Thursday, January 23, 2014

Luddy Outcome: Problem Solving

In my classroom we have been focusing on the Luddy Outcome of problem solving lately, but the trick is to work these Luddy Outcomes into my lesson plans in a way that supports the curriculum.  Most of the time that is easy enough to do because I can just discuss the issue in Spanish, but it is not ideal because I always have to wonder how much of what I'm explaining is really getting through.

I am always questing for ways to work these things into my lessons in creative, fun, and Spanish ways.  Spanish II is reviewing food vocabulary and preterite tense right now so it occurs to me that it might be fun to create a logic puzzle in Spanish that uses our vocabulary.  I also threw in ordinal numbers because my students never seem to ever really learn them. 

Cuatro niños (Gabriela, María, Ignacio y Simón) ayudan a su abuela hacer una sopa.  Cada uno trajo un ingrediente diferente (carne, sal, zanahorias, y papas).  ¿Quién trajo cada ingrediente y en qué orden los pusieron en la sopa?

1)   Las niñas trajeron verduras. 
2)   María llegó tarde, así fue la última de poner su ingrediente en la sopa 
3)   El segundo ingrediente no fue la carne. 
4)   Simón puso su ingrediente en la sopa después de Gabriela. 
5)   El primer ingrediente fue las papas. 
6)   Simón puso su ingrediente en la sopa después de la sal.

The puzzle is not especially difficult.  The tricky part (for the students) is understanding it in Spanish.  

I've posted the answer below, but it's in white so you can't see it.  Highlight it to reveal it.


Primera: Gabriela - Papas

Segundo: Ignacio - Sal       

Tercero: Simón - Carne

Cuarta: María - Zanahorias

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Superhéroes - Hoja de Diversión

I saw this little superhero graphic on Pinterest the other day and I had a good time showing off my knowledge to my husband, who is the real superhero fan of the household.  Although I didn't guess Cyclops (middle left), he was still proud of me.

It occurred to me that my students might enjoy the same challenge.  And then, because I'm a teacher, it occurred to me to build an activity out of it!

It has superhero knowledge that some of your students will know and others will not so, if they do not have access to a place to look it up, you might have to put some scaffolding in place for them.

Click here to download the activity. It is appropriate for Spanish I (midyear) or Spanish II.

I like to think these little activities of mine are entertaining and not tedious.  Personally, I always liked it when my teachers got out of the textbook and did things that linked to the world around me.  There are some graphic organizers, some labeling, some sorting and (of course) lots of Spanish!

Unleash your superhero, amigos!

Hasta pronto,


Monday, January 20, 2014

¡Martes Maravilloso!

I hope your long weekend was a good one.  My Monday was taken up with a visit to the dentist, but I'm grateful I didn't have to take time off from work so it's all good.

So it's Tuesday and we're off to another work week already, aren't we?  I made a little Martes Maravilloso graphic to start my classes and (hopefully) put a smile on everyone's face.  Attitude is half the battle; am I right?

I didn't draw the cute little giraffe - he was clip art.  That I know of, giraffes are in no way associated with Tuesdays - marvelous or otherwise.  I just thought he was so cute that only the grumpiest of the grumpies could resist him.

Don't forget it's Tuesday today . . . if you have Tuesday carpool duty, lunch duty, hall duty, etc.  It's not Monday!  :-)

I hope your week is a good one, amigos!

Hasta pronto,


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Actividad Para Resolver Problemas

Problem solving and being a contributive team member are two of the Luddy Outcomes that we promote at our school.  See my post on November 17 for more information on the Luddy Outcomes, if you are interested.

Today I did a fun activity with my students to encourage both problem solving and teamwork.  It was a good activity because it wasn't too difficult, it didn't take long, and I gave them the instructions completely in Spanish to keep it relevant to my curriculum.

As a team they were presented with a task: Move the stacked cups from one desk to another without touching them.  The only materials I gave them were a couple short pieces of string and a rubber band.  Though I explained everything to them in Spanish, I did not give them a solution to the problem.  I wanted them to talk through it as a group and come up with a solution together (problem solving!).

In the end all of the groups came up with the same solution for moving the cups and it was, in fact, the recommended solution in the photos below.  They did try a number of different ideas at first but ultimately this was the most efficient way to take care of the problem.  The fun thing is that the task not only requires problem solving skills, but it also takes teamwork.  I don't think it would be possible for one person to accomplish it alone.

Unfortunately I heard them talking amongst themselves more in English than in Spanish, so if I do this activity again I think I will prepare them with some vocabulary and a quick review of command forms ahead of time.  In my studies of Vygotsky while working on my master's degree, I recall reading something along the lines of second language acquisition necessarily being different from first language acquisition because second language learners already have a language and we cannot ignore it.  Forgive the paraphrasing, please.  It's been years since I took that course but so much of what I learned there shapes what I do in the classroom today.

Onward and upward, amigos!

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014: Unleash Your Superhero!

Yesterday I was feeling depressed and out of sorts, but today I've awoken to a new day and I've decided to embrace a new philosophy: Unleash your superhero!  This slogan caught my eye and my imagination today.  The more I thought about it, the more I like it so I decided to bring it here to the blog. 

The FLANC conference, which I attended last October, was exciting and exhilarating, and the theme of the conference was superheroes.  The keynote speech was a clever talk likening world language teachers to superheroes, which I loved!  And at one point during the conference, the lights went out and when they came back on, one teacher at each table had donned a mask and was posing heroically.  I got such a kick out of that!

So I'm focusing today on that superhero spirit that dwells within me and sometimes makes its way to the surface.  You know what I'm talking about, don't you?  It's that part of you that decided to become a teacher even though you knew you were never going to make a lot of money, but you took that path anyway because you wanted to make a difference.   It's that part of you that learned a foreign language just so you could bridge the cultural gap and bring people closer together.  It's that part of you that stays up until midnight creating an awesome lesson because it means so much to you to get it right.  And it's that part of you that grades like a madman so your students can get their test results the next day.

My super powers list isn't long or impressive, but it's full of heart!  I speak multiple languages, I make creative and fun lessons, I can link Spanish vocabulary to SAT words, I make the most complicated grammar structures simple to understand, and I bring culture into everything! 

I bet you can do the same things too, so hooray for us!  We are Super World Language Teachers!  I might just show up in a cape and a mask one day this week . . . really, the kids would get a kick out of it. 

My new year's resolution this year is hard to define, but it is closely tied to this idea of unleashing your superhero.  Basically, I'm not going to diminish myself because others are uncomfortable with the fact that I'm smart, creative or talented.  I don't like putting it into words because, when I read that, it sounds wildly arrogant.  I'm not arrogant, but all too often I find myself among jealous and petty people who make everything about themselves, and I'm not going to play those backstabbing games.  I'm going to let my light shine at full wattage and I'm going to unleash my superhero. 

I hope you will do the same thing, amigos. 

Hasta pronto,


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

El Año Nuevo

We have tracked back in and, I have to say, this is a particularly difficult time of year for me.  I deal with something akin to depression every year in January and February.  Whether you call it SAD or something else, it just becomes incredibly difficult for me to find motivation, inspiration, or much of anything.

Still, the students are here and the expectation is that I will rise to the occasion and offer stimulating and meaningful instruction . . . a difficult task when I'm not feeling it inside.  I put on a smile and go through the motions on difficult days and pretend.  It's a bit disconcerting how many people don't even seem to notice when I'm faking it.  I'm reminded of Paul McCartney's lyrics to Elanor Rigby, "Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.  Who is it for?"

Now, more than ever, it is important to bring activities to class that are interesting, fun, and engaging.  Yesterday I had my Spanish IV students toss a ball around and, when it came to them, they had to share something with the class (in Spanish, of course).  Here are some topics for sharing:

A present you received for Christmas
Something fun you did over track-out
A resolution for the New Year
A wish/hope for the New Year
A Christmas tradition in your family
A New Year's tradition in your family

I only give them about 30 seconds from the prompt until I toss the ball, so they have to think fast.

It's important to have a very soft ball for this activity because it is easy for things to get carried away or for people to get hit by accident - even in an attentive group.

Today I brought in a couple of toys I got for Christmas that I'm going to share with the students, even though they don't have any direct connection to Spanish.  I can still introduce them and describe them in Spanish.  One is a Tetris lamp that lights up as you use it - extremely cool.  The other one might get me into trouble but I decided to risk it because the fun potential is so great.  It is an air gun which shoots a puff of air at people up to 20 feet away.  It doesn't do much more than ruffle your hair and papers, but it gets a great reaction from people.  The product is called Airzooka and it is a hoot and a half - honestly.

After we play for a bit, we are going to write New Year's resolutions and make predictions for the new year using the future tense.  I have until 5th period to come up with a way to make it super fun and engaging, but I think I can do it.

I don't get much in the way of comments and discussions here as a general rule, but if you have ideas for how you make your classes exciting on those days when you might not be feeling so excited yourself, I would love to hear them!  Any and all inspiration would be appreciated at this time, amigos.

Hasta pronto,


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Feliz Año Nuevo

¡Hola amigos!

I hope your holiday season went well and that your new year is off to a brilliant start.  I took a leave of absence from blogging while I spent time with family and took some time to exhale after a very busy end to the semester.

I took a small amount of time to play around with my graphics software and create an image that said Feliz Año Nuevo, and I'm sharing it here with you today.  I had fun with the gold, purple, and sparkles - and it just looks festive to me.

And then I made one more because I was having fun.  Still purple, but I used silver and confetti this time.

And then, since I was at it, I made several more!

Feel free to add them to any lesson or project you might be doing for the new year.

I want to let you know that I wish you the greatest joy, success, and love in the new year!

Con mucho amor,