29 August 2015

Interactive Notebook Page: Student Interests

I would love to give you a template for my student interests vocabulary page, but you have to make your own.

It really is the whole point of the page.



Week 2 of Spanish I, students can generally figure out  (with enough gesturing, of course) how to interpret questions like ¿Qué tipos de videos o programas te gusta ver? and ¿En qué eres experto?. What they can't figure out is how to answer them without resorting to their L1.

Enter Nearpod.

After we went through the Me gusta, te gusta, le gusta page, I set up just those two questions (plus one about favorite sitios web to warm up) in order to prime the pump for target language Genius Hour. Picking the right topic is critical to successful Genius Hour passion projects, in or out of a foreign language class, so you have to get students to think about what they actually LIKE instead of drawing a blank and picking what looks easiest. That means you must leave the questions pretty open to start off with and make sure they have a relevant starting point vocabulary-wise.


Collecting responses
So instead of drawing a blank, they draw what they're interested in to respond to questions about their favorite shows and areas of expertise so you can provide the necessary vocabulary.

As the drawings appear, you make a guess as to what the images are, gesturing where possible and reinforcing the previous me gusta/te gusta lesson:

YOU: ¿Te gusta...bailar?
THEM: Sí, me gusta bailar.

If you guess correctly, you write the word either on the board or a big piece of chart paper for later reference, including students with the same answer. If you absolutely cannot guess, however, a little L1 may be necessary.

Then when the answers are done, you send yourself an email report, where all of the images will appear, along with the name of the student who drew each. I also take a picture of my board, should I need to erase or work with the vocabulary outside of school.



Grouping vocabulary
After the kiddos have gone for the day, you take that list (or those lists, if you have multiple sections of the class that will be Geniusing) and try to group similar interests, preferably in groups of no more than five vocabulary words. Hint: you can go ahead and cut out dormir. Nothing good ever comes of passion projects on sleeping--not at the novice level anyway.

Once you have your groups, you can enter them on separate Nearpod slides and open up your reports.

Now, there's probably a better way to harvest images, but the quickest way for me was just to hit print screen and open up a big ol' Microsoft Paint file. You paste the relevant report screen to the side and then surgically remove the images to go with each category. You try to fit each image group into neat little printer-friendly box areas (Hint: avoid the yellow images--BobEsponja did not copy so well). You should then but actual neat little boxes around each group of images.


Creating notes

Print yourself a test page and figure out how to arrange your neat little boxes on a single notebook page. Hint: tape. Each little box will be a little flap that can be lifted to reveal the grouped vocabulary (just like we talked about in our Interactive Notebook LangCamp Hangout!). Make sure the order of your Nearpod groups match the order you've managed to work out on your notebook page.

Then copy the pictures onto some bright paper for the young ones to cut out.

Once the young ones have finished their cutting, flash the first list of vocabulary on the board and have them find the right box. Confirm that everyone has the right box, then let them tape and copy the vocabulary under the new flap.

Rinse, repeat.


When you are finished, you will have a lovely mosaic of student-created images that reflect your actual class's actual interests as well as a review tool perfect for self-quizzing a la Make It Stick! (I post both the flaps down and flaps open to Instagram so they can play along at home.)

27 August 2015

Interactive Notebook Page: Me gusta, te gusta, le gusta


This page is the first in my Essential Verbs series for the interactive notebooks. We start off with just the singular first, second, and third person combined with visuals, as well as some additional novice-appropriate fundamentals to actually build a conversation. And THEN we can get into what they REALLY like so we can start the passion projects!

Verb images and actions
I made these images in Piktochart to reflect the actions we practice and to provide a visual interpretation--instead of an L1 translation--of each gustar incarnation. We review them with actions and examples involving classmates and/or celebrities (¿A David Bisbal le gusta bailar? ¿A Stephanie le gusta Prince Royce?).

Me gusta la hamburguesa, te gusta la hamburguesa y le gusta la hamburguesa.

I don't forbid English in the interactive notebooks, but I do forbid translations. That is not to say that I won't gloss a word aloud in discussion or reward a well-placed ¿Cómo se dice? with a speedy response, but I want the cues in the students' "textbook" to be visual and more directly connected to the ideas themselves than to L1 words that are another step removed from the ideas.


Food and activities sliders
Of course we'll eventually use Nearpod to get into tailoring the class's vocabulary to the interests of the particular set of specimens before me in a given semester, but to be sure everyone grasps the basic structure of such questions and answers, we'll need something a little more universal, like food and activities.

So I whipped up some little strips with some popular examples from each category and made a separate box with a window and slots for each--soon to be available on my TeachersPayTeachers store!

(Hint: including "comer" in the food box helps postpone wrapping their brains around "le gustaN dulces" until such a time when the object pronouns have had time to solidify).

This way students interviewing each other about their interests can use the images to trigger the Spanish and connect to the meaning, instead of just droning down a list of half-remembered vocabulary!

It turns out looking kind of like this.

After the sliders are constructed, the words are listed in Spanish to the side, and then partners create a T-chart of "le gusta/no le gusta" on the reserved reflection page to the left. They fill in the chart by interviewing a partner, thus covering all three forms of liking as they reflect!

What's next
The page after this is basically a big excuse to ask what kiddos like: they get a print version of this handy dandy Poderes de Classcraft infograph (perhaps with iPads at the ready to capture the ThingLinky interactiveness), and I run through some questions about different powers--which they can like or dislike--as sort of a personality quiz to determine their "true" character.

And then we get to their real interests on Page 5...

24 August 2015

Sra. Spanglish Tech Tips: Nearpod

Sign up at  http://bit.ly/1fve224 and type Promo Code B25FD3!
Like interactive notebooks, Nearpod has streamlined my thinking about what I present to my students.

It's true that I was put off by Nearpod's simplicity at first, but the more I use it, the more useful I find the simplicity. It's kind of like HaikuDeck in that it makes sure you ONLY have digestible chunks of text AND that you're spending your time on communicating important information instead of funny clipart, fonts, and transitions.

What's more, I've found a few strategies in my first two weeks with Nearpod that I think can make it even more effective than presentation methods from the past.


1. Start class with open ended questions
Not only are open-ended Nearpod questions a great way "test" knowledge as recommended in Make It Stick,, but this way students are also already signed in from the start.

In order for students to engage with a live session, they use the Join Session code provided whenever you go live, but they don't enter their names until you get to an interactive slide!

You could ask students target language questions they should know how to answer in the target language, refresh focus vocabulary, or maybe even add on to a story! Either way you're engaging their brains by having them call up prior knowledge as Brown et al recommend AND making sure that slide where they enter their names pops up first thing instead of halfway through the lesson.


2. Introduce class vocabulary with images and open ended questions
You have the perfect visuals lined up for students to connect new vocabulary to, but they don't know the vocabulary yet...and Nearpod only allows one image per slide. So take some screenshots (I love SnagIt for this!) of small vocabulary groups--say for 3-5 words--and see if students can figure out how to say them in Spanish. Maybe they've seen the word before (say in first-day fun stations) or maybe they can put together words and patterns they've observed to come up with something close. The key here is activating prior knowledge--and then quickly following with a slide with the right vocabulary spellings.


3. Introduce personalized vocabulary with Draw It
The Draw It activities work PERFECTLY as substitutes for the InfuseLearning activity my kids always love! Simply make the prompt a target language question they will need to be able to respond to and collect their responses. AND you can send email reports to yourself for easy stealing collection of students' images for future review and/or interactive notebook visual vocabulary notes!


4. Screenshot important images
All of my coro class starters were set up on SMARTboard software, and there's no way I can arrange a Nearpod slide the same way I set those up. I also can't make Nearpod slides look like a notebook like I used to for setting up interactive notebook pages. So if I really need a certain visual arrangement to reference, I use SnagIt again and snap an image to upload to a slide.


5. Duplicate for unfinished lessons
Didn't finish a lesson? Need a quick way to recap yesterday's lesson?
Duplicate the day's lesson and delete the slides you got through or don't need.(that way you don't have to enter all new information for a quick publish either!)


Now, I also hear good things about Pear Deck (great comparison @Natadel76 tweeted here), but alas, the drawing feature is a paid one, and the simplicity of my Nearpod presentations means it'll probably take a while to use up my 50 free MB. If not, I can download a PDF before I delete old presentations and re-add them when I need!

What other ideas can you think of to engage kids' brains with the target language and streamline your presentations with Nearpod?

17 August 2015

Interactive Notebook Page: Performance & Proficiency

Teaching with interactive notebooks has made me very intentional about how and what I teach.

It makes me consider what belongs in a reference resource for a class with no textbook. It makes me break down information into one-page bites and figure out the most direct ways to represent that information.

But interactive notebooks should help students become intentional too, and to that end, I like to start with a page on proficiency objectives.


Performance & Proficiency in the Classroom

While I am not technically officially qualified to evaluate Proficiency, I try to hit the highlights of what it takes to get some sort of impression of where students are performing in order to approximate their proficiency level.

Of course it would be pretty silly of me to assess something not based on instruction for class, I think I can kind of hit "spontaneous" with Integrated Performance Asessments (IPAs) and then "broad content and context" and maybe even "sustained performance" with some portfolio samples.

What students need in their interactive notebooks is a ready reference to understand what proficiency will look like for them. 

Proficiency Page Evolution

My first foray into interactive notebooks--and explicit proficiency exploration--I ripped off the bike analogy from Srta. Barragán et al. However, the level descriptors really didn't fit the levels I'm dealing with in Spanish I (we are not going to hit Intermediate Mid in one semester.)

I tried presenting proficiency levels a different way in Spanish II, pinching a few samples from a practice IPA to align with AAPPL rubrics. I'd be hard pressed to get anything for illustration beyond N2 with my brand new Spanish I novices.

Now I had delusions of grandeur and setting up lit circles this year for my little padawans, merrily cramming them full of all of the documents I've been poring over the last five years to figure out what a novice is. But that's kind of the opposite of focusing their attention or establishing clear targets.

After digging through Proficiency Guidelines, Performance Guidelines, Can-dos, and rubrics, I've narrowed my evaluation tools to two that the kiddos needed in their ready reference:

That's a lot of information to fit on one page! But it needs to be condensed to be accessible.


AAPPL Foldables

See more Spanish interactive notebook examples
on my class Instagram!
My expectations for performance levels progress as the course progresses, and the students need to see their targets laid out both visually and verbally.

So I played with foldables to figure out how to squeeze it all onto one page:
  1. Visuals to represent proficiency stages
  2. Breakdown of graduated grading progression
  3. AAPPL descriptors
I'm pretty pleased with my little baby flaps foldable! The babies 1) indicate how the students' linguistic mobility will increase and 2) align with brief descriptions of each level N1-I1.

And when you open the baby flaps? We split the blank space into 3 columns, then into 5 rows by baby, and discussed what expectations should be for each six weeks, i.e. how to get a B. Both Spanish I classes agreed that N2 was a decent place to start and N3 should get an A at first, but that it would take I1 to get an A by the end of the semester (though we may revisit our ending expectations at a later date.)

I also like how I got the accordion of condensed AAPPL standards to fold out in IPA order--interpreting, interpersonal, presentational. We'll look at those more closely as we gear up for our first IPA in a couple of weeks.

Can-Do Cone

Flash the answer key on Nearpod
after everyone has sorted!
For portfolios I needed to work in Can-Do key terms (I've got 12 separate rubrics for those--not so notebook friendly), but organize them in a way that was both simple and useful. So I went through all twelve rubrics that I put together on ForAllRubrics (look in the library under @SraSpanglish!) and picked out the Can-Do key words that I thought kiddos would need to keep in mind as they complete their portfolios and I sorted them like so:

  • what they DO
  • what they do it WITH
  • what they do it ABOUT

I'm also going to have the kiddos pick out key words, so they get some experience navigating ForAllRubrics AND so they can make some deeper connections. To group them, I whipped up some little sorting cards real quick that said leer, escuchar, hablar, and escribir and some table pictures with books, headphones, microphones, and pens. Then each group opens up the Novice Mid, Novice High, and Intermediate Low rubrics for their designated skill and jots down the words they think are important on some big ol' chart paper.

We'll narrow down the can-do rubric key words with some open-ended Nearpod questions:

  1. What VERBS are important for your skill?
  2. What sort of TEXTS do you use or make?
  3. What TOPICS will you engage with?

I decided DO and WITH for each skill would fit nicely in four little columns under the AAPPL foldables, but that I wanted them to do something more with the ABOUTs, so I made a triangle page with a bunch of little slips with all the different ABOUTs.

We'll highlight the different levels and different colors and talk about how much time each level usually takes, and then I'll let them work in pairs to start--but NO GLUE until we go over the right levels for each!

Stay tuned

We'll be finalizing our pages today, so stay tuned to my class Instagram to see how the pages turn out. I'll also be uploading my files to TeachersPayTeachers and collecting more posts on an Interactive Notebook Pages page!



#5 in the Top 5 posts of 2015

15 August 2015

Classcraft in Spanish: Character powers and team planning

"I honestly believe that if you incorporate Class Craft from the beginning and change the way portfolios work, Spanish will be everyone's favorite class."

I generally take what the end-of-course surveys with a grain of salt, but even if Spanish won't be EVERYONE'S favorite class, that's still a pretty spectacular review. I mean, I've already been re-envisioning the portfolio, so all that's left is to start Classcraft earlier, right?

So here's my plan to introduce the characters and their powers:

Advertise powers

I assign Classcraft groups based on Genius Hour topics early on in hopes that blog commenting and discussion will perhaps have similar vocabulary--or at least some kind of mutual appeal.

Last semester, I tried just giving these groups character power charts I modified from the charts I found on Mrs. Shoulders' Eagle Network Wiki. I let them talk out the meaning together and fill out a Google Form telling me which type of character they wanted to be and why.

Aside from "daños" and "en vez de," they actually didn't seem to have much trouble figuring out what was what--if they stopped and took the time to break it down. However, there were varying levels of familiarity with RPGs, (e.g. Pokemon), and though they could interpret the words, they really didn't have much clue what it was they should be looking for.

So I took it a step back.

I created a Google Slides presentation with one power per slide to kind of tease what they could do as different characters. It was a lot of "Do you want to...?" in the TL before I clicked to reveal the character they should be--OR keep ALIVE through your character's preset game-based powers--to get those class-based privileges. (PS make double sure every character has at least one desirable class-based privilege so group members can keep slackers from just punking out.)

Discuss team characters

This time, I'm going to have students follow along with the Poderes presentation with a checklist of powers they want--kind of like a Cosmo quiz to see who their inner Classcraft denizen is. This is so they'll actually discuss in order to strategize with their teammates. Last time I just had them talk about how many they needed of each character and who they wanted to be, but there were two problems with this approach:
  1. They weren't asking each other any questions. I don't think what most groups did even qualified as interpersonal.
  2. They didn't really communicate. They did not recognize a need to exchange information.
They will all have the same chart (I'm pretty pleased with my reworking), so the information gap is not so much about the "facts" we broke down with the powers presentation, but rather group members' preferences. And the groups really need to start with the individuals--we're dealing with novices who do best talking about themselves after all, right?--rather than group strategies. And then all they have to do is make sure they have at least one of each, right?


So first they need to ask each other questions to decide who is who (I'll walk them through forming these questions beforehand):

  • What powers do you want?
  • Which characters have the powers that you want?
  • Which character do you like most?
  • How many mages/warriors/healers are there in the group?
  • Do you need to be a different character?

At this point they could fill out the character Google Form to choose their characters, and I can start setting them up. I think I'll even have them sketch out a little self-portrait/diagram in their interactive notebooks to help reinforce the powers vocabulary.

Discuss team strategies

THEN they'll need to start planning ahead:

  • Who needs the most points to help the group?
  • How many points does he/she need?
  • When does he/she need the points? (look at portfolio due dates and IPA dates on the calendar)
  • Who can help, and how?
I got my essential verbs posters up, and you can too!
Get yours at TeachersPayTeachers.
Now you may have noticed that every single one of these questions relies on essential verbs: quieres,tiene, te gusta, hay, necesitas, puede and some basic Classcraft vocabulary that can all be found in the remastered infograph. This means everyone will have what they need to ask and respond, even if they have to look around the room or their notebooks (we will only have gotten up to tiene in our official notes by the time we tackle the infograph). This also means there will be the additional context--both interpretive AND interpersonal--tied to the vocabulary when we DO get to the official notes!


I'll be test driving this new approach next week in hopes of realizing the dream last semester's surveys planted in my head.

Any other thoughts on how to make the most of Classcraft and making Spanish everyone's favorite class?

09 August 2015

SAT Prep Goals: Teach beyond the test


SAT Prep doesn't have to be about the test.

Especially with the new format, it comes down to what students need and why. If they need to parse scientific, literary, or historical texts, WHY do they need to do it? What situation in their lives might demand it? What do they WANT to use those skills to understand, to accomplish?

As English electives go, SAT Prep is no Creative Writing or Film & Literature; my principal is still giving me a chance to stretch my Spanglishy wings in new directions, though, so I've got to give her that. Plus I know from my work with this group of kiddos last year that this course was something they explicitly said they wanted and needed.

Also, when I asked if I needed to address the math side of things, she just asked, "Can you?"

I take that to mean I have a fair degree of freedom--though Boss Lady did indicate she doesn't want the class to turn into just "SAT Lab." And I can dig that.

Personalized teaching to the test

College Board & Khan Academy
have automated personalized
testing practice.
Now the College Board has gone and made my life--and presumably the lives of students across the socioeconomic spectrum--easier by hooking up with Khan Academy. Much like my Day 1 experience of this summer's Pinnacle session, Khan Academy provides diagnostic test chunks  and then directs you to how-to example videos and further practice by indicating your performance level in each area. And I, as a coach, can keep track of my students' progress (though their gamification is too easily gamed to, say, assign grades for)!

Believe me, I will be taking full advantage of the almost flipped personalization Khan Academy offers! I will conference with students to determine two areas to work on (reading, writing and language, math with a calculator, math without a calculator) each grading period, offering quiz grades for...

  1. watching a video in designated focus areas
  2. completing the practice questions
  3. creating a video (probably with the Explain Everything app) showing how THEY work through the same problem after watching the video
  4. showing improvement in the designated areas on another sample test section
I also intend to invoke the 21st Century Skill of collaboration to help students form Growth Teams with different strengths and weaknesses to work through problems aloud together.


Real-world goals and application beyond the test

Early in the semester, students are going to select an overarching theme related to a future profession that they seriously intend to pursue: medicine, computers, art history, military--doesn't matter. They will then complete a research essay each grading period connecting this theme to the new subscore categories:
  • 1st 6 weeks - theme + social studies
  • 2nd 6 weeks - theme + sciences
  • 3rd 6 weeks - theme + social studies + sciences
In their college studies and professional fields, students will have to find their own resources to continue growing, be they mechanics, doctors, or, you know, Spanish teachers, so why not start exploring now? Plus I can't think of a single profession that does not somehow connect to both fields.

The idea is that this process will also prepare the young ones not only for the (now optional) writing section, as well as for the reading and the writing and language! To say nothing of the exercise 21st Century information literacy skills!


Now, the redesigned test will not actually be available until March 2016--months after everything is finalized in ye olde gradebooks. I do plan to administer another sample test for the final exam and evaluate based on individual growth and goals we decided on together.

However, there will be presentations each six weeks in addition to the essays, presentations that won't require extra research, really, but that will stretch students' understanding of why we're doing all this. They'll start with college goals to help guide their goal setting for their scores, put together fun videos on their test-taking secrets, and then before that final exam, they'll analyze their professional strengths

They will look at what the test has to tell them about what they do well, and then try to sell themselves to potential employers in their desired fields.

After all, why even have a test if it doesn't give us information we can use?

03 August 2015

Syllabus Extravaganza: Steal some great ideas!

Weird teachers have one thing on their mind right now: the perfect syllabus.

I had hoped I wasn't the only one who made a hobby of syllabizing, and recent posts among my PLN amigos indicate I'm not!

I'm pretty tickled that the infograph syllabus is catching on:
Also check out Courtney Cochran's sketch-note syllabus! I had every intention of learning to sketch note this summer, but, alas, the road to the first week of workdays is paved with good intentions.

Allison Wienhold's Spanish I, II, and III syllabi are pretty visual, too, even if they're not Piktocharts. I think that's the key: presenting the information in such a way that it can and will be read.

I've also gotten some cool syllabus ideas from Pinterest (the source for all things teachery). I'm especially intrigued by the interactive notebook syllabus and may do something with that next year.

Carrie Toth, however, takes a less visual but more thorough approach when creating the perfect syllabus, breaking down each quarter's grammar, culture, and literacy focus with concise communicative goals.

And then Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell breaks down the absolute essentials of syllabusiness still further--infograph or no: content overview, assessment policies, tools, classroom culture, and clarity.

For those of you in AP land, Courtney Johnson has some tips for creating an amazing AP Syllabus (with a little help from Sra. Cottrell and Sr. Peto).

As for delivery, I like that first-day stations are catching on--get students to interact with the syllabus individually without wasting valuable class time droning through it. Here are a few ideas for other stations that can be going on at the same time: 
  • Sra. Stilson is thinking about a name station, a student info form station, Twitter account setup, and a station for exploring weekly homework choices.
  • Sra. Wienhold also has a proficiency station and expands on the Twitter set up with "shelfies," bios in the TL, and music suggestions.
  • Mme. Farabaugh is considering a class Instagram account in addition to the Twitter account, and a helpful app downloading station.
  • Some stations I've tried for Spanish I include shelfies, Google Translate comparisons, and Pinterest playlists.
  • I've tried different stations for Spanish II too: action shots for essential verbs, karaoke with past songs, pre-TPRS story forms, Skitch goal setting, and portfolio flashbacks to review what they could do the year before.
As for my syllabus for this year, I'm still working on the links in ThingLink, but I've got my syllabus channel on ThingLink...and a preview sans links:




#3 in the Top 5 posts of 2015