Thursday, December 19, 2013

Origami: Estrella De Navidad En Papel

I came across some great origami videos today in French and I got to thinking that there must be similar videos in Spanish.  What I found was a wide range of videos, many of them too complicated for classroom use and others a little too simple for my high schoolers.  However, there was one in particular that I felt was just right.

This video shows how to make a lovely Christmas star with origami.  The speaker has a Spanish accent and he speaks clearly and not too quickly.  The instructions are clear and the video helps out a lot for those who struggle with listening comprehension.  The speaker uses the vosotros, so this is a great opportunity to expose students to that oft-neglected verb form.

There are a couple of fussy parts about the folding.  All the best origami gets tricky in parts, but I think high school students who watch and listen carefully will be able to be successful. 

Gracias to Miguel for this great video.

¡Feliz Navidad, amigos!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vocabulario de la Navidad

I recently posted a Power Point of Thanksgiving vocabulary that was very popular here and on Pinterest, so it occurred to me to create one for Christmas vocabulary as well.  I found some great pictures and I think it turned out very good.  Click here or click the picture below to download it.

Picking out the right vocabulary to use is always a challenge.  For this particular Power Point, I chose to focus on vocabulary that pertains to Christmas as it is understood by most people in North America.  The purpose of this is to give students vocabulary to talk about their own traditions and celebrations, so that they can communicate with others in Spanish.

I made a Power Point about Christmas (and other December & January holidays) as they are celebrated in the Spanish-speaking world and it is available for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  That one is much longer and more detailed than this one (130 slides as opposed to 25), and it focuses on culture rather than vocabulary.  I encourage you to take a look at it and consider purchasing it as a complement to your other holiday activities.

I hope this Christmas vocabulary Power Point is useful to you.  I hope your students enjoy it and that it enables them to talk about the holidays in Spanish.

Hasta pronto,


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Repaso De Las Nacionalidades

For some reason the names of the Spanish-speaking countries, their capitals, and the nationalities associated with each pose a real challenge to students.  I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that they are items which require memorization (as opposed to contextual understanding) and many students are simply not interested in memorization.

I try to make it as interesting as possible.  I have colorful Power Point presentations, puzzles, games, songs, drawing activities, etc.  It doesn't matter.  Those student who refuse to learn them do poorly on that section of the midterm exam every year - without exception.

This saddens me, but I'm not one to go down without a fight, so I will continue to invent activities and practice in the hope that I'll catch a few more butterflies in my net before the midterm arrives (a week from today).

Spanish-Speaking Countries Map to Label by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

Here is a map labeling activity that is not going to win any awards for its originality or aesthetic appeal.  Nor are you going to throw a parade because its so contextually relevant; it's not.  But it makes a great quick review, extra credit, short homework, or supplement to all the other great stuff you do in class to cover the nationalities.

A few weeks back, I blogged about a nationalities game I had made.  It's a free download and it might be something you want to add to your nationalities repertoire.

I absolutely adore this video/chant on the countries and their capitals too.  It became a bit of a cult favorite in a couple of my classes a few years back.  It doesn't help with nationalities specifically, but it ties in with the geography theme.

I hope you found something useful here today, amigos.  Gracias por pasar por aquí.

Hasta pronto,


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Teachers Pay Teachers

Amigos, we all know that we didn't go into the teaching profession with visions of dollar signs in our heads.  We love young people, love our subject matter, enjoy being creative and nurturing, and we want to make a positive impact on the future . . . but we knew we weren't going to get rich in the process.  Am I right?

Still, there are mortgages, light bills, orthodontics, car payments, school clothes, and a thousand other things that mercilessly deplete our bank accounts without regard to how much positive work we are doing with our students or how well we meet the standards.

I'm a creative sort of person and I've been making my own materials for years, many of which I share here with my readers for free.  I think I speak for most teachers when I say that we naturally want to share and to enrich the education world.  Some of my resources I have put extra effort into making suitable for sale, and I have put those products on Teachers Pay Teachers in my digital store.

These are some of my best efforts at creating material that I believe will be useful to my fellow Spanish teachers.  I think they are interesting, beautiful, and they rock the standards.  But I don't want to brag.  :-)

Los Colores

Spanish Colors - With 50 Culturally Relevant Photos
Teach the colors in a cultural context with beautiful photos

La Navidad

Navidad - A Photographic Tour
A photographic tour of Christmas and other "winter" holidays (text in English)

El Arte Subacuático 

Arte Subacuatico en Cancun - Underwater Art Museum in Mexico
A multimedia lesson on art and tourism set in Cancun, Mexico

El Día de Acción de Gracias

Dia de Accion de Gracias - Spanish Lesson about Thanksgiving
A reading and exploration lesson with a Thanksgiving theme

Winter Holidays Power Point Backgrounds

Winter Holiday Backgrounds for PowerPoint or Keynote
Make your lessons seasonal, colorful and beautiful

I also have free lessons in my TPT store, such gems as: Car Gar Zar Verbs in the Preterite (a free grammar lesson that includes a quiz and a culture extension), a free sample pack of Power Point backgrounds to make your lessons lovely, The Beautiful Colors of Mexico Power Point that shows some lovely photography so students can appreciate the diversity of Mexico and leave behind their stereotypes.

It seems like we are all so hesitant to pay for something online, as if everything in the digital world should be free or cost, at most, 99 cents.  At the same time we mindlessly shell out $5 or more for coffee drinks and $4 for a single gallon of gas.  The mindset is a mystery to me.

Your time is worthwhile.  Don't waste it by reinventing the wheel every year!  Honestly, ask me how long it took me to create the Los Colores Power Point presentation.  (Hours and hours, amigos.  I had to search the web for the best pictures to represent each color and also demonstrate the culture of a multitude of Spanish-speaking countries.  I wrote sentences that would be informative and interesting, but not beyond the abilities of beginning students.  I formatted images, backgrounds, slide order . . . made a quiz.  I cross referenced the standards and wrote extension activities.  I contacted photographers and wrote attribution for their photos.)

Could you do it yourself?  Yes, of course you could.  But it would take you hours and hours . . . or you could pay $3.50 and get the one that has already been made.  Use it with all your Spanish I classes, then use it again next year and the year after that.  Use it as a quick review with your Spanish II classes too.  Your lesson will be colorful, cultural, contextual, and your students will appreciate getting to close the textbook for a few minutes.

Think about it, will you?

Hasta pronto,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

¿Qué es vida?

What is life?  I suppose that is a rather existential way to begin a blog post, but I am actually referring to an ad campaign by the Spanish food company Helios.  The video is warm and easily understood, even by beginners.

So, you know me, I had to make an activity to accompany it.  I mean, it's one thing to show a little video to the class.  That is always well received.  It is quite another thing to make an activity that gets my students to think, create, share, and explore.  Then it's something I can feel great about giving my students.

You can click here to get a copy of the file or you can click on the image itself.

As I was working on it, the thought occurred to me that it would make a great activity to leave with Spanish I students (or early in the year with Spanish II students) with a substitute.  The only trick would be to make sure that the students had access to a computer.  I even made a second version of it with the instructions in English so that you don't have to panic your substitute.  Both versions are contained in the same file.  You can just print the one that you need.

I hope you get some use out of it and I would love to hear from you!

Hasta pronto,


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Verbos Como Gustar

Heaven help us and the verbs like gustar.  This is one of the hardest things for English-speaking students of Spanish to do properly.  It seems like I have to review it every single year, and even then I still occasionally hear a Spanish III student say "Yo gusto". 

I came across this cute image on Pinterest recently from Online Spanish Sonora ELE.  If the text is to be believed, then credit for the image and the great idea goes to Patricia. 

I looked it over and decided it was a great way to practice and personalize verbs like gustar.  So I gave my students a little time and asked them to read over what Patricia had written and then make a similar activity themselves.  I thought they did a great job with the task and I've linked a couple of examples of their work below.  (Please keep in mind this was a 15-20 minute activity - not a big project.)

Click on either portrait to take a closer look at it.

I put identity blindfolds on them, deleted their home towns, and changed their names - of course.  If you don't have computers available to you at school, this activity could be easily done on paper and students could draw their own portraits.  

I hope that this review of gustar proves to be fun and useful, amigos.

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Después De Las Fiestas

Monday we were back in school after a week of Thanksgiving vacation.  I wanted to follow up with my students about what they had done over break, but I wanted to do something a little different than my usual activities in my Spanish IV class so I decided to approach things a little bit differently.

I told my students to write 8-10 interview questions about Thanksgiving and the vacation days, then I had them pair up and interview one another.  They were asked to record the answers they got so that they could make an informal presentation to the class.  In this way I had them talking, writing, and presenting - all in Spanish.  And they got practice to practice with the preterite and imperfect (always needed, even at level IV) in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd persons too - in an interpersonal and a presentational context.

One of my students ("April" from a post I made back in September) decided to go all out and make a Power Point to do her presentation.  I hadn't expected that, but it was a fun bonus.  The questions she asked are at the top of each slide, then then answer is below in the third person.  You can click if you want to see the presentation.

I thought it would be nice to share this with you because I know how frustrating it is to get kids to talk when they first come back from a break.  Getting them to talk about someone else however, that seems to work like a charm.

Hasta pronto,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

La Voz Interior

In addition to my 80 kids at school, I'm blessed to be a mother of three wonderful young people.  My oldest daughter is 20, my middle daughter is 15 and is a sophomore at the school where I teach, and my "cherry on top" is my 4-year-old son.  That is a lot of kids in my life - each of them special and beloved in their own way.

As parents and teachers, we occasionally have moments in our lives when we come across some wisdom that puts everything into sharp focus.  I had a moment like that today when I was looking at Pinterest and I saw this little graphic:

It is simple but it speaks to a very profound truth; one that is a little unsettling in its implications when we put our minds to the immense power we have.  I feel certain this quote was originally directed toward parents but, as teachers, we wield this power at a level that no one else does.  Year after year, we teach dozens of children.  And believe me, what we say and how we say it matters a great deal to our students.   If my teachers had not been the voices of patience, encouragement, and serenity in my life . . . I don't know what would have become of me or where I would be today.

Just a thought, amigos.

Hasta pronto,


Monday, December 2, 2013

Feliz Navidad

I went looking for an image that said "Feliz Navidad" on it this morning and I came across an abundance of images.  I figured I would collect them all in one space and make them easily available so that you don't have to sort through any sort foolishness online.

Some are even animated GIFs . . . ¡Lindo!

Many of the above images are not culturally relevant and they can give you an opportunity to discuss the differences in how the holiday is celebrated in the Spanish-speaking and the English-speaking worlds.  My students are always surprised to learn that snow, Santa, stockings, candy canes, and presents are not traditionally part of the Hispanic celebration of Navidad.  (Though things are changing as time marches on . . . no hay remedio.)

It might be a fun activity to get them to design their own graphic with imagery that is more relevant to the Hispanic holiday . . . maybe with an image of the three kings, Christmas tamales (yum!), poinsettias, or a piñata.  Educational and entertaining!  (And, of course, it would be a good opportunity to explain again why a guy in a big hat leaning against a cactus would not be a good choice.)

Just a note, I do not own the copyright to any of the above images.  They were found online and I'm just putting them here so they can be made available for educational purposes.

Hasta pronto,


Sunday, December 1, 2013

¿Luego Qué Pasa?

Pictures are a great way to stimulate thought, imagination, and conversation both in and out of the classroom.  They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and, if I could ever get that amount of talk from a student, I would count it as quite the coup.  Some pictures provide a better opportunity for discussion than others, of course.

The following are a few pictures that I found online, here and there.  They are unusual and call for a bit of imagination to develop a background story, then they require more imagination to discuss what would happen next.  It's a great way to use present perfect and future tenses at level III, or you could just allow students to describe the picture in the present or the present progressive.
As an extension, it would be fun if students brought in their own pictures (either originals or ones they found online) to exchange with each other and discuss even more.

Have fun with them, amigos!

Hasta pronto,