worked in pairs to read the infographic and answer comprehension questions.
I'm still feeling inspired by Carol Gaab's workshop at Comprehensible Midwest about using higher level thinking skills in the classroom. I gave the students the following statements that they had to put them in a venn diagram, comparing and contrasting María with themselves. It was great to see the students realize how much they had in common with María.
Next, we played Possible or Probable? (posible o probable), also inspired by Carol Gaab. I projected the statements below one at a time and on their whiteboards the students had to ask wether each statement was possible or probable. I loved this activity because there wasn't a right or wrong answer. It created a platform in class for everyone to express their opinions, but they had to support their answers with information they saw in the video or read in the infographic. It was awesome to see students engage in debates in the target language!
What are some activities you use in class to engage students in higher level thinking?
Thank you to all of the organizers of the first ever Comprehensible Input Midwest (CIMW) conference! Not only did I leave the conference refreshed with tons of great ideas, but I also scored a few free novels thanks to TPRS Publishing and TPRS Books. This conference was unique because I got a chance to connect with local CI teachers AND see presentations from superstars such as Stephen Krashen and Carol Gaab! I presented a session titled Turning the Page: Reading in the Lower Levels which focused on backwards planning strategies for novels and activities you can do to keep your students engaged while reading. Below is a pdf of my session and some ideas from other presentations that I am excited to use in my classroom.
Krashen's Keynote Presentation
The conference started out with a presentation from the one and only Stephen Krashen! Here are some powerful thoughts from his presentation:
Carol Gaab: Inspiring Higher Order Thinking (HOT)
This session really got me thinking about the types of tasks I use in my classroom. During this session Carol stated that we need to "decide what we want to occupy our student's cognitive capacity." When I apply this statement to Bloom's Taxonomy on the left, I can see that I need to focus on creating more activities that use the upper skills. During this presentation Carol proved that you don't need to use complex language to talk about complex ideas. Teachers simply need to give students the language they need in order to process and respond to the questions they are being asked. Below are some of Carol's ideas that I have already implemented in my classroom this past week!
Who else was at Comprehensible Midwest? Did you learn any ideas that you are excited to implement in your classroom this month?
I am now a middle school teacher! At the end of last school year a position at the middle school in my district opened up, so this year I am teaching 7th and 8th grade students. Although it has only been a couple of weeks I am loving the change. My students can speak so much Spanish! I am blown away by their creativity and willingness to express themselves! My brain is already spinning thinking of endless possibilities of activities that I can do with them this year.
Over the summer I was inspired by the infographic syllabi that I have seen online so I decided to give it a try. I used Piktochart to create a new syllabus for both my 7th and 8th grade classes. I wanted to keep the information concise so I stuck to the following topics: contact information, class overview, classroom expectations, materials and goals. The "I can" goals are from Dustin Williamson's blog. Piktochart was easy to use, but in order to download the syllabus into a printable PDF I had to purchase an account ($20 if you are a teacher).
To start off the year I was inspired by Allison Wienhold's blog Mis Clases Locas. On her first day of class Allison sets up an Instagram photo booth where her students can take photos upon entering class. I decided that an Instagram photo would be a great way for students to introduce themselves and choose a Spanish name. First, I had to create my school specific Instagram photo frame. I used this Instagram template to create my photo booth. After some fancy photoshop magic I took the finished product to Walgreens where I printed it onto a poster-sized foam core. Voilá, one life-sized photo frame!
On the first day of class I handed out a list of popular Spanish names. Each student had to pick a Spanish name and write a hashtag that represented how they were feeling about the first day of school. Students had the option to write their own hashtag or choose from options such as #necesitocafé, #odioloslunes, #megustaespañol, #megustaelverano, #tengosueño. On a piece of paper they wrote their Spanish name (in true Instagram fashion they put the @ symbol in front of their name) and their hashtag. When it was their turn to take a picture, students had the option to put on glasses and hats from my prop bins. Once they had their props on, each student introduced him/herself to the class (we all said hello using that person's Spanish name), read his/her hashtag and then I took the picture. Of course the student photos turned out better than mine, but the picture below will give you an idea of what the end result looked like.
Like what you see? Download the template for your own Instagram photo booth.
I printed out all of the student photos and put them on the bulletin board outside of my classroom for back to school night. The students and parents loved looking at all of the pictures! I loved that this activity gave the students an opportunity to learn their classmate's Spanish names and express their own feelings about coming back to school. It was also a great way to break the ice and show the students that this is a class where you can express yourself and have fun!
What are your favorite beginning of the year activities?