Spanish Classrooms Tour: A Peek into 30+ Rooms

Spanish Classrooms Tour: A Peek into 30+ Rooms

Inside: A peek into dozens of Spanish classrooms, of all kinds, shapes, and sizes!

 

A well-designed room won’t make or break your teaching. Oh, but it can make a difference in how you and your students feel. 

Some of you have very limited options, and very tight budgets. I hope this post isn’t a Pinterest-y guilt-inducing post (there’s some serious classroom eye-candy, for sure), but a way to get new ideas for making your space functional and beautiful. 

If you are here looking for something specific, this post is long. Click on the titles if you’d like to jump to the following

Middle and High School

Preschool and Elementary

Spanish Classroom Libraries

 

And I have to say– as I put together this post, I was reminded of the eagerness of our nation’s teachers to share with other teachers (thank you to each and everyone who shared pictures!!), and how much they keep in mind the wellbeing of their students. More than perfection, I think this collection of photos communicate how much teachers care about their students.

Many spent their own money to buy comfortable chairs and build classroom libraries. Those August nights and weekends spent cutting out letters for bulletin boards and hammering together shelves probably went unpaid. You all are a special group of people!

 

 

 

And this one: “Altar de muertos dedicado a uno de los estudiantes que perdió la vida en un accidente el año pasado.”

Credit: Alicia Chávez Bartlett

 

Middle and High School Spanish Classrooms

 

We’ll start with picture from upper school classrooms across the nation. A lot of the rooms feature flexible seating, classroom libraries, or are even deskless.

 

Awesome Flexible Seating

 

I don’t even know what these chairs are called, but I know they’ve got to be popular. Amy Marshall’s classroom and blog are pretty classy and fun-looking. #iwantthesechairs 

 

Piñata-Land

 

I’ve never been able to hand things from the ceiling (darn fire code!), but this is what I would love to do if I could. How amazing are these hanging piñatas from Jenny Robbins’ classroom?

 

 

Group Work Heaven

 

Check out these amazing tables– so many possibilities in this Spanish classroom, from Alison Clausing. 

 

 

And Señora Chase has a whole tour of her room you don’t want to miss!

From here, the featured classrooms all have multiple photos. Click the arrows on the photos to see more all of them!

 

Minimalist + Reading Choice

 

I can’t resist the simplicity of this room, allowing for all kinds of options during reading time. It doubles as the art room, too! Gisele says: “I love , love my room but most importantly it serves my students – they love the flexible seating and when we have our FVR days they are allowed to create pods and sit wherever they feel comfortable. That is what matters to me and I am amazed at how much more reading they engage in when they have choices. I have a collection of cushions, rugs, and lounging chairs that they can arrange in “pods” in the classroom. Oddly enough they remind me of forts that children create during playtime.”
Profe: Gisele Conn
Site: Brain Based Learning

 

Deskless + Rainbow theme

 

See what it looks like to nail the black and rainbow look, with a library corner to die for. She keeps her classroom deskless, which is key for her famous baile viernes days!
Profe: Allison Weinhold
Site: Mis Clases Locas

 

Making a Mobile Work

 

This classroom is proof that you can take a portable and still make it look awesome, with plenty of culture too. 
Profe: Luis Miguel Ramírez, Liberal Arts & Science Academy – Austin, TX
Site: proferamirez.weebly.com

 

Pink + Llamas

 

This is what happens when your Spanish teacher is a Peruvian fashionista. Follow Sra. Davila-Madwid on Instagram for more teaching ideas and classroom eye candy!
Profe: Mariza Davila-Madwid

 

Teaching to Proficiency

 

Profe Jen Shaw works hard to teach to proficiency, and uses the CHAMPS method in her room. You can see how her decor and visuals make those goals clear to her students, while providing a pretty workspace.
Blog: Spanish with Sra. Shaw

 

Floor Envy

 

I don’t know what I’m more in love with: the floors, or the bookshelves in this deskless classroom. 
Profe: Mary Overton

 

Bright Spaces

 

Please come do my bulletin boards? Also, you must check out this organized teacher desk, coffee pot included. #yesplease
Profe: Carla Pelizarri

 

That IG Board, Though

This room is packed with books and culture, but I have to say my favorite part are the Instagram boards featuring Spanish-speaking artists. So clever and pretty!
Profe: Sara Glasbrenner
Site: TPRS with Señorita Glasbrenner

 

Cactus + Watercolor Classroom

Adorable. Says Maestra_Cutshall: “I am SO in love with my cactus-themed classroom this year! I was pretty sad about being in a portable classroom, but I’m now so cozy in our wood paneling, and I can’t imagine how I lived without all the storage (in a non-functioning bathroom hidden behind the shower curtains 😂.)”
Profe: Maestra_Cutshall
Instagram: @maestra_cutshall

 

#Mood

 

Though the tables have since been removed, you can still get the comfy vibe. I love the hanging flags and giant cushions.
Profe: Carrie Daniels Toth
Blog: Somewhere to Share

 

Rows to Circle

 

Here’s a small classroom that went from rows of tables to a circle of flexible seating. Make sure you see the posters on best work and the proficiency bulletin board.  
Profe: Karen Skinner (on Twitter as @senoraskinner)
Blog: The Authentic Señora

 

Immersed in Culture

 

These amazing walls are filled with art and culture (and I’m particularly partial to the Peruvian and FC Barcelona themes). 
Profe: Nadia Charcap

 

That Accent Wall Though

 

If you are allowed to paint, a bold color like this blue (with a gray wall and black accent around) can really make your room feel more homey and less institutional-like.
Profe: Emma Jones Cox
Twitter and IG: @emmaindilemma

 

Bright Colors + Real Life

 

Miss_maestra says, “Here are photos of my classroom from today (messes and all). I absolutely love my classroom and I always have fun decorating it each year. My classroom looked nothing like this my first year. It takes time to get to this point and I’m happy with it.” It’s nice for new teachers to hear that these things take time!
Profe: Miss_maestra
Instagram: @miss_maestra

 

Homey + Bright Colors

 

“This is “mi cuevita” I love bright colors and to include things that makes me feel like HOME. I teach Exploratory Spanish (6th Grade) and Beg Spanish (7th and 8th) at Tampa, FL.”
Profe: Mary Berrios
Instagram: @Mary_soirreb

 

Sillas, Sillas

 

I really liked the set up of these chairs (I’m guessing the lounge-ish chairs are reserved as rewards) and the nice open space are perfect for storytelling and acting in this TPRS classroom. I feel like you would have everyone’s attention with this set-up!
Profe: Michele Metcalfe
Twitter: @michellewestvan

 

Book-Centered Space

 

Books take the center stage here, as well as eye-catching posters for high-frequency verbs and phrases. Don’t miss the genius hoteléfono! 
Profe: Matt Hotopp

 

High Ceilings

 

I know some of us teach with low ceilings, so this feels like a breath of fresh air and posters take advantage of the extra space. I want the shower curtain (I think?) map on the wall too! 
Profe: Tana Luptak

 

Papel Picado

 

Have your students spend a period making papel picado, and you’ve got that festive and good-vibes feeling right away. (And check out the way some of the chairs are turned, so it’s not all rows.)
Profe: Katrina Miller Cox

 

Chair Heaven

 

Talk about flexible seating: this room has a little of everything! The library corner is irresistible and I just want to see what it looks like with all the Christmas lights on. 
Profe: Kristy Vernon (questions? kristy.vernon@wolfcreeklocal.org)

 

An Itty-Bitty Space

 

This is my room from a long time ago. Another class met in my room, so I never got to try deskless. The posters since got covered with high-frequency verbs too. 
Profe: Elisabeth Alvarado

 

Semi-circle Goodness

 

Sometimes, something simple like rearranging the chairs into a semi-circle instead of rows gives that feeling of community and communication. I really like those clean + pretty back bulletin boards too. 
Profe: Mayra Cabrera

 

 

Preschool & Elementary Spanish Classrooms

 

Now  we can start our tour of classrooms for younger crowds. I didn’t get as many pictures for this category, so please send me more at spanishmamatpt@gmail.com, if you have more. 🙂

 

Credit: Irma Vasquez, My Escuelita: Spanish for Kids

 

 

 

Room to Move

 

I love these clever bags that go on the backs of the chairs so you don’t need desks. There is so much room for movement! 
Profe: Carolina Gomez
Blog: Fun for Spanish Teachers

 

La Playa + Spanish Immersion

 

From a 5th Grade Spanish immersion classroom in Texas, Diana says, “All of my students learn Spanish as a second language through content. I am self-contained and that’s why I always try to create a cozy and flexible environment for them.”

Profe: Sra. Collado

 

Blues and Greens

 

These blue tables are adorable AND double as chalkboards!
Profe: Jeanette Miranda-Gould

 

Happy Place

 

I love the cheerful yellow in this elementary classroom. 
Profe: Karla

 

Snapshots

 

I also was sent photos of specific posters, bulletin boards, or parts of rooms. Browse these for more ideas!

 

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Spanish Parts of the Body Songs for Kids

Spanish Parts of the Body Songs for Kids

Inside: Spanish parts of the body songs: a list for kids on YouTube.

 

Here are my favorite songs for learning the parts of the body in Spanish. There are lots of games that work well with this theme, too, like Simón dice. Once your classes know the basic parts of the body, brain breaks are super easy to do! Give commands like “tócate la cabeza” or “cierra los ojos,” and stay in the target language more easily. 

 

Spanish Parts of the Body Songs

 

1. A mi burro

 

This authentic song in Spanish includes some body parts (cabeza, cuello, corazón) . It also repeats “le duele” a lot, if you’re teaching how to express that something hurts. 

 

 

2. Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies

 

Most kids already know this one in English, and it’s a fun one to teach as the pace gets faster and faster. 

 

 

3. Saco una manito

 

To learn about hands, this is a sweet classic. It’s nice to use right before story time or circle time when we want everyone sitting with hands in their own space!

 

 

4. Todo mi cuerpo

 

These lyrics are similar to “cabeza, hombros, rodillas, pies,” but with more high frequency parts. As always with Calico Spanish, the song is easy to understand. 

 

 

5. Baila la cumbia

 

Get in some culture with this fun mix of cumbia and body parts!

 

spanish body parts songs

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish: Activities and Resources

The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish: Activities and Resources

Inside: Resources and ideas for teaching The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish. 

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has to be one of the most endearing picture books out there. Lucky for us, almost all of Eric Carle’s iconic works are available in Spanish as well! My own kids truly never seem to tire of his books, and our copy of La oruga muy hambrienta is beyond well-worn. 

In this post I’m gathering resources for teaching Spanish through La oruga muy hambrienta. It’s the perfect book for covering numbers, colors, fruits, some foods, days of the week, and high-frequency words like come, es, tiene hambre, grande, pequeño, etc. 

There are two directions you can with a book like this, and Spanish learners. You can teach them every single phrase so they understand the original language, or you can teach the words they need to understand the story. I usually choose the second option, focusing on the essential, high-frequency needed to narrate the story. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish

 

Los números

 

La oruga hambrienta focuses on numbers 1-5. Here is a great list of numbers songs in Spanish to get started. 

The song Cinco monitos is a perfect tie-in as well. You can check out my freebies and post on activities for los Cinco monitos.

One of my favorite games for practicing any vocabulary is musical cards. For that one, pass out cards with 1-5 written on them. Play music, and have the students walk or dance around while holding their cards. When the music stops, call out a number. All the kids with that number sit down, and see which students stay in until the end. 

 

Las frutas

 

I like to focus on the fruits in the book, since several of the other foods are not so high frequency. Besides using real fruit or play food to talk about them (how many? what color?), I like to do a graph of favorites. If you are working with a small group, you can have the students ask their family members or friends (¿Cuál fruta te gusta más?) and color in a graph. 

Here is a video for learning the fruits:

 

Los colores

 

The colors aren’t directly part of the story, but they’re an easy tie-in with each fruit being a different color. You can see my lesson and activities for colors in Spanish, or keep it simple with the same game described above for numbers. 

Here’s a freebie from my Orugas y Mariposas unit, too! You can work on both numbers and colors to add circles to the caterpillar (try using a bottle cap as a stamp for paint). 

Los días de la semana

 

Of course, you can’t teach this book without the days of the week! The days can be an abstract concept for very young kids, so keep that in mind. If you are working with K-2 students it will be a bit easier. I recommend starting with a días de la semana song. You can also display a calendar with the days of the week, and discuss what your students do on which day. 

Once you have read the actual story, you can do some sequencing activities to show what the caterpillar ate on which day.

 

 

Ciclo de vida de la mariposa

 

Once you have read the story (or before), it’s fun to learn about the life cycle of butterflies. Here are two free PPTs I made to learn about caterpillars and butterflies (the life cycle PPT is part of the unit on TpT). 

 

 

 

Once you’ve worked on caterpillar and butterfly facts, it’s fun to do a simple wheel or craft to show each stage in the life cycle. There are sooo many ideas on Pinterest for this!

 

Related videos for The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Spanish

 

 

 

 

Want to See My Unit?

 

I’ve made picture cards, games, mini-books, printables, displays, stories, and PPTs all about Orugas and Mariposas. Teaching this unit will set your students up with the essential vocabulary they need to understand La oruga hambrienta. 

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5 Steps for Overcoming Social Media Overwhelm as Spanish Teachers

5 Steps for Overcoming Social Media Overwhelm as Spanish Teachers

Inside: Dealing with teacher anxiety and overwhelm of social media, as language teachers. 

 

It’s a Tuesday night and I should be sleeping— it’s a long day tomorrow. 

But I’m not asleep. Instead, I’ve got my laptop propped on my lap, in bed, with Netflix in the background. 
 
“Guys, this amazing new app that is changing the way I teach. You HAVE to try it. 
 
“Studies show ‘activities’ don’t work. Want your class to acquire Spanish? Cut everything except reading and discussion.”
 
Scroll, scroll. 
 
“Ugh. I just overheard the teacher down the hall teaching CONJUGATIONS. Unbelievable.”
 
Scroll, scroll. 
 
“Check out these pics of when I brought homemade flan for all 247 students and we made authentic piñatas last week.”
 
“My students all passed the Spanish AP exam and we didn’t even study for it! Wepa!”
 
 
The internet is so full of helpful information. It’s also a source of guilt, anxiety, and overwhelm
 
Is it just me? Ya’ll, I’m not even in a traditional classroom right now, and I feel it. I reach for my phone, I scroll, and I’m flooded with amazing ideas. I’m challenged, and learn new things. But this month I’m also feeling the anxiety shoot up… because it’s so much. 
 
It’s that time of year when people are dog-tired. And yet our insane teacher-brains are already thinking ahead to August; we’re reflecting and thinking of new ideas. How to not make ourselves go crazy?
 
I’ve decided I really need to take control of my online life… especially social media intake. It’s not that the internet isn’t helpful: the problem is that the pace doesn’t give us space to process all the good info out there, and the good info is usually mixed in with negative stuff. 
 
There’s no shortage of ways to feel anxious as a Spanish teacher (dealing with language anxiety for non-native speakers, feeling trapped in a system that isn’t working, or letting go of the textbook and figuring out what comes next.)
 
But just for today, I wanted to address social media and internet overwhelm. Here are some concrete steps I’m taking for June:
 

 

1. Remember that anxiety starts with me. 

 
It’s true that the internet age is overwhelming. But times are always changing; that what’s they do. Anxiety is always searching: even if life is pretty great, it will find something to be anxious over. 
 
I’m the one with the habit of reaching for my phone in a moment of quiet. I’m the one who sees the homemade flan and feels bad about myself. I have to learn the difference between: “what a good idea— I want to try that!,” and “what a good idea— good for her.” 
 
Sometimes we absolutely ought to re-think things or change up certain activities. But hear this: you are not a bad teacher just because someone is doing something good that you’re not doing. Last week, I came across a teacher sharing a proud moment of every student passing the AP exam, and I started to feel bad about myself. 
 
Guys, I’ve never even taught AP Spanish..  That’s teacher’s wonderful success has nothing to do with my students, and it’s my choice to let the anxiety in, or be glad and move right along. 
 
 
 

2. Be pickier about who I follow. 

 
Put simply, pay attention to what I feel as I scroll. If I’m feeling needless guilt, anger, etc.: UNFOLLOW!! Is it wasting my time? UNFOLLOW! You can always re-follow, later. 
 
(Instagram is also rolling out a mute feature– you can take a break without unfollowing if need be.)
 
 
 

3. Adjust my group settings. 

 
I love groups. They’re basically a black hole of fascinating threads for me. Literally, I pick up my phone to see the time, and 20 minutes later I emerge from a discussion about non-targeted CI in the context of post-modern classrooms blah blah blah. I love it and learn, but I’m just not very good at controlling myself. 
 
For Facebook, there’s this cool option now: Snooze this group for 30 days. WHAT? So, when it’s a Friday night and you have a glass of wine, go ahead and indulge yourself in all the rabbit trails you want. You don’t have to leave groups, and you can scroll or search whenever. But most of them are not popping up in my feed for the month of June. 
 
 

4. Be more intentional about getting information. 

 
Don’t be a mindless scroller, like me. Instead of just seeing bits of information and acronyms floating around, consider buying a book or attending a conference to help get oriented. The problem with social media and blogs (even mine!) is that we get bits of information and it can feel chaotic. 
 
Alternatively, take some time this summer to really sit down and read through some of favorite blogs. There are really good, informational blogs, but if you just stick to articles that show up on your feed you might be missing out. 
 
Podcasts are another option for more curated information, without wasting time. (Check out Language Latte, Tea with BVP, and Inspired by Proficiency.) And remember that Pinterest is a good way to tuck away things for later, especially if you have super-specific boards. You don’t have to research all the good thing right now, just because they showed up in your feed. 
 
 

5. Know that you can’t do all the good things. 

 
I am good at thinking of systems and ideas, and I’m terrible at follow-through. I HAVE TO KEEP IT SIMPLE!
 
(And here’s a dirty little secret that might help: bloggers write about ideas we don’t follow through on.)
 
Even so, there are a LOT of ideas out there. Really good ideas. So many ideas, in fact, that you could never implement them all into a classroom. I recommend first being sure of your philosophy: how do YOU believe students acquire language? What do they NEED to acquire it? If you are very sure on those things, you can choose your methods, strategies, and activities with peace of mind. You can more quickly see an activity and know whether to reject or embrace it.
 
In my opinion, there are right and wrong ideas about how students need input to grow in proficiency. But there is great freedom in the actual activities you plan for providing that input. 
 
Novels, storytelling, storylistening, story asking, weekend talk, art, games, story-book projects, authentic songs, accountability for speaking in class, Spanish movies and shows, passwords, brain breaks, class jobs, Spanish podcasts— they are all activities and ideas that I like and respect. I just don’t do all of them! And I certainly didn’t try implementing all of them at once, as a newbie.
 
Focus on the activities that work with your students. Start with the ones that bring life to your teaching, and slowly add or drop as you go. 
 
 
I hope this helps and I would love to hear what’s been helpful for you in reducing stress as a teacher!

 

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Latin American Movies on Netflix: What to Watch

Latin American Movies on Netflix: What to Watch

 Inside: The best Latin American movies on Netflix

 

It can be overwhelming to sit down for a night of Netflix, especially when you’re trying to sift through lesser-known films. I’ve spent the last month marathon-ing my way through Spanish-language movies and shows, and this post focuses on titles related to Latin America. 

 

 

Latin American Movies on Netflix

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

 

Argentina

There are quite a few titles available, so it’s probably easier to jump over to my post on the Best Argentinian Movies on Netflix

Mexico

There are lots of Mexican movies as well, so I’ve got a post on Mexican movies on Netflix coming your way as well. I will link to it as soon as it’s live!

 

Guatemala

 

Ixcanul

An indigenous Guatemalan family arranges a marriage for their 17-year-old daughter, Maria, to the foreman of the plantation. Maria, however, is in love with another worker and wants to escape with him. What follows is a clash of modern-day and traditional life: beautiful, sad, and compelling, both cinematographically and story-wise. The movie was filmed in Kaqchikel, which all of the actors natively speak. 

Info: Drama | Kaqchikel Audio, Spanish Subtitles | 2015

 

 

LIVING ON ONE DOLLAR

Four friends leave the U.S. and plan to live on $1 per day in Guatemala. Although this film can reinforce the storyline of interpreting poverty and Latin America only through the eyes of foreigners, it’s an interesting watch. 

Info: PG | English Audio | 53min

 

 

Chile

 

Sin filtro

Pía is surrounded by people who take her for granted and take advantage of the fact that she doesn’t speak up for herself. One day she can’t take it anymore, and sees an alternative Chinese doctor. He administers a dubious treatment that turns out to be extremely effective: now Pía can only say exactly what’s on here mind. 

(Heads up– there’s a somewhat explicit sexual scene near the end that I found a little disturbing. It’s meant to be uncomfortable, but just letting you know.)

Info: Comedy | Spanish Audio, Spanish/English Subtitles | 2016

 

 

Venezuela

 

To Be a Miss 

A look into the famous beauty pageant industry and process in Venezuela, through the eyes of three women. 

Info: Documentary | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2016

 

 

Colombia

(Beyond movies, there are also some great shows set in Colombia. You may want to check out La niña, and Pablo Escobar: Patron del malo.) 

 

Entre nos 

Info: Drama | Kaqchikel Audio, Spanish Subtitles | 2017

 

 

Carteristas (Pickpockets)

 

A group of teens in Bogotá are mentored in the art of stealing by an expert thief, in a gritty, coming-of-age sort of story. 

Info: Crime, Drama | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2018

 

 

Colombia magia salvaje (Colombia: Wild Magic)

 

A group of teens in Bogotá are mentored in the art of stealing by an expert thief, in a gritty, coming-of-age sort of story. 

Info: Crime, Drama | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2018

 

 

Cuba

 

Cuba and the Cameraman

A look into Cuban life and changes, over several decades, through the eyes of three different families. 

Info: Documentary | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

 

El Che

Mexican writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II retraces the life and journeys of Che Guevara. (It was difficult to find the trailer, so below is a section of the documentary itself.)

Info: Documentary | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2016

 

 

Peru

 

Peru, Tesoro Escondido (Peru, Hidden Treasure)

A group of teens in Bogotá are mentored in the art of stealing by an expert thief, in a gritty, coming-of-age sort of story. 

Info: Documentary | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

Asu Mare 2

Machin, who comes from humble origins, is now dating the girl of his dreams– who happens to be in a wealthy family. Machin

Info: Comedy | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 2017

 

GHOSTS OF MACHU PICCHU

Discover the mysteries and marvels of Machu Pichu in this doucmentary from PBS. 

Info: PG | English Audio | 53min

 

 

 

Of course, there are many Latin American movies that aren’t available on Netflix. Here are some famous titles:

    

 

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Latin American Movies on Netflix

Welcome

Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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