Monday, April 27, 2015

Comentarios Invisibles

When  people take the time to make a comment here on my blog, it delights me.  The whole reason I set up this blog in the first place was to reach out to the community, make friends and connections, and share with others.  So, with that in mind, I'm generally pretty quick to respond to the folks who are kind enough to leave me a note.

But something really fishy is going on with my comments lately and I can't figure out what to do to fix it.  I get a message that someone has commented and when I go to the post to read it, there is a little message (1 Comment, 3 Comments, etc.) below to let me know what is waiting for me.  But when I click, there is nothing there.  Weird.

At first I thought that maybe someone had made a comment then, got an attack of shyness or a change of heart, and deleted it before I had the chance to read it.  That sort of thing happens and it is understandable.  But when the last dozen comments -including ones I made myself- have disappeared, then something is dreadfully wrong.

Blogger help posts and forum discussions have been less than helpful and I'm too tired to sleuth out a solution right now.  But for those kind people that have reached out to me, I want you to know that I'm not ignoring you.  I will get back to you as soon as I figure out how to fix this mess.

And, in the meantime, if any of my fellow bloggers out there know the solution to this problem, I would be very grateful for your assistance.  Maybe in email  or through Google+ since comments don't seem to be the way to get in touch with me just now. 

Hasta pronto,


Friday, April 24, 2015

¡Feliz Día de la Tierra! (Un día tarde...)

Happy Earth Day once again, amigos.  I am a day late but I wanted to share my Earth Day wishes with you anyway.  I found a beautiful piece of art online and an equally beautiful quote, so I put them together to make this graphic for the classroom.

And then I found these graphics too:

And this last one would make a great sorting game for beginners.  Give them the four categories and a list of objects (with pictures if they are really beginners) and have them sort the materials into the different recycling bins: papel, periódico, latas de aluminio, cartón, botellas de plástico, etc.  There is probably a game to be had there, but I'm not coming up with any game mechanics today.

(And now I see that this blog entry didn't post yesterday so I'm officially two days past Earth Day.  And so it goes.  Ah well, have a great Friday and a great weekend, amigos.)

Hasta pronto,


Saturday, April 18, 2015

¿Ciudad, Campo o Costa?

Where would you prefer to live, if you had the choice: the city, the country, or the coast?  This short activity gives Spanish I students some vocabulary (much of it cognates) to talk about what is good about each place and to use the verb gustar to discuss what they like.  After talking with a partner, they can use the space at the bottom to write a few lines in Spanish.  Encourage them to use words they already know that are not on the sheet as a more authentic expression of productive language.

Ciudad, Campo o Costa by Anne Karakash

There are good things about each place, museums and shows in the city, fresh air and farm animals in the country, fresh seafood and swimming on the coast.  Those are the things I included in the activity.  I did not talk about the bad things like traffic, pollution, cow poop, or hurricanes.  Maybe that would make an amusing activity for another time?  I'm laughing thinking about it, so it probably would be very entertaining!  If I'm really feeling bold, I can use the picture below.  Ha!  (Maybe not, lol.)

But seriously now, this would be a great activity at the end of the year when you are reviewing gustar and conjugated verb + infinitive before your final exams.  Likewise, it might make a great year starter for Spanish II students who need a refresher after the summer.

Either way, I hope it is useful to you.  And, as always, if you find something here that you like and that you can use in class - it would be great to hear from you.

Hasta pronto,


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Las Canciones Top Ten - Una Idea

So I had this idea for a fun warm-up today that I thought the students might enjoy.  I ran it past my 16-year-old daughter and got a thumbs-up, so it's a go!

Here's what I'm going to do.  Take titles from the Top 10 and translate them into Spanish, then allow the students (beginners, mostly) to guess which songs they are.  I think they would get a kick out of it and that positivity at the beginning of the class period can make for a better learning environment for everyone.  Plus, I think the students like to know that I take the time to appreciate their music too.  (Dear lord, I sound so old when I say that.  But I have to admit, the Top 10 is no longer my music - in any sense of the phrase.)

Not all songs are going to have translations.  For example, this week's Top 10 features a Bruno Mars tune titled "Uptown Funk."  There is no Spanish, real or imagined, that will properly convey that idea.  So we'll skip that one.  :-)

Here are some of this week's Top 10 songs, as indicated by iTunes downloads:

1.  See You Again  - Te Veo Otra Vez
2.  Shut Up and Dance - Cállate y Baila (Great!  I'm doing commands this week, so this is perfect.)
3.  Uptown Funk
4.  Trap Queen - I'm gonna be honest here and say that I'm not sure what this means in English, but it sounds slightly naughty to me.  So to avoid embarrassment and inter-generational culture clash, I'm going to skip this one.
5.   Earned It - Lo Ganaste
6.  Want to Want Me - Quiero Que Me Quieras (Subjunctive!)
7.  Girl Crush - Encaprichada Con Ella (This implies a bi-sexual infatuation.  Know your audience before you bring this topic into your classroom.)
8.  Love Me Like You Do - Quiéreme Así Como Me Quieres  (You're welcome to improve on this translation if you like.  It's a tricky one.)
9.  Chains - Cadenas (Easy one!)
10.  Thinking Out Loud - Pensando En Voz Alta

Have fun with this one.  The Top 10 is a gift that keeps on giving, so you could pull this activity out every couple of weeks and it stays fresh.  Better yet, invite your students to take a try at translating some of these song titles themselves!

Hasta pronto,


Monday, April 13, 2015

La Familia Completa

Spanish is such an interesting language and, just as soon as I think I can call myself an expert, something will come along and make me call everything I've learned into question.  Tonight a student asked me the difference between alimentar and dar de comer.  Every time I tried to give an answer, it just sounded worse than the one before.  The final reply?  They both mean the same thing but different people seem to use them different ways.  Online forum says alimentar is used to feed in a gourmet way and dar de comer is just for animals.  Then I found this:

Ha!  Nothing gourmet about that.  If I had captioned it, I probably would have written "Deme de comer, humano."  But obviously at least one person out there disagrees.  

And then there is the matter of "extended family".  That shouldn't be so hard to express, but there is a cultural chasm there.  What we English speakers consider distant relatives are not considered so distant in the Spanish-speaking world.  And further, the phrase just doesn't seem to to translate.  I got "familia lejana" when I looked online, but that doesn't include the close family.  "Familia cercana y lejana" seems awkward and wordy.  So I settled on "familia completa".

That's a long introduction for this crossword puzzle I made.  It has all the family, including such things as great great grandmother, stepfather, half-brother, godfather, and ancestors, etc.  It is meant for Spanish II students - those who are ready to go beyond the basic family vocabulary.  With the exception of the words "godmother" and "godfather", which would require very lengthy explanations, all the definitions are in Spanish.

I might have the chance to put together an answer key tomorrow, but I have to do a peer observation and it's a late night with senior project presentations, so I might not.

I hope you're off to a good week!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Risa Para El Viernes

I saw this today on Pinterest in English and I figured I could translate it into Spanish to make a simple joke that my students, even the beginners, could understand.  I think it's funny on its own without the last two added panels, but kids like the memes. . . .

And my husband sent these Garfield cartoons along to me because he was able to understand them with his (very) limited Spanish, so he thought that my students would be able to understand them too.

And I saw something similar to this in English so I made one in Spanish.  My students got a good laugh out of this one!

Have a great weekend, amigos!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

El Lenguaje Corporal de México - Hoja de Participación

Body language and gestures are a topic that we are covering in my 2nd and 5th period classes.  This always seems to be a fun topic because it is interesting to see what gestures are used by different cultures. 

Today I had students make gestures for the class and then we guessed what they all meant.  We had such things as: Okay, High Five, Crazy, Wait Please, What time is it?, and I'm watching you.  I also shared a couple of gestures with them that were popular in the 80s that have since fallen out of vogue.  They got a kick out of those!

I came across this cute little video on Mexican gestures on Pinterest several months ago, and today seemed the perfect time to bring it out and dust it off.  The guy on the video does a great job and he is quite charming.  It is hard not to enjoy this video - even for prickly adolescents. 

But, like most teachers, I have a coupe of students who just aren't on board unless I'm standing over them with a rubric and a phone - threatening to call their parents.  So I decided to make a participation sheet to accompany the video.  It's easy as pie for those people who are paying attention, but it will pose a challenge to anyone who cannot be bothered to pay attention.  ¡Ja!  :-)

Here is a link to the participation sheet:

The link to the video is on the sheet, but here it is again for your convenience: Fluent without Talking - Cultural Stuff

I hope this is useful to you and your students.  If so, I'd love to hear from you!

Hasta pronto,


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rarito . . . y un proyecto para español II

Years ago, as in 2011, I made a post about a little project my students were doing in Spanish II to use city vocabulary and preterite tense.  I took pictures of their little books and talked about how it is fun to do creative things from time to time in the classroom.  Here it is, for reference: Libritos Blog Post from November 2011 .

This blog is small and cozy.  I have no ads here and an intimate little group of regulars who come around.  I try to keep things conversational and friendly.  Most of my readers are quiet and few ever leave any comments.  (The one thing I would change, if I could.  I wish people spoke up more often.)

I say all the above because in the last two days I've gotten three comments - almost identical in their wording and all asking for the same thing - the project guidelines and rubric for my Libritos project from nearly four years ago.

Is it just me or is that a bit odd?  I almost never hear from anyone, then suddenly I get three nearly identical requests in the period of a couple days - all for a post that is way out of date and relatively unknown.  In fact, the post has only ever been viewed 450 times since it was put up.  None of the other 447 viewers ever asked for anything.  All the commenters left email addresses too - apparently wanting me to mail the rubric and project guidelines to them instead of coming here to download it.  Is this just a weird coincidence or is this some sort of a weird scam?

Though I do not know the answer to the above questions, I figured I would at least take a moment to provide the information that was requested.

Here are the project guidelines: 

And here is the project rubric:

The Libritos project was an effort to get kids doing something hands-on and creative with their vocabulary (the city) and the preterite tense.  I asked them to recall a trip they had made to a big city or, barring that, to imagine a trip - maybe even to a Spanish-speaking city.  They had to include six pictures with captions in Spanish.  If the photos were not original, they had to give the URLs where they found them online.  (Sourcing photos in MLA is a little complicated, so I just went with URLs.  I want them to be in the habit of acknowledging the providers of information and images, even if it is technically not in MLA format.  Don't tell the English Department, please.)

Directions are written in English . . . <sigh> . . . helicopter parents et al.

I hope this project and rubric will be of some use to you.  I also hope that, whoever my mystery commenters are, this will be useful to them as well.

Hasta muy pronto, amigos.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Español 1 ¡Olé!

Yesterday was a staff development day.  (That is a teacher workday in the Newspeak of the education world.)  I got my professional development budget and my curriculum budget done for the 2015-2016 school year, attended a couple of meetings, had lunch with my fellow Spanish teachers, and enjoyed a nice breakfast courtesy of our amazing PTA group.  But the real buzz and excitement yesterday was that the scheduling committee had our assignments for next year.  And, for the first time in five years, I get to teach Spanish 1!

Don't you just love Spanish 1?  It is the place where all of us first fell in love with the language and it is such a joy to usher young people through that journey as well.  Colors, numbers, weather, telling time, days of the week . . . ahh!  It is all so much fun.  I put about $150 worth of classroom boardgames and card games on my budget so that we can enjoy ourselves next year while we learn.

100s Chart Idea by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

Since I was in the mood for having fun while learning Spanish, I put together a fun activity to help kids learn the numbers.  The sheet has a couple of 100s charts and the idea is that the teacher (or someone else) calls out numbers and the students color those numbers in when they hear them.  When the activity is finished correctly, there should be a picture.

I made the boxes small so that the students wouldn't take too much class time coloring them in, and I put four charts on the sheet so that you can do several of these - maybe one per day.

There are a lot of 10x10 pictures in color on the web.  If you look you can easily find them, but I wanted to keep this activity simple so I made some black and white pictures as guides.  Click on them to see them in full size or download them for use later.

Fun, right?  Oh, how I love the things you can do in Spanish 1.

Have a great weekend, amigos!