In my experience, Cinco de mayo is often misunderstood by most. SO many people believe it is Mexico’s Independence Day, but it is NOOOTTTT! So, I have made it my mission to make sure my students leave with the knowledge of what the holiday actually means and how it is celebrated in Mexico and here in the United States.
Of course, before you venture into teaching it, you should learn about it if you don’t know, but HERE is the link to two Short Cartoon Stories you could do after discussing it with your class. HERE is a link to a great video I have used in the past too.
Of course, there is a LOT you could do to educate your students about this Mexican celebration! HERE is a link to a quick Webquest and Project Extension on my TpT store if that helps.
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As a teacher in year 25 myself, I understand how challenging it can be to get through the end of the school year. The final stretch can feel like an uphill battle, and it’s easy to slip into survival mode. However, I’m here to remind you that you are not alone, and that there are ways to push through and finish the year strong.
First and foremost, take care of yourself. Teaching can be a demanding profession, and it’s essential to prioritize self-care. Make time for things you enjoy, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones. Take breaks when you need them, and don’t feel guilty for it either!! Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup, and taking care of yourself will allow you to show up as your best self.
Secondly, focus on what you CAN control. There may be external factors beyond your control, like standardized tests or district mandates, but you have control over how you interact with your students. Focus on creating meaningful connections and use your creativity to have some fun! Kids may not remember what you taught them, but they will never forget how you made them feel!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your teacher bestie may be your saving grace this time of year, just as you are theirs. Collaborate with your team to share ideas and lighten the workload. I would love to lighten your load by offering this FREE question page to the Most Dangerous Ways to School episode on Youtube HERE. There are more in my TpT store if you like this series.
Remember that you are making a difference in the lives of your students. The end of the school year is challenging, but with self-care, focusing on what you can control, and asking for help when needed, you can finish the year strong. You’ve got this! I believe in you!
So, life happened. LOTS of BIG life changes for me and for my family over the past three months. Sorry for the MIA status, but rest assured I am back and ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work!
One of the big changes for me was moving back to teach Spanish and Spanish for Spanish Speakers in high school. I must say, I feel like I have landed back at home. I am now teaching at a school that has very scripted lessons, but is working to head more toward using comprehensible input in their curriculum. It is kinda dorky, but I am glad I am here to witness the change.
All this being said, I am working to create at least a few more things for my students that will get them interacting with each other, learning about culture and falling in love with learning languages. It’s a tall order, but I am still optimistic!
I spent the first semester in a bilingual elementary classroom, and I definitely was able to use so many of the CI skills I have learned in the past few years. The thing is, language learners are language learners, but I will get more into that in my next post.
Hope this finds you well! I would love for you to follow the blog and come along my teaching journey with me. I would also LOVE to hear what kind of content would help YOU most in your teaching, so leave a comment!
When “Training the Troops,” I often think about the things that didn’t go so well the year before and then think of a system that might help.
I began to think about my struggles in my own language learning classes. Mostly, it was keeping myself and my students on a routine and then making sure my students were able to be held responsible for their own learning. So, I made this page:
This is a page I print out. I print the correct number of pages for the number of class days that week. Students are responsible for filling out the pages every class period. If they are absent, they find a friend who has the day’s notes or they grab my copy from the front of the room (I do this in a notebook I have for each class period). Then, at the end of the week, I ask for them to turn in one day’s paper. I don’t tell them before that moment and I only give them 30 seconds to get it to my hand. Why? This motivates them to do all the days, since they never know which I will ask for, AND it doesn’t give them time to copy their friend’s paper.
For classes that are more self-motivated, I will just train them with this page the first week or so and then have them do the same thing inside their notebooks. We are a 1:1 campus, so I then have them take a pic of the page I am going to check and submit it via our LMS (we use Schoology).
I also came up with some other graphic organizers that are super general, a place to keep anchor charts made in class for reference purposes and several other generalized pages you could easily fit to your teaching style in THIS Daily Learning Log. You can get this one and the others on my TpT store OR you can join my Patreon OR my SQUAD!
You can go HERE and learn more about the squads and join today!
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 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.
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!
Logic puzzles are so much fun! They get kids thinking and even working together, when allowed. I used to love these when I was a kid!
I made this template, and then I started thinking about how I could use this in language learning. Then, it came to me…
A MURDER MYSTERY! Like “Clue”-style! This one reviews family vocabulary, house vocabulary, common activities and prepositions of place!
I have included a Google Slides presentation with all the instructions and clues, a Case Notes Journal that can be printed or assigned digitally AND a logic puzzle grid like the one above all filled out on each side for immediate use by students.
I used this with my students to get them to review this vocabulary for the final, read and comprehend the clues AND talk with their group members in the class language. I have it on my TpT store for sale in English HERE or in Spanish HERE.
Of course, you can always use the logic puzzle frame I provided above and make your own clues to solve the “crime.” This would allow you to personalize the vocabulary and the level of the sentence clues. You can certainly just insert a text box over what I have in the slides and change it up to suit whatever you need to review!
Hope this inspires you to get them talking and working and learning! I will have this and other sets of logic puzzle activities up for sale on my TpT store later in the summer 2022, but you could certainly just use grid I have provided above. The key is low stress for you and high engagement for your students!
You can go HERE and learn more about the SraKSpanish squads! Join today!
These last couple of weeks or days can be brutal! Need something to help pass the time? I got you!! One thing my students have loved ALL YEAR is a Movie Talk day!
Now, if you are not familiar with Movie Talk, there are LOTS of great posts out there about this strategy. I have done it several ways. One thing I really like to do is use just a few of the pictures to tease the film first. I create a slideshow, like THIS one and then just choose a few of the slides to talk about. We describe the people and the setting. We talk about what is happening in the picture. We make predictions and inferences based on the information. At higher levels, we may write out our predictions and/or fill out a story mountain based on the prediction.
Then, we watch the movie short. The one used for this example is HERE. It is a pretty simple one, but has a lot you can talk about. I actually used this one near Valentine’s Day, but it is appropriate for any time of year. I differ from many others, in that I do not pause every few seconds to talk about it. We already did that when I teased it with the slideshow (we also put target vocab and grammar structures I may be required to teach on the board or an anchor chart during this discussion). Next, I play it all the way through. Then, I play it a second time and pause at important points to talk about them and draw the students’ attention to key words, phrases and/or grammar concepts. Finally, I play it through one last time, talking at normal speed about the things happening.
To see what they know, I have students use the pages below to fill in their own explanations of what the movie was about.
This is a GREAT place to differentiate. For example, beginners would perhaps just look at these pictures and write words or phrases they remember from you talking about the movie as it played or from what you added to the class anchor chart. Higher levels might write sentences describing the pictures or what that part of the story was about. They could also talk about what the characters might have been thinking or feeling or saying in certain parts of the story.
I hope this gives you a day to give students lots of input with minimal effort! I will be selling more of the packs on my TpT store with the preview slideshow, student pages, summary of the short and some ideas for differentiation.
Hope this inspires you to get them talking and working and learning, even in these last few days/weeks of school. The key is to sail on into the summer with low stress and high engagement!
I know we are all looking for some things to fill these last few days that are educational, but not time intensive for the teacher! Well… I sure am!
So, I went in search of some things I thought would be interesting for students, but also provided a lot of cultural context for them as well. I found two series that are engaging and interesting to 8th graders. I am not sure how much you all know about 8th graders, but end of the year in 8th grade is way worse than 5th or 12th… believe me! I have taught at all levels, and the end of year with this group definitely takes the cake. Add in the pandemic teaching for the past 3 school years, and they are primed and ready for chaos! LOL. Iykyk….
So, first is Bizarre Foods. This one is interesting because they delve into a lot of interesting food choices, but the real gem (for the teacher anyway) is the cultural facts that are thrown into the mix. There is a LOT to be explored! Some of the episodes can be found free on Youtube, but there are others you can purchase. I have several sets of questions for those of you who need to keep them accountable in my TpT store.
The other series I found is a free documentary series called, “Most Dangerous Ways to School.” It highlights different groups of people all over the world and how their children have to get to school. I was AMAZED by all these kids could accomplish on their own, without an adult at all to help them for miles and miles, sometimes in treacherous conditions. It was a great way to make those connections with students comparing all they have here (even if they think it isn’t great) with what children in other parts of the world have to endure just to get to school. I also have question and answer sets in my TpT store for a couple. The link to the Bolivia episode is HERE. The link to the Mexico episode is HERE.
I hope you all are able to use some of these great documentaries that are not boring with students to help teach them about cultural differences and still stay somewhat (I am realistic) engaged during these last few days of the school year.
As always, I hope this idea helps you have an easy day or inspires you to create something simple like it that keeps students engaged and you able to make it to the end of the year!