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

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

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!

Logic Puzzles as Vocabulary Review (Easy to level up or down!)

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!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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

Picture then Movie Talk for the WIN!

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!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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

End of the Year – Cultural Video Ideas

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!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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

Good, Old-fashioned Cut and Paste! FREE!

I don’t know about you all, but keeping these kids engaged is a FEAT this time of year! Today is not only one of the last Mondays in the school year, it is also a full moon. If you have been in education for a while, you KNOW what that means!

So, in an attempt to keep them all engaged, I decided to dig deep and bring back a cut and paste activity they can color, cut, paste and LEARN from! I call this one Gumball Machine. It can be downloaded free from my TpT store HERE. I would also love to have you follow me there by clicking HERE.

There is a blank page in the download so that you can customize the activity to the language you teach and maybe some basic vocabulary you may want to include for review purposes.

There are several ways to extend this kind of activity. You can have students write sentences with the words, have them write a story using a certain number of the words, create a comic using the words, create a class survey using the words, find a meme that uses the words or a GIF that represents them, and the list goes on and on.

Hope this inspires you to get them talking and working and learning! I will have this and other sets of cut and paste activities up for sale on my TpT store, but you could certainly just use squares with simple drawings or pics you print. 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!

Quick, FREE Choice Board

Another great review activity is a Choice Board. We all know student choice is key to student engagement, so why not let them choose their review?

Link to PDF

I created this super quick Choice Board to review adjectives in my beginning Spanish class. Feel free to copy this and use it. The editable copy can be found on my TpT store. I have been putting up some other review items this week, so if you need some, check them out and keep checking back, because I am adding new things every day!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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

An Interactive Logic Puzzle (and a little vocabulary review…)

As the years go by, I notice more and more that students lose focus more quickly. There are LOTS of BIG feelings about the subject in the world of education, but it really is just a reality. I find that my students really need something interactive to stay engaged and focused! This is one reason I am such a HUGE proponent of using a predictable, dependable daily framework for instruction. I first started this years ago when teaching in a self-contained bilingual elementary classroom. We had a schedule to keep us moving, and it really helped students know what to expect and stay on task. Fast forward about 20 years, and things haven’t really changed. Kids still thrive in structure, no matter the subject or grade level.

That being said, part of teaching is constantly learning. We have to grow and change WITH our students. The students I started teaching in the 90s were very different than the students I am teaching now. They are just honestly NOT entertained as easily, and they seem to need almost CONSTANT interaction. I am not saying they can’t work on their own, I am simply noting their needs are different.

With that in mind, I have begun creating a series of interactive logic puzzles. This gets students reading, thinking and then challenges them to write and be creative as well. I started with just interactive stickers, which you can read about in THIS post, but now I have created some interactive logic puzzles I think you will find engaging.

HOW DO I USE THIS?

There are several ways you could use this resource. You could do this as a whole class by reading the clues aloud and trying to solve it alone. You could assign it to table groups or partners and make a contest out of who can finish first. You could also give it as an individual assignment or assessment.

Another way to use it is to just print out the main page and then have students write on the copy OR even cut out the name tags and have them manipulate them by moving them around. These are great options for littles who may not be as adept with the Google Slides.

So, HERE is a link to a free beginner version in English. A more advanced version with editable pages and a Spanish version can be found on my TpT store. I am also working on more for our review, so check back to find more fun!

I hope this gets your students reading and showing you what they know!

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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

Literacy Center Activity – Story Cards

In an earlier blog post HERE, I talked about some ways to use these story cards. Set 1 was out at that time. Since then, I have created Set 2 for my review station activities here at the end of the year.

The best thing about these is that each card has three unique writing prompts. You can print them front to back and put them in a page protector or laminate them and keep them in a Literacy Center as a standing activity. You can vary the output expectation based on the level of your class.

These can be used for World Language, Bilingual, ESL or even regular ELA classes. They can be used for individual writing or group writing. Students can use them to get started on a longer story or simply write a short answer response.

To find the whole set, you can visit the listing in my TpT store HERE.

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 easily stay in the class language.

Happy Teaching!

Alana

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