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.

My Spanish 3 kids are SO special to me. My school didn’t have a language program at all before I came (hello rural Illinois budget crisis and teacher shortage!) so for the past 3 years I’ve been designing and building my own program (LOVE THE INDEPENDENCE AND CONTROL) and these juniors and seniors have been “ride or die” the whole way. We’re growing up together! When it came time to plan for finals, we discussed ideas together. They said things like “we’re already so good at reading, maybe our final should be speaking.” WAT?! I was like “Yo I love that enthusiasm but your final should assess you on what we’ve been doing… we should add more speaking PRACTICE into Spring semester.” I said “can we do a few different parts so I can assess your different skills” and they were like “yeah that’s totally fair.” We talked together about how to construct it and decided on 1) read FVR novel for a full day 2) Write about it 3) discuss it on finals day and 4) a quick reading of a news article to “pad” their grade. 

ENTER SNOW DAYS DURING FINALS WEEK. EXIT COOL PLANS FOR MULTI-MODAL ASSESSMENT

No time for a 4 part final anymore. In the end – I’m going with my trusty ol’ writing final. Dang. And I REALLY need to hold myself accountable from now on (FOR REAL THIS TIME) to assess the kids in more modes than writing. It’s my comfort zone and that’s no excuse for limiting what I provide for my students. My Spanish 3s are really itching to do more conversation and I need to get over my own discomfort of this uncharted territory (Assessing a novice’s speaking?! Without a memorized dialogue like I did in HS?!  WHAT?! DEAL WITH AWKWARD PAUSES? AVOID DOMINATING THE CONVERSATION?! HOOWWWWW)

So – here is what each class accomplished this semester and what their final is going to be. To create the final, I used a DRAW 1-2-3 template from Martina Bex’s editable stations product on TPT. Since this is a product available for purchase I will not share the template that I used. It involves having them illustrate, add speech bubbles, and write. I took this template, made a copy, and adjusted the instructions to match what I was asking of each different level. Here is her own blog post about this activity.

I also used her ACTFL proficiency descriptors on the left pane and my own writing “rubrics” on the back of the exams to help myself and the students reflect on progress. Martina’s product for free-write grading can be found here. After I look at everyone’s progress I’ll assign letter grades/ points out of 50 to the test. I like to assess proficiency first, then think about grades and numbers.

Spanish 1

  • SOMOS1 units 1, 2, 3
  • novel (during my leave) Capibara con botas
  • other storytelling: Selena
  • Wooly songs as stories: Adónde vas, Puedo ir al baño, No lo tengo, Guapo, Ir conjugation rhythm (the story in the bridge)
  • Brandon Brown ch. 1-3

Instructions for final: draw an illustration or comic strip. Include at least two characters, two locations, and two actions. Add two speech bubbles with Spanish text. Write a short story to go with it. IDEAS and OPTIONS:

  • Carlos el capibara
  • Selena
  • No cierra la puerta
  • Toc Toc
  • Anita, adónde vas
  • Puedo ir al baño
  • No lo tengo
  • Guapo
  • Brandon Brown / perro
  • Any of the stories we’ve written together in class!
  • MIX and MATCH! Selena has a pet Capibara who doesn’t close doors? why not.

Spanish 2

  • SOMOS1 units 6, 8, 9
  • novel (during my leave) Noches misteriosas en Granada
  • other storytelling – MacFarland USA, Alta Mar, FVR, fotografía (Juanes)
  • Wooly songs as stories: El Banco 

Instructions for final: (at least) one picture that represents a story you’ve been reading or writing in class recently. Divide into comic if you want to. (separate paper) Add two speech bubbles with Spanish text. Describe the picture and/or your story in Spanish. You must include (at least) three of the structures in the box.

Spanish 3

  • SOMOS1 units 6, 7, 14
  • SOMOS2 units 1, 2
  • novel (during my leave) Esperanza
  • other storytelling: Alta Mar, FVR, Rayando el sol (Maná)
  • Wooly songs as stories: Encerrada en la escuela, 

Instructions for final: (at least) one picture that represents a story you’ve been reading recently. Divide into comic if you want to. (separate paper) Add two speech bubbles with 10+ words of Spanish text. Describe the picture and your novel with (at least) three paragraphs in SPANISH. You must include (at least) three of the structures in the box.

I’ll post a follow up about how the kids do. But in the meantime, here are my preliminary reflections and ideas for next semester: 


  • Establish café y conversación for my level 3s. (Maybe level 2s… but they give me a hard time sad face)
    • During class once a week – AND an optional before school for those who are super extra
  • Help kids organize the input I’m providing.
    • Build time into lesson for gluing into notebooks. Hold kids accountable. Give directions in Spanish. KEEP IT MOVING (when I say “put this in your notebook” some classes start hanging out in English and take their sweet a** time passing tape around EYEROLLLLL)
  • WAY MORE TIMELY feedback. Sheesh señora. 
  • Establish more routine gestures – look into ASL for super verbs
  • Plans for AAPPL and seal of biliteracy
  • I can ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS improve on using TL during class and keeping kids in TL.
  • SPANISH 1:
    • Finish Brandon Brown quiere un Perro or no?
      • El regalo MovieTalk or no?
    • SOMOS 1 Units 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
    • More time with Wooly’s Guapo
    • 2nd semester novel: Piratas, BB/Perro, or Noches misteriosas?
  • SPANISH 2:
    • SOMOS 1 Units 11, 12, 13, 14
      • Cerditos unit if time
    • More time with Wooly: Guapo series, El Banco, Amnesia
    • Novel: El nuevo Houdini
  • SPANISH 3:
    • SOMOS 1 unit 15? 22?
    • SOMOS 2 units 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 (maybe do unit 8 in Spanish 4?)
    • novel: Frida (beauty, self image, etc)
    • More time on Wooly’s Encerrada and other advanced songs.

What about everyone else? What are you assessing on your finals? Did you “get through” want you wanted to this semester? Are you making changes? What are your non-negotiable “things to cover” each semester/year Fill me in!

PS here’s a bunch of pics from my room this semester 🙂 OK BYE

PPS since Frau is my teacher BFF and I love her so much, I made her a blog for Christmas. Check it out! https://authenticfrau.com/ Yes – it’s a creative title, I KNOW.

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