Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big Map of Spain

One of the activities that I like to do with my classes is the "big map" activity.  During  the "big map" activity, students are given a template of a country or region we're studying.  They trace that template onto construction paper and then research their region, adding cities, geographical features, and cultural draws.  They then present their regions to the class and we piece our are of the world together like a puzzle.  

My Spanish 3/4 class worked on their "Mapa Grande de España" with a sub while I was gone on vacation.  (I don't have any Spanish-speaking substitutes, so when I'm absent for an extended period of time, I rely on culture/geography activities.)  Here's a picture:

Please kindly ignore Andorra's absence...  It had gone MIA when I snapped the photo.

I've done this with all levels.  Spanish 1 does a Big Map of Mexico, Spanish 2 focuses on Central America, and Spanish 3/4 do either Spain or South America depending on the year.

This takes some time at first because you have to trace the map and cut out the templates; however, one year in a bind, I just put up a map on the SMARTboard and the kids traced their countries right off the board without a template.  

Do you do any similar activities in your room?  It's simple, but I think my students' geography skills and knowledge leave so much to be desired, I feel it's worth the time.  I always get a kick out of how the Spanish 1 students have such a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that Mexico has states, for some reason.  :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Student Project: Technology then and now

Spanish 4 students were asked to compare an aspect of our school today with how it used to be in the past.  One student chose to compare technology from the past to the kind of technology we have now.  Her presentation was great, but I thought I'd share her visual aide.  We decided to hang it outside the computer/business teacher's door because it was so well done.  That, and our business teacher has been around long enough to have used a lot of the kinds of technology on the poster!  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Damos gracias por...

I work with a Power Hour group for 30 minutes each day.  My particular group of Power Hour kids is a selection of Spanish students from all levels (Spanish 1-4.)  It's basically a mixed level Spanish extension time.  This past week, I noticed other Power Hour groups taking some time to do some activities centered on Thanksgiving or being thankful.  So, we took a few days and created this display in the hallway to illustrate what we were thankful for.

First, we brainstormed a list of things together in the classroom.  Then, each student created their own leaf.  Finally, the students created the tree and the title to pull it all together.  Here's how it turned out!  :)

And a close-up of a couple of the individual leaves.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Student Created Reflexive Verb Posters

I usually enlist the students' help in creating displays in the classroom with their own work.  So, here are the reflexive v. non-reflexive posters my Spanish 2 students made last week.  Part of the process was presenting the posters to the class and answering questions about which one was reflexive or which one was not, as well as what exactly made them reflexive or non-reflexive.  In the end, the students hung the posters in the space under my whiteboard where they would see them often as we continue our study during the unit.  

Some close-up examples:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Class Project: Spanish Is All Around Us

Last week, I asked all of my Spanish students (Spanish 1, 2, 3/4) to bring in an item with Spanish written on it.  It could be food packaging, instruction manuals, or something similar.  With the exception of some French that infiltrated our display :) we did pretty good.  Here's what our display looked like today (still missing some items from our procrastinating students).

On a small piece of paper, students were asked to write where they found the Spanish and to identify two words that they learned while studying it.

Be Who You Are: Spanish Bulletin Board Lesson

I've adapted the "Be" bulletin board often seen on Pinterest to meet my Spanish language needs.  What I did was create an empty bulletin board covered with black tag board at the beginning of the year, then this year, my Spanish 3/4 brainstormed a list of words to describe "good" friends, students, or people in general.  I then had students add their words to the bulletin board.  They were allowed to use a dictionary to explore new vocabulary.  Here's what we had at the end of the hour today:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Class Project: Reasons to Study a Foreign Language

I love using student work to fill my classroom walls and adorn the hallway outside of my class.  At the beginning of the year this year, all of my high school classes (Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 3/4) created one of these hands to display their personal reasons for taking Spanish class.  

I was originally inspired by this pin.  Each student traced their own hand.  Then, they wrote their Spanish name on their thumb.  After that, they wrote a reason for studying Spanish on each of their fingers (They were not allowed to amputate!).  Finally, they were asked to decorate any which way they saw fit.

Here's what the display looks like:

And here are some close-ups of the hands:

I wouldn't do this every year since I did it across all levels of Spanish, but I think I'll put it in my toolbox for future years.  It was quick, easy, and played into the conversations we have at the beginning of the year about why we're there and what benefits there are to learning a second language.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Classroom Decor & Organization 2013-2014

Well, classes start tomorrow, and my classroom still isn't 100% complete, but when is it ever really?  Mine is always more of a work in progress than anything.  I've been working on making my classroom as effective and efficient as it can be while working toward a cozier feel for my middle school and high school Spanish students.

Well, here are some highlights from around my classroom today, as I'm gearing up to meet students for the 2013-2014 school year!  :)

This is my teacher / small group area.  I ditched the desk about half way through last year and never looked back.  I love this set up much more.  It allows more opportunities working with small groups and opens up my classroom quite a bit.  The bookcases behind are mostly my teacher things, like professional literature, unit binders, and class sets of books.  

Just to the left of my teacher corner is our classroom library.  My dad made these great browsing shelves for our books.  I color code books by reading level and separate fiction from non-fiction.

(You can also see a bit of my new curtains here.  They match my room a bit better than the blue and pink ones I had before.  I acquired them in a three-way trade with a colleague and an empty classroom.)

This is the student corner of the classroom.  This computer is for student use.  We'll also use it for checking out books from the classroom library.  The hanging organizer on this side of the table is for student cell phones and devices during tests, presentations, or any time when they are being too much of a distraction. The drawers on the close side of the table are for students to pick up information from being absent.  The next set of trays are for handing in homework.  The file cabinet is for student access too:  a drawer for paper, one for Forensics, one for Spanish Club, and one with board games.

This is the back wall of my classroom.  I've paired some desks back here for specialized work time.  The notebooks are for our classroom journals.  There are two bulletin boards here that will be completed during the first couple weeks of school.

This is my version of the "Be... who you are" bulletin board that's popular on Pinterest right now.  This is the first pin I saw.  I'm going to have my Spanish 3/4 class fill in the black with describing words instead of me providing them all.  

This one says "Spanish is Everywhere."  Students will be asked to bring in print that they find with Spanish on it, like manuals, food packaging, brochures, etc.  We'll secure them all to this board and create a classroom collage of Spanish realia.

My back storage cabinets by the door have Spanish word magnets on them for creating fun sentences.  Also some monster body part magnets for creating fun monsters.  The files on the side are my Passwords Binder where I keep hallway activities to do with the kids before they enter the room, and my Exit Ticket folders. 

My side wall holds our Spanish word wall.  

And just to the right of my teacher area is this white board.  This is my student resource board where I write reminders for classes about assignments, upcoming assessments, and the like.  For assignments that repeat every other week, I just laminated a reminder so that I can just switch them out from week to week.  Our calendar for calendar routine is also here.  This is my computer that's hooked up to both the SMARTBoard and my classroom printer.  The file cabinet holds my unit plans and just down to the right out of view is my "Magic Carpet."  More on this in a sec.  ;)

Another view of the student board.

While perusing Pinterest last school year, I discovered the concept of an English Box in which students had to be standing if they wanted to use English in the language classroom.  This is my version that I'm trying out this year: The Magic Carpet.  Will let you know how it goes!

Student desks are paired and then arranged in a semi-circle around the SMARTBoard in the front of the room.  I like to keep a lot of goodies and supplies within arm's reach of the students.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spanish Word Wall

 Several years ago, I put up a word wall in my high school classroom very similar to this one, and it has been an integral part of my classroom ever since.  These pictures are part of my new classroom design, so the colors are new, but the concept is the same.  

On my word wall, I put small Spanish words that come up all the time in stories and speaking.  Instead of assigning these words as vocabulary that they are tested on, we refer to the word wall as needed.  It is never covered up and is always available for their reference.  

When I'm teaching a lesson, such as a TPRS lesson, and one of those words comes up that the class hasn't heard or used before, I will use my laser pointer around my neck to point to it on the word wall as I say it so that they can continue to comprehend my story without me needing to break into an English explanation.  I love it!

I'm really interested in different kinds of word walls and how they are used in the foreign language classroom.  Do you have any word walls in your classroom?  If so, how do you use them?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pinterest Project: Bag Holder

As I was looking for ideas for my classroom, I came across this pin about using an old wipe container to store plastic bags.  Since I had extra Lysol wipe containers, extra plastic bags, and some extra scrapbooking bits, I thought I'd give it a try.  

I always seem to be needing plastic bags for myself or for my students, especially on days when they bring in food or other things to share, so we'll see if it comes in useful someday!  :)

See other Pinterest Projects I've tried!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Personal Cognate Dictionaries

Having students write down cognates they come across is something that I used to do a lot with my classes, but I've gotten lax on it, and so they don't write them down like they used to.  This year, I'm going to give each student a personal cognate dictionary for them to write down cognates they come across.  My hope is that it will help them with writing assignments and also spelling, since I've noticed they don't pay much attention to the spelling of cognates like they do words that are completely new. 

Do you do anything similar when it comes to teaching vocabulary and cognates?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pinterest Project: Passes to Leave Class

I came across this pin on Pinterest last spring and thought it was a brilliant idea.  So, here's the version I made:  

I love how it supports vocabulary, especially with the young ones.  Also, the clothes pins can be pinned to clothes and then not left behind in the bathroom.  

See other Pinterest Projects I've tried!

How I Organize My Students' Desks

I probably put a bit more thought into my students' desks than the average high school teacher, but I learned very early on in my career that I despised the time wasted handing things out or going to get supplies - even if there were solid routines in place.  So, generally, I try to keep things that students are going to need often within hands reach.  

My desks are paired together to facilitate the mountain of pairwork that my students do during class.  Each set of desks has a mini-white board for each student, a crayon box of supplies and a pencil bag of supplies.

I use the mini-whiteboards A LOT.  We practice both vocabulary and grammar on them.  I do a lot of comprehension checks where they get to draw.  It's a fun time and an easy formative assessment too!

Inside the crayon boxes are four EXPO markers for using on the mini-whiteboards, a whiteboard eraser to share, and one glue stick for when we get crafty.  

Inside the pencil case are two pairs of scissors, which are most commonly used for cutting apart flashcards or vocabulary square puzzles.  There are also two pads of Post-It notes, which the students use as their Exit Ticket.  I put two pencils in the bag too because I would prefer students just borrow a pencil from there rather than make a big production during class trying to find a pencil.  I've also got two pipe cleaners with beads on them that we use for re-telling our TPRS stories.  I call them our "Cuentas de cuentos."  

What about you?  Do you keep any materials close by for students to use?  What have you found most important for them to have in your class?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spanish Grammar Flipbooks

A few years ago, I went to a differentiation conference, and the facilitator showed us teachers how to make a flipbook to take notes and jot down ideas at the conference.  Well, for me, it was the flipbook itself that made the biggest impact on me that day.  

I use flipbooks in my Spanish classes as a place for students to organize their grammar notes.  I like this because students can easily keep all their notes on possession, for example, together in one place on one page, and I don't have to worry about teaching it all at one time.  I can teach just a small rule like "There are no apostrophes in Spanish," we can add that to our notes, and then come back to sentence formation or possessive adjectives later in the year.  

Another benefit is that students can easily find the notes that they are looking for.  And if they're having some trouble with something, a simple cue can get them on the right track.  "Ooh, that's a verb that works like 'gustar' does." {Insert frantic flipping to the 'Gustar Verbs' page.} I give each student a clear plastic page protector for their binders to keep these in so that they remain in good shape.

Here are a couple examples of grammar flipbooks that my students have made.  

This is the Spanish 1 flipbook.  I'd like to add a section on the present progressive this year, so I'll probably be switching some things around to accommodate that.  Here's a page from the inside of the Spanish 1 flipbook:

This is from the Spanish 2 flipbook.  This is a perfect example of a page in the flipbook (this one is for commands) that I come back to throughout a couple units.  We learn one kind of command and practice it, then add on another and practice, etc. over the course of a couple months, but we always go back to the same page in our flipbooks to write the notes.  

In my multi-level Spanish 3/4 class, they make a couple flipbooks, but here's an example of the verb ending one that we do.  One place for all of their verb endings and irregulars.   

This coming year, in my quest to incorporate as much Spanish as possible, I'm thinking about using more Spanish in the grammar flipbooks, but we'll see how that pans out.  What's great about them is that you can change up the categories to whatever your needs or emphases are in your classes.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer School Highlights Week 4 - Calendar Class

As a middle school and high school teacher, I'm always venturing a bit outside my comfort zone when it comes to teaching elementary students.  That said, I love the opportunity to try out new hands on activities and also create an excitement for the Spanish language when the students are still young.  This summer, I teach four basic Spanish classes, each meets for 90 minutes a day and lasts for four days.

El Calendario (The Calendar)

This is my last week teaching Summer school and I am focusing on calendar words with these 1st-3rd graders.  We're learning about the days of the week, the months of the year, and seasons.  

The students made this foldable on Monday with the days of the week.  On the front, we put the three-letter abbreviation, inside, we wrote out the whole Spanish word and also the English translation.  Students then use it as a reference during games and activities.  Already on Tuesday they were celebrating when they "didn't need to look at the paper for that one."  :)

The kids love Ta-Te-Ti Bingo.  I like it because it gives the feel of Bingo without the time.  We usually have winners every three to five words, so students get to win often and also hear the vocabulary often. Using plastic sleeves and EXPO markers makes for quick transitions between rounds and no chips to have to deal with. 

In order to help us remember our months and seasons, we made a circular calendar.  Each student colored and decorated it with stickers to make it his or her own.  Then, I could quiz them with it; they could turn the pointer to the right month.  Or, they could use it as a reference when playing their online games later on.  

My classroom is pretty hot this week with the high temps and humidity outside, so we've taken a couple trips to the (air-conditioned) computer lab to play Spanish games.  The students could also use the foldable and calendar that we made to help them with their games.  This is our go-to game:  Hangman with days of the week and months. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer School Highlights Week 3 - Conversation Class

As a middle school and high school teacher, I'm always venturing a bit outside my comfort zone when it comes to teaching elementary students.  That said, I love the opportunity to try out new hands on activities and also create an excitement for the Spanish language when the students are still young.  This summer, I teach four basic Spanish classes, each meets for 90 minutes a day and lasts for four days. 

¡Conversemos!  (Conversation Class)

This week, I teach a conversations class to 1st through 3rd graders.  Since they are true beginners, we don't go much further than greeting each other, asking and telling how we're doing, asking and telling what our names are, and saying good-bye.  But I'm watching little ones who were too shy to talk on Monday confidently having short conversations in Spanish on Wednesday!  This class stumped me a bit at first, because I've never tried to teach this back and forth speaking with younger children.  Monday was a little rough because I tried to do too much "in the desk, repeat after me now" teaching.  Tuesday, I incorporated many more games to practice the vocabulary and that made a world of difference!  Here are some of the highlights of this week:

Since matching games worked so well during my colors class and my numbers class, I decided to make one this week too.  I used some wooden circles I had laying around from Michaels, and the kids really enjoyed practicing this way again.

We did a lot of ball games in which students added to the conversation when they had the ball in their hands, then they would throw the ball to someone else to continue the conversation.  (And we got some outdoors time, which is always great!)

We used this Ta-Te-Ti (Tic-Tac-Toe ) board as a mini Bingo-board.  We had a winner every three to five words, so we were able to have many winners and lots of chances to hear the vocabulary words. I said the words in Spanish so that the students heard the pronunciation multiple times and then they showed their comprehension by choosing the correct English translation on their game cards.

We also practiced with a basic memory game.  This is a quick game that I use in my high school classes also to review vocabulary. 

On Monday, we picked out talking buddies from the stuffed animal basket.  We practiced having conversations with the animals and the animals had conversations with each other.  Sometimes, the process of using a stuffed animal to do the talking lets shy or unsure students be more comfortable experimenting and practicing the language because it's not really them talking, it's the animal.


Later in the week, we used our talking buddies to put on simple puppet shows in which the animals greeted each other!