Monday, July 27, 2015

Los Números

Oh, Spanish 1 . . . it's so much fun to talk about numbers, colors, and days of the week.  No furrowed brows of frustration with pluperfect subjunctive, no tears cried at the overly-complicated rules of commands, no howls of protest over sequence of tenses - just straightforward vocabulary at its finest.  Grammar will come, as it always must, but for now we have a little bit of time to amass vocabulary and focus on speaking and listening.

 Los Números Power Point by AnneK on Confesiones y Realidades Blog

I have put together a PowerPoint that shows the numbers - in order and out of order, so that they can be practiced flashcard-style in class.  I made this PowerPoint originally for my community college class, but it is very simple and it works well at any age.

Feel free to use, remake, reorder, or whatever works well for you.

Hasta pronto,


Friday, July 24, 2015

La Canción del Paisaje

As I mentioned yesterday, I like to start the school year off with a fun activity that will spark imagination and enthusiasm in my students.

I was fortunate to happen across The Landscape Song over at Zambombazo recently and I was super impressed with the music and especially the inspiration behind it.  (I should point out that The Landscape Song is a Jeep commercial, but the commercial part of it is very brief and doesn't interfere much with the music and the beautiful landscapes that inspired it.)

Zach and Betsy over at Zambombazo do an amazing job of creating unique and inspiring activities and I have used their work many times in my classes.  (If you haven't been to their site yet, go now!)  Usually they put up great activities when they discover songs that can be used in the classroom.  But I guess they had their hands full so they did not link an activity to The Landscape Song.  That gave me an opportunity to step up and create my own activity to share with my students (and with yours!).

The great thing about this is that the idea is universal.  Students from Spanish 1 all the way through Spanish 5/AP were able to watch this video, hear the music, and find inspiration.  And it was a PERFECT activity for the first day of class, if I do say so myself!

The activity includes, music, map skills, geography, and Spanish (of course).  There are two versions of the activity because my Spanish 1 classes were on the first day of Spanish ever and I couldn't write directions or questions for them in Spanish yet.  (Well . . . I did sneak a little Spanish in there - all cognates though.)

Of all the lessons I have ever done on the first day of class, I have to say that this one is my very favorite.  The students seemed to enjoy it too.  My band students were fascinated and we reviewed the geography of the Spanish-speaking world in a completely painless way.  Win, win, win!

Feel free to use it in your class too - on the first day or otherwise.  I will offer this one small caution to you.  The place names appear in teeny-tiny print at the bottom of each picture, so I had to call them out as we went so that my students could complete the activity.

Do you love it, or what?  It would be great to hear from you.

All the best,


Thursday, July 23, 2015

El Primer Día de Clases

Hello again, amigos!  I'm sorry for my long absence but I needed some time to sort out some things and, as always, I was completely wrung out at the end of the school year.

I teach at a year-round school so, believe it or not, students are already back in class and we are getting ready to finish up our second week! 

We had our Open House before we recommenced and it was abuzz with excitement and anticipation.  The freshmen are excited to finally be at the high school and the seniors are strutting around like they own the place.  :-)  I had older siblings introduce new students, hugs from parents, visits from former students, and just a lot of positive energy all around.  Honestly, Open House is one of my very favorite things that we do all year!

So, the question is this: How does one keep the excitement going as long as possible?

I know how NOT to do it.  Here are some things that I never do on the first day of class.
  • Go over a long list of rules and consequences.
  • Read the syllabus to them.
  • Give them homework.
  • Try to intimidate them into behaving.
  • Have nothing planned.

But, obviously, we do need to review the syllabus, go over rules, assign seats, assign textbooks, encourage good behavior and (eventually) assign homework.  So what to do?

Here is how I handle the situation: For the first week I go over one rule per day and one major issue on the syllabus.  For returning students in Spanish V and Spanish III, this can be very minimal indeed - these students already know me and my routine.  But for new students in Spanish I, I might need to go into a little more explanation.  I keep paperwork to a minimum and try to get them into having fun in the language as quickly as possible.

It's fun to do an "Introduce Yourself" activity with Spanish I.  But, my school is a small one and the students here have all known each other since kindergarten, so introduction and icebreaker activities don't go over very well.  Another good option is to do a cognates activity.  This way they can start to see how much Spanish they already know.  I posted a cognates activity last year that might be a good fit for your class (and might not).  

This year I have a great activity that I'm going to do that involves music and geography accompanied by a beautiful video, but I will have that completed and I will post it to share with you all tomorrow.

Believe it or not, I started writing this post a week and a half ago and then got so busy that I didn't have time to post it.  You believe me; I know.  You are teachers, after all, and you know how it goes.

Hasta pronto,