Sunday, January 26, 2020

Using Centers & Stations in Kindergarten Spanish

It has taken me a good long while to get to a point where I like doing centers. I don't recommend them for novice teachers. You have to really know the proficiency level of your students and have solid classroom management for them to work well in my opinion. Eight years in and I have finally braved doing centers with kindergarteners.

We are currently in our Animals Around Me unit where we learn numbers to 10, pets, colors, and size. Here are the three centers that they cycled through during 2-3 classes.

Making Patterns

This is a great and super age appropriate activity. It is a math skill that they learn in kindergarten and it's a great way to repeat vocabulary over and over. You could use this center with any vocab you are teaching really.

We practiced this activity in whole group at the end of class for several class periods before I tried it as a center. To set it up, I printed the cards, color coded them with a dot on each card that matched each envelope and then each student got an envelope. They found a space in the room (either at my Ikea coffee tables or on the carpet) to spread out and make their patterns.

You can get your own FREE pattern cards here.

Counting Up to Ten

This is another simple but engaging activity that reinforces skills they are learning in math. I gave them cups with dog and cat erasers (bought this summer at Target Dollar Spot). They picked a number and then counted out that number of erasers on their ten squares.

Free templates are here and here.

Pattern Block Puzzles

This is another activity that students do regularly with their classroom teacher so why not also do it in Spanish class! It's great for reviewing vocabulary - in this case pets - and for practicing colors. It also helps students work on fine motor control while I walked around and asked them what animals they were building and what colors they were using. We didn't touch on it this time but you could also easily add in shapes.

You can get your own Pattern Block Puzzles here. 

Additional Tips for Kindergarten Centers - I usually only do one center a class but the littler they are the shorter their attention span so some classes did one and some classes did two in a 25 minute class. We switched when I could see they were getting antsy or they asked if they could move to a new center.

I also checked with my kindergarten teachers to make sure that our students would be able to do these activities independently. The classroom teachers know their students really well and I always go to them to make sure I'm on track. Plus it's good for them to see that we're working on reinforcing concepts in Spanish class - stealth advocating!

And of course model, model, and model some more. All students can benefit from modeling but ESPECIALLY at this age it helps with expectations and success at each of the different centers. It also helped that we had done these activities or something very similar in whole group beforehand so it wasn't brand new.

What kinds of center & station activities do you do in your classroom? Share in the comments below!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Labeling Activities in Google Classroom

This year I have been trying to make better use of Google Classroom and having access to Chromebooks. My third graders have loved doing labeling activities in Google Slides. Labeling is perfect for Novice Mid learners and they loved the bright pictures. Some kids even asked if they could finish at home or during indoor recess (ummm, yeah kid you can!)

It takes a little prep but it saves on paper and the kids love working on the computer in Spanish class.

Setting Up A Labeling Activity

In this activity, we were working on our Meals I Eat unit. Students had to label different breakfasts from around the world. I found the pictures online and copied and pasted them into Powerpoint.

Next, I saved the Powerpoint slides AS PICTURES. Go to Save As and click on the drop down menu below where you name your slideshow and choose JPEG. It will ask you if you want to save all the slides as pictures or just the current one. You will want to choose all slides. 

Now go to Google Slides. So that students can't mess with your pictures, you want to make your Powerpoint slides the background of your slide. Upload your pictures that you saved in Powerpoint. You will do this with each slide.

Once you have your background then you add the text boxes with the labels that you want students to move around. 

You can also add text boxes that just say "Type here" and students can put in an answer rather than dragging and dropping. After labeling the different breakfasts students typed what they wanted to eat. 

When you add it to Google Classroom make sure that you set it up so that each student gets a copy. 

You can assign a grade in Google classroom or if you're a FLES teacher like me you just check it as a formative assessment to know what students are getting and what they are struggling with. If you just want to do a quick check you can go to your Google Drive, select the Google Classroom, and then hit the preview button (the small eye). Then you can quickly click through to see who is where on the assignment.

Tips for kids in class - I highly suggest showing students how to select a text box and then use the arrow keys to move it around. It is much easier than the touch pad on the Chromebook. Also teach them how to use the undo button in Google Slides because inevitably someone will delete a text box, add 12 blank slides, or turn a text box upside down (all real examples!) If students don't have their Chromebook or it's dead then I assign them to work with a partner. 

The great thing about this is that you can use it for almost any topic or theme. We did another similar activity in the next unit on family celebrations. It's also a great sub plan since students are working independently! 

What sorts of activities do you do in Google Classroom? I'm always looking for more ideas - Share in the comments below! If you want the activity shown above simply click here!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

How to conference

We're in the middle of conference season and with ACTFL coming up I wanted to share my tips for having a good conference.

Pick a conference theme - In the past I've gone to mostly sessions on assessment. Lately it's been differentiation. And of course anything early language is also on the list.

But sometimes abandon that and go hear great speakers no matter what they're presenting on - Paul Sandrock, Greta Lundberg, and Meredith White are presenters I'll go listen to no matter what they're presenting on. If they present at STAR Talk it's a good bet they're excellent.

Take lots of notes! - And when it's moving too fast just take pics of the screen.

Wear comfortable shoes - ACTFL is huge. Regional conferences are also usually spread out.

Don't forget to see some of the city - I only saw what I could see from the shuttle bus of Boston when I was there for ACTFL.  SCOLT has been at an airport hotel in Atlanta that I never left. Conferences are great but so are the cities they are in. Since then I've made sure to get out and see some of whatever city I'm in.

Make new friends! And reconnect with the old - Talk to the people sitting near you in sessions. Get yourself invited to a vendor happy hour. Or sign up for the NNELL Breakfast. There are lots of ways to connect with other teachers.

Have a card with your contact information - Because you never know when someone like Helena Curtain is going to ask for YOUR card and you will not want to tell her you don't have one.

Be strategic with your vendor swag - Because you will have to carry it around all day and then get it home.

Follow the conference hashtag to see what's happening in sessions you couldn't make it to - This is also a great tip if you can't make it to the conference (like me this year!)

Get a massage pillow because you WILL be sore - When you get home you will need it!

Take time to reflect and decide what you want to implement and how - Some things you'll try on Monday. Some things need deeper reflection.

Wish I could tell you I'd see you in DC this year. I was supposed to present at ACTFL but then a dear friend from my time teaching English in Japan told me she was getting married that weekend. So instead of DC, I'll be in Tahara City, Kyoto, and Tokyo. What are your go-to conference tips? Share in the comments below!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Spanish Class at the Supermarket - Authentic Food Pictures from Mexico

This summer I got to go to Merida, Mexico. And as a World Language teacher I couldn't help myself when I passed a Wal-Mart. I went in and bought a few things and took a TON of pictures. I tried to make sure to get the different foods I teach and lots and lots of text!

A few days later I went to the local market and snapped a few pictures there as well. I'll be using these in my kindergarten unit Foods I Eat and my 2nd grade unit on My Food Choices.

Here is a sample. You can find the rest here. Feel free to use under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike license. More info here.

Also check out my free La Comida Posters here. They are great for bulletin boards or to get kids writing about what foods they like and dislike.

What are the craziest things you've taken pictures of while visiting a Spanish speaking country? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hola! Greetings in the Elementary Spanish Classroom

What's the first thing you teach novices? How to say hello and goodbye. Most of my kids already know Hola and Adios but it's a great way to start and immediately inject some intercultural communication as well as get in some culturally responsive teaching. 

I start the year in English in order to make sure that students understand the rules and procedures. One of those procedures is learning my name. Otherwise I would be "Spanish Teacher" or "Spanish!" all year long. We practice how to say it in class. Hola maestra! And how to whisper it and give a "hug from afar" in the hallway. (You cross your fingers and wiggle them at the person you want to hug but can't because you need to stay in line - this also prevents me from being mobbed by kinders in the hall.)

We also practice saying hola to my stuffed dog and cat. At the end of class we say Adios maestra. Adios perro. Adios gato. As the weeks go by I add more and more animals that we greet. It's really helped them learn their names and made it way easier later during our Animals Around Me unit later on. 

Then we talk about how we greet people we know. I use an anchor chart that is laminated (so it can be wiped off and used again for the next class) and I write down their answers.

It's interesting to see what answers I get in kindergarten. Sometimes I have to really lead the conversation because otherwise I´ll ask how do we greet our families and they'll answer "If my mom tells me to do something I should do it" or something even more random. But once I give some examples they are pretty good about coming up with some on their own.

After we talk about how we greet people then we watch this video about how people greet each other around the world. The kids love this video!

In the following classes, I like to watch it a second time and pause and we practice greeting each other in the different ways. We also go over the anchor chart again and practice those greetings with each other too. 

Be sure that the kids ask their partners if it is ok first. It is definitely alright if a kiddo doesn't want to try a greeting.

Next, we talk about how in Spanish-speaking countries they greet each other with an air kiss. I show them this video (which also has a lot of repetitions of Me llamo too!) Be prepared for ewws and gross! but we talk about how it's not gross it's just different. 

Then I pass out stuffed animals and they practice say hola and doing air kisses with the animals first with their partner and then again as we play Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up. The stuffed animals are important because at the same time I am teaching them all of these different greetings they are learning that they need to keep their hands and feet to themselves at school. I do get kissed on the cheek by at least a few students as they leave class though!

I also like this video with it's many repetitions of the greetings. It also includes a few different ones which are good for my heritage speakers to hear.

And finally I this year I will introduce this greeting choice board from Fun for Spanish Teachers. Students will get to choose a greeting as we sing coming in the room.

How do you teach greetings? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Elementary Spanish Classroom - Updated!

Every year I make tweaks to my room. See past posts here and here.  This year I kept the same set-up but I spent a lot of time making new flashcards and posters because...and I am not kidding...I was still using flashcards that I had made to use to teach English in Japan ten years ago.

I have maps all over my room including this one from the Parent Teacher Store. The number posters are available HERE. I glued them onto astrobrights and then laminated them. You can also see my fast finisher menu on the right and the stop sign that has student check to make sure their name is on their paper and they have followed all the directions before they put it in the turn in basket.

I've added lamps all over the room from Goodwill so I can turn off half the fluorescent lights. I get less headaches that way and it feels more home-y.

Looking into my room. I have a trapezoid for a room and two doors. Also where that blank space on the wall is where my new smart TV will go but it didn't arrive in time for the start of the school year. The students mostly sit on the carpet at the front of the room and we work at the tables. I have some huge classes this year so I have an overflow carpet and one group that sits at a table. My table toppers are famous Hispanics like Ellen Ochoa, Frida Kahlo, and Sonia Sotomayor.

This map is by the door to the special area hallway so students can check it out as they are waiting to leave the room. It's a huge hit. The pictures on the side are from Fun for Spanish Teachers and they are gorgeous! I don't display all of them as once because it's a little too overwhelming visually so instead I hang them on binder rings and flip to a new country each month and add country facts below.

Right next to the map above are my greetings students can choose as they enter the room. I started these last year but didn't do it with fidelity. I vow to do better this year because the kids love it. They are also from Fun for Spanish Teachers.

On the other side of the door are my self-assessments. Students tap one depending on how they feel at the end of the lesson. I used to do high five hands but that go out of control. Then I made these and it got better but I still had to add the orange dot to emphasize that they should use one finger to tap it rather than their whole hand and slap it. 

Also near the door where students line up is my student work board. It used to be in the back of the room but I realized that the kids never really saw it so now it's in a prime location. The banner says Obras de arte (and yes that is my bitmoji!)

My green screen and flexible seating area! The last two years we have been 1:1 in some grade levels and I have been getting more and more comfortable with it. I'm hoping that kiddos will get to do even more this year on their devices!

The whiteboard on the other side and near my desk area. I keep our supply cards and instruction cards here so I can easily grab them to explain an activity and stay in the TL. You can get your set HERE

This is a close up of my whiteboard easel. I used to write and rewrite and rewrite our schedule for each class here and we mark it off as we go. Since I am committed to greeting the kids as they enter I didn't want to waste time writing so I made these activity cards and then put magnets on the back. So far they have been working great! Get your own set HERE!

I posted earlier this year about my calendar board. This year I updated it with seasons posters and clothing labels from my Weather Bear Activity Set. I also added a Persona Especial and will feature a famous Hispanic each month (also from Fun for Spanish Teachers.)

More art just because. I love this mola from Panama that I bought on Ebay and then had framed. The papel picado is from Hobby Lobby.

So that's my room this year! I'm still anxiously awaiting the installation of my new TV but it's my home away from home. What are your favorite spots in your room? Share in the comments below!

Monday, July 29, 2019

8 Ideas for Spanish Club

Last year I started cultural explorations of a specific country spread out over 6-8 club meetings. We learned about Spain in the fall and Mexico in the Spring. This year we'll study Peru in the fall and probably Panama in the Spring. The nice thing about this format is that I can keep it basically the same and just plug in specific country activities. Read on to see what kinds of activities I include in each semester.

1. Paint a flag - elementary kids love painting and yes it's messy but they're actually pretty good about cleaning up after. I just use butcher paper and tempura paint and if the flag has a seal then I print it out as big as I can get it on a piece of paper and we glue it on. You could also make this an individual activity with smaller flags but I like the teamwork aspect. Since it's the first thing we do it helps the club members get to know each other.

Don't forget to eat a flag snack! Toothpicks and fruit and marshmallows in the color of your flag!

2. Learn a dance - for Mexico we learned el jarabe tapatio or the Mexican hat dance. For Spain we did el flamenco. There are TONS of videos youtube showing the steps or easy enough dances to copy. I just googled "name of the dance + for kids."

For Peru we will learn an easy version of the La Marinera. I actually attended a session on La Marinera at ACTFL 2 years ago and I'm excited to finally try it out. Here is the video we will use.

We practice our dance at the end of each meeting when the kiddos are starting to get a little crazy. Sometimes we just have 5 minutes left and sometimes 15 but either way it's a good way to wrap up Spanish Club.

3. Make some art - For Mexico we made Frida Kahlo self portraits complete with construction paper cejas glued on. For Spain we made Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali self portraits. For Peru we will make construction paper arpilleras - maybe one depicting our city and our school! We are also going to make our own Nazca Lines. 

This is where Pinterest will be your best friend. It's kind of funny but I now get a lot of art teacher pins in my feed but if you search for "country + crafts for kids" or "country + activities for kids" you should get tons of ideas. And I think even high schoolers would like some of them!

4. Go sightseeing - I didn't do this last year but I used to do "sightseeing" club meetings where I would project different landmarks on SMARTboards around the school and the kids would take their pictures in front of them. It was hilarious and fun. This year I plan on doing it using a green screen. We will learn about Machu Picchu and then have our picture taken as if we were there. Later I'll print the pictures and the kids will get a souvenir of their "trip." Here are some tips to get you started!

5. Learn a few words of another language - most kids no matter their age don't realize that there is more than just Spanish spoken in many Spanish speaking countries. This is another thing I'm adding this year after spending a week in Mexico this summer and learning a few words in Maya. This video is a cute way for my students to learn a few words in Quechua. 

6. Do some math - This one kind of falls under learn a few words of an indigenous language. I wish I would have done this when we studied Mexico but it would have been cool to play with numbers using the Maya writing system. For Peru I'm thinking we might make our own quipus. Learn more here. 

7. Make some food - This one is a no brainer. I used to actually do nothing but cooking. It was like a cooking club but with Spanish flair. Not surprisingly that got expensive and stressful so now I just do one a semester. For Mexico we made pico de gallo - super easy for elementary kiddos. For Spain we made gazpacho. Not sure about Peru yet. I need to check with my Peruvian friends to see what they suggest. (If you have ideas for something easy please comment below!) 

I had a Donors Choose project that was just for cooking supplies!

8. Invite a guest speaker - this is also something I haven't made happen yet but I really really want to. If you have someone that is from the country you are teaching about see if they can visit your Spanish Club for the afternoon or do a skype call. Have students brainstorm and practice questions they want to ask before the visit. And later you can have them make thank you cards! 

Other things to consider - what are your club rules? How and when can a student be asked to leave your club? Do you need a permission slip? What are your school's policies regarding after school clubs? How often and where will you meet? Will your school reimburse you for supplies? Will members be expected to pay dues? Will you have officers? A secret handshake? You get the idea. Make sure you have thought through all that and include it in your sign up form.

Of course it depends on what level you teach to. At the elementary level I limit mine to 3rd-5th graders and a max of 20 kids. Everyone must have a permission slip with parent contact information on it and all of our clubs have a three strike policy in regards to behavior and late pick ups. 

So that will be Spanish Club this year for me. What are your favorite Spanish Club activities? Share in the comments below!

I make my forms in Canva -  it's easy!