Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pesca, pesca, pescador

We study a new animal and color in each chapter. My kindergartners have been working on el pez and azul. Our verb is nadar. First we practiced saying the new words and then acting them out. We made fish faces and "swam" around the room. This is also a good way to have students line up. I call their rows and tell them, "Naden a la fila. Nadamos a la fila. Andrew es un pez. Él nada a la puerta." (Later when we are talking about la rana, we will jump into line. When we did flamenco, we danced into line.)

We also went fishing using dowel rods with some string and magnets as cañas de pesca and peces de papel with paperclips. I found this adorable poem from Fun For Spanish Teachers. We recited the poem and then students listened for me to tell them which color fish to try and pick up. Needless to say, this was a HUGE hit. I even heard students reciting the poem on the way out the door. This will definitely be a go to game when I have a few extra minutes or I want to reward students. Or I might put vocab words or questions students have to answer once they grab them.

"Pesca, pesca, pescador
Pesca un pez
¿De qué color?"

In the next class we watched the following video. The first time we just watched and listened. Then we watched a second time. I paused the video and students told me what color fish they saw.

Last year we did a craft where students made el pez by tracing their hand and decorating it but I left it out this year in favor of the game and story. I liked the craft but I think the poem did a better job of really reinforcing the new language.

Do you "go fishing" in your classes? How do you practice colors with students? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

El cuerpo ideas & resources

We have been learning body parts in first grade. I use the Calico Spanish curriculum so we've been singing their song Todo Mi Cuerpo which I like because it is similar to Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes but also includes the verbs nadar and bailar. (The Calico curriculum does a good job of introducing lots of different verbs and then reinforcing them as you go through the different chapters.)

We've also been watching the story Adios Monstruo. My kids are CRAZY for this video. They absolutely love it. My original plan was to continue on to Chapter Four but I had to do something more with this video since they had so much enthusiasm for it.

So first, we wrote a class version of the story on tablet paper. Next, students made their own monsters and I bound them together in a book they could keep in their classroom. (I might be a little obsessed with making class books at the moment! But the kids love them!) Students had to trace the sentences and then add in the color. Some students, like the one below, weren't happy with just the sentences provided and added things like cabello and dientes to theirs.

Update: Since I do this project every year and the students love it I've added it to Teachers Pay Teachers. It comes with several ways to scaffold or differentiate. There are pages where the descriptions are already written and students just draw, pages where students trace and add the color details, and pages where students write their own sentences. Check it out here!


 How do you teach body parts? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

All I Want for Christmas

I'll probably get lots of cookies, candles, and hand soap this year from my students. If I get really lucky someone might give me a restaurant gift card. But here's what I REALLY want for Christmas...

- For the laminator to have film. Why is it always empty when I have a bazillion things that need laminating? (Answer: Because every other teacher has a bazillion things to laminate. Solution? Stockpile film!)

- To find activities that have exactly the vocabulary that I need. I always seem to find things that have a few words I need and the rest are one of the million other ways to say things in Spanish.

- Chairs that magically push themselves in. Because my students seem incapable of doing it themselves. Despite practicing over and over. (This might be one of those things I just need to let go of.)

- For my fifth graders to stop saying buenas nachos instead of noches. It was funny the first 100 times, kids. Now it's just annoying.

- A healthy rest of the year. Because strep twice in three months is enough thank you.

- More time with my kids! Because 50 minutes every six days just isn't enough.

What do you want for Christmas this year? Leave a comment below!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

¿Cómo te llamas? ideas

My kindergartners have been working on introducing ourselves. We've been working on the following conversation since the beginning of the school year. (You have to take baby steps with the littler kiddos. Also we've been doing other things like working on our colors.)

Me llamo ____.
Mucho gusto.

One of the projects we did was a class book with all of their introductions in Spanish. Each student in the class made a page with a picture of him/herself, then I bound it together, and then we read the book together in class. At the end of class I gave the book to the kids and they took it back and put it in their classroom. It was a huge hit! They loved seeing each other's pictures. Between each page we asked the question ¿Cómo te llamas? so we practiced about 25 times without them ever getting bored.

After making and reading our book we watched the following two videos to practice our interpretive listening skills. Neither one is really considered an authentic resource but I like them because they feature native speakers. The first one, especially, has people speaking at regular speed with a variety of accents. I showed it first and paused it whenever someone introduced themselves using Me llamo and had the kids tell me the name. Then we moved on to the second video where they speak much slower. They felt a lot more confident so I waited to pause the video until they shouted out or raised their hand to show they had heard them say Me llamo ____. They got very excited anytime they heard it.

So how do you teach introductions? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

¿Cómo estás? Centers

We've been studying ¿Cómo estás? in second grade. I had several games I wanted to play to have students practice recognizing the different emotions and to get them speaking so I turned them into centers and away we went.

First we went over center rules in English.

1. Stay on task.
2. Stay in your area.
3. Clean up.
4. Have fun and speak Spanish.

Game 1: Spinners

Each student got a spinner. They spun the paperclip and drew that emotion on their face with a dry erase marker. They LOVE drawing the different faces each time - it´s great for LOTS of practice. Get your spinners here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Game 2: Play-doh mats

Students drew an emotion card and then created that face with their play-doh. I downloaded the free mats from Sparklebox and I borrowed the play-doh from our kindergarten teachers. This game was definitely the most popular. Students got very excited to show me their "triste" face or "enojado face" in play-doh. They also worked wonderfully for behavior management - "Not on task and following directions? You can sit out during your play-doh rotation." I could see myself using these again for body parts.

Game 3:¡Estoy loco!

This game is similar to War. Students each took half of a stack of cards. They took turns asking each other ¿Cómo estás? The other person would lay down a card and answer based on what the card said. They continued to ask and lay down cards until either one person ran out of cards and won the game OR when an ¡Estoy loco! card was laid down. When there was an ¡Estoy loco! card down the other person had to pick up the entire pile of cards in the middle. This game had students speaking the most and they really seemed to enjoy playing. This one is a keeper and I'll be modifying it for other conversational chunks we'll be learning in the future.

At the end of each class, we did a quick self-assessment using fist to five on how students followed the center rules, if they had fun, and how confident they felt about asking and answering "How are you?" Most students rated themselves very high. All in all it was a very successful round of centers and students are now ready to start thinking more critically about the new vocabulary. Next up, we'll start matching up what's happening in different pictures and determining how we think the people are feeling about it.

How do you teach emotions in your classes? Share in the comments below!

Monday, November 3, 2014

That's how I roll - Fast Finshers

It's the beginning of November and I'm still pulling pieces of my room together. Recently I added a Fast Finisher menu to my book nook area. Students who are done writing in their dictionaries or with the activity for the day can wander over, see what their options are, and get to work.

I've tried to create options that allow them to use what we've been studying and other options that push them out of their comfort zone and into some new vocabulary. If there is a particular activity that I don't want as an option, say for example I don't always want them getting on the computer, then I simply turn it around. (The two not showing in the picture are Play a Spanish game on the computer and Complete and Activity Pack.) Sometimes I don't want kids getting out their folders so I turn around the different "worksheet" options. As we finish games and different activities in class I will add extras to the fast finisher folders so students can repeat activities that they liked or need more practice on.
So far it's working great and the students enjoy getting out of their seats and sitting in the book nook. When I was on the cart I didn't have to worry about the menu so much but I ALWAYS kept a file folder of fast finisher activities like word searches, color by numbers, and other activities that kids could do quietly. Having fast finisher activities is essential to my classroom management. It saves my sanity by not having to answer the question "now what?" over and over again.

What are your students' favorite fast finisher activities? I'm always looking for ideas so share in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Night

For the last month my students have been learning about flamenco. They did an ELA lesson in their classrooms. They did a webquest in Computer Lab. They did a research project and informational poster in Library. And they learned a short flamenco choreography in Music and Spanish. The secret to teaching flamenco and staying in the target language is to get OTHER people to teach the bulk of it for you. I have an amazing team and my students learned a lot about flamenco in English in their classes while we focused on jaleos and direction words for the choreography in my class (keeping to 90% while we were at it!)

We wrapped up the month with a family night on October 16th. Students and their families could watch videos of professional flamenco dancers (I tried to book a live dancer but it didn't work out), try some tapas, make a flamenco fan, buy a book at the book fair, and perform their flamenco dance for their parents. I was a little nervous that no one would show up but two flyers, an email blast, and the promise of food ensured that we had at least 100 people. Scheduling the book fair at the same time also really helped attendance. My instructor from the KY Center Academy this summer even showed up with his wife and played an impromptu cajón and flamenco guitar concert for us! It was a great night but I´m really glad it´s over. ;-)

If you are interested in the ELA units they can be viewed here.
If you are interested in the webquest it can be viewed here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Give me five!

Part of my professional development plan last year and this year has included improving assessment strategies in my room, including giving students the opportunity to self-assess and peer assess more often. To that end I've started having students self-assess how they felt about each lesson as they leave the room. How? I have five different "hands" they can high five, each with a different statement including "I was an AMAZING listener today," "I tried my best today," "I learned something new today," "I'm still a little confused," and "I'm going to do better next time." Maybe as the year progresses I will add "I spoke all Spanish today."

I'll admit I directly stole this idea from Lisa Prichard's blog My Adventures in Elementary Spanish. My students absolutely love it and besides me stealing it from Lisa, I've already had a middle school teacher, a fifth grade teacher, and a fourth grade teacher tell me they were stealing it for their classroom. I should really stop saying stealing and go with inspired. The only downside to this quick self-assessment is that you do need to remind students that there is a brick wall behind the hands. I tell them I will not feel at all sorry for them if they tell me their hand hurts...because they just punched a brick wall. And because I model everything, I modeled the "right" way to high five.

How do you do self-assessments in your class? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

90% Target Language Contest

I've hinted to a couple of my kids that this year we are going to have a 90%+ contest. The more time we all spend in Spanish the better and what better way to motivate them to try and negotiate meaning than through mean a little extrinsic motivation. Of course we want kids to have intrinsic motivation but I have found that a little extrinsic motivation helps get them started. After awhile they see that it's not that bad, maybe even fun and then their extrinsic motivation turns intrinsic.

After my challenge with M's third grade class this year to speak 100% Spanish I decided to expand on it this year. All 3-5 classes and the winner gets a pinata party at the end of the year. I've set up Class Dojo with a monster for each class. One thing I love about Class Dojo is that it has a timer. We set the timer when class starts and we pause it when I have to change the sign to English. It goes back on when I switch back to Spanish.

You can also decide certain tasks to reward and how many points. I've given 100% Spanish 5 points and 90% 3 points. There are also a few other things I can reward for 1 point each - maybe working really hard or helping each other out. I'm not sure if I'll do that or not but I kept it as an option.

Since I set up the contest as a class, with a monster for each teacher, students can easily see where their class stands and what they need to do to get ahead. We haven't started yet - I'm thinking after this rotation with flamenco (because I do need a few extra minutes in English to explain jaleos to them.)  The few classes I've mentioned it to seem pretty excited (about the pinata mostly but we'll also address how awesome this is for their Spanish learning when I formally introduce it.)

Do you use Class Dojo? I've thought about using it for individual students but I'm not sure the set up is worth it and I still really like my Whole Brain Teaching scoreboard. Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

KWLA wrap-up

KWLA conference as usual was fantastic. It's always nice to hang out with other World Language teachers to share ideas and re-inspire each other. Here's my wrap-up for 2014's conference!

I presented my own session first thing this year on Classroom Management in the Target Language (click the link to view the prezi.) It was so crowded we had to ask for extra chairs and there was still people standing.

My first session other than my own was the "NNELL session: New JCPS Elem WL Curriculum" with Jacque Van Houten and other presenters. They went over how they put together the curriculum and how they envision it in use. What I really liked was how they specifically addressed the question of students coming in and out of your program. And while it is designed with 90 minutes of instruction in mind (key to making proficiency gains) there are easy ways to adjust it for schools that get less than that (which is nearly all of us!) They recycle the same units each year but go deeper each time. AND they also incorporate the new interculturality standards that are now a part of the Kentucky WL standards. If you haven't checked these documents out definitely do so!

I finished Friday out with "Teach Really Well land Still Have Time for a Life." This session was full of great ideas for using technology in the class but a lot of them were geared towards high school or schools that have BYOD. I did decide during this session that my upcoming 90% And More Challenge between classes in 3rd-5th grade could be tracked using ClassDojo.

I ended Friday at the Wine and Cheese reception and then dinner with my northern KY peeps at Shakespeare & Co.

Saturday I was up early and had to decide between "Integration of Arts & Humanities & WL" with Alfonso De Torres or "Student Projects in the Target Language." After a game of janken, Japanese teacher and friend Eric and I ended in Student Projects. (Also I had already seen Alfonso's presentation this summer during my week of flamenco PD with the Kentucky Center.) Most of their ideas were also high school centric (the woes of being an elementary teacher!) but a lot of them could be adapted. I remembered my idea to do something with post cards this year.

Next up was "Teach Bell to Bell not Yell to Yell" with @TNSpanish aka Meredith White. It was another classroom management session and just like mine it was packed. Clearly management is an issue for us all. She had great ideas on organization and classroom set up. For example, put all of your supplies in the BACK of the class so you aren't having students constantly up front with you interrupting your instruction. She also advised us to think about our "hot spots" or what makes us crazy and then figure out a solution and fix it. We deserve to teach peacefully and our students deserve a peaceful atmosphere in which to learn.

I finished the conference with Meredith again in "What's the Story? Creating Engaging and Reusable Strategies for Vocabulary Input." This workshop was all about how to use story telling to introduce and reinforce vocabulary. She also showed the technical side on how to find pictures, crop them, and photo shop them into power point to make engaging and personalized stories for your classes. Did I write a story for my upcoming feelings unit? Why yes, yes I did.

I also love being on social media during the conference. I found a bunch of new people to follow on Twitter and even discussed sessions with people in my session and sometimes with people not present. If you aren't on Twitter I highly suggest trying it out. You can follow me @sra_kennedy and/or use #FLESchat and #langchat to find new ideas and colleagues to collaborate with.

So that's it! Another great conference. I came back on Monday ready to teach to proficiency and in the target language - and some classes have already gotten up to 100%!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Classroom Management in the Target Language

The KWLA 2014 Conference started Thursday night. I've been the last two years and always come away with great ideas. Plus, it's always refreshing to talk/brainstorm/gripe with other language teachers. The teachers I work with every day are awesome but only another language teacher can really get me sometimes!

This year I presented a session of my own (click the link to see it!) - Classroom Management in 90% Target Language.

I'll post a sum up of the conference later this week!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Free Resources for the beginning of the year!

I've been in school a month now and we're finally getting rolling into some content and switching over to Spanish. In that time I've been doing lots of administrative tasks and getting my new room up and going. Here are a few of the freebie products I've found and used in the last month.Just click on the pictures and follow the link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

Free Resources!!!

Magic Passwords in Spanish {Freebie}

Magic Passwords or Survival Phrases with adorable pictures from Fun for Spanish Teachers.

I haven't printed these out because I already have a board for new phrases (two Day of the Dead skeletons talking to each other) but I plan on using many of the phrases in this pack. If you need ideas for a bulletin board to last all year this is a great resource.

Flags to Fold of Spanish Speaking Countries

Foldable flags from Spanish speaking countries to decorate your room. 

My kids love these cute rhymes and we use them in our beginning of class routine. 

Another freebie from Fun for Spanish Teachers. I have the Puedo ir al bano sign front and center. If students ask me in English the answer is no. If they ask in Spanish I generally say yes (or yes in just a minute because I've found most of them forget a few minutes later.)

Enjoy and be sure to check out these ladies paid products as well!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Spanish Club - Virtual Field Trip to Mexico!

So Spanish Club has started again! The spring semester last year we did a virtual field trip to Madrid, Spain. This semester we are "visiting" Mexico. Our first meeting we found Mexico on the map and learned about its flag. 

We made cool flags that reminded us of pinatas - really we just tore up tissue paper, crumpled it, and then glued it down. And because you can't have a good club without a snack we ate Mexican flag snacks with grapes, marshmallows, and strawberries (I took this idea from Zapatitoingles- a great blog with lots of ideas.)

We also watched this cool video and paid attention to how we salute our flag versus how they salute the flag in Mexico.

All in all it was a pretty successful start for the new club. I've got a great bunch of kids this time around. Next time we'll make passports and "fly" to Mexico City. We will also be making some metal crafts, learning cumbia, and making a Day of the Dead altar (and possibly entering it in a local exhibition.)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flamenco Resources

For Hispanic Heritage Month I am planning a collaborative unit focusing on Flamenco, integrating the Arts & Humanities standards with my World Language standards. At the end of the month we will have a Family Night where students can bring their families in and show off what they've learned. Below are some of the resources I'll be using and sharing with my team members and classroom teachers. If you know of any other Flamenco resources please share!

Photo by Kentucky Country Day

Videos: A field trip to a flamenco dance studio - great for K-3. English with some Spanish vocabulary Basic Spanish vocabulary for dance classes  El Camarón - a great example of el cante and la musica Sara Baras - a great example of el baile Joaquin Cortes - men dance flamenco too! Sesame Street - a video counting to 9. Unfortunately they count in English but the music and dancing is flamenco. Toy Story - Buzz and Jessie dance flamenco. Would be great for introducing students to flamenco and then showing the more authentic videos after. Story - In this one the theme song is sung in Spanish "Hay un amigo en mí.


 There aren't a lot of books out there for flamenco but here are a few good options.

        ¡Olé flamenco!  This is a great resource for older students. My kids will be doing a research project in Library class and this is one book I will have available for them.
El fandango de Lola This book comes in English and Spanish with a CD. Spanish Playground has some great resources to go along with the Spanish version here.
Spain booklet A great booklet your students can color and read from Teacher Pay Teachers. It has 11 pages with facts about geography, flamenco, football, bullfighting, and the Conquistador. It's in English so I will probably share with my classroom teachers and let them decide if they want to use this resource or not. 

Craft Ideas

I still need to talk to my Art teacher about how we might combine her standards with something flamenco related but here a few pages with ideas for flamenco crafts. These could be done with the classroom teachers as well.

How to make castanets These are cooler than the ones we made last year in Spanish Club with paper plates and pennies (although my kids loved their paper plate/penny castanets!)

Fans, paper dolls, and collages Several craft ideas here.

A box guitar How to make a box guitar. 

Now I just need to get some costumes and I'll be set!We'll be dancing and learning the jaleos in my class. Happy planning for Hispanic Heritage Month!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The first days of school

I know some teachers want to use the target language from day one. I understand the sentiment and I wish I could do it but I just can't in my current situation. I teach at a Title I school. A lot of my students come to me with anxiety and being thrown in a class where they have to work extra hard to understand what's going on leads to a lot of acting out and behavior issues.  My students need lots and lots of practice doing basic routines so that we can go 90%-100% TL later on. Or as they said in my APL training this summer - "Go slow to go fast."  Here is a list of things I've been modeling and practicing with kids in the first specials rotation.

How to come in quietly
How to sit on the carpet
My quiet signal
How the scoreboard works
How to go to timeout and calm yourself down
How to line up
How to stand in line
How to turn and talk to a partner (smiling, eye contact, and using school talk)
The rules of Spanish class
My signal that it's time to repeat after me
My signal that it's time to talk to your partner
My signal that it's time to switch during partner talk
My signal that they can shout out an answer vs. when they should raise their hands

Here's a video that shows how I model. I don't do it with every procedure but definitely for lining up, going to timeout, and talking with a partner.

That's a lot for only 50 minutes!  Although it helps that a lot of things haven't changed from last year so many of the kids just need a quick refresher. Those students that need extra practice get "retraining" either during a fun activity during class or lunch if I have a free period.

So no Spanish yet - other than Hola and 1, 2 adios. My sign won't switch over for another rotation or two (because we also need to get folders organized and talk about room procedures like getting out supplies and cleaning up.) But once we're ready, we'll be ready to fly and operate totally in the target language.

Do you start in the TL? Feel free to vehemently disagree with me, but if you do I'd like to know how you manage behavior in the TL from day one.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Goals for the new school year

Alas, summer is almost over. So my room is decorated. I've got lesson plans ready for the first week and my first day outfit is picked out. Now it's time to set some goals for the year.

1. Use the APL strategies I learned this summer in training. Specifically putting the kids "on the clock" as in I give specific time limits for every activity and then use a timer to make sure I stick to it. Other strategies like teaching the behaviors I want and reteaching students who need more practice to get it right. And status reports during group work. And, and, and....this is a great training if you ever get a chance to take it. I have a list of action items from the four day class posted next to my desk to remind me.

2. 90%+ is always a goal. I'm going to have the students keep me honest by challenging them to make me stay in Spanish. The class with the most class periods in 90+ Spanish will earn some sort of prize.

3. Hispanic Heritage Month we are doing a Family Night with flamenco dancing. I'm hoping to get a LOT more participation from the teachers since I will have very specific things to give them to do.

4. Send more stuff home - coloring sheets with links to the youtube videos we watch in class; optional homework; letters/certificates to communicate the good things that students do in class. 

5. Do projects that personalize the learning for my students. We're going to write books for their classrooms in Spanish, make ¿Cómo estás hoy? posters, and write pen pals in Mexico.  I also decided to not print out flags to decorate my room. Instead I'll have older students color them and then I'll hang them up.

What are your goals for the year?

Thursday, August 7, 2014



Although, I'm trying to be circumspect since technically I had a room last year too. I only got to keep it for 7 days before getting pushed back onto the cart (my principal felt so bad that she bought me the Cadillac of carts AND the Calico Spanish curriculum so I was only slightly bummed.)

They swear to me I should get to keep it this year. Like 99% sure.

So here is a before pic...


And after...

The view from the hallway door - the other door leads to the 3rd grade complex.
This is the board I'll put useful phrases. The bookcase below has all of the supplies students can get out for different projects.

I'll teach from my rocking chair with students on the carpet facing me and the whiteboard easel. Then when it's time to watch a video (with the signal ¡muevénse los cuerpos!) we'll turn and face the SMART board.

I have another word wall on another wall in the room but I wanted the question words front and center so students can use them more often. I have some questions already up and we'll add to it throughout the year.

I get computers! Here are two of the five (I gave up my teacher desktop so I'd have an extra student computer. I'll use the laptop connected to the SMART board as my main computer this year.)

My reading/working nook. I don't have too many books yet but I'm slowly building my class library thanks to Half Price Books. The box there contains puppets. I'm hoping to transform a cardboard box into a tabletop puppet theater.