Blank Walls to Start the Year? YES!

As I transition back into a bilingual classroom, focusing on biliteracy is my main goal. As I started to look at some things I wanted to put on the walls, I started to think about some things I have learned over the years. Posters are good for catching the eye of wandering minds, (as a person with ADD, I know I used to always look around when my mind would wander), but they don’t serve the purpose of TEACHING much without context and LOTS of visual scaffolding. I have a LOT of posters I have collected in my 25 years in the classroom…a LOOOTTT! Now, I am realizing that I should start my year with blank walls. I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Hear me out…

Really, the BEST way make those wandering mind moments count is to give students things to look at that help activate prior knowledge. How do we do that? We make Anchor Charts! There has been a lot of debate on what constitutes an “Anchor Chart.” I believe, after all the conferences and books and seminars and years of experience, that it can only be called an “Anchor Chart” if it is something you have created WITH students DURING learning. So, I propose you take posters and turn them into anchor charts. This means you start with a blank paper (butcher paper or chart paper) and recreate that poster you love WITH your students WHILE they are learning! Now, I am NOT artistic. Like, I am challenged to even draw stick figures well, so do not fear, I have a trick for you if this is you too! The way around it is to create one or find one online you like (there are several in my TpT store and I am giving you some here too) and project it with your document camera or projector before class starts and very lightly outline it with a pencil. This way, when you are in class, you have a guideline to follow, but the kids don’t have to know that. They can just believe you are a FABULOUS artist! LOL! Like this one can be easily traced:

Guess what? It doesn’t stop there! You can erase some parts of the poster and make it a graphic organizer the students fill out later as a way to assess their understanding of the concept …..

OR you can create a bulletin board with the idea using things the students have written to fill in the board or things you have traced and added!

So, my challenge over the summer will be to create a bunch of templates for anchor charts / graphic organizers / bulletin boards that are meaningful for students and helpful for teachers and get them ready for YOU. I will be adding them to my TpT store in a growing bundle, but….

They will be part of my MEMBERSHIP SITE, which will give you access to my resources! New subscriptions will be available in July 2022! Stay tuned for more…

Hope this inspires you to at least consider starting the year with BLANK walls!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

Find me on Instagram (@SraKSpanish) , Facebook (sra k Spanish) and Follow my TpT store as I build more resources! Be on the lookout for the announcement for my annual membership site in July 2022!

A Food/Menu Project

Every year, I have done a Menu Project after our unit about food. I generally have students create a menu with a group and then make the classroom into a cafe and allow them to take turns being the waitstaff and the customers. The kids usually enjoy this project, but I had to do it differently during pandemic teaching, and that really changed my mind about the project.

During the start of the pandemic and even into the following year, I had to pivot to making this an online project. I decided the first year to let students just create one. It didn’t go well. There was LOTS of copying and pasting going on. The next year, I decided to throw some culture into it since some were still at home in their copy and paste/Google Translate mode. Instead of focusing on language, I made the project really based on culture and even allowed them to do it in English (it was Spanish class).

This year, I came to a happy medium. I made it a mixed project and used several opportunities to differentiate the project.

First, I had students choose a country, region or city they were interested in. For my Spanish classes, this had to be one in Latin America. For my ESOL classes, I allowed them to choose any country, including their home country, they were interested in or wanted to share.

Next, students had to find at least two dishes that were common, or popular or traditional to that region, country or city for each meal of the day. They had to find pictures of the dish and save them to their computer or drive. Then they were told to keep a Google Doc with all the information about the dish (ingredients, how it is served, when is the dish generally prepared, etc…)

After that, it was time to decide on how to present this. This past year, I gave them the option of doing it digitally (they had to present a written rough draft first) or creating a menu on a piece of posterboard (remembering they had to draw for this one).

Now, they had to write out their “order” for a waiter.

Finally, they were to present their favorites and their “order” with the class in person or in a video to be shown to the class.

I really did enjoy the mix of culture and language that I saw being practiced this year was AMAZING, and I will definitely do this project this way again! I hope these ideas help you get your students to review vocabulary and practice speaking while learning about cultures around the world. I have the full project slideshow on my TpT store HERE, but you can totally just take the idea and run with it. The key is to sail on into the summer with low stress and high engagement!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

You can go HERE and learn more about the SraKSpanish squads! Join today!

Find me on Instagram (@SraKSpanish) , Facebook (sra k Spanish) and Follow my TpT store as I build more resources!

ACTFL Critical Conversations – Summer 2022

Happy June! I was honored to be invited to participate in an ACTFL panel last night addressing heritage language learners and classes. Much of this presentation centered around the differences between mixed classes (L2 learners AND HL learners in the same class) and dedicated HL classes. The research shows that dedicated classes are most effective for HL learners, which I am sure we all know.

Additionally, my fellow presenters and I shared some techniques and practical tips for addressing HL in both types of classes based on the needs presented in the research.

I encourage you to go to the ACTFL website and sign up to participate in this series. It is FREE! You do NOT have to be a member. I will be adding some of my materials to their bank.

Hope to see you online there!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

Gimme 5 – Dame 5 (Mini-Project)

This is a go-to mini-project I use all year long when I need a day or two or the kids need a break between topics/units.

First, decide what you want the students to share. It can be an interesting person, place, celebration, festival or custom in any country that speaks the language you are teaching. You can also use this to review parts of a unit you just did. This can be done individually, in partners or small groups.

Next, let students decide what they want their “Gimme 5” presentation to be about. Remind them that they will need to have 5 facts about each of their top 5 things to know about the topic. You might want to incorporate a graphic organizer before giving them the Google Presentation Template to fill in. My students need scaffolding, so I always give them a “Planning Page” first. You can just have them make a bulleted list to give you or you can make a page they have to fill in.

After you approve their topic and top 5 things they are going to research and/or talk about, you can give them THIS presentation to fill in. Of course, if you want to make this last a few more days, you can let them customize this.

Next, it is time for presentations! Since having to go virtual a couple years ago, I have really started to like using Screencastify or Loom or even just the recorder on their computer to have students record the presentation ahead of time. I have found this gives them a chance to re-record if needed and practice. This really does cut the anxiety a lot of students have associated with live presentations in front of their peers. You can certainly go the old-fashioned route and have them just quickly present in front of the class. The presentation part allows me to get a speaking grade if I have them do the presentation in the language of the class. Of course, that is not really possible for lower level students, so use this as a differentiation for Heritage Learners or advanced students.

Hope this inspires you to get them talking and working together! I will have this and other review materials up for sale on my TpT store, but I really appreciate you taking the time to visit the blog, so I wanted you to have this template to use now. I also would LOVE and APPRECIATE TONS if you wouldn’t mind following this blog, my TpT store and my new Instagram (@sra.k.spanish) I started to showcase the fun things I am creating.

The key is to sail on into the summer with low stress and high engagement!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

Find me on Instagram (@SraKSpanish) , Facebook (sra k Spanish) and Follow my TpT store as I build more resources!