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PUEDOS – Differentiated Social Warmups

Published by SraSpanglish on

You know when you get a great idea at a conference that you can immediately implement Monday and change E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G? Well this isn’t one of them.

I implemented it on Tuesday.

We had an interdisciplinary marketing project thing scheduled with Public Speaking for Monday.

Our AATSPSC keynote speaker pointed out that getting validation for the good work you are doing is also a really excellent reason to go to conferences. But I’ve got to say this idea was a special kind of rewarding. It solved so many problems:

  • What can the kids do that’s productive while I take attendance to avoid an email nastygram?
  • How can I get them both settled AND energized for Spanishing?
  • And how can I get even the kids who are so anxious about speaking that they prefer a zero to actually doing their small group assessments participating?

I admit that I wasn’t sure what “proficiencies” could be when Alanna Breen started explaining how they started. It started coming together when she showed us this template:

Oral proficiency template example–really you could switch anything in and out #aatspscnc17
— Laura Sexton (@SraSpanglish) November 4, 2017

So basically you lay out pretty much ANY 10 tasks and have students go around proving to each other that they can do them. But there are a couple of catches:

  1. They have to get two people to sign off for every task.
  2. They can’t get the same person to sign off on their sheet more than once.
  3. Once the sheet is full of signatures, the teacher spot checks a couple of tasks at random.
  4. If they can’t do the task when teacher spot checks, they lose points AND the two signers lose points!
  5. They won’t be able to get them all finished in one session, so they’ll need to practice on their own until their sheets are filled out.

What I really loved about this idea was the differentiation that was built in: I could put a few things that the high-flyers would have to pause to think about but also some tasks that the kids who make me pull the answers–which I know they know–out of them syllable by syllable feel successful (one of those validation things Profe Hannahan had specifically cited in the keynote!)

CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUCCESS FOR STRUGGLING STUDENTS (not just “the cream of the crop”) #aatspscnc17

— Laura Sexton (@SraSpanglish) November 4, 2017

A direct quote from one of those exact kids I had in mind a few minutes into my Tuesday attempt: “I already have one done!” Another quote from the same kid halfway through: “I already have five signatures!” He assured me he was still “suffering,” but by golly he was doing it.

Another kid who complains and claims to struggle occasionally: “Sra. Sexton! We just had a whole conversation, and you missed it!”

And would you believe my native speakers were getting into it too?? The Spanish I kids were getting picky with their accents (could this be a way to get them to actually remember oft-elided “a”s in “voy a” and “A ella le gusta”?), and they were carefully coaching their amigos rather than having to tell them lo siento and send them to someone else.

Of course I made a few changes, and since “can” is a big thing with our invention and marketing unit, and we’ve been hitting the “yo” form extra hard to make sure at least THAT is down for everyone before this is said and done, the first thing I changed was the name. Instead of “proficiencies,” I decided to call them “Puedos.” I also made them ask “¿Puedo hacer número__?” The emphasis is, after all, on what “I can” do, right?

So here are some tips based on my magical not-Monday Puedos experience.


1. Have at least 3 INSANELY easy tasks.

I picked some words we were going to encounter in the day’s infograph (and, you know, basically the entire marketing project) and just had them say them aloud for one. Warms ’em up with a little anticipation to find out what crecimiento means, you know? The other super easy ones were conjugating ser and tiene–but I only asked for the 3 singular forms that we’d been using all semester, AND I listed “I am,” “You are,” “It is” so they could see they had been conjugating all along!


2. Have a good variety of tasks.

Some good suggestions I took form Sra. Breen:

  • Prounounce
  • Conjugate
  • Respond
  • List
  • Look-up

For look-up, she has kids do things on their own time like find the titles of major newspapers in Brazil or a Portuguese speaking actor (obviously for the P side of AATSP), and sometimes just some topic that’s not strictly “curricular,” but that is near and dear to her, e.g. preserving the Amazon. (I’m envisioning some good questions about poetry and manatees). For more advanced classes, they might have to actually ask their *gasp* parents how they met to report

This time, I just asked them how many consumers there were in Latin America which would be answered by, guess what? The day’s infograph! More anticipation!


3. Mix in past topics.

I wrote questions like “¿Qué te gusta y NO te gusta en Gaston County?” as a callback to our visitor videos and had them list some three first world problems from our notes a few weeks ago (no, they couldn’t carry their cuadernos around).


4. Provide EXPLICIT instructions.

Another thing Profe Hannahan pointed out was that some patterns that seem obvious to us are not obvious to them. I walked the kiddos through a specific model of a student telling me “Buen trabajo” and then repeated with it with messing up and a “Lo siento.”

I also left this on the board for them (when I was done with attendance, or course):

It didn’t hurt to make sure they stood up first too and to emphasize NO repeats on signatures. They also tried to just read to two people at once, so I did have to clarify that I actually wanted them to DO the task twice before they got to me–and that they actually had to do ALL of the tasks before I would check any.

All in all this is a super simple routine to get started that can take 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class or anywhere you find yourself with a need to fill a few minutes. My kiddos got 10 minutes the first time to make sure they got the hang of it this first time, and most got 6-8 signatures in those 10 minutes. I plan to go ahead an get started on next week’s pretty soon so the high-flyers can move on ASAP, and possibly to come up with a more targeted one for the native speakers in Spanish 2–probably focusing on more sentence connecting and narration and description, since they were pretty much all already hitting I3 on ye olde AAPPL scale last 6 weeks and seem willing to keep pushing closer to advanced, if only for braggin’ rights.

Overall I am SO glad I got to attend this AATSP-SC conference, for the validation, for the fresh ideas, and for the friends. And even though I had to wait until Tuesday to try the “Puedos,” I highly recommend starting yours sooner!


Laura Sexton is a passion-driven, project-based language educator in Gastonia, North Carolina. She loves sharing Ideas for integrating Project-Based Learning in the world language classroom, including example projects, lessons, assessment tips, driving questions, and reflection.


lori.leopard · January 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm

This may be an #OldLadyProblem but the photo is really difficult for me to see. Do you have a copy of the PUEDOS document that you can email?

lori.leopard · January 8, 2018 at 5:57 pm

This may be an #OldLadyProblem but the photo is really difficult for me to see. Do you have a copy of the PUEDOS document that you can email?

Jennifer Zimmer · February 3, 2018 at 6:29 pm

A few questions….
How do you plan on putting this in the grade book?
Do you tell them they need to finish all 10 tasks by a certain time?

Love this idea, and so do my students (MOST), but now I'm on to the grading part!

Gracias de antemano!

Jennifer Zimmer · March 28, 2018 at 3:17 pm

A few questions….
How do you plan on putting this in the grade book?
Do you tell them they need to finish all 10 tasks by a certain time?

Love this idea, and so do my students (MOST), but now I'm on to the grading part!

Gracias de antemano!

Sra. Sexton · March 28, 2018 at 7:18 pm

I posted an update blog AND video today!

Sra. Sexton · March 28, 2018 at 3:18 pm

I posted an update blog AND video today!

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