Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Acción de Gracias - Organizador Gráfico

I have a really good Thanksgiving activity that I wrote a few years ago and that I have for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  However, I cannot do it every year or else my Spanish 3 students from this year will be bored and annoyed with me next year in Spanish 4.  You know how it goes.

So this year I decided to share Thanksgiving vocabulary and talk a bit about traditions and food in class.  The discussion in second period was especially fun because we have an exchange student from Barcelona with us, and she has never experienced the holiday before.  Students were gushing about the deliciousness of pumpkin pie (mostly in Spanish!) and about how she was going to love stuffing.  When we were done discussing, I then asked my students to organize their thoughts into a graphic organizer.  We completed the activity with a brief writing about what we will eat and do on Thanksgiving, who we will see, and what we are grateful for.

I have a copy of the organizer here for you, of course.

 Thanksgiving-Themed Graphic Organizer and Writing Prompt Free by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

And in case you are new around here at Confesiones y Realidades, I have posted a couple other Thanksgiving activities in years past.  Here are a few in case you are looking for something to do with your classes.

If you are feeling creative, you might want to do Verb Turkeys!  Good times, good times.

 Verb Turkeys - Thanksgiving Craft for Spanish Class by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades

If you want to review vocabulary with your students, I have a Power Point.  It is editable, so you can add your own vocabulary and take out slides as you wish.

Thanksgiving Vocabulary Power Point in Spanish free from AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Bog

And the above-mentioned activity I have my students do alternating years is for sale at Teachers Pay Teachers.  It contains a reading with vocabulary, pre-reading, and comprehension activities.  It also contains a culminating activity in which students research Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico and plan a fiesta.  (Rumors are that there is a secret bonus file in the package too . . . shhh!)  It's a brilliant value for $2.50, if I do say so myself.

 Thanksgiving  - Spanish Vocabulary and Activities by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

And in case you have little ones in your classes - ages 6-10 or thereabouts, I even have a fun packet for them available too.  It has puzzles, vocabulary, drawing, and coloring - all in Spanish, of course.

 Elementary Spanish - Thanksgiving Fun Pack by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades

All in all, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving wherever you are.  And I hope your students have fun exploring the holiday in Spanish.

Hasta pronto,


Monday, November 14, 2016

El Día de los Muertos - Las Calaveras

Did you ever have one of those days where you were going to decorate sugar skulls for Day of the Dead, but the night before, a panicked student texted you to let you know that she can't find the molds for the skulls and the ones in the store are too expensive?  Yes, I know.  That's probably just me.  But I had to think of something quickly so the whole fiesta wouldn't be a flop.

The solution?  Sugar cookies.

Though I will be the first to admit that these are not the most authentic sugar skulls that ever existed, we were still able to have fun and learn a little about Day of the Dead in the process.  And we didn't have sugar and meringue powder all over the classroom when we were done.

The night before your event, you make simple sugar cookies in an oval shape.  This works best if you split up the chore among several students, in case someone forgets or someone is not as good at baking as they claim.  *wink*

In class the next day, you frost the cookies with white icing and then decorate them with various colored icings to make them look like calaveras.

The colored frosting can be made easily by spooning white frosting into ziplock bags and adding a drop or two of food coloring.  You then seal up the bags and squish them around until the color mixes through. Cut a tiny little notch out of the corner of one of the bags and Bob's your uncle!  (That is slang for "Everything is great").

We made enough cookies for each student to have two.  It's more delicious that way, but it also is a learning process and it lets the kids experiment a bit without having to worry that they have ruined their cookie.

Have fun, amigos!


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Brujita de Halloween - Partes del Cuerpo

I needed a labelling activity featuring the parts of the body and I wanted something appropriate for the season - not that dreadful blurred-out androgynous body that I so often see on these sorts of activities.  So when I found this adorable little Halloween witch, I decided she would be perfect.

Adorable Halloween witch to label with body parts in Spanish - Free activity from AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

One thing you will surely notice (if you are as OCD as me) is that the lines are not perfectly horizontal . . . for reasons that continue to elude me, Microsoft Word simply would not let me level them completely.  Heaven knows I tried.  But they are certainly close enough.

There is a word bank at the bottom of the sheet so student will remember their accent marks and tildes over the Ñ.

I hope it is useful to you and, as always, it would be great to hear from you.

PS:  Since I was on the subject of Halloween witches, there is also this fabulous funny I had to translate to Spanish.

Hasta pronto,


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Los Derechos Humanos - Una Actividad

It is that time of year again when I get to chapter 3 with my Spanish IV students and we begin to talk about human rights.  I find that young people often have a hard time knowing what is a right and what is a privilege.  Furthermore, knowing the difference between civil rights and human rights can sometimes be difficult as well - even perhaps for adults.

I happened across this great video that explains clearly and concisely what human rights are in very comprehensible Spanish, and with illustrations to facilitate understanding.

So, you know me . . . I made an activity.

 Understanding human rights - A comprehension activity for intermediate Spanish students. Free from AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog.

I love using these short informational videos with my classes at all levels.  They can learn about something while learning Spanish at the same time.  The illustrations and clear pronunciation (at a reasonable rate of speed!) help students with comprehensibility and build their confidence too.

The questions on my activity are fairly easy, mostly I stay at the bottom of Bloom's Taxonomy since this topic and the vocabulary are still quite fresh.  However, they are asked to express in their own words what human rights are and, at the end, they are asked why it is important that human rights apply equally to all human beings.  Those two tasks require Spanish III (or higher) skills.  But I estimate a student would be able to complete this activity in 15-20 minutes and have a fairly good comprehension of the topic.

Click here to download the activity.  It is free and comes with my love.  If it's useful, it would certainly be great to hear from you.

Hasta pronto,


Friday, October 14, 2016

La Orquesta Sinfónica - Una Lección Aprendida a Golpes

I grew up in a time where the only practice that teachers regularly gave us were worksheets - always in that purple mimeograph ink.  The ubiquitous worksheet was the gold standard of student practice, and remained so for years and years.

So when I became a teacher myself, all those years ago, I brought that mindset with me.  I would have a lesson goal and I would look for the perfect worksheet to accompany my material.  But times change and so did I.  As I grew as a teacher, so did the practice opportunities I offered - worksheets still remained, but I added in conversational pairs practice, creative activities, games, puzzles, readings, reflections, and any number of other ways for students to engage with the language.

 La Orquesta Sinfónica - Creative language activity by AnneK at Confessiones y Realidades Blog

So earlier this week I was contemplating a way for my students to work with the music vocabulary we are learning in Spanish 3.  I made an audio quiz in which they listened to a sound file and identified the instrument; which was great.  (I would share it here with you, but it is in Canvas format and I don't think you could access the content outside the app.)  I also made a vocabulary organization activity where students would identify various instruments, and instrument groupings (strings, percussion, woodwinds, etc.), and organize them according to the layout of a modern symphony.  It should have been fun . . . but it was not.

My original idea had been for them to doodle little pictures of the various instruments in the appropriate spots on the diagram.  But then I imagined myself trying to draw a french horn and decided that maybe the best way to go would be by providing them with clipart and giving them an option to either doodle or to cut-and-paste.  The problem was that, as I'm sure you know, quality clipart is expensive and time-consuming to find.  So I found most of the vocabulary and figured they could doodle the rest.  Additionally, because some clipart images had multiple instruments in them, there were also some pictures that they did not need to use.  Add to that there were two sections for violins and two sections for french horns, and we descended into academic chaos.

The ultimate problem was that the assignment was not cohesive.  I had some clipart but other items were absent.  There were pictures that were not necessary.  This created confusion and I found myself having to explain again and again to a frustrated group of students.

La Orquesta Sinfónica - Creative language activity by AnneK at Confessiones y Realidades Blog

The result?  I learned my lesson.  Creative activities are as good as the planning that goes into them.  Don't give half-baked ideas to your students unless you are willing to do a lot of explaining and re-explaining to get them through it.

I did fix the activity!  I got clipart for the missing items.  I went in and removed the parts of the images that contained the extraneous instruments and all is now well.

I did get the occasional bad attitude, but they are just kids after all and they were frustrated.
"Why do I need to know the names of these instruments in Spanish if I don't even know them in English?" 
"You should learn them in both languages." 
"Because that is what education is all about - learning things, growing, becoming more today than we were yesterday."

Enjoy the (fixed!) lesson, amigos.  Download it by clicking here or on the image of it above.


Friday, September 2, 2016

Los Animales en Español

Here is a colorful Power Point I put together to practice the animals in Spanish 1.  It's editable, so you can easily add or subtract slide to customize this to your vocabulary list.  I put in a little section at the end that focuses on South American animals, so that there would be a little culture in the lesson.

Los Animales - a free vocabulary Power Point for Spanish class by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

I always struggle a little when it comes to teaching animals.  Today's textbooks rarely have an animal chapter - and for good reason - with the exception of pets, one doesn't have much need to talk about animals.  The times I've needed the words cebra or leopardo, for example, in actual conversation are almost nonexistent and, unless you're living on the African Savannah or working in a zoo, I imagine it is the same for you and your students. Still, animals seem to be considered basic need-to-know vocabulary by so many people.  But then which animals do we include and which ones do we exclude?  What about all the regional variations - puerco, chancho, cochino, etc.?  And when do we ever really need to talk about pigs in an authentic communicative situation after all?

Regardless of my reluctance, the students love it and they gobble up this vocabulary.  For that reason alone it has merit.  And there are a lot of fun activities you can do to practice, culturally-perceived animal onomatopoeia, pantomimes, vocabulary doodles, children's songs, etc.

I hope you find a use for the Power Point and don't forget to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by.

Hasta pronto,


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Especies en Peligro de Extinción - Spanish Substitute Lesson

My Spanish 4 class is doing a unit on conservation and ecology right now, and one of the terms on their vocabulary list is las especies en peligro de extinción.

I decided that I wanted to create a multimedia activity for them to do to end the week, so I focused on finding a video about various endangered species.  I thought it would prove informative as well as interesting, but ultimately there were three types of videos I found: 1) Those that were very well made but entirely too long and involved for this sort of activity, 2) Those that were filled will all sorts of nonsense and species of animals that do not exist, and 3) Those that were too simple for my level 4 students.  *sigh*

Free Activity by AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades Blog

 I found one video that was about three minutes long and had some good information, but it really contained very little in the way of Spanish.  The names of the animals show up on the screen in Spanish, but there is no voice over - so it doesn't provide any authentic listening practice, which kind of defeats the purpose of the activity . . . . Still, I decided to make the activity anyway.  Not everything has to be super hard, I suppose.  Click here or on the image above to download the activity.

And when I finished it up I realized that, because the video is so easy to understand, this activity could be completed easily by any Spanish student that had had at least the first semester of level 1.  This means that it will make a great substitute lesson - provided your students have access to technology, of course. This particular activity will not translate well to paper, though I suppose you could always try.

I hope it is useful to you and, as always, if you do find a place for it in your classroom - I'd love to hear from you!

Hasta pronto,


Friday, August 26, 2016

Feliz Viernes

I try to have a cute little graphic or joke to start each class.  It's fun to start the lesson with a smile on our faces, after all.  In theory it sounds great but honestly sometimes that it the hardest part of the lesson for me.  Finding something that is accessible and also funny can be tricky, so some days we just get a cute little "Happy Friday" or the equivalent.  Here are a couple cute ones I found yesterday while looking about:

I sometimes feel a little guilty about TGIF jokes because, at least on some level, it makes it seem like I don't want to be at school with my students.  Hopefully that isn't the message they are getting.  Most days I love my job and I'm happy to do it, but weekends are still fun.  Right?

And these cute little graphics have nothing to do with Friday, but still came up on my search for some reason.  I do wish the one with Frida were in Spanish but it's adorable and positive, so here goes:

¡Feliz viernes, amigos!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Video Sobre Venezuela

I wanted to take a moment and share a student project with you.  Over the years we have all gotten our share of wow projects and our share of disappointing ones as well.

However, it is rare that students do a project that is something really worth sharing with the outside world and that could potentially serve as a resource to others.  I think this video about Venezuela is just such a project.

My student did the research, found beautiful photography, cited his sources, and put it all together in a nice little video that lasts about six minutes.  It is very professional and I am quite proud of him!

The one drawback is that the video had to be in English because it is for our school's International Festival this weekend.  (More about that later!).  So, because our audience is not made up of Spanish-speakers, all our projects had to be in English.  We will have the video running on a loop on a television at our Venezuela table so everyone can enjoy it.

I think it would make a nice accompaniment to any lesson about Venezuela you might have.  It might even make a nice bell-ringer.

Oh, and here's a picture so we can pin this post over at Pinterest.

Student video about the country and culture of Venezuela from AnneK at Confesiones y Realidades

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Hasta pronto,


Friday, February 12, 2016

Mil Años - Una canción romántica para celebrar el 14 de febrero

I was at our homecoming dance recently and when the song A Thousand Years came on, there was a definite excitement in the air as everyone scrambled to find a partner for this special slow dance.  The song has been with us a couple of years already, so I was surprised that it still generated so much glee on the part of the students.

But, after giving the lyrics another listen, I can see why it is still so popular.  It is one of those forever love songs that never really goes out of style.  Anyone that has loved deeply can relate to it and it has a great vibe for a romantic dance with someone special.

Today I decided to put together a little activity for my students that involved this romantic song - you know, for Valentine's Day.  <3

Step one was to find a version of it in Spanish.  Kevin, Karla y La Banda didn't disappoint.  They have a great version of the song filled with impassioned vocals and sweet lyrics.  And, instead of making a cloze-style activity, I decided instead to swap the order of the verses.  So students listen and number the lines in the order they appear.  This is a simpler activity than cloze and it made the song easier for my Spanish 1 classes to enjoy.

I put a couple discussion questions and a little blurb about the band in the margin and viola!

I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine did.

Hasta pronto,


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

¡Ya Era Hora! - y un proyecto para San Valentín

If you've been following my blog for awhile now, and especially if you are a fellow teacher, you know how hectic things can get sometimes.  So, from time to time, I put the blog on a mini hiatus and take the time I need to attend to the chaos that I call life.

Right now, I'm working on updating my National Board Certification, getting my students ready for the National Spanish Exam, and my department is putting on an International Festival for our town.  Yikes!

Still, I wanted to share this with you so I've fought for a couple free minutes here to update the blog.

Every year at Valentine's Day, I take an hour of class time to have my students make valentines for the staff here at the school.  They are appreciation cards for those teachers, administrators, and staff who make a difference in the lives of our students.  We do them in Spanish (of course) but, since our audience is primarily English-speaking, we make bilingual cards.

The trick to doing this successfully is to make sure that the students express themselves in Spanish first and then translate their ideas back to English.  When students express themselves first in English, they tend to use expressions and vocabulary that they cannot yet say in Spanish.  So I give them a number of phrases and words they can use to express themselves in Spanish on the sheet. 

My students will be making their cards in class on Wednesday and Thursday so I will try to post pictures of some examples as they become available.

Update:  Here are some photos, as promised!

I hope you have an amazing San Valentín, amigos.

Hasta pronto,


Thursday, December 3, 2015

La Nochebuena ¡Bilingüe!

First let me say that I do not claim ownership of the following.  I was just lucky enough to find it online and, though I cannot track down the original source, I think it might be from Plaza Santillana.  Normally I would say no to Spanglish, as I'm sure you would too.  But I have to admit that this little poem delighted me and I cannot wait to share it with my students!

Also, here are a couple of funnies to share with your students!



And, in case you are looking for Navidad classroom materials, may I make a couple suggestions?

 Spanish Christmas Bingo by Anne Karakash 

¡Hasta pronto, amigos! 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Humor Para Noviembre

I'm often amazed by the sorts of things that are popular on Pinterest and other social media.  I try hard to make good lessons that will interest students and teachers, that use authentic language, and that are culturally relevant.  But what gets pinned  and re-pinned are the jokes.  I guess that makes sense, really.  Jokes appeal to everyone and lessons only really are of interest to teachers, so I'm not complaining.

But try to find seasonal jokes in the fall that aren't all turkeys morbidly trying to avoid their demise!  Yikes!  I don't think I find that sort of thing very humorous, but I must be in the minority on that particular opinion.  I only included a couple of those jokes here, but there are plenty of them online if you are interested.

Without further ado, here is the November humor roundup:

And, if you are looking for an activity to do on Thanksgiving with your Spanish classes, I have one available on TpT for a song.  You get vocabulary, reading comprehension, Power Point with foods and traditions, and a cultural comparison.  It's awesome, I'm just sayin'.  (Spanish 2-3)

Acción de Gracias - Reading, Power Point, & Cultural Comparison by AnneK

And, at the request of my 6-year-old son, I have delved into designing elementary school content as well.  This Thanksgiving Fun Pack is approved by him as fun and got a thumbs up - though the crossword puzzle was a bit hard for him.  It is intended for grades 1-3 but some of it might be appropriate for older or younger learners.

Thanksgiving Fun Pack in Spanish - for Elementary Kids: Puzzles, Hidden Messages, Vocabulary, Coloring, Fun!!

Hasta pronto, amigos.  --AnneK