The Solar Eclipse: Classroom Apocalypse…

We have school the day of the eclipse.  It isn’t that we’re the only ones in the area… there are a few St Louis schools dismissing… we’re pretty much all going.  The problem is that when something HUGE is about to happen, everyone knows that kids can’t think about anything else.  Blizzard coming???  All they can think about.  Severe storms??? Taking bets on tornados.  Spring Break starts tomorrow???  You get it… Their minds are elsewhere.

So I decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  If we’re going to be interrupted… Ok, it is going to go dark as night outside and the sun is going to disappear… we’re going to be interrupted… I want to do it while still getting some good language input! So I made a cultural corner reading on the solar eclipse 2017: Eclipse Solar Cultural Corner.

If you’re looking for something to share that is comprehensible and not cumbersome, maybe this will be the answer for your students too!


Back to School Door Decor

Did you take pictures in class last year?  Lots of them?  I did!  I shared them on Twitter under our school’s hashtag #SalemWildcatPride and in presentations that I have done this summer but I want my students to see them!  I want them to remember all of the great times we had last year as we begin another year together… So I am going to decorate my door with all of our great moments from last school year!

I went through my pictures and found 40 that represent a great sample of all that we did last year and put them in my cart at!  It was only $4 to print them all!!!

I’m going to hang black bulletin board paper over my door, post pictures and the attached Instagram bulletin board cut outs!  I made hashtags that represented some of the things we did and I’m planning to hang the Instagram logo at the top corner of the door!  I’ll post pictures when it is finished but I just couldn’t wait to share!

Attached find the Instagram Bulletin Board PDF and the Instagram Bulletin Board editable word document if you want to make an Instagram door to welcome your students back too!

Newsletter 2017 Edition

I am going to start the year again with a class newsletter.  I originally blogged about it here but have enjoyed this quick connection with parents so much that I wanted to share again!  I have sent them home with students in the past but this year I am going to try emailing them home!  We’ll see if it is successful!

I’m sharing an editable version (it is created in word) and a PDF version so you can see what it looks like on my computer in case you don’t have the same fonts I do and it affects your ability to view!

Don’t forget you can also print and adapt my permission slip here.


FirstNewsletter PDF

Big Time Ready for Back to School

It is exactly 10 days until my new crop of Spanish students make their way into my room for the first day of class!  It is so much different than last year when EVERY one of my students was new to me!  (This year I will only have about 50 students who I have not already taught!) I will also have no Spanish 1s!

Normally I would start the Spanish 1 year with a couple of weeks of getting to know them via personalized questions.  Focusing on Terry Waltz’s super 7 verbs and things students like to do, we would build a class culture from day 1 using the target language in class!  I don’t even spend a day going over classroom rules!  By 9th grade, they KNOW how to behave at school so I hand out the rule sheet and then spend the day doing what they came for, speaking Spanish! 🙂  If you want pointers on how to do it, here is a description of circling with balls.

In Spanish 2, I will have some students who are new to me.  I want to get to know them just like I did with my level 1 students, but I also want to get some good reps of past tense verbs.  Here are my plans:

First Day Friday:

New song: Soy yo- Bomba Estéreo

Students will have a few minutes to draw a picture of something they did over the summer.  We’ll do an adapted “circling with balls” that will allow me to expose them to A LOT of past tense in context so they can see not only super 7 verbs but also things that they enjoy doing and are therefore meaningful to them.

Monday- Thursday

We will continue our discussion of the class’s summer activities getting to know one another as we do.  We will start each day with the song of the week and doing an activity each day to learn it better.

On Tuesday and Thursday we will start with 10 minutes of Free Voluntary Reading.

Friday of our first full week: We will do a movie talk of this video- Simon’s Cat

In Spanish 3, I will have 95% students who I had in level 2 last year.  I want to dive right in with these guys.

First Day Friday:

New song: ¿Cómo te atreves? by Morat

Students will lead a discussion in the reading lounge about their summer vacation.  I will use my Discussion Thursday technique to get everyone involved and make the discussion truly interpersonal and student led.

Monday-Thursday: We are going to start the year building class community and using future tense in context.  Like Spanish 1 and 2, I am going to use a modified circling with balls to get students talking about what they will do during the school year.  I want them to set goals for the year, after graduation, and a lifetime.  If you don’t dream big, you never know how far you can go!

On Tuesday and Thursday we will start with 10 minutes of Free Voluntary Reading.

Friday of our first full week, we will watch part of episode 2 of El Internado Laguna Negra!  They watched episode 1 the last 4 weeks of school last year!  They’re primed and ready to watch.

In Spanish 4, I will have only students I had in level 3 last year.  We are going to start in the reading lounge!  I want to spend a few days just speaking with them in Spanish so they remember how much they grew last year!

First Day Friday:

New song:  Yo quiero by Gente de Zona ft. Pitbull

Students will join me in the reading lounge where we will talk about what they want to do in the new school year.  I’d like to hear what they want to learn more about, what their favorite topics were last year, and what they did with their Spanish over the summer.

Monday- Thursday of week 1

We are going to do a short unit called “Soy soñador(a)”.  I am going to ask them to dream up a future for other students in the class.  We’re really going to be doing a lot of if…then statements… but in the context of  “if I were you, I’d…”  It’s the first time I’ve ever tried it so it could be a colossal flop but I’m hoping they’ll have a lot of fun thinking of what their friends could do in the future.

On Tuesday and Thursday we will start with 10 minutes of Free Voluntary Reading.

Friday of first full week: El Internado Laguna Negra

Permission Please?

As teachers, we always want to share what we’re doing with our students in the classroom but are also faced with the dilemma of how to share responsibly!  One of my long-standing policies is to send home a blanket permission slip at the beginning of each school year that introduces parents to my classroom and also asks them to give permission in advance for class activities throughout the year.  It has served me well and I thought I’d share in case you’re looking at making something similar!  I use KG Fonts to create my documents (they are free for non-commercial use!  Be sure you pay for a license for EACH font you plan to use if you are going to sell items on TPT!).  I am including the Permission Please PowerPoint in an editable form if you’d like to change it to suit your classroom and also in Permission Please PDF Form so you can see what it looks like with the “Second Chances Solid” font I used!20_


So you want to match them with music!

In my iFLT session on detox(tbooking), we talked about downsizing. Even if you’re bound by a textbook or a department using way too many “units”, you can pare away the words you know are less valuable and make some room for fun things that really connect students with the language… things like music.

My 12 year old son synced his iPhone with my computer and it put my Spanish music into his library… imagine my surprise when I found him listening to Sofía by Álvaro Soler.  I said “Nick, do you like it?” and he replied “I may not know what it’s saying yet but it is so darn catchy!”  If music can do this for a student who is NOT in Spanish class yet, imagine what it will do when they understand a few or even MANY of the lyrics in their new language!

I DO match songs to my units in most cases.  For example when we study El Salvador’s Civil War and read the novel Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha, we listen to the SPANISH version of Gangsta by Kat Dahlia and Sueño Americano by los Rakas… but there are a lot of songs I use as weekly bell-ringers that get in my students heads and keep them listening to the language outside the classroom.

What I do with the songs varies!  I may have them do a CLOZE activity.  We might listen all week and finish with a game of on the SMARTboard.  We might do an activity with manipulatives… there are so many ways to use songs differently!  If you have always used songs, these songs will likely be familiar to you… if not, they may give you a great place to start.

5 great songs for Spanish 1: You are the One by Sonny Monreal (Spanish and English gives them a confidence boost as the first song of the year), Picky by Joey Montana (Available here from my TPT if you need a little help getting started), Te Quiero by DJ Flex, Tengo tu Love by Sie7e, Cuando me Enamoro by Enrique Iglesias and Juan Luis Guerra.

5 great songs for Spanish 2: Como te Odio by Lasso, Sofía by Álvaro Soler (Available here from my TPT if you want to see some sample activities), Solo Soy by Doctor Krápula, Todo Cambió by Camila, Darte un Beso by Prince Royce (Available here as a movie talk unit from Kristy at Placido Language Resources).

8 great songs for Spanish 3 and 4: La Bicicleta by Shakira (Available here), Cómo te Atreves by Morat, Paraíso by D’Vicio (Available here), Sé que te Duele by Alejandro Fernández (Available here), Andas en mi Cabeza by Chino y Nacho (Available here from Martina Bex’s Comprehensible Classroom), Amor con Hielo (Also from the Comprehensible Classroom), La Gozadera by Gente de Zona, Latinoamérica by Calle 13.

Whichever songs you choose to use with your students, just ENJOY the music with them! For me, there is no grade attached.  I DO have them turn in their cloze activity if we do one (but I never load it to the online gradebook and they never seem to ask about it)!  This relaxed policy on music makes it feel like listening to music in their L1 and they start to do it AT HOME!  Without being prompted!!!  It’s like they’re doing homework for FUN!  They even find NEW SONGS! 🙂

Always keep one ear on Batanga radio to see what’s new that you think will become an earworm and set Spanish in their head even outside the classroom!