28 March 2018

Flipgrid for Managing "Puedos" Starters

I start my class with "Puedos" almost every single day. It makes for an active start to class that also gives me a little time to take attendance and get situated while making sure students can do some basics like pronounce tricky vocabulary, conjugate some essential verb forms, and answer relevant questions.

Students get about 5-10 minutes a day for a week to get everything checked off and then have me spot check a few for each of them. This is plenty of time for them.

It is not for me.

Enter Flipgrid.

I still collect everybody's Puedo sheets at the same time, but then I have a whole grid just for Puedos (paid version: TOTALLY worth it), and I make a new Puedo Topic each week (which you could totally do with the free version too).

To set up each Topic for my Puedos grid, I 
  1. Upload a photo of the week's Puedo sheet as the photo for the Topic. Each week is a different color to help kiddos tell them apart, but it's also there because, well, I collected their sheets, and they're going to need a reference.

  2. Indicate three tasks from the list in the Topic description for them to demonstrate for your spot check. I usually try to get a good mix of tasks that I think they should definitely be able to do but will also need to use a lot.

  3. Post the link to Classroom! 
For some more tips on managing and grading Puedos (perhaps with the help of enterprising six-year-olds), check out my Classroom Tips video below!

19 March 2018

Novel Groups - Robo en la noche & Bianca Nieves

I ordered 50 books from Fluency Matters in anticipation of my Spanish 2 animals unit. The thinking was that these would build students', well, fluency, as well as their contextual vocabulary and grammar as they prepared to make a plan to help their amigos animales.

I have been kind of wary going in whole hog on novels, but I think I've finally got a plan of attack for my students to get a personalized experience that fits their needs.

Group Setup

On the one hand, I want everyone to be able to read the novel that catches their interest, that they consider relevant to their goals and find engaging. On the other, I want them to feel like the reading is easy, like they don't have to look up every fourth word in the glossary. I want them to build from where they are, not drop them in the middle of an ocean with just that little lexical life preserver.

And on yet another hand, I only have 25 copies each of Robo en la noche and Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos to split among 47 kids. Someone was not getting their first choice.

So I made some executive decisions based on our mock reading AAPPLs and the incidence of irregular preterite. I figured it they were getting intermediate, they were likely better equipped to swim to shore than those still stuck in novice according to our assessments.

I had also had students submit a note on Seesaw where they summarized the main idea and some supporting details then recorded themselves reading the chapter onto the note. Frankly, though, not enough of them actually followed through and submitted it, and those who did, there was no telling how long they spent on it.

Enter Plan B: the Twitterverse. And Carrie Toth's FREE One Novel Reading Club packet fell like manna from Heaven!

Seriously! Check out Carrie's survey and more on TPT!
I made the survey a Google Form--in baby-ish Spanish. I had to be out for PD the day they were doing it, so I okayed WordReference for interpretation "just this once."

Grouping was still tough for a few reasons. There were so many possible combinations of how to read and how to respond! Some people who liked to read alone wanted to do the creative responses. Some people who wanted to read together also wanted to do the comprehension responses. Sometimes only one person reading a book wanted to get help talking through it.

And you KNOW they'd change their minds after they're in groups anyway.

So I did what I could with what I had and squished everyone in groups of 2-5 based on their preferences. Not everyone was thrilled, but everyone appeared to at least be functional.

Chapter Routines

It was a little tricky getting books with 10 and 15 chapters to match up schedule-wise, but I made myself a calendar that I had students copy into their cuaderno calendars and refer to occasionally, and I think it's pretty fair. And the plan is to give them 20-30 minutes a day to read/respond/etc, so more than fair, right?

And here again, I borrowed from the great Sra. Toth's packet to try and get myself into a rhythm (in part so I could do small group speaking assessments). It goes something like this:

  1. Groups read the chapter: together or independently, depending on what they decide as a group. If I'm available, I can walk one "Alfa" group through pausing for questions. (I tried it today, and I was really pleased with how that went.
  2. Groups respond to the chapter: either creativa or de comprensión. For comprehension, I just have them create fact-based questions related to the chapter. Creative, I shake up a little, again, of course, taking a cue from Sra. Toth. We started off with a comic strip review (www.wittycomics.com was blocked on BYOD but not school devices--go fig), and we'll have other options from Sra. Toth like character tattoo suggestions/descriptions as well as maybe some diagrams, texts, diary entries, Adobe Spark summaries, extra scenes, character interviews, musical responses, and whatever else I can think of along the way.
  3. Class notes: mostly to learn past tense forms. I revived the PACE method that I tried several
    years ago. I've decided to focus on exactly one form at a time rather than all 5, and it seems to be extremely fruitful so far. Here's today's for singular third person preterite (regular):

  4. Make a repaso quiz for the next day. I use their best questions, turn them into a quick Google Form quiz with 3 multiple choice questions for each book--maybe pick out my favorite creative responses to show off, and then I'm ready to start again the next day!

14 March 2018


The surest way to make language learners SEE the value of a language is to give them real opportunities to USE the language. That's why I think the 5th C is probably the single most essential C. Without Community, there is no REASON for language learning. So in tomorow's #langchat, we'll be talking about ways to get community into your classroom--and maybe to get your classroom into the community too!

And when we're talking about community, we're not just talking about the occasional guest speaker from another country.

Community is target culture AND language learners.

Community is guest speakers, groups, and class connections.

Community is partners and participants, sideline coaches and expert judges.

Community is local employers, professors, friends, parents, and even former students!

You can connect with community asynchronously or in the same room at the same time!

So join us on Twitter at 8pm ET, 5pm PT by searching the #langchat hashtag to share your experiences with breaking down the barriers between class and community--good and bad! And tap into our Professional Learning Network's collective creativity to get more ideas to open up your classroom to the world.

Here are a few links to ways I've connected with local and global communities in the past:

And here are the questions for you to begin thinking about what you know and want to know!

06 March 2018

What PBL Is and Is NOT in Language Classes [SECONDARY SPANISH SPACE]

Projects are not Project-Based Learning.

My amigas at Secondary Spanish Space invited me to contribute a post about what PBL is--and is not--in language classes. Here's a sample:

Posters and videos and in-class presentations make learning tangible. They can become treasured artifacts of growth. On display, they can even inspire others to learn more. But if they are created as an afterthought, if they are tacked on after the “real” assessment as a sort of treat or distraction--as an intermission from Serious Work--they are not PBL. They are what the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) describes as “dessert” projects. 
In PBL, though, projects are the main course.
Project-Based Learning means the learning takes place through preparation of the final product, through preparation for the final presentation. The presentation part is especially crucial for language classes because there is nothing like an authentic Spanish-speaking audience to make believers of our students. 
BIE emphasizes eight elements that are essential to a Gold Standard PBL project, which I think can be broken down into three categories for world language instruction: Context, Input, and Output.

To learn more about how Context, Input, and Output align with BIE's Gold Standard criteria, check out the post on their site!