#COVID19WL resource; editable choice board for High School Spanish

So many amazing educators are sharing resources during this closure and many are sharing things for FREE. While I don’t have my own content to share with you, I did spend all morning making this choice board and I’m sharing that file with you. It’s the best I have to offer! Thank you Carrie Toth, Jim Wooldridge, Kristy Placido, Martina Bex, Fluency Matters, and MANY MORE for doing everything that you’ve been doing to help all of our students.

We are in “Act of God” days and can’t force completion or put things done during closure in as a grade. We don’t have an “e-learning” or “distance-learning” system. At our school, we are all providing “learning opportunities” instead. Otherwise – I’d assign things from Garbanzo, Fluency Matters, Independent Textivities, and more. That’s why this is editable for you. If you want to replace everything with tasks in a “pick three for a grade” type thing, you do you 🤷🏼‍♀️ We’re all #doingourbest

Preterite & Imperfect with a SOMOS story

A day and a half of notes (separated by a snow day) in Spanish 2 didn’t kill my CI classroom.

OK. So. CI/TPRS. I’m for that. I use SOMOS in Spanish 1 and 2. I do novels with er’body. This is my first year teaching Spanish 3 so I’m doing more SOMOS and doing novels (next year my 2s from this year will be farther along and I plan to do Carrie Toth’s units for Spanish 3 and 4 from now on) 

Real talk: doing one thing for a long time is not sustainable for me.

  • Too much SOMOS too many weeks in a row and I get burnt out and hate stories. And characters. And writing. And kids “cute ideas”
  • Too much Wooly and I stop making it about stories and the kids just zone out on nuggets.
  • Too many days on a novel and I end up just being like “ok so here’s what happens in this chapter” and I basically read the story in English (as if the plot is the point?!) instead of doing good CI with it.
  • Too much “old school” teaching is dumb and boring and I hate it.
  • Too much untargeted CI and I feel like I’m not a real teacher.
  • ….wait… have I just been giving completion points and participation points FOR TWO MONTHS OH GOD CONFERENCES ARE COMING UP WHAT DO I DO.

Being a baller CI teacher for like 6 days in a row makes me tired so then I show Alta Mar or Gran Hotel… with ENGLISH subtitles (gasp) to take a break. Throw in like 1000 snow days and… welp, I’m doing my best yall. 

So not to be a broken record, but a quick overview: I am a department of 1 in a tiny rural school in my 3rd year of building a program; so each year I add and plan a curriculum for a new level. Each year I make the other ones a little better. So it’s not like my 1s this year are doing the same thing that my 3s did when they were 1s. Ya? As such… rather than my 2s being a year behind my 3s… they’re actually only a few units behind my 3s because I’m getting better every year. ANYWAY. 

My 2s have been exposed to the past tense for a while. They saw it at the end of the Piratas novel, at the end of the Noches/Granada novel, in señor Wooly songs, in música miércoles songs, in El Mundo en Tus Manos every week… and more. This is my 9th year teaching but it’s my first time feeling accountable to the upper levels (since now IM THE ONE TEACHING THEM) rather than like “yolo I did my best – here ya go… now I’ll go back to teaching level 1.” So like… I’m pretty legit at using CI and TPRS with level 1 and most of level 2. But you start asking me to think about preterite, imperfect, subjunctive, conditional… and my brain explodes a little and I just refer back to how I learned….

But I’m TRYING to take my personality and my brain knowledge and my skills and sprinkle in what I’ve seen Carrie, Allison, Adriana do… (and other awesome brave amazing people who share videos online)

As usual I’m like… a page into this blog post and haven’t even SHARED WHAT IT IS THAT I’M DOING. Sheesh señora, get it together.

So – Here we are. 2nd semester Spanish 2. We just finished SOMOS 1 Unit 13 (piropos/chico del apartamento 512). After finishing that unit and taking a day to watch Alta Mar and another day off as a snow day, we took notes about preterite and imperfect, referring back to things we’d seen before. I took these notes under the document camera in a notebook that the kids are suppooossseeddddd to keep for all 4 years of Spanish with me. But… ya know. Kids. These notes are inspired by more detailed grammar notes I used to use in my “legacy methods” days. Photo of those notes:

Then we pasted an illustrated (by moi) version of the Chico de 512 story into the notes with the plan to rewrite the story in the past tense the following day. And THAT, mis amigos…. is what we have here. VIDEO TIME!

And here are the posters I have up that I just kinda point at as we go. 


So… I have no idea if this is the best way to do things, but it’s worked for me so far. Point out and help them notice the past tense through comprehension questions and novels and songs and stuff for over a year… then do a quick explicit grammar day… then we’ll be starting Nuevo Houdini (past tense) in April where they will straight-up dive into it for a few months. I’ll be able to just point at the posters or stand in front of them and have something to refer back to as we go on.

30 minutes of notes on one day and 20 minutes of explicitly instructing through a story isn’t the WORST………. Right???

OPE – and here is the funny video I promised to share with my students at the end of the lesson.

Running Dictation… but Not.

Original Inspiration: Running Dictation by Martina Bex. I have done this style of activity several times and it’s a 👍🏼from me.

Inspiration # 2: Reverse Running Dictation (from someone in my universe of online PLN … Facebook groups or Twitter or something) Maybe Maris Hawkins. Maybe Srta Spanish?  

Today I did a reverse(ish) running dictation with my students for Brandon Brown quiere un perro. I didn’t think they were reading to read/repeat/write all the Spanish that it takes to do an original running dictation, but I knew I wanted more than just matching text to an image. So while driving to work, I came up with this and… it’s a 👍🏼from the niños. They lost their DANG MINDS because it was so fun. So… I’ll tell ya about it. 

Step 1. Get some images of your content. (Book illustrations, Wooly stills, video screenshots, etc). I used Chrome to print 2 pages on one sheet and that size worked out great.

**Since my original post (a few days ago), I have learned that it is a copyright violation to scan any part of a book, including the images (so that’s a NO on scanning into your computer to then doing any storing/sharing/manipulation of the content.) However– Some publishers, (including Fluency Matters!!), now include *downloadable images* with their Teachers’ Guides, so I will be using the guides now to get the images that I need to keep doing this activity (and many others since the graphics can be such an important part of the comprehensible input process.)**

If you’re working with other content (a MovieTalk, youtube video, music video, señor Wooly video, Netflix series etc…) just do your best to do your research and make ethical choices around getting/storing images of the content.

Back to my running activity… We had only gotten through chapter 6 (poop on the floor) but I also included an illustration from chapter 7 (doc office) as a prediction. The kids did this SO FAST that one class was actually able to reset and play twice. So I think it’s definitely possible to do this with the whole book rather than just chapters 1-7. Once I had my set of images, I made a pink set, a green set, a blue set, and a yellow set. I knew I’d need 4 teams for my biggest class.

Step 2. Next, I typed up a long-ish chunk of text to go with each illustration. The chunks were inspired by the chapter text but were not directly from the book. I wanted it to be an actual reading activity – not just something they pulled from their brain since they’d memorized it before. I printed 4 copies of this too (one blue, one green, one pink, one yellow). Since I wanted only ONE correct answer (Chunk + illustration) I tried to make sure there couldn’t be any “wait, this one couuulllldddd work with thiiisss oneeeee”

Step 3: I taped the illustrations in random places all throughout the hallway outside my classroom. I have a super small school and supportive admin who LOVE seeing kids do fun things, so this is not a problem for me. I have a colleague who prefers to do scavenger hunts IN her room rather than letting kids out into the halls (but that’s kinda the best part!)

Step 4: I cut up the chunks of text and then gave all the pinks to the pink team, all the blues to the blue team, etc.

Step 4: here’s where it gets a little unique to yours truly (that’s me). I didn’t want them to just read their chunk and go find a picture. I wanted them to have to search these chunks of text and really try to comprehend it. SO – I projected a SUPER simplified English version of the chunk on the board. I’m actually going to go back and make them even more obscure/slagish because this was still kinda easy. I used animation on Slides to pace them, so only 1 and 2 were showing for a while and then I’d secretly click for #3 to show up and the kids would get all frantic again trying to read for the correct chunk. It was cute. These are NOT in chronological order from the book.

TIME TO PLAY: OK so here’s how it worked when it was time to set the kids loose. Keep a timer going so different class periods can race against each other.

  1. Click so that the simplified English phrase pops on the screen.
  2. The team works together to find the Spanish chunk of text that best goes with the English phrase. 
  3. Once they find it, a runner takes that chunk into the hall and tries to find the matching illustration. It has to be THEIR team’s color!
  4. They bring the illustration and chunk back to their team. 
  5. By now I’ve clicked the screen and another English phrase has popped up for them to work on. So the process repeats. I tell them a new person has to run to the hall each time.
  6. When the team is “done” and has all the chunks and illustrations back in the classroom, the next step is to put them all in order. (NOT the order that I have on the board… but the actual chronological order of the book).

Your best bet is to use my pictures and videos to try and get an idea of how it worked.

Adiós yall. ✌🏼

Success with Café y Conversación

This year is my first year with Spanish 3 and next year will be my first year with Spanish 4. By taking the CI/TPRS route, I’ve been focusing so much on input that my anxiety has been through the roof about getting the kids to eventually OUTPUT the language. I’ve really been promoting my program as proficiency based, with college credits (dual enrollment) and the Seal of Biliteracy as achievable goals. I know you can’t force output, I know that having them memorize things to say isn’t communication. So I’ve been thinking “Well shoot, what am I going to do?!” HOW DO I MAKE THE KIDS (and by extension my program) PERFECT?!

(enter Brené Brown and her work re: perfectionism as a shield to vulnerability. Yup, that’s me… but I’m gonna save Brené for another post). 

So ANYWAY… I saw this post on Facebook a while back about CAFÉ and CONVERSACIÓN and knew that it would be a good idea to do this with my Spanish 3 class. First of all, they are a small group (one class of 7, one class of 4). This makes it possible to make and enjoy coffee together. Secondly – this group of kids is down to do ANYTHING I want to try out. They are the best!!  (I’ve talked about them before!)

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2019 December Exams – Spanish 1, 2, & 3

A narrative (as usual) plus some actual stuff to share. How did my semester go? What did I teach in each class? What will I give for finals and how will I grade them? What are my plans for next semester?

Well my last posts were over the summer and were all about how I was doing summer planning to prepare for my new Spanish 3 course, setting up a new classroom, and planning for my 6-week maternity leave during 1st quarter. As usual, I put my head down during first semester and just tried to survive (not thrive) back to school + maternity leave + DEVOLSON + motherhood. Blogging DURING the school year ain’t me. Sadly. So… here are my plans for December exams this year.

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My “new” classroom: 2019-2020 school year

This is my 9th year teaching. This is my 3rd year at my current school. This is the 5th school where I’ve taught. I got a new (bigger) room over the summer. I’ve set up and torn down a LOT of classrooms. I’ve hoarded materials for many years (including saving stuff from my HS Spanish classes 15 years ago…)

My room is NOT (in my opinion) Instagrammy or cute. But that’s OK – I LOVE my room. And I LOVE Instagrammy rooms too. I gotta do me and you gotta do you. I’m super over it with teacher shaming right now. So let me get a few things out of the way before I share my 21 minute video with you… (all 4 of you who read my blog).

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Love for the bestie

This post is simply to say in some kind of public platform how proud I am of my teacher BFF, Frau.

  • She survived her first 3 years of teaching with yours truly as a colleague… in a new town (with NOOOTTTHHHIINNGGG to do), away from family and friends, turning 22 the day before school started. Yeesh. (I’m kind of a lot…. but I’m also a good “no BS” ally and “Get sh*t done” buddy…. is that apparent yet?)
  • In her first 3 years, she grew her program enough to break up the dreaded combined level 3/4 class into two separate sections.
  • She gained a following of German students who will forever be obsessed with her and her dorky passion for the German language and other nerdy things that kids just love to see in an adult.
  • She survived being treated as a second-class teacher at that school. She was excluded from “department” meetings, admin citing that GERMAN didn’t have the need to meet with the SPANISH department.
I use this GIF a lot these days.
  • We both tried in vain to transform the department into a proficiency based program that followed World Readiness Standards. With her her exclusion, I was effectively isolated during meetings as well. (Jokes on YOU, former school… the STATE JUST ADOPTED THOSE STANDARDS IN EFFECT NOW, MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!)
Can’t help myself, sorry.
  • She made the choice to leave that school (the same year as I did) for greener pastures. When I was called as a reference and they asked for a “negative” about Frau, it was hard to come up with something, but I said “she often has done the research, put something into practice, reflected on it… and is ready to move forward… but gets distracted by self-doubt. She needs somewhere where she is free to experiment and encouraged to learn and grow.” I mean… aren’t we all like that sometimes? Especially on our CI/TPRS/#authres/Proficiency/IPA/ACTFL journeys? There are so many roads to take, so many #EduCelebs to follow – it’s hard to build up confidence. (Plus the patriarchy, amiright?)
  • In her two years at her new school, she took on multiple levels and ages and had to travel between THREE classrooms (and 2 buildings, I think?) – She now had a Frau colleague and it was so nice to have someone else working in the same language. But as many of us Spanish teachers know, there are pros and cons to colleagues. (I personally am enjoying my current #deptof1 status in my 9th year teaching, myself.) Frau grew in confidence and skill, as we all do in our 4th and 5th years of teaching.
  • Let me tell you how now how I know that Frau has MADE IT
  • A sweet-ass job was posted in a Facebook group and she was just like “yeah I’m gonna write an email.” – so chill, non-chalant, no self-doubt in sight. Just like “YOLO – I am worthy of this, why not?”

6 days later, she was invited for an interview. I’d love to share the selfie she sent me which shows how chill and YOLO she was about it, but it might end our BFFship. Sometimes we look a liiiiiitle rough in our selfies. Here, I’ll just share one of me that I sent back as a response (it’s my guuuuurll… I’m proud and you DOIN IT face… wearing my husbands shirt over my giant, pregnant, no-money-to-touch-up-roots self)

  • Here’s the best part. There we are a few weeks later, texting about how the first interview went (after she told me she was ALREADY invited for a 2nd) and she’s telling me about it like she’s not the lil baby Frau I once knew… she’s saying how she talked about her experience with CI workshops, MOPI training, blogs and online PD and PLNs… and then she sends ME THIS TEXT RIGHT HERE

So she’s just “prepping” for this 2nd interview like

And I’m just like…..

Anyway, she got the job and I’m obsessed with her and I’m so excited. So… Here’s to you, buddy.

Te quiero.

Once I get her on board with having a bigger social media presence, I’ll link her info here. She needs some German CI colleagues, it’s lonely being a Frau!!!

2019-2020 Syllabi and Class Information

I like to do my own thang- (surprise!)

I don’t like the weighted categories used in our school handbook, I don’t like this, I don’t like that… my CI/storytelling style isn’t like other classes and confuses people. Many of us already know this struggle. It can be hard to define “rigor” in a class that doesn’t have homework every night and giant exams full of trick questions. So – I’ve made a little “explanation” document with news, etc as well as a syllabus for each class this year (Spanish 1, 2, 3).

My syllabi, the wording, and the style are heavily influenced by Mis Clases Locas – hers are available on TPT! – and The Comprehensible Classroom (Martina – I swore there was an updated one that even inspired the colors I used… but I can’t find it?)

** EDIT ** HA! Found it. It was under “parent letter” rather than “syllabus” on your blog 😉 Upon further review… turns out I straight-up copied a lot of the language from this parent letter to mine. Here is Martina’s TPT free download and you can click on the link above to see her post. Martina – I hope it’s OK that I took your idea and built upon it and am sharing your links here. ***

Without further ado:

Preparing for Curriculum Camp – 2019 edition

Last year’s Curriculum Camp was a huge success. Brief summary – my teacher BFF and I no longer work together but have always said [during the school year] we need time to just sit with like-minded people and like…. GO THROUGH all this stuff and actually PLAN IT (rather than be in survival mode during the year).

Well; we realized that WE ARE the like minded people and nobody was going to call or email us and offer to babysit us through our teaching journey. So Curriculum Camp was born. It’s literally just the two of us going through all our crap and attempting to organize our thoughts together. Early on in the summer while the school year is still in our minds – we meet, spread out all of our saved (smudged, crinkled) papers, open up all our tabs, and get to talking.

This year, I have two additional things to plan; 1) Adding level a level 3 class (every year I add a new one b/c I’m building a new program) and 2) my maternity leave Sept 16 – Oct 25. A caveat to my maternity leave plan – Thanks the the amazing national, Illinois and specifically rural Illinois teacher shortage… I don’t think I’ll be finding an actual Spanish teacher (let alone Spanish SPEAKER) for my maternity leave. It’s possible it will even be filled by multiple people. So… that’s been on my mind for the past year basically (yes, that’s before I even got pregnant when I was deciding if I even WANTED to, considering how obsessed I am with my new teaching position). ANYWAY….

This year, Frau is in Austria right now and we’re meeting later in June. But since my planning anxiety has been around for 1,000 months now, I’m getting started. I thought I would use a blog post to 1) organize my own thoughts for Frau and myself and 2) share with others what I’m thinking about this summer.

I know a lot of teachers and teacher-moms are unplugging this summer. Taking time for themselves and families, etc. Reading for pleasure. Not on social media, etc. THAT’S JUST NOT ME Y’ALL. I LITERALLY CAN’T. Doing this planning and daydreaming and obsessing makes me feel good, it’s who I am, so – if this stresses you out and you’re trying to just enjoy your summer, then BOOKMARK this for later and close this page now!

So… what am I doing to get ready?

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