With my older students who have already learned about and been exposed to Day of the Dead, I find that a quick review is more effective and age-appropriate.
A big goal for me this year was to add more cultural lessons into my classroom. I started by purchasing Sra. Cruz's amazing Cultura Diaria - Daily Hispanic Culture Facts for Each Day of Spanish Class as my daily bell-ringer for my 6th graders. I made them a supplemental note-taking packet to go with it, and each week we look at a different country. Over the course of the week, they
Since we loop with our students, they already know our expectations, but it's still important to remind them, and there are always new students. This year, I put all my policies into Quizlet (which you can modify!) and gave the students 5 minutes to read over them. (Suggestion, have them use the flashcard feature, but select "start with both" so they see the whole thing at once.) After 5 minutes, I started the game. I had planned to play 3-4 times because it's fast paced, but they begged me to keep playing, so we played for about 15 minutes. They were so incredibly engaged and I didn't need to do a thing! It worked so well that I did it with my first year students as well, and I'm willing to bet that I won't have to remind them of things nearly as much as with previous groups where we just read through rules the boring way. Let me know what you think if you try it out as well!
me because kids feel safer when they know what to expect! Here are 5 things we do every day.
Teaching can be a very isolating job at times. Depending on the culture of your school or what you teach, you may go an entire day without talking to another adult. Here are some tips for navigating those ever-tricky workplace dynamics. They may sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised how often these suggestions are overlooked.
As a brand new teacher, you are probably armed with lots of templates and formats for writing formal lesson plans that you turned into your professors. You probably learned about backwards design and the UBD lesson planning process. Well, these are great tools, but as a first year teacher, you're probably not going to use them. At least, not the way they are intended to be used. As a first year teacher, your main goal is to stay one step ahead of your students and keep your head above water. And that's OK!! There is sooooo much to learn, that you can't possibly plan for it all and put it into a nice neat package.
Tip # 1: Be kind to yourself
You are in a new job, in a new environment, with new people, and a new curriculum. You're not going to be perfect and nobody (other than yourself) expects you to be!
Tip # 2: Don't over-plan your lessons
This may seem counterintuitive, so give me a second to explain.
One of the very first units that comes up in any language curriculum is numbers and counting, but if your textbook is anything like mine, they give you almost no resources or time. Our textbook recommends spending 2 weeks on the "preliminary chapter" which covers about 6 different topics! No way! My co-workers and I have given ourselves the entire first quarter for this - a whopping 9 weeks. Now, to most teachers, this sounds interminable. How can you possibly teach alphabet, numbers, greetings, and weather for a full 9 weeks?!? How boring!! Well, I am going to give you my lesson plans below for the numbers unit, and hopefully this will give you some ideas to spice things up, and ultimately, help your students actually learn it long term!
For you skimmers out there, games are highlighted in blue font and links are red!
This year we were asked to adopt the idea of Growth Mindset, an idea from Carol Dweck, an author and leading researcher in the field of motivation. The main idea behind growth mindset is that we don't have a fixed intelligence and we can all get better at something if we put in enough work. (I'm trying to get better at blogging and marketing right now!!😉 )This was presented to us during a staff meeting and coupled with the idea of grading. Some of my coworkers and I started talking after the meeting "Does this mean we have to allow unlimited retakes? Won't kids just choose not to study so they can see what's on the test and then ask to do a retake?" There's a lot of sticky questions to navigate, but I thought I'd give it a try in a small way.
"We heard Spanish is awesome today!" said several students in my afternoon class on the day I introduced Quizlet live. I even had coworkers coming up to me all week asking me to show them this new game their kids are all buzzing about! So naturally, I wanted to share it here as well!
Quizlet live allows you to take any set of flashcards with 12 or more terms and turn them into a fast-paced, competition among your students. All you need to do is sign up for a free teacher account, select the study deck you want, and click on the new "live" button. It could be a set you've created, or one of the millions of sets already in their database.
When I was in undergrad studying education, we were all required to take a class called "Reading Across the Curriculum." I did not see the value in that class at the time, but have since changed my mind completely!
I went to a workshop by Carol Gaab on Comprehensible Input (CI) and my mind was blown! I learned more in one workshop
than in most of my methods classes combined! I couldn't believe how amazing this strategy was and that nobody had ever shown it to me before! This was amazing!! I went back to school the next Monday and dove right in with my students and they gobbled it up. They loved everything about it and both their fluency and engagement skyrocketed! It was a miracle!
But how do I still teach the required elements of my school's textbook curriculum?
Tener que + infinitive is one of those topics that I have to teach (haha, get it?), but never really sinks in for the kids. This year I was looking for a new way to teach it and I came up with an idea that worked so well, I just had to share it! (I crack myself up!)
During my student teaching, I remember observing veteran teachers and thinking "Wow, they speak so much English! I'll never do that!" Fast forward 10 years and....We're all guilty of it. Sometimes it's just faster and easier to give the directions in English, even if we know we shouldn't. Here are three tools I use in the classroom that have really helped both the kids and I to speak more Spanish.
I have a divider in it for each different prep, and I transfer whatever current unit I’m working on for each class to that binder to easily transport back and forth as necessary.
I also add a footer to each document I create with the file name. That way, when I catch mistakes I’ve made, I can easily find the file on my computer to modify it for next time. This was helpful when my school switched from Word to Google Docs, and I couldn’t remember where I made the document: .doc for Word and .gdoc for Google Docs.
How do you stay organized?
The next day I told students I would set a timer for 5 minutes. In those 5 minutes they could use their notes and ask each other for help, but I would not answer any questions. At first, they all panicked and wanted help. I stayed strong and just pointed to the clock. And – miracle of miracles! – they started to read the directions and ask each other for help!!! By the time the buzzer went off, there were only a few questions and they were actually curricular-related as opposed to I-don’t-feel-like-reading-the-directions-myself questions. At the end of class, I made sure to praise my students for working so independently and point out that they just needed a few minutes to allow themselves to think on their own. I think something may have clicked!
What tricks do you use to help kids become more independent and read directions?
bag they came from. To solve this problem, I have begun numbering the pieces on the back.
I can’t take credit for this because I got the idea from my friend Holly (and then I've since seen it on multiple Pinterest pages), but I think it’s a great one! I do a lot of games where students receive a paper game board that they need to write on. I used to photocopy a new set each time we played and students would recycle them when they finished playing. Now I invested in several boxes of plastic sheet protectors. I put the game board in the plastic and give each student a dry-erase marker and a sock.
I spend a really long time teaching pronouns to my students because I believe it's critical for them to understand this before we begin using any verbs.
We start off by making sure they know what it is in English and I show them this School House Rock video. It's old, but they still really like it. Then we do one of their favorite activities all year: Pronoun TPR. Here's a video demo.