Lo bueno, lo malo, y lo feo: End-of-the-Year Reflections

Lo bueno, lo malo, y lo feo: End-of-the-Year Reflections

Some of my favorite bloggers have been sharing end-of-the-year confessions and reflections, and got me thinking about the same. Mis clases locas, Musicuentos, Maris Hawkins, and Las clases de Stilson all have GREAT posts. If you– like me– usually limp toward the end of the school year, these honest and hilarious posts are the perfect read right now. 

 

Lo bueno

 

1. Reading novels in class.

 

I cannot tell you what a good decision this was! We read Piratas del Caribe in Spanish I my Middle School elective, along with several homeschool classes, and Esperanza in Spanish 3. Esperanza was an easier read, which was perfect– good review and we were able to focus on great discussions together. I liked Esperanza, but LOVED Piratas. It was perfect for the end of the year, just when we needed fresh, exciting content. If you are moving away from the textbook and need good comprehensible input, buy novels. Now for next year, I can work backwards from Piratas for Spanish I and have a good idea of how to build stories up.

2. Convincing my school to formally ditch the textbook.

 

Yes! We did it. We aren’t throwing them away necessarily, but I don’t have to plan around them or use them at all. I sat down with my supervisor and showed her the ACTFL Proficiency standards, from which I’d be working, and she loved it. I also requested several novel sets for each level of Spanish, and was approved for everything. As a department of one, it’s basically up to me to research, advise, and implement so this summer my to-do list is HUGE this summer. Thank goodness I have Camp Musicuentos to look forward to, as I plan plan plan.

To be honest, I used to look at the teachers who planned late into the night and all summer as weird, no-life nerds. Well, now it’s me. But when you know you’re onto something good, it’s hard to stop, right?

3. Spanish at home.

 

Between blogging, TpT, and teaching 7 different preps, this year was busy. There was too much screen time,  for sure. But I do think we at least did well speaking Spanish with our kids. They know tons of poetry and songs in Spanish, and our 3-year-old speaks very well. The 1-year-old understands everything, and has some words like por favor, agua, leche, and te amo down. It makes me really glad we committed to speaking Spanish from an early age, because by now it’s more natural for me as a non-native. Even when my brain is fried, it’s still kind’ve programmed to kids: Spanish.

 

Lo malo

 

1. TL in the classroom.

 

Okay, so it was better than previous years. But, I am a very-in-the-moment teacher and often forget my management systems. I was always forgetting about my euros (though they’re still handy during specific activities) and I kept forgetting about my piñata thing. I had bought this pirate piñata to hand to students who spoke English, as a fun little reminder. If someone else spoke English, the piñata would get passed on, and whoever had the piñata at the end of class got a castigo. Great in theory, and for specific discussion times, but I usually only remembered it because the students said, “Profe, la piñata! because they wanted to get an unlucky friend in trouble.

2. Bell-ringers.

 

Ah bell-ringers, you are my nemesis. We started the year off strong, but halfway through the fall… not so much. Part of this was because I was moving away from the textbook and my grammar/vocab-based exercises, and didn’t really have a replacement system in place. Gah– so many of my classroom management failures can be traced to not starting class well. I don’t see my students every day, and I need to be better about creating an efficient, orderly, welcoming routine to set the mood and atmosphere the rest of class.

 

Lo feo

 

1. My house.

 

My housekeeping definitely got the brunt of the chaos that this year was. Seriously– there were days if you’d knocked on my front door I wouldn’t have let you in, I’d be so embarrassed. However- I will say I finally let go of some of my housekeeping guilt. Cooking and cleaning have been sad, sad, sad this year, yes. But I am giving myself more grace and remembering that for right now something has to go, and I’d rather it be the house.

2. Our interactive student notebooks.

 

Oh my. The first year of interactive notebooks is CRAZY! I have a billion posts I plan to write on what I learned about them. I think the first year just is what it is. The students liked them, I liked them, but most of them turned out really sad. To do them well (and not feo), you really need a clear plan.

3. The process of throwing out the textbook.

 

Okay, so have you heard the TPRS camp (whom I love), say “A bad day of TPRS is better than a good day of traditional teaching?” That may be true, but it also probably means they didn’t watch some of my bad days. Thank goodness. I do not regret the decision to drop the textbook and move to a Proficiency-based, CI-driven classroom one bit. However, doing so has been chaotic, messy and disjointed at times.

Thank goodness for the school calendar, right? Thank goodness for an actual end-of-the-year, a summer ahead, and a fresh start in the fall. I am planning a ton of posts this summer giving you a peek into my new-and-improved interactive notebooks, philosophizing about CI and no textbook, and what I’m learning about teaching to proficiency.

Do you have any posts or reflections on the end of the year? Leave them below in the comments!

 

lo bueno,lo malo,y lo feo (1)

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10 Interactive End-of-the-Year Games for the Spanish Classroom

10 Interactive End-of-the-Year Games for the Spanish Classroom

Inside: End of the year games for Spanish class.

The end of the year can be… interesting, right? Everyone is tired, you have run out of ideas, testing has already been done, and summer is on everyone’s mind. Here are some ideas that work with any unit or theme and put all the summer energy to constructive use. (And don’t miss my post on Icebreakers for High School and Middle School.)

If you have a few weeks that need some fresh content, the BBC’s beginner’s Spanish series Mi Vida Loca is also a great option. Most of the ideas below are gathered from my series on Games and Ideas for Mi Vida Loca. I have free activities from Episodes 1-5 available, and an entire Activity Pack available as well.

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1. Serpiente 

Divide the class into two groups. Write a word on the board, and draw a slash after it. The first team has to write a word that starts with the last letter written, then draw a slash. The second team writes word starting with the last letter of that word, and so on. No words may be repeated, and you can adjust the rules for what words are allowed (ie, they must contain at least 3 letters).

2. 20 Preguntas 

Play Veinte Preguntas to review people, places, and words from the series. (Give the students some basic structures and phrases if necessary: ¿Es una persona? ¿Es un lugar? ¿Es una cosa?)

3. Bracket Activity

Do a bracket tournament and vote on any topic. It could be food, songs you learned this year, etc. Use my March Madness bracket PPT here to project a bracket on the board and list the items. Designate one wall for the upper choice and one for the lower choice. Call out “¿Agua con gas, o café?” for example, and the students vote by moving to one side of the room or the other.

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4. Around the World / Sparkle

 This can be played in a circle or with everyone in their seats. Choose one student. He/she stands up next to the student to the right. Call out a word. The first student to give the meaning advances, and the other stays in that seat. The first students to advance all the way around the room and return to his/her original seat wins.

5. Teléfono escrito

This is like the game Telephone, except with drawings and written words.

1. Everyone will start with a piece of paper. At the top, they should sketch a scene. (You may want to give a theme.) They then leave a bit of space, and below describe the scene. Then, they fold the paper so that only the description is showing. Everyone passes the papers to the right.

2. Now everyone reads the description and does their best to sketch what they read. Then, they fold the paper so that only the drawing is showing. Everyone passes to the right again.

3. Only the latest drawing is visible, so everyone looks at it and write a few sentences describing the drawing. Then, they fold the paper so that only the description is showing, and pass to the right again.

You can do this however many rounds you choose. Just be sure to end on a drawing, because the funniest part of the game is comparing the progression of the first drawing to the last. It’s really funny to see what changes happened! Beginners can simply write words they know. Intermediate learners can write sentences.

6. Manzanas a Manzanas

This game is awesome for practicing opinions and adjectives. I have a free download with instructions to play, or you can make your own cards. To play, you will need adjective cards and noun cards. For the noun cards, use whatever vocabulary you want to review.

Put the green adjective cards in the middle, face down. Deal 5-7 red noun cards to each player. Designate a “judge” or juez for the first round. The judge turns the first green card over, and the players put the card they think the judge will pick to match the adjective in the middle. The judge mixes the cards, turns them over, and picks his or her favorite. Whoever that card belongs to keeps the green card as the first point. The leftover red cards can be recycled into the red card pile. The play continues in a circle, with the players taking turns judging.

Model for your class how judges would talk about the cards they are evaluating. For example: La manzana es pequeña. El elefante no es pequeño. or, if it’s something plural: Las manzanas son pequeñas. Los elefantes no son pequeños.

¡Manzanas a Manzanas! (2)

7. Steal the Bacon

This game is best played outside or in a gym. Line up items practiced for vocabulary during the year (clothing, classroom objects, plastic food) exactly in the middle. Make sure nothing is fragile or sharp!

Divide the class into two teams,  and have them arrange themselves each más bajo to más alto. Count up so each team member gets a number (ideally, pairs from each team will be fairly evenly matched). Then have the teams line up on opposite sides of the space.

Call out an item of clothing: el zapato azul. THEN call out a number: ¡Cinco! The students who are from each side race to the middle to grab the zapato azul. To involve more students, call two items of clothing and them two sets of numbers. Just make sure to save the numbers for last so everyone is listening to the clothing terms and paying attention.

8. Categorías

Choose a letter of alphabet. Set a time limit (probably 2 minutes) . Everyone should think of a word that begins with that letter for each category. The trick is to try to think of creative words, because at the end of the time limit the students take turns reading their answers out loud. If anyone else has that word, it gets crossed out for everyone.

Example: The letter is M.  la comida: manzana, la ropa: medias, en la escuela: mapa, los adjetivos: malo, los verbos:  mirar

The first student reads his or her words. Other students have also written malo and manzana, so those words are crossed out. Three words are left: the student got 3 points that round. It is best to arrange students in small groups of 3-4, and have them compare answers at the end of each round.

Get free game sheets for Categorías here!

categorías (6)

9. ¿Quién es?

Choose an object (anything small). Choose one student to be it, and have them go out to the hall. Give the item to one of the students. “It” comes in, and asks yes/no questions to find out who has the item. (It may help to have everyone stand up and sit when they are ruled out. For example, it says: Es un chico? It’s not, so all the chicos sit down.) The competition can come from seeing who can guess in the fewest number of guesses.

10. Mafia

My students absolutely love this game. Martina Bex has a free printable. It includes everything we want: comprehensible input, interpersonal communication, and listening. The printable includes detailed instructions, but here’s the gist: this is a role-playing game, in which certain students are assigned to be the Mafia, other as citizens, and some as doctors and police. The mafia is trying to eliminate the entire “town” before the citizens discover them and  vote them out of the game.

You have to check out Martina’s post! It’s a perfect way to end the year and let the students loose with everything they have learned.

10 AWESOME End-of-the-Year Games (2)

 

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The Best Calendar Songs in Spanish for Kids

The Best Calendar Songs in Spanish for Kids

Inside: Calendar songs in Spanish, including months, seasons, and days of the week songs in Spanish.

Here are some of our favorite picks for calendar songs in Spanish– canciones about  days, months, and seasons. Whether you’re homeschooling or in a classroom, calendar time is perfect to work in some Spanish naturally.

Don’t forget I have a whole resources page for our favorite songs in Spanish for kids, divided by themes! Since writing this post, I also have a page on teaching the days of the week in Spanish for kids and preschoolers. Lots of classic books use days of the week (like La orgua hambrienta), and you can find good links there.

 

1. Days of the Week / Los días de la semana from Tooby’s

 

2. Days of the Week / Los días de la semana con Miss Rosi

 

3. The Months of the Year / Los meses del año

 

4. The Months of the Year in Spanish / Los meses del año

 

5. The Four Seasons Songs in Spanish / Los cuatro estaciones from Calico Spanish

 

“Las  cuatro estaciones” from Little Baby Bum is also really good, though the language is more complex..

 

If you prefer a song for days of the week without a video, you can also use this familiar tune.

days of the week in spanish

I also have a Pinterest board for El calendario with more ideas. Let me know if I missed any of your favorites!

Follow Spanish Mama’s board El calendario on Pinterest.

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March Madness Bracket Activity

March Madness Bracket Activity

march-madness-bracket-spanish-classroom

My students love to express opinions. I play a simple game in which we review any vocabulary by marking one side of the room as “Me encanta” and the other as “No me gusta.” I just call out words (could be foods, hobbies, classes– anything!) and they move to the side of the room that matches their feelings about it. It’s always a hit and a great filler for those times when you finish early or need a brain break. (more…)

Participation Rubric for Language Classes

Participation Rubric for Language Classes

Inside: A free printable participation rubric for language classes

 

Here’s a great tool for your interactive notebooks and for the proficiency-based classroom: a weekly rubric for target language use. I’ve been following Joshua Cabral from World Language Classroom and his videos and posts on proficiency-based teaching have really changed my thinking. I had already been moving toward CI-based instruction, but his insights have helped me re-work my goals and choose a framework for where we are going/ why we do the things we do in class.

 

Before, I had some strategies in place for getting students to speak in the TL, and some strategies in place to keep them accountable. But grammar, or accuracy, had ultimately been my end goal. And my grading system reflected that. As I shift toward proficiency and structuring my teaching around the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines I have appreciated every single concrete posting I can find. This one is a gem!

 

I adapted this rubric from his post Target Language Use: Teacher Support and Student Accountability and in just a few weeks I can already see the light bulbs going off in my students. They have responded really well already to working toward proficiency goals instead of merely accuracy goals, or content goals. They also like that this rubric clearly explains how to be successful while growing in proficiency: not through perfect speech and impeccable grammar, but more deeply by taking risks, using what they know, and staying committed to Spanish even when they are beginners. This year has been chaotic, it feels, as I’ve had one foot in the textbook, and one out. I can’t wait to start well next year, and use this from Week 1!

 

 

Free-Target-Language-Use-Rubric

 

 I adapted Joshua’s 20-point system to a printable format easy for interactive notebooks.  Four areas are explained and “graded:” community, commitment, proficiency, and preparation.

 

Since this is a weekly rubric, I still use my Euros system, usually when students are in groups playing games with a monitor, or during certain times to keep track of students who are frequently resorting to English. Let me know what you think

 

Participation Rubric for Language Classes

 

 

 

Weekly Rubric (1)

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Mano Nerviosa: Awesome Game to Learn the Numbers in Spanish

Mano Nerviosa: Awesome Game to Learn the Numbers in Spanish

Inside: Learn the numbers in Spanish with the game Mano Nerviosa.

Sometimes games waste time. They’re fun, but not necessarily efficient with every student on task.

And then some games have single person engaged, practicing exactly what you want them to practice. Mano Nerviosa is one of those game, and my students beg for it! Once everyone has the hang of it, use it as a brain break, class reward, or for Spanish club.

I learned Mano Nerviosa in Peru, just as a normal card game. When I started teaching, I realized it was perfect for learning numbers 1-13– and actually knowing them. Most students come to me being able to count, or learn 1-10 fairly quickly. If you ask them what seven is, though, they can only get there by counting. This game fixes all that, and works for any topic students learn by chanting or recitation (months, days, ABC’s– you would just need the cards for it).

 

How to Play Mano Nerviosa:

Divide the students into groups of 4-6. (Can be played with 2-3 if needed.)
Ace = 1
2 – 10 = 2 – 10
Jack = 11
Queen = 12
King = 13
(Optional- use the Jokers and write 14 on them)

Divide all of the cards evenly among the players, and use two decks if possible. One person starts by laying a card face up, in the middle, and saying uno (or one— any language works!). The play continues clockwise, laying down cards and counting. When everyone counts to 13, they start back at 1 and count up again. Anytime a number is placed in the middle that matches the number spoken, the players can slap the pile. The first person to hit the card gets the entire pile to keep. The first person to get all the cards in the game wins.

Here’s a video showing the game being played:

 

 

Also, if anyone loses all their cards, they can still slap in. Everyone is involved and engaged with a chance to win, right until the end!

**Give a strict lecture about losing turns, being out of the game, etc. by being too rough. They REALLY get into this one! If you have super-shy, sensitive kids, make sure they are in a less competitive group.**

**Once everyone gets the hang of it, you can choose to play the original way: if anyone incorrectly slaps, they put ten cards back into the pile.**

Here’s my Games in Spanish Pinterest board:

Follow Spanish Mama’s board Spanish Games on Pinterest.

 

.Like it? Pin it!

mano-nerviosa

 

 

 

 

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