Monday, May 27, 2019

Places in the City - Resources for Spanish Class

My fourth graders are finishing up our Welcome to Our Community unit where we talk about places in the city and describing where we live. This unit is really supposed to be about community helpers and where they work but if you read my last post on spiraling you'll know that I'm having to modify parts of my curriculum. In order to get to Novice High in our Let's Explore our City unit in fifth grade, my kiddos need to learn places in the city at a Novice Mid level in fourth grade.

With that in mind I changed around what I did last year. Below are some activities and resources that my students and I particularly enjoyed.



1. I introduced the different places with pictures and describing Lexington. I started with size - students listed cities of different sizes. Then we talked about what Lexington is famous for (horses and UK basketball.) I have this landmark matching game I bought at the Dollar Tree that next year  I hope to use so we can go more global with talking about what cities are famous for but honestly we didn't have time this year.

Get your own posters here.




2. This video is great for introducing places in the city. I love it because it is authentic - it's made for native speakers (really young ones) and my kiddos get genuinely excited to try and guess in Spanish.






3. Google Tourbuilder is a great way to introduce students to different cities around the world and get in some comprehensible input. You can add pictures and text to different places on the map. I had students tour Santiago, Chile. They loved being able to explore the different places by moving around the street view. Check out my tour of Santiago here.




#highlightreal - I did this with fifth grade as well and then had them create a tour of Lexington. Major fail! We wasted two class periods and got very little done. They just weren't ready for that much output. I was asking for sentences when I should have been asking for just labels. If I try this again I will scaffold it better. 


4. I love following teachers on Instagram and Twitter - I get so many great ideas for class. Recently I saw an awesome activity from @MaestraPlata. She had students using spinners to create longer sentences.  I had my students using three spinners to write silly sentences about what they wanted to do, where, and with whom. My students LOVED this activity. Once they wrote several silly sentences, I had them write more serious ones. Get your spinners here!






5. And finally since I didn't get a chance to do Hour of Code this year I took part of this unit to practice not only places but a few direction words and had students code our Beebots around the city. I made large maps from butcher paper and clip art I found online and borrowed the robots from our STEM lab teacher. The kids had a paper that told them where they should start and where they wanted to go. They wrote the code and then tested to see if it was right.  This was another favorite of students.




I will probably make some adjustments next year but overall I'm happy with how my students progressed during this unit. Most could perform at a novice mid level. Next year in fifth grade I hope to continue to spiral places in the city with Berto y Sus Buenas Ideas. Stay tuned!

How do you teach places in the city? Share in the comments below!



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Spiraling in the FLES Classroom

Last year my district implemented a new K-5 curriculum that included benchmark assessments for K, 2, and 5. I'm not a huge fan of standardized tests but the data from these benchmarks did give me some really valuable insights into my students' learning.

So what did I find out? Well, I realized that my kiddos could perform at a Novice Mid level during a unit and at the end of the unit but months later they could barely list a word. I know that spiraling is important and I thought I was doing it but it turns out that I wasn't super effective at it.

One of the things I noticed with my smaller students is that they have to hear things OVER and OVER and OVER before they get it. One of the areas my kindergartners struggled with last year was body parts. So starting on day 1 of class this year we got some wiggles out by singing Cabeza, brazos, piernas, pies.

At a session on the Brain and Learning at SCOLT from Greta Lundgaard, she told us that "Rote memorization can lead to superficial learning" and the "Rote memorization wears many disguises." One of those disguises is a song. My kinders could only name their body parts if they were in the same order of the song.

If you ever get a chance to see Greta present - GO! She always has great information. 


So I also made sure that we practiced body parts along with our rules. Piernas cruzadas, manos dobladas, bocas cerradas, ojos en la maestra - still rote memorization but in a different context and order. Later when we actually reached the body part unit, I told them the story of Caperucita Roja. We played Diego Dice where they had to touch the different body parts and they labeled a worksheet with a character from Caperucita Roja.

Get your Caperucita story and labeling worksheet here.



I did the same things with animals. Instead of waiting to introduce the animal names during the animal unit I had students say Hola and Adios to stuffed animals during that first unit where we practice greetings. Every few weeks I added an animal to the growing zoo on my desk. By the time we reached the animal unit my students already knew the names and it was much easier for them to add Me gusta/No me gusta and describe them.




For both topics, what started out as rote memorization in the initial practice phase was heard and applied in different ways in later units and it worked! My scores this year (if you take out the kiddos who showed up in the middle of the year) were 93% Meets this year. This is actually better than last year's scores when I saw my students more frequently!

I also have benchmark assessments in 2nd and 5th grade and seeing how well my kindergartners did this year I now need to figure out where I can spiral and reinforce vocabulary and language chunks so that they actually do remember them.

For example in third grade students are supposed to learn numbers 1-100 so I've introduced it in 2nd grade during calendar time for temperature. It's not something I spend a lot of time, emphasize or even informally assess but it should give them a jump start next year because it won't have been the first time they've seen the numbers.



And Greta is right. I can't teach as fast. I'm supposed to teach 4 units a year* but I think I'll be taking that down to 3 next year - especially in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. If I want my students to get to Novice High then we need to go deeper rather than broader.

It also means that we need to be singing ALL of our songs from previous years and bringing back content where it makes sense in later units or even introducing it earlier than I would have before so they can go deeper with it during the actual unit I'm supposed to teach the content.




So there you go - not only is spiraling SUPER important but also HOW you do it. How do you spiral content? How do you assess your students' performance? How do you analyze data from assessments? Share in the comments below!

And if you ever get a chance to see Greta present I say go! Here is a post from last year's SCOLT also inspired by a Greta Lundgaard session.


*This curriculum was designed for 90 minutes a week so it's no surprise I don't have time to teach all 4 units in a 6 day rotation. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

La Casa Centers- Ideas for Spanish Class

My third graders are in the middle of our Me and My Home unit, learning the rooms of the house. We started by looking at houses around the world and read The Three Little Pigs. But because I´m back in the Specials rotation this year we didn't have enough time to do the Tres Cerditos STEAM challenge - read more about that here.



Instead we moved onto to the inside of the house with rooms. I introduced the rooms of the house by telling the story of Cenicienta (Cinderella.) Cenicienta has to clean ALL the rooms of the house so it's great for lots of repetitions. This is also where I start introducing adjectives that they'll need next year - rich, intelligent, handsome, nice, mean, strong etc. It's not a focus but it helps that they've heard and seen them before when they get to fourth grade.

We also warmed up each class by playing ¿Dónde está abuela? where one person puts abuelita somewhere in the house and the other person guesses. I changed this up to different family members for a nice review of family vocabulary.

Then we moved onto centers.

Center 1 - Gapminder.com


I LOVE this center. Mostly because I love this website. It features houses from around the world. Students got a worksheet with different items in the house. They had to find the picture of the item and then write what room in the house it went in.

Get your free worksheet here!




Center 2 - Magnetic houses

I won these sets of magnetic houses three years ago at the NNELL breakfast at ACTFL. Students take turns asking each other ¿Dónde está? with the furniture and their partner answers with the room. The first time I tell them to make una casa normal. The second time they can make una casa loca with the bathtub in the living room for example.



I photocopied the back cover so if kids wanted to they could actually practice the furniture vocabulary as well as the rooms of the house. If they didn't then they just ignored the paper. Instant differentiation!

Center 3 - Reading center

Because we started with Los Tres Cerditos and Cenicienta I have students read our Tres Cerditos books and our Cenicienta Readers Theater in groups of 2-4. At the end of Cenicienta there was a survey that asks who in their family cleans the different rooms of the house.



Get your copy of Cenicienta here. 

Center 4 - Cut and paste

I put out these cute houses from Fun For Spanish Teachers. Students cut out and pasted the labels. When they were done I had a bucket of books in Spanish on houses that they could look at. Later they cut these out and put them in their notebooks.



This unit is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Students really love talking about their own homes and looking at homes around the world. What activities do you use to teach about the house? Share in the comments below!


Friday, April 5, 2019

Groceries Around the World - Food Unit for Spanish Class

I recently sat in a presentation by ACTFL Past President Jacque Van Houten on the Can Do Statements for Intercultural Competence. One of the things I really like about the new Can Do statements are the inclusion of the phrase "in my own and other cultures." It really facilitates students looking at their own culture - even realizing that they have a culture. It puts culture as global instead of "other."

I also went to a great session by Matt Coss at SCOLT on teaching authentic culture. One of my main take aways from this session was that instead of making blanket stereotypical statements like, "People eat tacos in Mexico" we should turn it into questions like "Do people in Mexico eat tacos?" From there you can ask more and more probing questions. "Where and when do people eat tacos?" "What do people put on tacos?" "Where can I find the best tacos?"

All of this great PD has been bouncing around in my brain and I'm starting to make adjustments to units I am already teaching. One of those is the my supermarket unit in kindergarten. Read that post here. It was one of my favorite units last year but there is definitely some room for improvement in terms of interculturality.



For this particular unit that means asking "Where do people buy food?"  Al restaurante, al mercado, y al supermercado. Like last year we'll make a list together of the places my students buy their food. Then we'll look at some places around the world. That fits perfectly with the Can Do statement of Investigate - In my own and other cultures I can identify where people buy food."*



We'll also read Peppa Va al Supermercado and make our lists like last year but it also means asking "What do people like to eat?" and "What food do people buy?" I made mercado, supermercado, and restaurante posters as well as ¿Qué te gusta comer? posters that include some photos from my local Mexican grocery Aguascalientes. You can get your free set here.

These are pictures I took at our local Mexican grocery store


But more than just showing WHERE people buy food, I want to show students WHAT foods people buy. This is where photographer Peter Menzel comes in with his awesome What the World Eats photos. His photo series is a treasure trove! You can click on different galleries by continent and then by country.

Each country has the groceries for a week image but then even more - where they bought the food, their kitchens, tables set for dinner, etc. I plan on showing these different images and we can compare and contrast where we buy our own food. This site is seriously amazing! You can also get his book What the World Eats on Amazon here.



I printed a few pictures and made a bulletin board. The white cards are our food vocabulary that students can look for in the photos. I've already seen and heard some very interested students in the hallway!

Like last year at the end of the unit, if there's time, we will play el mercado. Students will write their own grocery lists and go shopping for those items. This activity was one of their favorites last year. One kid told me he was, "so excited I can't sleep!" and it fits perfectly with the Interact Can Do, "I can act appropriately when  grocery shopping."* You can get worksheets, food cards, extension activities, and grocery role play activity set here. 



So those are my updates to my food unit. How do you teach food in your classroom? Have you used How the World Eats with your students? Share in the comments below!


*Both of these are pulled from the ACTFL Can Do statements and simplified for kindergarten. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Calendar Time in the Elementary Spanish Classroom Part Two

In a previous post I wrote about setting up a calendar area. Once you've got your calendar area set up then you can start putting it to good use.



Decide when and how long you will do calendar time. 

A lot of this will be based on how much time you have. My classes are only 25 min and our full calendar routine can take up to 7-10 minutes.

During a unit where one of the elements is part of calendar time then we take the time and do it every class or every other class. When it is not part of our unit of study then we do it only once a month (so that students don't forget the different elements.)

If you have 50-60 minute classes then you might consider doing calendar time every class period.

Decide what your routine will look and sound like.

I love teaching with music. I introduce the following songs one at a time as we build up our calendar routine. Once the students have learned the song I stop showing the video and we sing a cappella.

We go over the days of the week using this song from Basho and Friends. We dance the macarena as we sing. Then we do Hoy es... Mañana será... Ayer fue...




I use Calico Spanish's song Meses del Año to practice the months. Then we talk about what month it is and count up to the date.



We don't sing a seasons song during our calendar time but I did use these videos from Calico Spanish and Basho and Friends to introduce the vocabulary. Once they knew it, I just ask students what season we are in.





We sing this song from Super Simple Spanish to practice the weather. Then students talk with a partner about what the weather is that day. After a few seconds I look it up on my phone (I'm in a windowless room!) I call on a few students, and then we move the area on our weather chart to the weather of the day. Most days we also guess the weather in Mexico and another Spanish speaking country (usually in the southern hemisphere so students start to understand that the seasons are opposite there.)



Then we dress the weather bear. Like with the seasons we don't sing the song once students know the vocabulary but Calico Spanish has a great one to introduce clothing. I like it because it also has the seasons. I usually give students an either/or choice and they tell me what I should put on the bear.





You can get your copy of the weather bear and his clothes in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here. In addition to using it during calendar time you can also print them out as paper dolls. Or laminate and put magnets on them and have students play with it on cookie sheets.

Keep your students engaged and accountable.

My goal for the last part of this year is to implement calendar pages with students. My students already love calendar time but this will help those students whose attentions wander and get in some writing practice. My plan is to put them in sheet protectors so they can be used over and over. The first graders will use the simpler one below and I have another one with months and seasons for 2nd graders. You can get your copy here - it's included in my Weather Bear Activity Pack!  For an assessment I'm thinking I'll make smaller paper copies and have students fill them out and turn them in every once in awhile to track students' progress.



So that's my calendar time. It's a work in progress and after I finish my second grade benchmark testing I will probably make more changes based on what my kiddos need spiraled more. How do you do calendar time? What are your favorite songs or routines to use during calendar time? Share in the comments below!



Sunday, March 10, 2019

Calendar Time in the Elementary Spanish Classroom Part One

Calendar time is a natural thing to do in the elementary World Language classroom. Students are used to doing it in their regular classroom and it's an opportunity to introduce and practice content - math, science, and even geography. I got the chance to observe some of the regular classroom teachers and even some Dual Language Immersion teachers to see how they do calendar and I've copied what I liked, adjusted what I needed to, and now my kiddos love calendar time. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Set up your calendar area.

Have a calendar area that all students can see. Consider what you want to go over. I have the calendar with months on the side so students can access them when they need to. There is also a weather chart, a seasons poster, numbers to practice the temperature and a weather bear that we dress based on the weather.



I also have other language students need - Sentence starters above from Miss Maestra on TpT, a ¿Cómo estás? poster, hands with right and left, and even some adjectives we often use in class. I also have a growing group of stuffed animals that we greet with Hola and Adios every day in kindergarten (It's amazing how much better they know their animals this year doing this!)

I got my calendar set from the local Teacher Parent Store but here is a link to it on Amazon. Here is another cute one as well.

The weather bear is magnetic and I wasn't sure how I would move it from the white board to the bulletin board but my student teacher had the great idea of using command strips on a cookie sheet. Her clothes are kept in a bucket on the bookshelf and we can easily dress her based on the weather.



My seasons poster came from my Scholastic Let's Find Out subscription. I highly recommend Let's Find Out for any Spanish FLES classroom. I've gotten so many good resources from it! If you need seasons cards/posters you can get them in my TpT store.  Also included are weather cards, clothing cards, student calendar pages, and a weather bear to dress.



Other ideas -

1. Clocks to practice time. You could have multiple clocks to show what time it is in other countries. 2. Multiple weather charts to show the weather around the world. (We usually talk about other places but only post Lexington on our chart.)
3. Shapes or colors on the days of the calendar that make a pattern. The teacher turns over the day  but before she dose students must predict the next part of the pattern.
4. Number of days in school. Deconstruct the numbers by 100, 10s and 1s.
5. Number of the day. For younger students you could use a 10 frame. Or you can have one more, one less, 10 more, 10 less.


A calendar bulletin board in an immersion kindergarten classroom

So that's my calendar area. What does yours look like? What elements do you have? In my next post I'll talk about how I introduce the vocabulary and what our actual routine looks and sounds like.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

March Madness with Animals and their Habitats ¡en español!

I recently saw Mundo de Pepita's blog on how she did March Madness with a Twist. Instead of basketball or even music (like a lot of high school Spanish teachers do) she had her students decide their favorite Latin American animals. It's a genius idea for this age group and I can't wait to try it especially because my second graders are getting ready to start a unit on where animals live. This will be a perfect way to grab their interest.

I'll start the unit with my new Animal Habitat Posters with sentence frames. I plan on projecting on the board to introduce the new vocabulary. Then I'll put them up on a bulletin board and print them for students to use in a writing center. Get your set here!

Animal habitat posters in Spanish


Once I've introduced the habitats and where animals live, we will start with the bracket. As I started to decide which animals I should use and looking for authentic resources for class I came across the Madrid Zoo's page on their different animals. They are absolutely perfect for my novice mid learners.

There are beautiful photos and icons for type of animal, what they eat, habitat (YAY!) and what continent they live on. There's also a section for their status in terms of conservation. Lots of accessible language that we can talk about in class.



I picked 8 animals that had easy enough names and lived in the right habitats and came up with my own Marzo Manía bracket. I made 8.5x11 posters for each animal and then a sheet with the bracket that I will either project and/or hand out to students to keep track of which of our animals is winning.

Get a FREE copy of the posters and bracket sheet HERE!



Do you do March Madness with animals, music, or something else in your classroom? Share in the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #earlylang!