My final exams: A struggle at best!

How do you test at the end of the year? I am in a school where students who miss less than 3 days in the semester do not have to take exams as Jrs and Srs and where all sophomores and freshmen are required to sit for them.  I am in a dual credit situation in which my students have to take one exam (but they take the fall one ) with reading, writing, listening, and speaking and the other can be at my discretion.  I am in a CI department.  We don’t do isolated vocabulary or grammar so the multiple choice, easy to grade option is out.  What do I do to really show what they’ve learned this year??

Well… Here is attempt 24 at finding that out.  I’ve never used the same test twice and I assume there will be 10 more tries before I retire to watch my birds at the feeder full time. 🙂

I don’t teach Spanish I this year so I can’t speak for what they’re doing but my 2s are reading a cultural reading and responding to questions about it and then taking this writing assessment based on our semester worth of units Spanish2 exam2 2018. They will have finished their unit on Lucha Libre with the last speaking assessment of the year and I am very confident that I know what I need to know about them without adding speaking to the exam.

In Spanish 3 and 4 we are reading one of the cultural readings, an extension of my Mar de plástico resources and we are doing these writing assessments based on our semester worth of units Spanish 3 exam 2 2018  Spanish 4 exam 2 2018.

This is the Grading Rubric I’ll use for each of their writings.  Spanish 4 will be shooting for the Intermediate High range (I only have 2 who are required to test) and Spanish 3 for the Intermediate Mid range (I only have 7 who are required to test). Finally, Spanish 2 will be shooting for that Intermediate Low mark on all topics. The points at the top of this rubric will slide down so that the 5 is at the top of the target column.  It leaves me some room to mark what they did that went beyond my expectations and what they did that needs improvement.  In 2 and 3 they’ll write on 5 topics but in 4 they’ll only write on 3 because they’ve spent the year learning to add detail and looking at mentor texts… they don’t have time for more than 3!

I hope this helps as you’re trying to get a handle on what to do this year.  I’ve tried so many things but I am always happy with the results when I do things that give them the choice to really show what they know!


Map Talk Mar de plástico

I loved this activity when I did it in my Arctic unit in December and I loved it even more today!  We did a Map Talk Nat Geo style.  I printed out the Map from their Map Maker Kits.  As they colored and labeled, I described the continents, the oceans, and the garbage patches.

They learned a LOT about the world’s oceans, saw how ugly the garbage patches make them, and they got lots of geography input!  Give it a try!  Even if you aren’t doing the whole plastic ocean unit, this little freebie is a great way to bring in something cross curricular.

Mar de plástico Centers

Yesterday was “¿Qué es el océano?” day. In this Center activity, my students read infographics, tweets, and talked to me about what the ocean is.  I had the chance to introduce them to the 5 oceans of the world, to find out what they were learning from the other centers, and to see what they remembered from their Mar-mory memory game the Thursday before!  They had the chance to investigate the topic on their own, to show off what they could produce, and to ask me questions to clear things up!  It was GREAT conversation!  The 5 minute center time made it go quickly and we were able to get through all 7 centers AND have a post-center discussion in our 48 minute period.

Here’s a little clip of one of the question/answers at our “chat” center.

I had to start a little behind some of the other teachers using the unit and I am SO excited to be digging in!

Full unit

2 week adaptation

1 week mini

Today, we moved on to the next activity in the full unit, Ocean Threats.  Students had to identify which threats they thought were severe/moderate/or minor and why.  We finished by sharing what groups had selected as the greatest ocean threat!  All groups (and I) picked the same one!! We are never unanimous about anything! We ended the hour watching the Lonely Whale commercial “Stop Sucking” and their homework is to ditch the straw tonight and tweet their drink #sinpopote with the hashtag #nochupo.

Scope and Sequence for Levels 1-4

I taught level 1 for 22 years!  This year I am teaching only 2-4 for only the second time in my career!  I miss those little level 1 guys and gals! It is so much fun to give them their first taste of language study… but on the flip side, it is also so much fun to see them use their language to talk about topics like water shortage, medical issues, immigration, and ocean plastics.

Leaving the textbook behind in favor of a proficiency based curriculum was scary but it has been a process that has taught me so much.  Over the last 10 years, I have developed a scope and sequence that brings me high enrollment in levels 2, 3, and 4 and much more proficient students.  Not only that but it has brought me a lot more life-long learners and students excited to use their language outside the classroom.

Last week, I shared my scope and sequence documents and links to the materials I use in a series of posts.  I wanted to create one post that would collect them for easier reference!

Scope and Sequence Wildcat Spanish 1

Scope and Sequence Wildcat Spanish 2

Scope and Sequence Wildcat Spanish 3

Scope and Sequence Wildcat Spanish 4

What we are doing will not be a perfect fit for everyone and it may take time to bring all the pieces together… but if you’re looking for some ideas, maybe this is a place to start!

Vector Chapter 9

I’m using the reader Vector with my Spanish 3 class and we just read about Dengue Fever.  I am a huge science nerd so the whole mosquito/vector part is the big reveal for me!  I wanted to take a day to learn a little about the tropical mosquitos that cause illnesses like malaria (Anopheles) and yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, zika (Aedes aegypti).  We talked about Culex pipiens that causes West Nile Virus, and about Aedes albopictus the Asian tiger mosquito.

As an authentic, interpretive reading, I broke the class up into groups of 5 and gave each group a stack of  Infographics for this Mosquito Activity that I printed from the Internet. On Thursday, we have “Prime Time” at school… classes start an hour later so that we can have our weekly faculty meeting.  This cuts out our homeroom and shortens each class by 6 minutes.  M-W and F I have 48 minute classes but this day, I had 42.


I gave about a 5 minute little presentation on the mosquitos.  I showed these pictures:img_9184.jpg

We described the mosquitos together, I told them some diseases they caused, and we discussed the symptoms of those diseases.  I told them they are tropical mosquitos and then we talked about the mosquitos that we see closer to home.

The next 15 minutes, they had time to read the infographics as a team.  There were so many cognates and so much familiar vocabulary (after our study of Medicina o cura in March) that they had no trouble reading them.

The last 20 minutes, the groups had to give me the infographic sheets and create their own from the information that they read.  They did GREAT work!


Mar de plástico day 2: mar-moria

B77CB3DE-1F36-4A2C-BFBF-CAD0D4A879E3Today we learned how plastics, micro plastics, and micro fibers affect sea life using the Mar-Moria game in my plastic ocean unit.  This game is available as an a’la carte  if you don’t have time for a unit but want to get students thinking about conservation of the seas!

First, students read about different sea creatures and the most common problems they face, then they played the memory game in teams!


There is a strict no English rule so they can help teammates make a match but they have to use TL all the time or lose a turn! It was so much fun! Watch them here! With 15 minutes to read and 30 to play, we got to do two rounds! They really acquired a lot of the key cognates and even acquired many of the sea creature names very quickly!

When i made this game, I was hoping it would be really engaging while helping them get tons of input and now that we have played, I can say for sure that it did!

Scope and sequence: Wildcat Spanish 4

This is the most fluid of all my classes.  In Spanish 4, I try out all my new units.  For example, this year I wrote Plastic Ocean and Viviendas del mundo and I piloted them with this group!  I also bring in current events and topics related to their lives here at school.

This particular group has only had me for two years so with them, I had NOT done some of the Spanish 3 units I normally do so they overlapped with my Spanish 3 class on several occasions.  The units in this scope and sequence are flexible.  I ask students to “choose” things they’d like to study.  If they all hate the idea of music/poetry, I will just drop that one in favor of another but for the most part it gives the illusion of having choice when I really know our path all along!

Spanish 4 scope and sequence