Something to start the year with!

Paidesport- Un gimnasio español

I love Zachary Jones’s Miaucoles cats! My son and I are both big fans of LOLcats in general! The commercial he posted today is hysterical and I plan to use it as soon as school starts (10 days for me). I created a little slide show to help cover the language used in the commercial so that it is really C.I! I will show the commercial, run through the slideshow and talk about it in Spanish, then show the commercial again. We’ll finish with a talk about marketing products. Thank you, Zachary for always finding the cool stuff! #quemola


Templates for backward planning

UbD unit template


If you have time to develop FULL UbD units for everything you are teaching, I have included the UbD template I’ve been using (found on another school’s website). If you don’t have a lot of extra time but want to show what you’re doing as it applies to backward planning, I have also included a sample of what one of my smaller UbD outlines looks like.

I have a template with just these categories already printed out in a binder. When I am creating something new, I just handwrite ideas in the template and later type into a document and save in my dropbox.

NTPRS 13- Culture in the Classroom (End to Beginning)


Keep in mind that no one is perfect. There are days my hook fails. There are days my whole lesson fails. There are kids who I struggle to connect with. There are all of the same issues in my classroom as in yours. I am just a teacher in the field who happens to be passionate about planning around cultural themes.

Some questions I received yesterday and their answers:

How do you plan for elementary? I really don’t know! 🙂 I am in a high school and have never had students below 8th grade but the idea of UbD is still the same. Choose high and lofty goals for your students. Don’t take the vocabulary and make lists… this is breaking the language down into its component parts. Teach them whole language! Think about Kristy Placido’s botas picudas unit that I taught…. I wanted to talk about clothing and so I used this unit that was interwoven with clothing and culture. I knew that at the end I didn’t want to be describing each other’s clothes, I wanted them to relate fashion and music so that is how I guided all of my unit instruction. How could you do something similar with elementary kids? “Do the seasons affect the clothing choices people make? Do your parents influence your clothing choices?” Since I don’t work with them, it is very hard to say what the perfect question for you would be but hopefully this gets your brain churning!

“I wanted to know more about the nuts and bolts”: I encourage you to look into the Understanding by Design book and workbook by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. I try to be very sensitive to their copyrighted material when I present about backward planning so I can only guide you toward their original books! There are great forms, diagrams, charts, graphs, worksheets, etc. available all over the internet! I recommend the book to everyone because it really makes sense to me to plan instruction this way!

“What vocabulary do you decide is the most important to pre-teach?” I think that this varies by class. I am planning backward from a movie or a novel that I want to read at the end of the unit. The vocabulary my class has already acquired is different than the vocabulary your class has acquired so what I need to pre-teach will be different! I would start by reading through the novel myself and just thinking (with the graphic of the enduring understanding/skills/useful to know in mind) about what I really think they have to know to be able to successfully read the book and what can go in the “chuck it bucket” as something they can hear me translate and then continue reading! There should be some structures that jump out at you as necessary both to reading and to becoming fluent speakers… these are what you will choose to PQA, storytell, and have class discussions with as you move through the unit!

I am attaching the slideshow as promised. I hope that you found the presentation useful and that you will be able to create some cultural units for your classes. Please be willing to share with others. Without the great ideas of many friends, my classroom wouldn’t be the same!

Reflecting on iFLT and looking forward to NTPRS

There were so many great presenters this year in San Diego. It is amazing to see the way that different teachers use Comprehensible Input to help students reach fluency faster than in traditional classrooms.

I got to spend time in Darcy Pippins class and I loved the brain breaks she gave her students. From the Price is Right to music from Kevin, Karla & la Banda, she kept them from zoning out during that long 2.5 hour class! Her lessons were fun and filled with a variety of ways to get repetitions without getting boring!

I also got to see Joe Dziedzic teach! He has such a way with those little guys! 🙂 They were eating out of the palm of his hand. The greatest moment for me was watching kids with 3 days (yes, 3 days) of Spanish class read a novel in Spanish! Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro by Carol Gaab is an easy read for TPRS students! I think watching them read convinced a lot of teachers in the room that CI is leaps and bounds above a traditional classroom in terms of novices.

Kristy Placido presented the beginners workshop where I was lucky enough to be a coach! She has a real talent for breaking the basics down and not overwhelming new TPRS practitioners with too much information! This group of teachers were so receptive and so excited about trying storytelling for themselves!

Our newest Tweeters from the TweePRS session that we gave are actively tweeting and participating in summer chats! Kristy and I are so happy to have more members of our PLN to share ideas with!

I am posting the slide show from my presentation on backward planning here. I hope that you are able to use it to create lessons that get to the heart of what your students need to know to use their second language both in your class and in the real world!

If you’re coming to NTPRS, I hope to get to see you! Stop by the booth or one of our sessions and say hi!

iFLT 2013 SanDiego