Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Build & Maintain Relationships With Your Students in a 90% Classroom

SO, YOU'VE MADE THE COMMITMENT TO TEACH 90% IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE IN YOUR CLASSROOM- great! There's just one thing (ok, a lot of things, but let's focus on this one :) )... how are you going to develop and maintain positive relationships with your students if you aren't speaking very much English? This was my greatest concern when I switched over to 90% (and then 100%)... but it was a fear I most definitely did NOT have to worry about! Of course, it took some time to figure that out, so to save you, my dear teacher reader, some of that time, here are some things that work for me with my students!

How to Build Relationships in a 90% Target Language Classroom

*NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION IS KEY: Often overlooked or forgotten as a factor in creating and maintaining relationships is how we interact with our students- the tone of my voice, my facial gestures/ expressions, my body language- regardless of the language I am speaking, my students can tell how I feel about them based on how I look and sound to them. If I am smiling at them, hugging them or patting them on the back, using a friendly, caring tone, being patient with them, this goes a LONG way toward building relationships with my students. We do this unconsciously- the good news here is that you are ALREADY doing things to build a relationship with your students that don't involve language- keep doing them!

*POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT AND CLASS CELEBRATION: It is part of my job to create a safe and encouraging environment for my students to learn in. Celebrating success is vital to this, especially as, in a 90% classroom, students often feel challenged or unsure. Being very vigilant as a teacher to students who need a little extra "you can do it!" and "look, you HAVE done it!" is crucial, without overlooking the rest of the students who also need a morale boost on a regular basis. Whether it's a class applause, a high five, a thumbs up, however you choose to celebrate in class, do it consistently and often. Students will feel cared about and on your radar- who doesn't feel good about someone who is looking out for us?

*STRATEGIC USE OF ENGLISH: In a 90% TL classroom, it becomes really important to strategically plan when you are going to use English (this is a real shift in planning, in my opinion). Purposely use some of that 10% English time to reach out to a kiddo or the whole class, strengthening bonds and forging new ones.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

How to Teach a Lesson in Elementary Spanish Class Using a Video Clip- Step by Step

I LOVE USING VIDEO CLIPS IN MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH CLASSES-they are a great authentic source of input, and can generate lots of communication and interaction in the target language. And, of course, my students LOVE watching videos, so I am always happy to tap into that interest to increase motivation.

how to teach a lesson in Spanish class using a video clip

SO, HOW TO TEACH A LESSON USING A VIDEO CLIP? Here's my break down of a short Pocoyó video for Valentine's Day. My goal is to practice vocabulary in context by stopping the clip at intervals and asking a series of questions my students can answer. You will note I make lots of use of the 'either/or' question- these are great for novice learners as the answer is embedded in the question, providing linguistic support for your varied learners, and helps the entire class stay in the target language. I also do a lot of pointing to parts of the video, especially if it is vocabulary that they may not know, but is obvious if I point to it on the screen- 'balsa' (raft) for example. Typically when I am using a clip/ video for a lesson, I will first show the clip, stopping at intervals and asking questions, and then show the clip a second time without stopping so my students can just watch it. Since we've already gone through and asked questions and elicited reactions, that has primed the mental pump and I often have kids calling out vocabulary we've just used during the first run through. Modify the questions to suit your students!

POCOYÓ- Paisajes Románticos:

0:01: ¿Cuál es la fecha?
0:05: ¿Toca la música Pocoyó, sí o no?
0:12: ¿Toca el piano Ely o Pato? (alternate: ¿Toca el piano Pato, sí o no?)
0:12: ¿Es Ely una bailarina o dentista?
0:12: ¿Está llevando Ely un tutu o un sombrero?
0:12: ¿De qué color es el sombrero de Pato?
0:24: ¿Hace frío o hace calor?
0:24: ¿Cuántos icebergs (témpanos) hay?
0:24: ¿Toca el violín Pato o Pocoyó?
0:24: ¿De qué color es la balsa?
0:24: ¿De qué color es el sombrero de Pulpo?
0:30: ¿Tienen Ely y Pato hambre o sed?
0:30: ¿Qué comen Ely y Pato, espaguetis o la pizza?
0:40: ¿Van Pato y Ely en carro o en avión?
0:40: ¿De qué color es la bufanda de Ely?
0:40: ¿De qué color es el avión?
0:40: ¿Es Pato dentista o piloto?
0:51: ¿Qué forma se aparece en el cielo?
1:00: ¿Qué hacen Ely y Pato, bailan o cantan?
1:09: ¿Toca el piano o la guitarra Pocoyó?

¿Te gustó el video?

WANT TO SEE A LESSON IN ACTION? Here is one of my Second Grade classes with the trailer to a movie about Ratoncito Pérez:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

3 Activities to Celebrate 100th Day of School in Spanish Class

IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AROUND THE COUNTRY, 100th Day of School is a big deal! Kids celebrate in many ways, so why shouldn't we foreign language teachers get into the action, too?! Here are three simple activities to make 100th Day of School part of your class:

*MUÑEQUITOS QUITAPENAS: Count up to 100 with our foto of Guatemalan worry dolls! I've arranged them in groups of 10, with a break after 5, so you can count by 5s or 10s for your older kiddos! Just display this foto on your smartboard or AppleTV and count away!

100 Worry Dolls to Count for 100th Day of School

*CIEN PALABRAS EN ESPAÑOL: This is a simple activity with index cards (or get fancy and use scrapbooking paper!)- hand out an index card to each kiddo and instruct them to put a Spanish word on the card. Once they finish, they can take another card. Encourage kids to do 6-8 cards, then collect them all and go through them, weeding out the duplicates. Count how many you now have, and determine whether you need more in order to get to 100 cards. Pass out the required number of more cards and help the class to brainstorm words they haven't written yet. Once you have 100, you can string them together to make a banner!

100th Day of School Activities for Spanish Class

*PLAY MONEY: Print out 100 pesos, guaranies, quetzales, bolivares, soles, etc from a variety of Spanish speaking countries (just do a Google images search) and use a map to match money to country. You can even laminate everything and put velcro on the map and backs of the bills so you can easily attach them to the various countries! *NOTE: for some countries, 100 is no longer in circulation, or not as a bill, so you can either skip or print out vintage bills or coins. (And of course, you could use the money to have kids "buy" and "sell" things in a pretend market..always loads of fun!)

100th Day of School Activities for Spanish Class

Have another idea? Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 23, 2017

9 Minute to Win it Games to Play in Spanish Class

I CONFESS, I LOVE PLAYING GAMES! My family is huge on games, we play whenever we get together, and honestly, we play a lot of games in my elementary Spanish classes. Besides the fact that they are fun, games are an authentic way to build communication skills, motivate those more reluctant learners, and give a reason to participate for even the "coolest" kid. While searching for Valentine's Day activities on Pinterest, I came across a bunch of 'Minute to Win It' games and I was hooked! (Apparently I have been WAY out of the loop because I didn't even realize it had been a TV show until I had been scrolling for maybe 5-10 minutes- oh, boy!) Anywho, I couldn't resist gathering a bunch together, making some adaptions to fit an elementary Spanish classroom (though they could be played in any language or level really!), and ¡ta-chán! here they are:

1) LA TORRE DE CORAZONES: this one is awesome for any grade level (my primary grades play a similar game with stacking a sandwich and it is hilarious! see post here). Head over to the Dollar Store and pick up a bunch of candy hearts- the bags I bought had approximately 180 candy hearts in them, so enough for 18 kiddos- 4 bags + one extra bag and I had enough for one grade level. Put a bag's worth (or so) on paper plates and have kids take 10 hearts each. Set the timer and have them stack the hearts; if the hearts fall over before the minute is up, they have to start over again- the student with the highest tower at the end of the minute wins!

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

2) DE UN PLATO AL OTRO: Who knows what to call this game? Anyway, each student needs two paper plates, a bunch of pompoms on one plate, and a clothespin. Set the timer- the challenge, use the clothespin to transport pompoms from one plate to the other- whoever has the most pompoms on their second plate at the end of the minute is the winner!

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

3) LIMPIADORES DE PIPA: Another take on the pompom idea, each student gets one pipe cleaner and a bunch of pony beads. Depending on the age of your students, you could do this in pairs or as individuals. The pipe cleaner with the most beads when the timer goes off is the winner- bonus points if they create a pattern with the colors! (you would need a variety of colors for this :0) )

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

4) COMIDA MISTERIOSA: This is great for small teams to play against one another! Use Chinese food take out containers (I found these at the Dollar Tree, you can also find them at most any craft store), and put a plastic food (or a picture, or really anything! I just like the idea of a food item since it is a take out container :) ) inside. One student on each team has to describe the food in the target language to the rest of the team without them looking inside the container. The first team to guess correctly before the timer goes off is the winner. You can then rotate the containers and start again.

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

5) EL TARRO DE ESTIMACIÓN: Fill a jar with candy conversation hearts and invite your students to estimate how many are in there, using the target language of course!

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

6) RELLENAR EL MOLDE: Another speed related game, students each have a bunch of pompoms and a cookie cutter. The challenge- stuff the cookie cutter with as many pompoms as possible. Whoever has the most in the cookie cutter when the time is up is the winner.

Minute to Win it Games in Spanish Class

7) CATEGORIZANDO POMPONES: Have a plateful of pom poms in different colors, a clothespin and a muffin tin for sorting the pompoms by color (you could use cups or sorting trays also). Once the timer starts, students need to use the clothespin to sort as many pom poms as possible before the time is up!

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

8) CARRERA CON POMPONES: This is a great game to play outside or in the gym! If you have to play in your classroom, you can do it in shifts of 6 or so students at a time so that there is enough room. Mark a beginning and ending point that students will need to navigate- give each participant a popsicle stick and three pompoms which need to sit on the popsicle stick. Hit 'go' and students must walk as quickly as they can to the other side, without dropping any pompoms. The first across the finish line with pompoms intact is the winner!

Minute to Win It Games for Spanish Class

9) CARRERA CON POMPONES #2: This is an alternate version of the above game, but instead of a popsicle stick each student gets a paper cup with pompoms inside (I put about 5-10, the amount isn't important, though it should be the same in each cup to be fair should the cup fall and someone has to refill their cup before continuing on). Each student places the paper cup on their head, and again, must walk as fast as they can to the finish line. The winner is the first across the line with the cup on their head and all pompoms inside.

Minute to Win It Games in Spanish Class

YOU CAN PLAY THESE GAMES any time of year- they are not Valentine's Day specific, though certainly if you are heading into February vacation, you might consider playing these to keep your sanity! :)

AND DON'T FORGET TO THROW IN game vocabulary while everyone is playing: 'Go!', 'It's your turn!', 'Come on!', 'Oh my gosh!', 'oh no!'. 'yay', 'darn!', 'alright!', 'yes!' etc are all great expressions to keep the games in the target language. Now, go have some fun! :)

NEED A GREAT RESOURCE FOR GAME VOCABULARY? Here's a set of posters plus vocabulary lists!

Games Vocabulary Lists in Spanish

Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to make a paper snowflake in Spanish class in the target language

MAKING SIMPLE CRAFTS IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE CLASSES can be a lot of fun- and can be a great use of time if they are done in the target language. Instructions for making things often incorporate high frequency vocabulary, so choosing small projects to do in class can offer your students a new and novel context in which to encounter this vocabulary, something I think is important. Refining knowledge of the meaning of words takes a long time, and various contexts help in that refinement.

ENTER PAPER SNOWFLAKES- since its winter, and snowflakes are a popular craft in most elementary and middle schools, why not harness the fun and make them in your class? Here are instructions in Spanish for how to make a simple snowflake out of paper.

REMEMBER, WHEN DOING A CRAFT OR PROJECT in the target language, have everyone do each step together, waiting until everyone is finished before moving on to the next step. This helps those students who have difficulties with multistep instructions, and keeps everyone in the same place which helps with classroom management. Have fun!

teaching 90% in target language making a paper snowflake

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spread holiday cheer with our FREE downloadable Spanish E CARDS!

TIS THE SEASON AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO STAY CONNECTED than to send your friends, colleagues, and loved ones a card! We've created three E CARDS in Spanish you can download for free and send via email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more! Let's fill cyber space with joy and fun!


Spanish holiday e card downloadable for free
Click here to download!
Spanish holiday e card free download
Click here to download!
Spanish holiday e card free download
Click here to download!
And one in Russian for the New Year, because I also speak Russian and just love hedgehogs! :)

Click here to download!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Villancicos Song Props for Christmas Movement Fun!

MY ELEMENTARY SPANISH STUDENTS LOVE SONGS that involve movement, and I love them, too! Actions and acting out songs reinforces the vocabulary presented in context via the song, and provides that all important movement component little squirrels need. Since it is the holiday season, my Kindergartners are having loads of fun with 'Burrito Sabanero', a long time favorite of's how we're incorporating it in class:

burrito sabanero villancico song props

*MY GOAL FOR THIS VILLANCICO with my Kindergartners is to expose them to the song, without expecting them to learn every word. I concentrate on the repetitive lines 'si me ven, si me ven, voy camino de Belén' for their initial exposure. For the movement component, I made a printable donkey hobby horse (double sided) and attached it to a yardstick- you could use any hobby horse available or find a picture of a donkey in a magazine or online and attach it to a yard stick. Choose a student to "ride" the donkey and hit play- while everyone is tapping their toe, the rider gallops around the circle. Stop the music after the first stanza and hand the donkey off to another student, stopping the music again after the next stanza. Continue in this manner until the end of the song. You can then either play the song again so that everyone has a turn, or play the song/game over the course of a few classes to ensure turns all around.

WANT OUR PRINTABLE DONKEY HOBBY HORSE? You can find it along with our other Villancico Song Props here:

Villancicos Song Props