Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cinco de mayo Activities for Elementary Students

I'm going to be honest and say that I don't normally teach Cinco de mayo. It doesn't fit easily into my curriculum and I don't usually have time, but now with non-traditional instruction I've had parents ask me about it so I went ahead and compiled some links and activities for students to do at home.



Watch a video from PBS Learning Media about how Cinco de mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day.



PBS also has interactive word searches for different grade levels. Students can color the Mexican flag - they can print it out OR color online.

These cute maracas make for a fun at home craft. And this video from 123 Andrés is adorable and fun! It is bilingual but introduces the instrument names in Spanish.




Here is another video (in English) highlighting the music of Mexico. I like this one because it teaches the kids some lyrics in Spanish.





Cinco de mayo is a great way to highlight some Mexican culture! What are your favorite resources for this time of year? Share in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Quarantine Teaching Tips for Elementary Spanish

COVID19 has radically changed what education looks like right now. Some schools immediately switched over to distance learning while our district is making the switch with a three week turn time.



My school (as of 4/1) is out until April 20th. We are on spring break right now but the last two weeks we have been prepping for Non-Traditional Instruction or distance learning. For the first two weeks I was told to only give each grade level 4 activities - matching the number of times I would have met them in that time - and just review.

If we are out longer (highly likely) you might see me doing more but as of now here are a few things I'm trying to keep in mind as we pivot to our new reality:


1) Not every kid has access to technology. For our 10 day NTI plan our principal asked special area teachers to come up with 4 activities for each grade level - 2 max can require technology and at least 2 must be paper/pencil or can be completed without a device or internet access. Here is a link to my activities. My assumption is that I will have to add to these when it's announced that we'll be out longer than 10 days.


2) Keep it simple. While there are a TON of awesome resources that are free right now I'm probably going to stick with what I was already doing because that is what the students are used to. That means youtube songs, quizlet, activities on Google Classroom, Flipgrid, and partner games we've played in class etc. 

         2a) Check those resources out though and see if there isn't anything you might want to pay for             next year! Basho and Friends I'm looking at you!

3) Keep it short. Reading parents' experiences on social media and talking to my best friend who has three kids at home right now it is really easy to go overboard. What might take 30 minutes in class might take three times as long at home. I'm trying to keep anything I send home to 10 minutes or less. There's no way for me to make sure that my students are doing the work, but if I give level appropriate, short, engaging activities then I hope they will do them, but "I get what I get and I don't throw a fit."


4) They still need input somehow. My principal didn't want me sending home huge packets for Spanish class but I realize I need to send home at least one page per grade level that has the vocabulary in a comprehensible way so that students can complete the tasks I've given them. At the most I'm planning on sending home a page that has a front and a back.


5) Use this time to advocate. Stay in touch with your students and their families when and where you can. I'm using Class Dojo to send links to practice while we roll out NTI. I plan on making some videos for kiddos as well. I've already had a kindergarten student's mom send me a photo of her daughter looking up her favorite animals in Spanish. 


6) Use social media for good. It can be mentally taxing to be on social media right ow but there is a lot of good ideas, webinars, and resources being shared. I highly suggest Teaching Spanish for Kids on Facebook for ideas especially related to younger learners. 


7) Try to relax. This one is the hardest since we don't know what is going to happen next. But my principal has bee very adamant that we take care of ourselves. For me so fat that means getting dressed every day (even putting on make-up!), calling friends and family, and taking walks with my dog.

8) Don't compare yourself to others. This one is really hard for me. I look around on social media and I see friends and people I look up to giving webinars, creating tons of resources, making videos, and already holding Zoom meetings with their students and it's hard to not feel bad because I'm not doing any of those things. Mostly because we haven't started yet but also because I've been asked to not overwhelm our families. I'm also finding that I'm a "do a puzzle/take a walk" kind of person when it comes to being stuck inside and not a "make all new resources" kind of person. That doesn't make me less of a teacher or even a teacher leader.

We all care about our students and are doing our best by them. Hang in there! And let me know if you have any questions or great ideas to share in the comments below!



Sunday, February 23, 2020

Area & Perimeter Dream House Project for Spanish Class

Me and My Home or the house unit is one of my favorite units to teach. This unit has so many ways to incorporate interculturality, literacy, and math. Check out my post on la casa centers.

For this unit I focus mainly on numbers to 100, types of homes (casa, apartamento, duplex) and rooms of the house. We also spiral back to family members.

After the kiddos start feeling comfortable with the rooms of the house we move on to designing their dream homes. It's a great STEAM project and a way to introduce or spiral in numbers by having students calculate the area and perimeter of each room.


Practice numbers to 100 - I like this video because it gets kids up and moving.



Practice calculating area and perimeter - I made these practice worksheets for some guided practice after I realized not everyone was getting it last year. My plan this year is to use these first in a whole group and then have students work together. 





Look at authentic blueprints in Spanish - This is a great way to bring in some #authres. Once they feel comfortable we'll look at real blueprints. Check out my Pinterest board for links. 



Partner Work - Students take turns to draw their own houses and label them. If you add dice they can roll the dice and then draw the room to those dimensions and figure out the area and perimeter. 


Final Product - The kids design their own dream house. Or I like to talk about worry dolls during this unit so we name a doll, talk about what they are like, and then design a house for it. Last year at the end of the unit (and right before state testing) I gave each student their own worry doll. And of course we glue their house designs in their interactive notebooks. They love looking back at them later on.




Because we only meet every three days this unit does take awhile but it's so engaging that the kids don't mind. Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for the practice sheets, reference pages, and final design pages. 



How do you teach about the house? Do you have students design dream homes? Share in the comments below!

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!